Book Recs [Writer’s Resources]

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If you’re interested in being a writer, as many voracious readers are, you might be like me and really appreciate some good resources for writing. Whether they’re how to guides or what to do next tips, any information is useful, right? (Well, no, not *any* information, but there is a lot of good stuff out there and it’s worth looking around.)

I’ve been doing research on several different topics for a while now, the main ones being “how to get published”. (This will probably be my last topic on my How To Write A Novel series, but I haven’t decided yet.) This is a really difficult question to answer because it’s so involved and has so many different defining factors. Just because you’ve written an awesome novel doesn’t mean that you will have a bestseller or even be published!

Crazy, right?

Which I think is why a lot of authors have gone the self-publishing route. (Let me be clear, I don’t disagree with this at all! If you can get with a big name publisher, more power to you, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies even then. It still involves a lot of work, a lot of selling yourself, and a lot less money than you need to live.) This means you, as the author have to be a *lot* more involved in the whole process. From editing to book covers to blurbs and marketing and formatting – all of that now falls on your shoulders. (For the record, a lot of this is *still* on your shoulders even when you get with a big name publisher. Unless you’re a big name yourself, you’re not going to get as much attention, money, or effort from your publisher as most people think.)

Makes you think twice about doing it, right?

Probably. But it shouldn’t. Because if you really want to get your book out there, but don’t have to cater to picky, conglomerate publishers who aren’t going to like what you’re writing, just because you haven’t already sold something, then self-publishing might be the answer. You get paid very little, but immediately. (Possibly more, but maybe not.) You have control over what’s in your book and on your book. And you, ultimately, make all of the calls.

So it’s not all terrible. It’s just a lot of work.

Since this is so much work, I thought I would throw a few informational resources out there for you guys to check out.

Websites.

Free and generally much shorter than a book, websites tend to be packed full of really good information that is easily accessible and broken down into bite sized, easily digested chunks of information.

Here’s a good list of resources that I like to use:

How to Write Shop – YA query letters (this site is good in general, but this post is about a query letter which is the first step to “selling” your book to a publisher or agent)

7 Tips to Promote Your Self-Published Book – Joanna Penn is AWESOME and I’m going to list one of her books later. Check out her site for general writer’s info, but this post is about marketing your book once you get it “live”.

Marketing Tools for Self-Published Authors – this one isn’t as “pretty” as the others in formatting/setup, but the info is good. Just go to the bolded points in the article to navigate.

40 Publishers That Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts – this one is really useful because a LOT of publishers will only consider looking at your manuscript if you have an agent. And having an agent isn’t necessarily bad, but you should definitely get some info on that before diving in. So if you’re not sure you want an agent, check out these publishers.

5 Elements … to Sell More Books – a good read with some suggestions on how to get your book to sell. A nice, quick read.

Books.

Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn – this one has a lot of really useful information in a very easy to read format. I love Penn and appreciate her suggestions. (I think she’s got a series of informational books on similar subjects, but this is the only one I’ve been reading thus far.) Her ebook was free on Amazon. (Amazon | Goodreads)

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell – this is good if you’re just starting out. It focuses on craft and the specifics of writing more than the publishing aspect. (Right now you can get this from Amazon for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.) (Amazon | Goodreads)

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King – you know I’m all about editing! For those of us on a budget, this is a good resource for doing as much editing on your own before investing in a real editor. (Amazon | Goodreads)

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt – I haven’t read this one personally, but it gets strong reviews and sounds like a good resource for anyone struggling with coming up with characters. (Right now you can get this from Amazon for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.) (Amazon | Goodreads)

The Mental Game of Writing by James Scott Bell – I’m including this one even though I haven’t read it yet just because I really WANT to. It’s on my list of “to buy when I have the money” (nonfiction version). It looks really good and if you’ll notice another of his books appears on this list, too, so I’m very hopeful. That being said, I haven’t read it so go to this one at your own risk – and if you do, let me know how it is! (It’s only $2.99 as the Kindle version.) (Amazon | Goodreads)

There are TONS more out there and if you guys have some recommendations, share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear them.

I know this was mostly focusing on publishing this time, but I hope that you guys get something out of the other books, too. I’m going to continue my How To series soon, but in the meantime, these can tide you over! The Kindle versions of some of them are pretty cheap and even free for those with Kindle Unlimited! If they aren’t, I always recommend searching for used copies, but stay away from sites that you’re unfamiliar with. I made that mistake just once in college and got off lucky – they didn’t get my personal info or my money, but it was a near thing. If you aren’t sure of a site, search for reviews OF THE SITE. They’ll usually tell you if you can trust them.

(Additionally, some of these may be duplicates from me other post about writer’s resources here. If so, I apologize!)

Thanks for checking out my post and I hope that it helps you guys out some! If you’ve got helpful tips or suggestions, share them below. I love to hear them.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

P.S. If any of the links are wrong, please let me know so that I can change them. Thanks!

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How to Write a Novel: Characters We Love – And Love To Hate

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Part four of my How to Write a Novel series, today’s post is all about characters! (Which, let’s be honest, is what you were waiting for anyway, right?) Here I’ll focus on a couple of things: names, physical descriptions, personalities, and some suggestions for things to stay away from. I’ll also mention some tropes involved with YA, which you can disregard for a lot of other genres, but might apply to your particular novel anyway.

Characters We Love – And Love To Hate

Let’s begin with this: you don’t have to like every character. Let me say that one again, you don’t have to like every character. And I know this will blow your mind, too, but you don’t even have to like your main character. Trippy, right? But I’m saying this, because a lot of the time you see these “happily ever after stories” that have all of these characters, none of which die, all of which are *mostly* likable, and in the end, they all get along/make amends/admit they were wrong/etc. (Twilight, I’m looking at you.) And at first you might be thinking, “Well, what’s wrong with that?”

Let me tell you, a lot.

First, let’s talk about why. Why can’t I have a bunch of BFF characters who all get along? Why does anyone have to die? Why, why, why?

Simple. Conflict.

If you have a villain, you have conflict. Without that villain you’re relying purely on the adventure or love story or whatever to pull the plot along. Which, okay, you can try, but there still has to be conflict. Otherwise, you just have “A Day In The Life Of Mary Sue” (if you don’t know what a Mary Sue is, Google it; they’re terrible). But here’s the thing. Most of us accept that we have to have a villain and that the villain shouldn’t be very likable, right? But what if I told you that it might be better if the villain was sort of likable in a tragic past, life has done terrible things to her/him, and now we feel sad for the poor thing? And what if I told you it might be better if there were qualities in the main character (Jill, our protagonist from a couple of posts ago?) that weren’t really appealing?

