May 30, 2012


Anyone else addicted?

I just discovered MTV's 'Teen Wolf' and it's putting a huge dent in my writing habits.

I'm not mad.


May 26, 2012

Write and read or maybe not. Or maybe.

You know how some realizations occur to you multiple times, but you don't really acknowledge them until the sixth time around?

Maybe you don't.

Maybe this is just me being stubborn.

(I'm not stubborn)

Either way, this morning I realized this (again): If I'm writing fantasy, it's difficult for me to read fantasy. Likewise, if I'm writing realistic fiction, it's difficult for me to read realistic fiction. And so on and so on.

I've know this for a while. I even remember telling myself "David. Listen. You should probably realize that your writing habits are so slow right now they're riding on the short bus headed in the wrong direction. Maybe this is because you keep thinking about the book you're reading and how it relates to yours. Maybe you should read something else."

"That is ridiculous," I told myself. "My writing clearly just needs a break. I do not have a problem here. Not a big deal"

(I'm not stubborn)

"You don't think it's a problem that you keep thinking about how the book you're reading doesn't fit into the book you're writing?" I said back to myself.

"Absolutely not," I said.

(Not. Stubborn.)

Myself sighed. "And the fact that you keep visualizing your characters in that other books world is not a problem?"

"Self, you are clearly delusional."

"Right back at ya."

This morning I realized all this again, but finally had the smarts to listen. I keep putting my characters into the books I read. I visualize them in these worlds that are not mine. I force them to interact with other characters that are not mine. I even picture them looking differently from time to time. (Did I just rhyme?) The reason for this is that I keep reading books that are so closely related to what I'm writing, that I confuse the two and mix them. This happens to me especially if I'm reading something that's not so special. You know, reading a book just to read it because it has a pretty cover or a good author or an awesome title that let's you know it has blood and kissing and action and pretty things.

(I'm not stubborn. And I'm not a sucker for marketing.)

So. Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah.

Don't read what you write. Or do, if that works for you. But it doesn't for me.

Except sometimes when it does.

May 22, 2012


There was a recent article in US News and World Report that discussed the idea of profanity in YA literature and mulled around this question: "Is it time to rate young adult books for mature content?" Considering the fact that so many YA authors support each other tooth and nail, it's not surprising that many of them, like the bleeping hysterical Kiersten White, have begun to voice their opinions on the topic.

Here is mine.

So many things in life are situational. Which is why, perhaps, we often say things like "you just had to be there." Things change when we try to explain them. It's beautiful in a way to be part of a moment like that, when you know it can only be truly explained to the people you're with, or maybe even just you. But sometimes we can't explain things. We can only live them.

What is great about so many authors of YA literature today is that they write about these real moments, the good and the bad, and they're doing it in a very real way. Gritty. True. Powerful. Yes, a lot of the more popular YA novels are fiction or fantasy based, but a lot of the situations portrayed in those bestsellers have the possibility to become very real. This article, for an example, stated that there are around "50 f-bombs" in one recent GOSSIP GIRL novel.

Well. Really. There should be.

Side note: Brigham Young University actually spent cash on a study that counted the amount of profanity in YA novels. 

GOSSIP GIRL is a novel series about teenagers, depicting moments that could be real. And yes, although the things seen on the television series and in the book series probably don't happen to normal teens (or even normal adults), the way they talk and dress and feel and love are all very much real in the lives of many young adults. Considering that, isn't GOSSIP GIRL just mimicking the language so many teenagers use today? Shouldn't this argument be flipped?

If so many YA novels are accurately portraying young adults (and they are), shouldn't we be more worried about how our young adults got like that, instead of attacking the authors that got it right?

So often literature and movies reflect the way a society thinks and feels. There is more sex on television because people watch it. There is more swearing on the radio because people listen to it. 50 SHADES OF SEX GRAY? I mean, c'mon. Are those things okay? Is it okay for teens to swear? To have sex?

