Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Book Two of The Infernal Devices
Published December 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 1416975888
ISBN-13: 978-1416975885

Review: 5/5


Cross reviewed on Goodreads

SPOILER FREE: Spoilers have been blocked out.

Clockwork Prince is the second volume in The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, a prelude series to her sensational Mortal Instruments series. What I need to say right now is that beyond any other talent that Clare has as a writer -- her story is amazing, the worlds she creates are dark and gritty (especially this version of Victorian London) -- her true talent is in her characters. One hundred percent, hands down: Cassandra Clare knows how to create characters unlike any one else.

Unlike Clockwork Angel (CA), where we were first being introduced into the Victorian London era of Shadowhunters, Downworlders and demons, Clockwork Prince (CP) is more dedicated to building character relationships as they fall into place around the plot. CA was just like City of Bones. We needed to learn about everything first; namely, what exactly was possible and impossible in this world. While the plot in CP is more moving along at a sluggish pace at times, it's only because Clare is making us see what happens to the characters and how they react when, well, they are running dry on leads on how to find Mortmain, or The Magister.

Then the truth is revealed. We learn that Jessamine, a prim and well-educated Shadowhunter who doesn't do much hunting at all, is a spy not only for Mortmain, but her lover, Nate Gray, Tessa's brother who we meet in CA. That then breaks open the damn that there are things happening around them that they haven't thought possible. Combine all this with love interests between Jem and Tessa and Tessa and Will, and then the Institute under attack by the Clave, the plot thickens and you're sucked back in when it just seemed to be dragging.

The monstrous event that gave me my, "OH MY GOD," moment was in the second to the last chapter. I won't even list it here because it is that sweet and that tender of a plot element, it's best left to read it yourself. It alone changes the course of the characters relationships and who may or may not be friends any more. You never know what will happen in Clare's world.

All in all, Clockwork Prince started slow (for me), but picked up quickly. We see more of this automaton army from Clockwork Angel and a few other strange mechanical creations that are unlike the others. It's just wonderful. I eagerly await Clockwork Princess, but more soon, in the newly expanded Mortal Instruments series, City of Lost Souls.

Peace and Writing Love

JWP

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Now Reading: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Book Two of The Infernal Devices
Published December 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 1416975888
ISBN-13: 978-1416975885


In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.


We continue the saga of The Infernal Devices (TID), a series that takes place hundreds of years before The Mortal Instruments (TMI). We meet various characters that are the ancestors of our favorite Shadowhunters in TMI, and we learn that in Victorian London, the Shadowhunters themselves were just starting to learn that they are not the most feared entity to Downworlders. Ever since the Magister raised his army of clockwork monsters, we've understood that the Shadowhunters' rule will be challenged. The back flap blurb makes me very excited to leap into Clockwork Prince so I can discover who the Magister is as related to the Shadowhunters and what exactly they did to force his hand against them.

I am excited to get back into the dark allies of Victorian London and experience how the Shadowhunters will react to this threat. Clare's writing never lets down. While the series is clearly Young Adult, it is so flawlessly written that you might think at times, it borders Adult. Her dark descriptions, her attention to detail. Oh yes, I'm ready.

Review of Clockwork Prince to follow.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Book One of the Hunger Games Trilogy
Published December 14, 2009
ISBN-10: 0439023483
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481

Review: 5/5

Cross reviewed on Goodreads

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers have not been blocked out.

I ran right to my Mac to write this review after finishing The Hunger Games. Holy WOW factor! I am stunned at how amazing a writer Collins is. While I knew what The Hunger Games was about, and what the actual Games were, I wasn't in any way prepared for some of the gruesome deaths she cooked up for the tributes. Death by tracker jackers? Rock to the skull? Mauled by mutts and then an arrow to the head? Each death, more visual than the last, kept me reading on and praying for Katniss's safety. And Peeta's, too. He was kind of just there and pops back in part three for good. He wasn't an outstanding character, but worked just enough to make me feel more for Katniss wanting to keep him around.