We have a tendency to want our good guys to be perfect when writing. Some of this has to do with self-fulfillment. I’ll never be perfect in real life, but my character can be. Some of this is just the need to see the good guys do good things and win in the end. Which is fine. But if you’re going to do that, I suggest a strong adventure story that focuses heavily on things like fighting monsters and slaying evil dragons and saving princesses. That way it can be expected, even though it’s very tropey. (But even then, be aware, that’s not what *most* people are looking for.) Also, you could try a HEA (happily ever after) romance where the love interest is perfect and is a wish fulfillment for most of the female audience reading it.

(I write these for a living, so I am very bored with that subject since I’m a ghostwriter. That being said, if you guys have some questions in that area, please feel free to ask and I’ll help out if I can!)

So, we mentioned sympathetic villains and not-quite-so-perfect protagonists (which is not necessarily the same as an anti-hero, but I’ll get to that later). How does this bring conflict?

It brings conflict because we as readers are torn. On the one hand, we know that the villain is the villain… but all of that tragedy! Some little part of us is rooting for them, if only to fulfill that lingering need for some kind of justice! Some kind of fairness! Some kind of right in the world! But the rest of us realizes that if the villain wins, the world ends. And that’s probably not very fair to everyone else.

See? Already there’s conflict.

But there’s more conflict to be had and I’m going to go back to my lovely Jill the Changeling character for an example.

Jill’s always been a loner – except for Adrian. He’s been her rock. Understanding and sweet even when she’s been a pain in the rear end. Even when she’s thrown her tantrums and exploded at him when it wasn’t his fault. If there were only two musketeers, they’d be it. And he is sort of cute… but Jill’s never felt that way about Adrian before. He tried to kiss her once and she actually spit out her punch at him. It had been a bad moment, but they’re okay now. They’re good. Then the other Jill shows up. Her human counterpart. All of a sudden, Jill realizes that Adrian may not have been the best friend she always thought he was. She sees him steal a kiss from her human self (the Other Jill, if you will) and has a terrible feeling. Especially when she hears them talking about killing someone – killing her. “I’m tired of pretending with her,” Adrian says. “Can’t we just kill her already? You have no idea how volatile and annoying that childish girl is!”

The above gives us a few different points of conflict and character revelation to deal with. 1) It offers us a glimpse of Jill, who apparently is somewhat moody/volatile, a loner, but ultimately when she forms a bond it is very intense. 2) The Other Jill has been to this world and already seduced Adrian. She’s enlisted him to kill Jill. 3) Adrian has been a spy for a *long* time. He has seemed perfect by Jill’s initial description – but it’s all been an act. So how much of that Adrian was there really? Was it *all* an act and if so, what about the time he tried to kiss Jill? Could it be that Adrian isn’t as perfect, but also isn’t as cold blooded as he seems?

All of this is helpful, because it leaves us in emotional turmoil about the characters. This creates internal conflict combining with situational conflict. The plot is moving along with its own issues and complexities, but we’re starting to get the *real* stuff here from the characters. That’s why having imperfect, conflicted characters is important.

Now that I’ve spent *forever* on conflict, let’s move on. I’ll semi-smoothly segue into character personalities.

So, there are a couple of ways to figure out character personalities. Working out which one is for you depends on what kind of writer you are and what kind of novel you’re writing, so I’ll give you a quick list here. If you’ve got another way that works out better than you, by all means use that. These are all just suggestions and helpful tips in the end.

  • Decide what kind of characters your story needs. If you’re writing a story about dragon riders, then you probably need a dragon rider, right? But dragon riders are probably strong and brave, so decide if you need a character that fits that – or one who is the opposite of that, yet miraculously turns out to be the chosen one! I’ll give a Jill example:

Our story is about Faeries. So we need a Faerie, but our story is also at least partially set in the human world – so we need a human, too. We also want someone strong enough to survive this world and what happens in it. Jill is a Changling. This means she is a Faerie. But she’s been raised as a human. This tells us two things: She probably has some hereditary characteristics associated with Faeries – vanity, loftiness, flirtatiousness maybe? – but also some environmental characteristics which are from being raised as a human, possibly ones which conflict directly with the others. Strong work ethic, determination, kindness, empathy. 

So now we have a list of characteristics that help us decide what kind of person she is. They still need to be fleshed out, but we can extrapolate from these that she’s stubborn, a little conceited, kind if a little distant, and empathetic – but probably not sympathetic. That gives us a lot to work with and tells us how she’s going to react in a lot of situations. We should keep this list in mind while writing, so that Jill doesn’t become a little “out of character” (OOC) as we go. She should behave according to the traits above – or there should be a very strong reason that she doesn’t.

  • Focus on the details first, then expand. This one is about giving her little personal details – physical or otherwise – and deciding what sort of personality she has based on those details. Another Jill example below.

Butterfly shaped scar on her hip. Best friends with Adrian; doesn’t have other friends. Spends time daydreaming in a field of wildflowers. Hates swimming. Has detention on a regular basis. Her parents always fight. Daydreams about her life “really starting”. Works every summer at an ice cream shop – and hates it.

This one looks like a collection of random facts about our character. Which it is, but it can tell us about her personality, too, if we look through it. She doesn’t have any friends beyond Adrian – so she’s not a very sociable person. She spends a lot of time daydreaming – and waiting on life starting for real, meaning she feels entitled to more in her life rather than the small town she’s stuck in. Her parents fighting… That could cause a sense of distance for her, of loneliness maybe, or of anger and resentment. Could account for her “loftiness”? The detention suggests that she’s headstrong and butts heads with authority figures. And the working, well, that goes back to her work ethic, doesn’t it? Despite hating the job, she still does it. And she does it every summer, meaning they keep hiring her back. The scar? Maybe that hints to her Faerie heritage!

So you see, we got the same information in a very different way. We need to keep track of these details though so that when they come up again, we can use them correctly and effectively.

  • Base on a real character… then make them fictional. This one is a little… iffy. A lot of times using a real person to create a fictional one is a great idea. It gives your character depth that you might not have achieved otherwise. That being said, be careful with this. Not everyone wants a starting role in your novel, best selling or not. Which is why I say if you’re going to do this, use the “real” person as a base, then change him/her to suit your story – and keep her/him from resembling the real person too closely. My example:

Real Person: five foot nothing, reddish brown hair, freckles, a little plump. Mother of three. She’s whimsical, selfish, and flighty. But she laughs often and is never afraid to try something new.