Is it okay for young adults to love as deeply as we write?

Who really knows. It's all a matter of opinion. But I do know this: The more adults pretend tough situations don't exist, the more they do. Young adults find ways to seek out that information (I know I did) we hide from them, and if we're so afraid that they'll become a Gossip Girl or Boy, then avoiding or banning something just because it's not what we agree with probably isn't the answer. Like this article mentions, I think that parents need to read what their children read. With the variety and the quality of YA books on the market these days, it's so easy to pick one that lends itself well to any tough conversation. We should not forget the fact that we have books like SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, or CRANK by Ellen Hopkins, or BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver - books that are as real as they are difficult as they are truthful. Books that swear, not because it's cool or because they can, but because they must. Because they show us the possible consequences of real actions. Use these beautifully written difficult books to talk. And, like Gayle Forman mentioned on her blog, if you have questions or concerns about content go to your local Barnes and Noble and ask - or read the book yourself first. Or look online - Amazon has age ratings right next to the page count. It's so simple to be informed these days that there's really no excuse not to be.

But this whole argument is a matter of opinion and personal choice.

I don't swear often. I don't feel like I need to.

But, just like Mrs. Weasley, I feel there are situations that arise when swearing is certainly the right way to go. After all, if and when I'm a parent, and an evil wizard attacks my daughter, you can bet I'll whip my wand out and scream this:


"NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU &%$#!" just doesn't cut it.

May 21, 2012

Holla Yo British Clap. What?

What makes a song good?

In my opinion:

1. British(ish) accents

2. Clapping

3. Pseudo-rap

That is all.

May 19, 2012

Well played, SHADOW AND BONE. Well played.

Those of you who, like me, follow Maggie Stiefvater's blog know she has a rule where she only blurbs about books she loves. LOVES. All caps. Books that move her. Make her cry. Sob. Give her chills. Stay with her long after the last page has been read. Books that are so amazing that they are five stars all the way and nothing less.

Well played, Stiefvater. Well played.

So, I'm doing this. I'll only be blurbing books that are, to me, five stars all the way.

Side note: I've also rediscovered "well played. well played" so I'll be using that a lot. Everything is very 90's to me right now for whatever reason, and I have a huge urge to watch Space Jam and Power Rangers.

Well played, Netflix. Well played.

Down to business. I just finished reading (just = one month ago) an ARC of a book that Veronica Roth says is "unlike anything I've ever read." BAM:

I agree, Veronica! Although I also felt like there was something about SHADOW AND BONE that was very familiar, and I enjoyed the fact that it felt, in places, like it was a story I knew already. This, I think, is because the characters and the world were both so well written that it just felt like home. SHADOW AND BONE is not a love story, but there is love. There is love between family, love between friends, love between strangers, and love that really maybe isn't love just yet. I love that nothing was black and white in this book, but various shades of dark. There was mystery. There was suspense. There were characters I began to care about, and characters I hated. But my favorite part was the world. Bardugo created a world that was filled with shadows and characters that moved them. She created a world so unique and creative and dangerous and different that I wanted to live in it. More importantly, Bardugo's world in SHADOW AND BONE felt so vast that it was almost incomplete. She created it so well that you, as the reader, know there is more to come. You know there are places in this world just waiting for you. You know there are characters you have yet to be introduced to. You know there will be love and heartbreak and danger. And you can't wait to be pulled back in.

The good news? This is Book 1.

May 17, 2012

Rock on, Shakespeare

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."William Shakespeare

Rock on, Shakespeare.

*fist bump*

Rock on.

May 15, 2012

Voice Diddy

This is a snippet taken from the prequel to a novel I'm working on. The prequel, FALLING FROM GRACE, is about a young girl named Sarah and her family. It details the events prior to (obviously) what happens in the novel, and was a writing exercise for me so I could understand Sarah's character a little better. It's a very early draft so be kind!

