Friday, March 30, 2012

Hi blog-o-sphere friends! I've missed you these last few weeks. Last spring I stepped away from the keyboard because of medical issues, but I'm happy to say that this little vacation was all positive. Several lucky puzzle pieces all clicked into place a few weeks ago, and my family was blessed to be able to take a short-notice trip to the United Kingdom.

I love England. Maybe it's a whimsical culmination of living through the eyes of Shakespeare and Rowling and Austen and the Brontes, but my heart just feels happy there. I have to admit, too, that on our train rides through the country side, the theme from Downton Abbey played in my mind on a continuous loop. Sharing these memories with my husband and my boys only makes it more special.

As I missed a few Road Trip Wednesdays, I'll sneak in that the best book I read in March was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It had been over ten years since I first read it, and it truly is phenomenal. My boys loved it as much as I did, and I'm glad we were able to finish in time for our trip.

We spent some time in London, took a side trip to Bath, and ended in Edinburgh, Scotland. I'll be back to blogging on great books and writing soon, and until then, here are a few highlights from our trip.
Son #1 at Stonehenge
Sons 1 and 2 at the Tower of London
The White Tower
Tower Bridge
View of Parliament from the Eye

Sons 1 and 2 on top of Arthur's Seat at Holyrood Park
The Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh
What is a phone booth?
Edinburgh Castle
Views in Edinburgh

Music for today: You guessed it! The theme from Downton Abbey

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finally, I can post my review of Black Heart by Holly Black! Black Heart will be released on April 3, 2012. The gals at Southern Book Bloggers send ARCs of amazing YA books on reading tours, and I am so grateful that I found them through the magic of Twitter. Check them out here.

Black Heart is the third book in the Curse Workers Series, so it would be impossible to review without giving spoilers for books one and two, White Cat and Red Glove. If you haven’t read White Cat, I insist that you stop reading my blog and go get it right away. I love it that much. If you’ve been waiting for Black Heart for the better part of a year like me, then please read on. I’ll keep the book three spoilers to a minimum.

The summary, adapted from Goodreads:

Cassel Sharpe grew up in a family of con artists, and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. But he’s trying to be good, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

Holly Black is a genius. (I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before on this blog.) Her world-building sucks you in, and her characters keep you hooked. I think Cassel may be one of my all-time favorite main characters. He’s the classic bad-boy trying to be good, and he doesn’t disappoint in this third installment. But what I love about all the characters,to varying degrees, is that they’re ALL gray.

Barron is both selfish and loyal to his family. Lila is both a daddy’s girl and a hit-woman. Even Sam is both trusty sidekick and jealous boyfriend. With the recurrent theme of navigating what’s wrong and what is right, there is no black and white. Each character has faults and redeeming qualities, and that's what makes them all real.

Great characters alone would make for a compelling read, but Black is also a master of plot. She weaves each element of the plot into the larger mystery, resulting in a perfectly complicated, satisfying conclusion. Cassel’s love story also reaches a boiling point three books in the making, which becomes icing on an already delectable cake. In case you couldn’t tell, I loved Black Heart.

5 out of 5 stars.

Music for today: Oblivion by Grimes

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Second Campaign Challenge
For this challenge, Rachael gave us a variety of prompts. I've chosen option 1, write a pitch for a book in 100 words or less, and a combination of options 2 and 4, to write a flash fiction story less than 200 words and a story in five sentences with each sentence based on one of the prompts. (My pitch is 34 words and my five sentence story is 166 words, for a grand total of exactly 200 words.) This is a little out of my comfort zone in adult science fiction. (I usually write YA.) I've pasted the prompts over to the right, and the source information is on Rach Writes. If you enjoy my entry, please click "like" on the linky list here. Thanks for stopping by!
Here is my story, titled "DRY."

John spent his boyhood summers playing near his grandfather’s beach house, never imagining the tragic fate he shared with the water.

Someone who doesn’t know any better than to move a pouch of toxic chemicals with a wooden kitchen spoon probably doesn’t have any business being a university research assistant, but John took the job because his grandfather pulled strings for him to get it.

When the pouch exploded, an errant spray splashed into his thermos, swirling like a liquid gold flame in the black coffee and creating the perfect chemical reaction to turn water into crude oil.

Years later beneath the bridge where John had played as a child, he relished the cool sweat on his forehead as his grandfather nursed a scrape he’d suffered on the climb down.

“No bank account or Nobel Prize was worth this,” John whispered, drowning in guilt and smog as they stared at the boys sifting through a sea of garbage where the Pacific Ocean used to live.

Logline/Pitch Challenge:

In 2025, a single drop of FastFuel turns water into gasoline. Can accidental scientist John Dowling stop the world from using his discovery, before the human race wastes every drop of the earth’s water?

This was so much fun! Thanks for making us stretch, Rachael!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Becky at Once Upon a Time was sweet enough to award Unavoidable Awkwardness a Sunshine Award and a Kreativ Blogger Award! Thanks so much, Becky! For the Sunshine Award, you link back to the gracious giver, answer a few questions about yourself, and pass the award on to other bloggers.

I was also tagged by Cynthia at Read is the New Black. Since I've already answered a few 11 question tags, I thought I'd pick a few questions Cynthia and a few from Becky.

1. If you could talk to a dead person about writing, who would it be?
I would probably pick Emily Bronte. Every few years I read Wuthering Heights again, and I am always in awe. I have so many questions I'd love to ask. How did it feel to be a female writer at that time and to publish under a man's name? Did you constantly compare yourself to your sisters? What were you working on after Wuthering Heights? Plotter or pantser?

2. If you were the main character in a book, what genre would it be?
I'd pick historical fiction.

3. How do you get names for your characters?
For my main characters, I don't feel like I really know them until I know their names. Once I know a name, I can find out more about them. Those have to just come to me in time. For supporting characters, I sometimes use baby name books.

4. Favorite color – Blue
5. Favorite number – 3
6. Favorite non-alcoholic drink – Coffee
7. Facebook or Twitter – One of the best quotes I've heard lately: Facebook is where you lie to your friends, and Twitter is where you're honest with strangers. I think that's almost too true!

I'm going to pass the Sunshine Award on to a few bloggers who make me smile. Grab the button for your blogs!

Jennifer Fischetto
Eve at Functioning Insanity
Gina at This is Not Your Blog
Kip at Meditate on This I Will
C.M. Brown

Here is Becky's full list of questions that you can answer on your blogs!

Favorite color
Favorite animal
Favorite number
Favorite non-alcoholic drink
Facebook or Twitter
My passion
Getting or giving presents?
Favorite pattern
Favorite day of the week
Favorite flower