Fictional Person: five foot nothing with red hair and pale skin. A ton of freckles. She’s curvy and a little self-conscious of her weight, but doesn’t let it weigh her down. She studied poetry in college, but when the time came to settle down after she got pregnant with her first and only child, she took that secretary job and put aside childish things. She still laughs, but quietly, and she still daydreams about all of the exciting things she’d been planning on doing, but never got around to.

In the above example, we took a few characteristics of the real person and shifted them to suit our needs. Now the fictional person above seems like a realistic fit for Jill’s mother – and only resembles the real person a little bit. (This is a very basic example. You can use events, family history, etc. of the real person. Just make sure you change and shift everything enough to where you’ve got an original character, not a real one.)

  • Figure out what’s happened in their life and how this has shaped them. This one uses events to shape how a character has developed as a means of figuring out their personality from those events. (This is a lot like the details example.) A Jill example:

When Jill was only six, she found a “faerie ring” which was actually just a bunch of rocks set out in a pretty circle. When she stepped over it, she fainted. When she woke up, the world seemed different. She saw a young boy staring down at her and he asked, “Are you okay?” His name was Adrian.

At twelve, Jill was hit by a car. She was crossing the street; the driver was drunk. He swerved, but the car rolled. It rolled right on top of Jill. When the ambulance got there, she looked so bad that they were sure she was going to die. She didn’t.

At fourteen, Adrian asked Jill to go to the dance with him. She thought as friends, but they dressed up anyway. Adrian tried to kiss her then and she almost spit punch out on him. Because she didn’t do “romance” and definitely not with him.

At fifteen, she got permission to work part time at an ice cream parlor. She hated it, but forced herself to smile at the customers and tell them to come again. She hated the little kids running around all over the place and didn’t appreciate the stares from the older guys she always got. She knew she was good looking, but did they have to stare like dogs?

Obviously this exercise was, by nature, a little more detailed than the others. But if you sift through what you have here, you’ve basically come to the same conclusion. Here we see that she has a strong work ethic, even if she doesn’t like her job. She isn’t into romance, but she still dresses up (vanity) and still strung Adrian along in some capacity (flirtatious). She knows that people look at her, knows that she’s something to look at, but doesn’t like it (distance from her peers). So we still get an idea of what kind of personality Jill has, but we also get some background info on her, too, which is why I really enjoy this exercise.

I *will* add that you should also just keep a list of her characteristics to help yourself out. All of these exercises are useful, but if you still aren’t sure what they mean, go ahead and spell it out for yourself and reference them later.

Moving on.

Names.

I don’t know about you, but for some reasons names get me stuck. Maybe it’s only me, but if I haven’t named a character, I can’t get very far in the writing process. How can I when my MC doesn’t have anything to be called by – other than MC? What if Jill wasn’t Jill? She was just MC. Not very appealing, right?

So a lot of times instead of writing, I end up spending *hours* looking at names and trying to find one that a) I like and b) suits my character. So I’m going to list a few quick points on this before moving to the next topic.

  • Pick names you like – or you don’t like.

If you pick names that *you* like, you’re more likely to like your character. And you’re more likely to pick your name. But the opposite is mostly true if you don’t like your character. If the villain of my story is the evil queen of Faerie and I *hate* the name Elizabeth, then I could name my evil queen Elizabeth and be pretty confident than I’m not going to like her. (An example only; I actually don’t have a problem with the name Elizabeth.) But if I’m simply fascinated with the name Laura and I name the queen that, it sort of ruins the name for me OR makes me really like my villain! So liking (and not liking) the names you pick is important.

  • Don’t worry so much on meaning unless you have a lot of symbolism in your story already.

Here’s the one a lot of people get stuck on. “But she’s a werewolf! She should have a name meaning wolf!” Okay, I understand where you’re going with this, but… it’s not necessarily true. Unless your character was born as a werewolf, raised by other werewolves, in a society that names based on symbolism – this is sort of moot point. (And even then, wouldn’t everyone have a name meaning wolf then?) Why? Because your character likely started as a normal human girl. If you’re making a big deal about destiny or irony (Kitty and the Midnight Hour folks!), then you can use a “wolf” name. But otherwise just pick a name you like. Because most of the time our names don’t “fit” us when we’re born, because we have no real personality when we’re named. The meaning comes after the fact.

  • You can change names later – but it’s hard.

You should stick with your initial pick. HOWEVER, if it just really doesn’t feel right, you can change it. Just be sure you remember the change, like it, and don’t do it a lot. If I don’t think Jill really fits and I’d rather have Julianna, that’s fine. But I shouldn’t skip between Julianna, Jill, Jillian, Morgan, Mathilda, and Amanda. Why? Because it gets confusing and you start associating ALL those names with this one MC making them hard to use for later characters. So try to pick something you like the first time around.

  • Make a list – mark what you’ve used.

Go through and just write down (or type up) lists of names you really like. Separate them by gender, include meanings if you’d like. That way, when you need to name a character, you can just go through the lists instead of looking through baby books and the internet for just *one* name. (You can do this for last names, too.) Just be sure that when you actually use a name for a character, you mark it as used that way you don’t have duplicate characters in your stories. (Sounds unlikely, but you’d be surprised…)

  • Don’t worry about what other people are doing.

If everyone’s using bizarre, unusual names, but you really love classic names – use classic names. If everyone’s got boys names for girls names, but you hate it, then don’t do it. If everyone’s doing the nickname thing, but you just like longer, more elegant names, do that instead. Because all of this is cyclical and what’s popular now won’t last forever. You’re book may fit more with the names of next year than this year and that’s okay. You’re book will be around longer than these trends.

Physical descriptions.

There are some key descriptions that you usually want to have handy: Hair color/length/quality (soft/coarse/curly/straight), eye color (maybe size/shape/eyelashes), height (average/tall/short), and body shape (petite/curvy/heavyset/willowy).Those are the main identifiers that will tells us what your character looks like in relation to other characters. That being said, you might also include things like “she has a scar through her left eyebrow” or “she has three piercings on her face and a tattoo that runs the length of her back” or even just “her boobs were flat as paper but her booty couldn’t seem to fit into anything”. You don’t need any of these (not even the key descriptions listed above), but they’re helpful and unless there’s a specific reason you’re avoiding describing your characters, you should know what they look like – and tell us at some point, too.