*(1) Check out my voice in this diddy. To me, a good chapter is constructed in pieces and then woven together like a quilt - like pieces of the same puzzle. Even though this is a very rough draft of the prequel, you can see how I pulled several pieces of the puzzle together. At the beginning, you can see how Sarah is very much concerned with her mother. She almost looks down on herself because she looks up to her mother so much. Being so young, she needs a mother, though Sarah doesn't understand exactly why. She gets what she needs from her brother, Logan, but even he plants ideas in her head when he reads her the story. I also used very easy and light vocabulary because Sarah is so young.

(2) Even though this is a very early draft and still rough in places, you can see that Sarah is an emotional little girl. Still, she is strong, and I tried to show that when she opened the window at the beginning of this snippet. She wants to face things, like the cold, but at times she doesn't know how. She wants to talk to her mother, to be more for her and for herself, but she doesn't know how to get that chance. As a character, Sarah is trying to figure out who she is, but has no idea how to do so.

*see previous post

I sit up on my bed and turn toward the window. Outside I can see a dusting of snow on the ground.  I know the air will be cold, but for some reason I want to feel it. Quickly, before I think twice, I unlock the window and push it open. A biting breeze blows back my hair. I imagine it looks like fire, red flames billowing out. I can’t help but close my eyes again, but I don’t keep them shut for long. My face feels as though it has a layer of frost on it, so I close the window and the fire dies.
I turn and see the only photo I have in my room, framed in pieces of dead oak, sitting on my nightstand. Everyone is there dressed in red and green; Dad, Mom, Logan, Adam, and me. Even our terrier Bach is in the corner, his head resting on Adam’s lap, drool cascading from his pink tongue. All of us are smiling, so I can’t help but grin.
My eyes find Logan and in a second I forget the picture completely. It’s as though the clouds have parted and the sun beams down on me. This memory of Logan makes me smile. I remember it as if it were today.
“Have you seen my black tie?” Dad’s voice is steady, a walking bass line even when he shouts. I find that if I talk at the exactly same time he does, my voice warbles as though I’m speaking in to a fan in the heat of summer.
“Check the second shelf in the closet!” Mom shouts back as she walks into my room. Her lips are painted a deep crimson and her eyes look like two dark secrets. She’s wearing her simple, black symphony dress. The one that looks like she keeps a thousand splendid secrets. “Sarah, does this look okay?”
She twirls. Instantly, her dress becomes waves of black smoke. Tendrils of the fabric deny gravity and then give in as they slowly fall and billow around her legs. Winks of the dress look almost purple, blinking at the light in the room.
I’m six. The only thing I know about fashion is that I can hardly breathe because Mom is so pretty like this.
“You look like a movie star,” I say.
She smiles. “Thanks, little girl,” she says as she touches my chin, and then turns to look in my mirror.
I scoot forward on my bed and hug my knees to my chest. “Are you and Dad going to be all night?”
“We’ll be late,” she says. She reaches for a necklace on my dresser, the silver one she got me after Grandma died. “I’m playing with the Boston Symphony tonight so you know how that goes. We should be back before midnight, but Logan and Adam will be here to get you to bed.”
She turns to face me. Her eyes, green like Adam’s, Logan’s, and mine, sparkle. I hope one day my smile will be as bright as hers.
“Honey, we’re late!” Dad calls from downstairs. “I put your coat and scarf by the door.”  I hear the front door open and close. Outside, an engine grumbles to life.
Mom leans forward and kisses my forehead. “Have a good night, Sarah. Love you.”
“Love you,” I say as she closes my door.
I hear the quick clicks of her shoes as she goes down the stairs, the slam of the front door closing with a wooden bang and the metallic clang of the cars. I hear the sigh of the car as it pulls out of the driveway and leaves me behind.