What really astounded me most about The Hunger Games was the Games itself. I'm curious as to the year this is all taking place, because I'm not certain if it's ever mentioned. I do know it's a far off dystopian and the country of Panem is a mock of the United States. Or perhaps it was the United States. I can't be sure. These people called the Gamemakers devise traps inside the arena for the tributes, eventually drawing them back together at points where they will either kill each other or claim a piece of survival gear. What I found truly remarkable is that the whole arena, while set in a forest, plains, rocky terrain with a whole lake there, is just that: an arena. I forgot until the very end that that the tributes rose out of the ground to start. I had become so invested in the landscape and how Katniss used everything to her advantage, I thought it was real. Another part that I found very interesting was the whole program of tributes gaining sponsors throughout the course of the Games. This damn blood feud, of people watching kids murder each other, is like our Olympic Games. The athletes have numerous sponsors that make things manageable for them, such as the best gear for their sport. Likewise, at the start of the games, if I remember correctly, each tribute was implanted with something that tracked their movements and recorded their actions, their reactions and their triumphs. This is what their sponsors would base donations on to see that their favorite tribute ends up the victor.

All in all, the whole structure of the Games was incredibly developed on Collins's part.

If there was anything at all I can complain about, it's the tiny things on Katniss's characterization. She asks too many questions. Debates too much over things. I wasn't much a fan of that. At one point, she asks five questions back to back, all relating to Peeta and the Career tributes, and whether he's alive or not. It could have been handled better and I'm hoping to see more growth in Katniss's first person narrative once I jump into Catching Fire.

Other than that, I end the review here. I am very excited now that I've read The Hunger Games, I can be doubly excited for the film release. I'm eagerly awaiting a second trailer.

And now I am faced with a terrible decision. Do I become sucked into Catching Fire RIGHT NOW, or do I give it an intermission so I might read Clockwork Prince. I'm hoping the latter wins over.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Now Reading: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Book One of the Hunger Games Trilogy
Published December 14, 2009
ISBN-10: 0439023483
ISBN-13: 978-0439023481

I really can't believe it's taken me so long to read The Hunger Games trilogy. I remember being a Junior in college and hearing about the first novel's release and how well it was received. And that might actually be an understatement. I don't have much to say other than I'm stoked. One, to actually have it downloaded on my Kindle and ready to go, and two, to have seen the fantastic new full first trailer of the film. I can't comment yet like real fans of The Hunger Games, but I'm ready to be impressed by that film.

I would normally spiel a little bit about the book for those who haven't read it, but this time, it's the other way around. Everyone knows what it is about and I'm the one in the dark. After this comes Divergent, by Veronica Roth. I do have to say the cover is stunning. It's simple and gorgeous. I've gotten to the part early in the book where Katniss is describing the Mockingjay pin, and how it's a cross breed of two birds. I'm ready to indulge.

I did preview the book a while back, but never got to read it. Here's that day! I need a tiny break from my urban fantasy kick, anyway. I'm sure the review will be within the next month, perhaps sooner.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Review: Hammered by Kevin Hearne

Hammered by Kevin Hearne
Book Three of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published July 5, 2011
ISBN-10: 0345522486
ISBN-13: 978-0345522481

Review: 4/5


Cross reviewed on Goodreads.

So, what was thought to be the end of the Iron Druid Chronicles is being extended into another three books. I mentioned in my last review of Hexed, way back in July. Ahem...and I also started Hammered back in July when it first came out. Don't ask me why, but it's never taken me THIS LONG to read a book.

I digress. I was very apprehensive about even rating it a 4 because Hammer progresses more slowly for me than I saw in Hounded and Hexed. If there wasn't a mighty kick-ass battle in Asgard at the end of Hammered, it probably would have received a 3, perhaps a 3.5 because Atticus partakes in that battle naked...the whole time. Yeah, naked. The progression begins with him in Asgard, looking for something for a friend, a Golden Apple, just to get this friend to come along for the final throw down. Then there's this huge boring thing of recruiting allies who are strong enough to withstand the might of the Aesir, or the Asgardians. I wasn't too much a fan of it. However, hearing events of Thor's tyranny through these allies was interesting. The snag was before Atticus could plane shift all these allies back to Asgard, he had to know all about them. Not just who they were, their names, and what they could do. He needed to know their history with Thor, why they needed to get vengeance. It was both interesting and slow at the same time.