*Do us a favor, don’t make them all look the same. And unless your story is set in Iceland, Australia, or California, please don’t make them all blonde. Seriously, natural blondes account for approximately 2% of the population of the world. And it gets annoying when *all* the characters look like beach bunnies.

(I’m going to quick mention race here: If it’s important, mention it, but mention it for *everyone*. If it’s not, let your reader come to their own conclusions. If the culture is a big deal for your story – say they’re from China and you want them to interact in America for the first time; they’re culture is then rather important for how they might behave. BUT if this is a Fantasy novel where characters have darker skin but are from the plant Piersollei, then they really don’t have the same cultures *we* do which means you have creative freedom. Just be sure that you are respectful and culturally aware when applicable. Try to avoid stereotypes unless you are making social commentary on them, because we are not as individuals necessarily indicative of the stereotype.)

What to stay away from.

I’m sure that at some point you’ve been reading a story and just thought, “Hm, that character is *so* [fill in the blank]”. You ended up just hating them and they sort of ruined the story for you. Why is that? Well, it might be for one of the reasons below – which is a good indication that you should *not do these things*.

  • Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu

In a word, Perfect. Seriously. A Mary-Sue character was originally used for FanFiction. The Original Characters created by the writer would be perfect in every way and loved by everyone – and hated and desired by the villain both, seriously. They would never do anything wrong, never be wrong, and even if they somehow were, that wrongness was actually condoned by everyone else. Really. This character is perfect, but also humble, maybe a little self-depreciating “Oh, I’m not beautiful (even though all the boys want me)!”. (Bella from Twilight is actually a really good example – all the boys want her, even though she’s Plain Jane; she’s super special omg mega powers; she never does anything to make anyone dislike her – and when she does mess up, they forgive her almost instantly.) This character is the most obnoxious character anyone can stumble upon. Because they aren’t realistic. No one’s really perfect and having flawed characters makes for a more interesting novel and a better overall experience. (The Gary-Stu is simply the male counterpart for this.)

  • Stagnant

You’re characters should evolve, change, become something else (better or worse) as a result of the things that have happened in their life. EX: Jill never thought she needed anyone – until she realized that Adrian was only playing her all along. Now Jill can’t deny the loneliness. She has to cave and admit that she needs help. She can’t do this alone. Originally, Jill is supposed to be self-sufficient, a loner type, but circumstances make her see the “error of her ways” or at least that she can’t do this as one woman against the Faerie world. This means her personality has changed as a result of the story. That’s a good thing. Let’s do more of that.

  • Typical/Predictable

He’s from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s dangerous. He’s slept with every girl in town – except your MC. She’s holding out, but falling for him, too. What’s more, he’s falling for her! Now he’s reforming, because all he needed was the right woman. Your MC. <– Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s because it’s every Bad Boy romance out there and it’s *annoying*. Stop recycling the same plots and characters. Get creative. Have her fall for the Bad Boy and have him *think* she’s the one – but he can’t reform. He still cheats on her. She realizes he’ll never be what she needs. She falls in love with her best friend instead. But the Bad Boy is furious and stalks her. Obsesses over her. Tries to kill her. Her best friend saves her life and the Bad Boy goes to a mental institution. See? Much more interesting. And less predictable.

  • Unnecessary

Why was that character there? If you don’t know, he/she shouldn’t be there. Ever. If they don’t bring anything to the story, take them out. I’m not saying every character should have a purpose, but if you put in that girl in the pink pinstriped socks who loves bubblegum and candy colored hair, wears bright green lipstick and puts rhinestones on her eyelids and ALL SHE DOES is pop her bubble gum and say “hi” once in the entire novel, you should probably take her out – or make her less noticeable. Unless she’s going to be important in book two. Why? Because she’s so noticeable and we spend so much time on her descriptor that it’s distracting. We keep expecting her to come back. So make her important, or tone her down a little – or make her the norm. *Everyone* wears green lipstick. Everyone loves bubblegum. Whatever. Just make sure that she serves a purpose.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a character, but it’s worth a little effort. Make them interesting. Make us love them. Make us hate them. Just make sure we’re feeling something, because if we’re not, then what’s the point?

Thanks for checking in to my How To series! I hope you guys enjoyed and will stick around next time for (drumroll please) The Outline of Doom! It’ll finally focus on outlining, which is probably not what you’re looking forward to, but has always been the most helpful part of the process!

As always, if you have any comments or tips to share, feel free to post them below! If you guys have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

 

Guest Post: Music & Allerleiraugh by Chantal Gadrouy

Music & Allerleirauh by Chantal Gadrouy

I never knew authors used music to help them write until I discovered Twilight. I was an early fan of the novels (because all the RobPattz stuff, and the crying girls being slammed into mall doors) back in 2005. I would creep onto Stephanie Meyer’s website on our school computers and read everything she ever shared with her fans back in those days. And then I remember finding “The Playlist.”

I found this to be a real treat because I loved music so much! I never really thought about how a book could have a soundtrack, in a way, however unofficial it may be. I took it upon myself to try to find every single song that I could and arrange it in the same way S. Meyer had supplied on her site – and then quickly re-read the novel with headphones in my ears. It was an experience, to say the least. I started to do with with every book that I could. I even recall reading “Ella Enchanted” to the Peter Pan 2003 soundtrack – and still, to this day, I can’t listen to it without thinking of Ella and her glass shoes and the Prince.

With one novel already under my belt, and a developed soundtrack for “Seven Seeds of Summer,” approaching “Allerleirauh,” I knew I wanted a softer sort of music to tell this story. I started to go through my library, YouTube, iTunes – just searching for soundtracks of movies that I loved – or movies that I knew were either “romantic” or “historical” – and started to put them together.

It can be really influential when writing a novel – to have just the right music playing. It can really make all the difference in the world. A ball scene might feel even more real; a scene of discovered love –  the emotion between a Prince and Princess. Just as soundtracks do in movies, it helps to tell a story; to influence us – the viewer, the reader, in how to feel during a scene (or for books, after the fact.)

The Playlist to “Allerleirauh” is richly full of songs from Dario Marianelli – “Anna Karenina,” and “Jane Eyre.” Ilan Eshkeri’s “The Young Victoria,” Max Richter, Nick Murray (Aeon Album – you should just buy this.) Olafur Arnalds, Roberto Caccipaglia, Dustin O’Halloran, Hans Zimmer and The Cinematic Orchestra. It was a really fun playlist to put together and listen to – daily! I felt it really helped me in developing the tragedy in the Kingdom of Tränen between Aurelia and her father, and the love story between Aurelia and Prince Klaus.