Minutes pass like hours. I hug my stuffed bear, Valentine, to my chest and open a book Mom left on my bed the night before. My eyebrows slant in and my eyes shrink. Words run across the pages, but I struggle to catch them. I know there’s a story there somewhere, but for now it’s lost.
A knock on my door.
Two short.
One high, one low.
Three as fast as you can.
Logan. He used our secret knock, and I smile because he hasn’t done that in years. I didn’t think he even remembered.
“Come in!” I say, maybe a little too loudly.
The door opens a crack and I see Logan’s dark, curly head of hair poke through it. He squints through his classes and his lips tilt up on one side. “How’s Valentine?”
I look to my bear. “He’s okay. Kinda sad, I guess.”
Logan comes all the way in now. His walk is much like Dad’s, powerful yet subdued in a way that makes me think I never know what will happen next. Logan is tall and lean, filled with a mystery I want so badly to figure out. Or maybe I just want a mystery of my own. 
I wonder if I’ll ever be like that.
Logan sits on my bed, and I rise a few inches from his weight. He smiles wide. His face is riddled with scruff, and his eyes look tired. In this light, just before true dark, he looks older than twenty.
“Why is he sad?” Logan says. He reaches to pat Valentine on the head. “Why are you sad, little Valentine?”
I shrug. “I don’t know. I guess he’s sad because he has to tuck himself in tonight.”
Logan’s smile grows wider, but for some reason his eyes seem much more sad than they were. I don’t ask why.
His voice has grown soft, deep and quiet like the end of something that once was loud. He looks at Valentine. “No you don’t, little bear. I’ll tuck you in tonight.”
He turns to me. “Would it be okay if I read Valentine a story? Just for a little while until he falls asleep.”
I hug Valentine tight. I pretend to whisper in his ear. I know my bear can’t hear or talk, but it will make Logan happy. “I guess. He’d probably like that.”
Logan takes the book I was trying to read, makes himself comfortable next to me so that our heads are side by side, and adjusts Valentine so he is between us.
“Ready, little Valentine?”
I nod.
Logan smiles and begins, “There once was a little boy who never wanted to grow up...”
The music stops and is replaced by footsteps. They are a crescendo of staccato beats coming closer. A knock on my door and Mom walks in. Her hair is up in a loose twist with a pencil cutting straight through. There are two flour handprints on her old college shirt.
“Happy birthday, little girl! Your birthday pancakes are almost done so I’m going to get Adam up, okay? Hurry up because you know they’ll be gone if he finds them first.”
She walks to my bed and gives me a quick hug. “You’re getting so big. Pretty soon you won’t need me anymore.”
I smile and hug her back. “I need to put pants on and then I’ll come downstairs.”
She runs a hand through my hair. “Okay.”
When the door closes behind her I am frozen in fear. I can’t imagine a world in which I wouldn’t need my Mom, but she seems to think the time is coming quickly.
I turn to my window and look out, hoping to find a star to wish upon. A north star, like in the story - the second star to the right.
But it’s morning, and so there are no stars.
Time is moving forward and I can’t stop it.


Voice Swagger

"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning." - Maya Angelou

This, I think, is why it's so important to focus on character's voice when writing. If a character does not have a voice, aside from the dialogue given to him, then he really isn't a character at all but just a series of words and events wanting to mean more. I've thought about this a lot today. Voice is tricky. Difficult. It's something that an author hears in his head and that he hopes translates into the readers as well. Not only does the author have to think about the main character's voice (if there is one), but he must think about the way the secondary characters would sound through that view point as well.

Um. Tricky. But I think this explains it well:

I'm thinking that I should write a little diddy that gives examples of (1) my style and (2) how I develop a character's voice.

*raises eyebrow*

I'm on it.

May 14, 2012

A Little Theory

Life isn't worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.  ― Albert Einstein


I think this suggests the theory that if you find the 'right' one and love them selflessly, they will love you the same and so the need to live for you and you alone is no longer really needed because the both of you are, in fact, one.