  • “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey had a lot of influence in the novel. It’s probably one of the “main” songs that I listened to as “Allerleirauh” played out.
  • “A Historic Love” from the Tudors Soundtrack was actually a song I used for the few balls in the beginning of the novel. And for Part Two, different scenes between Klaus and Aurelia.
  • “Crystallize” by Lindsey Stirling was actually the first song on the “Allerleirauh” playlist. I had just discovered who she was on YouTube, and fell in LOVE with this song. She was a part of my early developing stages of Aurelia and Klaus. While it doesn’t really “fit” the novel – I never had the heart to take it off the list.
  • You might think it’s a bit strange that “Earned it” – a cover of the song, was a influence in the rape scene between the King and Aurelia (yes, be warned, there is a rape scene in this novel) – but the way the song has been covered, really kind of fit that uncomfortable sense as the scene unfolded. You can find a link to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RWl24TUW6g (You might find a new creepy way of hearing this song.)
  • “Transformation” by The Cinematic Orchestra was always a song of hope. Whether it was while Aurelia and Myriah planned for a way of escape, or if it was Aurelia on the Lake with Prince Klaus. This song really captures the hope Aurelia feels; this is what I’d call the “Aurelia song.” It’s only fitting that the song would be called “Transformation” – for all the transforming Aurelia does!
  • “The Earth Prelude” by Ludovico Einaudi was probably one of the songs most played on this playlist. It was more heavily used during Part Two, when Aurelia went to stay in Saarland der Licht with Prince Klaus. The scene at the lake, the times that Klaus came to her door – this was the song really influenced the love between them.
  • “I Understood Something” — “Leaving Home, Coming Home,” “Dance with Me,”  “Someone is Watching,” “Lost in a Maze,”  and “A Birthday Present,” were the songs that I listened to as Klaus broke the news of an arranged marriage, their dinner and the scene of them in the forest – where they shared their first kiss.  (All from the Anna Karenina soundtrack.)
  • “Victoria and Albert” was the way I imagined the novel to end – on a soft and “recovered” note. Things have been played out between Aurelia and the characters around her – and there is a promise of hope and peace – and a future. (Without giving too much away.) Just listen, you’ll hear and understand.

I’ve actually made a playlist for all of you to enjoy as well! So if you’re curious, you can listen to some of the songs (I was able to find some of them) – and enjoy “Allerleirauh” differently the next time you read it! [Link provided below]

Thank you so much for having me today, and I hope you enjoy all the music! Until next time!

Chantal

Links & External Information

Allerleirauh Playlist

Book Trailer

Buy Allerleirauh (Amazon, Barnes&Noble)

Book Information

Allerleirauh
Name: 
Allerleirauh
Author: Chantal Gadoury
Type of Publication: Self-published
ISBN: 1522880801
Pages: 232
I received a free ebook copy from the author. I will be posting an honest review later on.

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About the Author

Chantal GadouryChantal Gadoury is a Young Adult author originally from Muncy, PA. Chantal enjoys painting in her spare time, having a good cup of coffee whenever she gets the chance, and appreciates watching her favorite Disney classics with her loved ones. When she’s not busy crafting or reading, Chantal is dedicated to her family: Mom, sister, and a furry-puppy-brother (and a wonderful father who now lives in heaven). As a 2011 college graduate from Susquehanna University with a degree in Creative Writing, Chantal is proud to finally call herself an author. It is a dream come true!

Allerleirauh Guest Post

Dear Reader;

I am happy to announce that I’ll be hosting a guest post by author Chantal Gadoury. Her book Allerleirauh is a self-published work in the YA fantasy genre.

As most of you know, I have a love hate relationship with self-publishing. The concept of it I find to be quite lovely. Cut out the middle man (which is now two middle men in the form of not only Publishing Houses, but also in Agents whom you need to have in order to get to the aforementioned Publishing Houses) and get straight to the good stuff! The downside, however, is that often times self-published manuscripts are not as polished as many of the Publishing House books (and I don’t mean all, because I’ve seen actual published books that were horrid and I’ve seen some great manuscripts that were straight to self-publishing heaven). But I want to be clear that I support authors who are just trying to get their work out there and I’m not anti-self-publishing. Instead, I think that we need to make sure that people know what they’re getting into. That they realize that they still need to put in the same work and effort as someone who goes through a Publishing House. Otherwise, what’s the point? No one wants to read a bunch of poorly written junk! (Okay, there are some, but we’re not talking about them here.)

So I figure it’s important to encourage people to write, but also to edit. And it’s also important to help give a boost to the authors who are putting in the time and effort to get their stuff not only out there, but out there in the best way they can.

Which is why I’m so pleased that I will be able to host Ms. Gadoury on the 27th of this month (June, 2016)! There will be a special post by her talking about her book and some of her influences in writing. I hope you’ll all stop by and check it out. Feel free to ask questions via comments and check out her book!

I have the information for her book below as well as some info about the author herself. Check it out and help support some of the hard working writers out there!

Sincerely,

E.C. Orr

Book Information

Allerleirauh
Name: 
Allerleirauh
Author: Chantal Gadoury
Type of Publication: Self-published
ISBN: 1522880801
Pages: 232
I received a free ebook copy from the author. I will be posting an honest review later on.

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About the Author

Chantal GadouryChantal Gadoury is a Young Adult author originally from Muncy, PA. Chantal enjoys painting in her spare time, having a good cup of coffee whenever she gets the chance, and appreciates watching her favorite Disney classics with her loved ones. When she’s not busy crafting or reading, Chantal is dedicated to her family: Mom, sister, and a furry-puppy-brother (and a wonderful father who now lives in heaven). As a 2011 college graduate from Susquehanna University with a degree in Creative Writing, Chantal is proud to finally call herself an author. It is a dream come true!

Author Spotlight: Lysa Daley

Dear Reader;

I haven’t done an Author Spotlight for a while and honestly, it was because I haven’t felt like doing it on a REALLY well know author (like Suzanne Collins or Veronica Roth or one of the classics, you know?), so I’ve been putting it off. But recently I had the privilege of reading an AMAZING book and it’s just occurred to me that I should definitely do a little bumping!

Today my focus is on Lysa Daley (I’ll list her website below as well as the book information). She’s written only one book with the second coming out this coming May! (I’m so excited!) The series is a trilogy, The Dark Skies trilogy as a matter of fact, and it’s about aliens.

Now, now, before you all start running for the hills, I want you to know that I am not a huge alien reader. In fact, aside from Ender’s Game, I can’t think of a single alien-focused book that I’ve read that I really enjoyed. And if you recall, Ender’s Game doesn’t necessarily have a lot of involvement with the actual aliens. Go figure. But I saw that this book – Unvelied: Dark Skies Trilogy book 1 – was being offered as a RAR (read and review, where the author provides a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review) and I thought, what the heck, right?

I’ve been doing a lot of RARs lately and I’ll be honest: So many have been bombs. Really bad bombs. A few have been just so-so, not really getting me invested enough to check out sequels and earning an average rating of about three stars (out of five). In fact, the ones I *thought* I was really going to enjoy ended up being disappointing to say the least. So by the time I reached this one on my list, I was nervous. In fact, I was downright dreading it.

Then I read the first 2 % of the book and was floor. It was AMAZING. I thought, “what voice! What character! What believability!” Honestly, my real thoughts there. I thought the writing was incredibly well done. It wasn’t over the top and flowery as some books can be these days (which is not necessarily a bad thing, but can get very tedious as with September Girls by Bennett Madison), and it had real character in just a short amount of time. Astrid (I know, it took me a minute to get past the name, but it’s okay, it’s a Sci Fi novel, remember?) has a very spunky, slightly sarcastic, well developed voice and attitude that make her very believable as a teenager who has been dragged all over the place. She’s not overly full of herself, but not mopey either. She’s just normal, which of course she’s anything but. She’s relatable, the kind of girl you imagine yourself being friends with and getting coffee with, so down to earth that you’re just like, “Yep, you and me, total BFFs.” Daley nailed her voice so perfectly that I was almost afraid it would drop off, because it was so good at the beginning.

But it didn’t.

This was one of those stories, where the novel held its own right up to the end. No questions asked. Ruby was very good at the best friend, balancing out Astrid’s own personality, with a natural upbeat, fashionable sound, but not overly annoying personality of her own that was just as strong and believable. Within a few chapters, I was invested in these characters and they continued to defy my expectations. Whenever I thought, “Oh, this is just another stereotype” it was BAM, let me show you how these characters have DEPTH. It was amazing.

I could go on and on about Unveiled, as I am inexplicably in love with it, but I’ll just post my review later. Instead, I wanted to mention that Lysa Daley has done a fantastic job of creating a wonderful, adventurous and engaging debut novel that has a very strong voice and an interesting plotline even for someone who doesn’t usually invest time in Science Fiction. I was incredibly impressed.

In a sea of mediocre authors (growing in numbers daily), I was impressed and so pleased to come across Ms. Daley. She has blown me away and I look forward to her second book, Uninvited. I really encourage you all to check out Unveiled. I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really hope that you give it a try anyway. Why? Because being an author is hard – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hard to get your work out there. Hard to get a shot in a world where the mediocre and the dumbed down are so often taken for genius because they’ve been swallowed whole by the masses. Even if you don’t like the story, you’ll like the writing. Yes, it’s YA. Yes, it’s first person POV. Yes, it’s about aliens. And YES, it’s brilliant.

Give it a shot, because you might be a little surprised by what you come across.

Sincerely,

E.C. Orr

P.S. I wanted to mention that I did receive a copy of this book for free. I also wanted to mention that Ms. Daley has NO idea that I’ve featured her here on my blog. I pride myself on being honest, even when I feel bad for not liking something, because I feel it’s important to give credit where credit is due. I have in no way received any monetary compensation or otherwise been compensated for this post or my review.

Lysa Daley’s website: http://www.lysadaley.com/

Book Information:

Title: Unveiled: The Dark Skies Trilogy book 1
Author: Lysa Daley
ASIN: B01B8QD8RG
Language: English
Approximate Length: 411 pages
I have a free e-book version.

**Keep an eye out for book 2 Uninvited coming out in May!**

On the Writing Side

Dear Reader

I don’t know how many of you avid readers out there double as would-be-authors as well (I fall into this category myself), but I always wonder how other people process their ideas. Do they coalesce into interesting and crazy stories as you write? Or did you outline the whole thing before even starting? Did you start off with a character name that EXPLODED into a whole new universe of other things? Or do you just drabble until things finally start looking like a story, piecing them all together after the fact?

And biggest of all: How many things are you working on at once?

My computer is full of dozens of unfinished stories. I used to just have them all gathered into a single folder that was titled “Originals” (so titled because I used to write Fan Fiction and I’m not ashamed!). As things have progressed, however, I found that there were too many random stories for a single folder like that. So I created sub folders based on categories (I’m all about categories). Paranormal, realism/human, shapeshifter, vampire, mythology based, witches, ghost, (most of these are paranormal, but for those that don’t quite fit in the others, I have a separate folder for them), dystopian / apocalypse… Pretty much all of them are YA, so I don’t organize based on that specification. So I had all of these subfolders so that I could organize what I had, but that still wasn’t enough. I found there were too many folders and sub folders and so on. So now I have a “Currently Working On” folder which has all of my current projects (which have their own folders because I’ve got a ton of notes and scenes and character bios which don’t all go into one document because… uh, yeah, I’d never find anything in those). That’s helped to narrow down a couple of things to me, but mainly it’s shown me what’s important to me now.

I’ve had most of these stories for so long that my writing style isn’t even the same anymore! I’ve changed and so have my stories, so organizing things into the “what I’m working on now” category has helped me sift through to find the gems among the wreckage. (I encourage all you avid writers out there to try this out and see what you think.)

But here’s the thing: I still have about a dozen on-going projects that I’d like to do something with. It’s difficult for me to focus on just one, because I have a tendency to get tired with them or not know where to take them or get distracted, because I’ve suddenly had this new brilliant (I say this only moderately sarcastically) idea. It’s meant that I’m left with all of these half written stories and nothing finished. On the plus side, having this many stories allows me to keep from getting too tired of something. Whenever I get bored with a project, I can put it aside and work on something new for a while, then come back to the other one again with fresh eyes. I think that may be beneficial, but it’s so time consuming. I worry that I’ll never finish anything and I wonder what other people’s thoughts are on this one.

Have you finished something? (Feel free to share a link below if you have! If I can check it out I will and maybe I’ll make an Author Spotlight post for you, too.)

Do you encounter a lot of writer’s block?

How do you deal with too many ideas or not enough?

And, what do you like to write? (Because, it’s fun!)

Share your thoughts on the matter below and as I’ve mentioned, feel free to send me links to your book if you’ve got one published. I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting!

Sincerely

E.C. Orr

The Right Medium: On Paper or On Screen

Dear Reader

Few and far between is the phrase I use to describe a screen adaptation (whether TV series or movie) that is better than the book it is based upon. But it happens. I think usually this has more to do with the failings of the book than the quality of the screen version (though not always, I suppose), resulting in the screen version becoming what you had *hoped* to find in the book version.

I have two examples right off the top of my head – and could probably find a few others if I did enough digging. But first, to clarify.

I’m not talking about movies that are “good in their own right, existing in an equally good universe of their own, separate but just as awesome as the book series.” I’m talking about a book series (which may or may not have a relatively large following on it’s own) which is transformed by the TV show and/or movie. For example, I would say that the new Divergent series was decently done as a movie, but I wouldn’t call it better than the book. As the movies continue, however, I find that I like the sequels to Divergent better in screen format. But on the whole, I wouldn’t say that the series is better as movies rather than books. (It’s a subtle difference, but I promise it’s there!) The same could be said of The Hunger Games, which has been done really well as movies – but I wouldn’t say they’re better than the books.

The examples I have in mind of book series that failed as books, but flourished as on screen adaptations are Bitten by Kelley Armstrong and The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith.

Both have been turned into TV series which have done (in my opinion) remarkably well. In the case of Bitten, I watched the show first and liked it so much that I got several of the books (the first six as a package deal, I think). I was so excited to start them, because I’d gone through the TV series on a Netflix binge the other night and was going through withdrawals.

bitten02

When I finally got the chance to read the book I was so disappointed. Everything I’d loved in the TV show was suddenly mutilated by this poorly written piece of literary garbage. I was devastated. (I’m told that the series gets *much* better as it progresses, but I’m not sure I have the energy to waste on a book series that has started off so awfully.)

The TV show showed us the intricacies of the relationships between the characters, built a complex world, and made us understand the choices that characters inevitably made (for better or worse) and how those choices were ultimately made out of a place of necessity (and often resulted in regret much later). The characters had a density that you just didn’t get in the book.

Worse still, I’m pretty sure that the book confuses the line between choice and coercion (and rape), while the TV show explains to us how interpersonal relationships are complicated and maybe we don’t always have the whole story – and I never really felt like Elena was doing something that she just flat out didn’t want. In the book, I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I think it was more like she was trying to convince herself that she did want things so that she would be okay with what was happening.

Which, not okay. Ever. It was a big reason for why I hated the first book and why I’m not really all that interested in reading the next book.

So, the second series was The Vampire Diaries and I actually read the first two books of that series before ever seeing the show. (Which makes the fact that I gave the show a chance at all really sad.) I read the books thinking that it was just awful! I hated the characters, the style, found the plot to be implausible (even for a vampire series!) and ultimately was so annoyed with everything that I’m a little shocked I made it through even one book, much less both.

Vampire Diaries2

When I tried the TV show, I think it may have been out of morbid curiosity – I’m not sure. And while I’ve grown tired of it now (I don’t know how many seasons it’s made it, but I’m burned out on it, because after a certain point it just felt like it was the same stuff happening over and over again), initially I found it incredibly well done, especially since it was based off of a generally terrible book series. The TV show had characters with a lot more depth and history, a main character that you didn’t automatically hate by her mere presence, and vampires who were both scarier and more likable. There was real danger going on, but at the same time, you understood why Elena (ironically, both main female characters from Bitten and The Vampire Diaries are named Elena) would risk those dangers to be a part of a world that she maybe didn’t belong in. All in all, the show was oodles more entertaining and you didn’t have to sift through terrible writing.

I’m sure there are other examples of this strange phenomena (though there are a heck of a lot more examples of movies and TV shows bombing after turning a perfectly good book series into an awful screen adaptation), but those are the only two that I’ve experienced both mediums and come to this conclusion.

Secret Circle2

I do have my suspicions though. I think Secret Circle, despite only having one season as a TV show, was probably better than the book series (I say this because it was written by the same author, L.J. Smith, as The Vampire Diaries) and possibly Witches of East End, though that one is really hard to say, because I haven’t read the books and haven’t encountered the author elsewhere. (I am starting Blue Bloods which is by the same author, so maybe I’ll have a more informed opinion there and I can update afterwards.)

Witches of East End2

The point is, amidst horrid adaptations like Vampire Academy, Blood and Chocolate, Twilight (though there was no saving that particular disaster), Cirque du Freak, and about a thousand others that should have been awesome and simply weren’t, there are examples of putting a good idea that was poorly written and making it into the awesomeness it was always meant to be.

I’ll also make a quick note. I didn’t mention The Mortal Instruments  here, because I didn’t want to pick a fight, but I think I need to. First, I will say I have only read the first in the series – then I had to stop. The reason for this is because I learned a lot about author Cassandra Clare after reading the book. (I have also seen the movie and go back and forth about whether or not I’m okay to watch the TV show, which looks loads better than the movie.) She has been accused of plagiarism (and not just for the current similarities to Sherrilyn Kenyon, which is incredibly convincing based on the evidence that’s been made available to the public). It’s been there since her fan fiction days, and if you’d like to take a look, I’d recommend this post and this site. (I can’t find the original one that I stumbled across which was so compelling, but these are equally good and should give a decent perspective of why I can’t support Clare anymore.)

City of Bones

Anyway, the reason that I’m mentioning Clare and her series here is that I think the book was okay. It wasn’t amazingly good, but it wasn’t wretched either. The movie was horrible, but the TV show looks decent. All of these points seem interesting to me, because they speak of something else that’s going on: Selling out.

Authors don’t make a lot of money. It’s a small business and if you’re writing for a living, you’re likely losing your ass on it. You fall into the “starving artist” category as easily as musicians and painters. It’s inevitable unless you are one of the few like Rowling and Collins and Roth who have hit the proverbial jackpot of writing. They’ve lucked out (and while it is talent, much of it is also luck), but most authors, good or bad, do not.

Which means that Clare, who has stolen the work of other authors (good authors), has become famous by walking on other people’s backs and she is still winning at a game where most will fail. It’s rather despicable and nourishes the idea that I simply can’t support her in any way. (So, I suppose I won’t be watching the series, despite it looking good and my utter love of redheads.) It also says that she’s sold out – to publishers where she’s churning out cookie cutter books for the masses; to producers who are creating yet more filler trash based on her books, because people will watch them regardless of whether or not they’re good; to TV stations that could care less that they are supporting someone who is, for all intents and purposes, a thief.

Welcome to the world of writing, where it doesn’t matter how good you are or the kind of quality you are capable of, but whether or not you sell.

I encourage you to perk up your ears and listen when someone starts insinuating that an author has plagiarized, because she’s taking money from the hands of people who have put their hearts and souls into their work and don’t have much to show for it. (And do your research, because you never know who is right and who is wrong and who is just trying to sue for a little bit of money and attention. Both happen. And if anyone can give me strong counter evidence to say that Clare *hasn’t* plagiarized, then I’d love to look at that, too.) Be a wary reader and not just one of the masses.

And now, I’ll step down off my soapbox, because I’m a little disgusted with myself for making so much of this post about Clare when it wasn’t supposed to be at all.

Feel free to tell me what you think below, but let’s keep it classy, folks!

Sincerely

E.C. Orr

Quitting While You’re Ahead: Series That Shouldn’t Be

Dear Reader;

Recently I just read a book that is the continuation of a series the first of which I really loved. (Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr is the series and I just finished book 3, Fragile Eternity.) That first book was beautiful, though it’s one of those books where the beauty sneaks up on you. The first time you read it, it’s only so-so, but the more you mull it over in your mind, the more it grows on you. I slowly gravitated towards liking it more and more until I was just shy of obsessive. So naturally, I read one of the other books in the series.

And oh how disappointed I was.

The first book was beautiful and poignant, unexpectedly deep and intricate. It has to do with a love triangle that isn’t so much a love triangle as it is a bunch of people trying to avoid destiny – and they circumvent it when they can’t. It makes the novel unexpected. You’re not sure who to root for, you’re not sure who should win, because there’s what *needs* to happen and then there’s what you *want* to happen. These things are mutually exclusive, unfortunately (though they find a way to work around it in the end) and it makes for a very intense novel.

The sequel is about different characters (called Ink Exchange by the same author), so I do admit that I skipped over it for the purposes of continuing with the characters I currently loved. I will go ahead and say that I don’t think reading that middle book would change my overall feelings towards the third book.

The third book was… disappointing. It was still well written and very detailed, the folklore and worldbuilding very impressive, but that wasn’t enough for me. The characters who hooked me were completely destroyed in this book. (I don’t mean dead necessarily, just not the same characters I fell in love with.) They shifted so much that by the end of the book, I didn’t like *any* of the characters I had once loved. It left me feeling as though I wished I had never read the other books in the series at all. Which got to me to thinking: Are there other books that left me feeling like this?

The only one that immediately comes to mind is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. The first book was *incredibly* good. Addicting and beautiful and everything I wanted out of the book. I was so excited when I found out it was a series, picking up that second book as soon as I could. (Linger by the same author. The series is called the Wolves of Mercy Falls, I believe.) And low and behold, it was such a stink bomb. All of the awesomeness of the first book seemed to have disappeared and I was left with this lingering dregs of what had been the first book.

It was terrible. But I hoped for more in the third book – which was so bad, I still haven’t finished it. I’m about half way through and I don’t think that will ever change.

I don’t know why this happens to some authors, but it does. And I know that it’s incredibly difficult to write a book, much less a really good book, but when someone writes a deliciously good book, you come to expect that quality in the next book. And sometimes authors just don’t deliver.

So what about you out there, Reader? Are there any series that just broke your heart with the sequel? (And I’m not talking about books that *started off* terrible. I mean books that were so incredibly that the sequels just couldn’t live up to expectations.) If you know of any, feel free to comment below and let me know! Or message me – or even write your own blog post about it! Leave me a link and I’ll check it out.

Sincerely,

E.C. Orr

Author Spotlight: Lauren Oliver

Dear Reader;

Ideally, I’d like to focus on some less well known authors and get their names out there, but I also want you guys to know about the really awesome ones who have been there for a while. (Because no one ever bothered to send me in the direction of an author before and I’ve missed out on so many as a result.)

So, today I’m going to focus on Lauren Oliver, because she’s written one of my favorite books and a book that I didn’t much care for. The reason I think this is important is because it lets us know that an author can have a flop and still be a good author (not that her book was necessarily a “flop” but rather I just didn’t care for it). But not just that; it also says something about what you look for in a book while you’re reading.

The first book I read by Lauren Oliver was swirling around after the Hunger Games as “your next fix” type books. (I should know better by now, because EVERYONE was talking about the House of Night series and it was just awful!) So, being adventurous (and a little desperate), I went ahead and picked up a used copy.

And I didn’t like it.

It was called Delirium and it’s a dystopian series. There are three (I believe) in the series centered around a girl named Lena who is terrified of Love. Why? Because she lives in a society where it is outlawed as it is considered a terrible disease to be cured. Her mother had it and could never be rid of it, driving her insane. Now, Lena is afraid of the same madness.

It sounds like an awesome premise, right? It certainly did to me! But it was just… completely boring. That was the problem, it was boring. Nothing ever felt like it was happening and there was this constant sense that characters weren’t in any actual danger, which is really important if you’re going to have a dystopian novel.

Oliver failed pretty healthily with this book, at least for me, and I had little to no interest in reading another Delirium book. But then I stumbled upon a book called Panic by the same author and I thought, “Why am I even looking at this? I hated Delirium!” But then I realized something. I didn’t hate Delirium; I just wasn’t moved by it. Then I started taking a closer look at my opinion on Delirium.

I thought the story was boring. I wasn’t invested in the characters. But… I liked the style in which Oliver wrote. I liked the setting and some of the world building. I enjoyed reading what she had written, but I just couldn’t get into the story itself.

So, thinking along these lines, I wondered if reading something else by her – in a completely different genre – might lead me to appreciate her more?

Success. Panic was a hit. I tore through it, couldn’t put it down. The characters were so… engaging. And was Panic (the game in the book) a little unrealistic? Yeah, it was. Did the kids in the book maybe take things too far? Yeah, they did. Was it difficult to see a bunch of small town kids doing crazy shit, because they’re so desperate to get out of there? Not in the least. And that was how she hooked me.

I’ve realized that authors have a genre that they work best in and Oliver’s just happens to be adventure/romance/realism. I don’t think I’ll ever try another of her dystopias, but I am definitely looking at her other books (two of them are on my reading list this year).

I recommend checking her out, because she’s a quite talented author. I didn’t care for the Delirium books, but you might, so don’t take my word for it, but don’t start with it either. Start with Panic or Before I fall (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s coming up soon). Pick something that is set in the real world as it is now, because that’s where her strength lies.

She’s got a few out there now, so try her out!

Sincerely,

E.C. Orr