That's really it. Unfortunately, I expected a lot more out of Hammered. Some Asgardians do die, as do the allies, but there was something missing. I wanted Atticus to have a real beef with Thor. Not just him always seeing the thunder god as an arrogant prick, which seemed to be the case.

However, I am not losing faith in Kevin Hearne. He is a fantastic writer and I am all aboard for the next novel of the Iron Druid Chronicles, due out tentatively April 2012.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 28: FOR THE WIN!


FOR THE WIN!


After I minor heart attack this morning for not remembering where to find the "Verify Win" page was, I did claim my win for NaNoWriMo 2011. Hurrah! Can you hear the trumpets? Oh, maybe that's only on my side of the screen. The win is all the more sweet because this year's NaNo challenge was the rebirth of my first manuscript, whose plot I continued to just be "okay" with because it was always "the plot." After a brief strike of lightning to my creative noggin, a new plot was formulated and I took it full steam ahead for NaNoWriMo.

Here is the last of the excerpts.

* * *

Words written today: 1,230
Finishing word count: 50,406

Favorite lines:

It was eerie trying to find my way back to the chamber on my own. When we had Kyona to guide us, I hadn’t noticed that the tunnel under her house split off in directions other than the one she took. Things shuffling around me forced my legs to walk faster. Tiny pebbles being kicked around as if I were being followed made me put my hands of both walls. I eventually was running and found the chamber. After I put myself in the center, I spun around quickly, half expecting something to leap out at me from the tunnel. Nothing was there. I found the circle I stood on earlier and joined it again. The solitude was something entirely different. Kyona’s presence was invasive to my channel. I did not feel it earlier, but I was alone now, ready to make this work.

I spread my arms and reached out with my fingers, as if grabbing imaginary door handles. I wiggled each one, feeling the air. I didn’t give myself as much time as I would have liked to prepare, but jumping into it seemed right. I shut my eyes and opened my channel. In the absence of Elf spirits and a Chimra essence, my channel could wander the chamber. The gates spread wide and my magic flowed evenly from my body. I opened my eyes long enough to see a milky aura shifting silver around my body. Kyona compared a channel, spirit and essence in such a rudimentary way, I scowled, as if the structure of what stored our magic was just a part of our genetic makeup and nothing more.

I only recently learned what genetics means. The Mavians study broad spectrums of sciences that, until they arrived on Elyserian, the people were unaware existed. Every person and animal has a genetic signature, a trait normally found in the blood that is passed down from their ancestors. I suppose that’s what Kyona was getting at, but why didn’t she just say it?

With my channel filling the chamber, I tried to bring my mind away from everything it was touching. It was harder than I thought, because everything it came across, my brain wanted to process. Despite that challenge, I eventually found myself in a state of supreme thought. Miraculously, all else was gone from my mind. I knew what the Mavians looked like. Never saw one up close, but the documents back at our schools went in depth to their appearance. I pictured the height first. I stood at five feet, six inches. I gave myself another four heads, thinking that’d qualify for a Mavian. The difficult part would be arranging my body so my arms became longer, my body wider and my head in that strange bulbous form, like Alpha’s.

My channel wanted more attention, but I fought to keep it at bay. Once I had finally created the picture of a Mavian in my head, I gave myself a few seconds before drawing the magic back into me at full force. It’d have to be swift so it didn’t have time to settle. It needed to experience all of what I had just created so I could become it. A few seconds became more like thirty, but after that, I closed my channel like a swift kick at a door and the magic bombarded me. It rushed back and my legs trembled. I had never released so much just to try to wrangle it all back. Whenever we sent it somewhere, there was always a purpose; a destination. Not this time. My body quaked and my heart jumped started with feverish pumps. Despite my best efforts to remain standing, I fell to my knees and then to my arms. My back arched and my eyes couldn’t leave the ground.

My throat contracted and I toppled over onto my side, unable to breathe. I clawed at my neck, hoping it would do something, but I had no gain over being out of breath. I beat my chest and kicked my legs. Nothing helped. Here I was, alone in a cellar under the earth, being suffocated by my own magic. No one would know I was dead until morning.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 24 Wrap-up


So after looking at my schedule for the next, I realized I will have almost no time to write if I fall behind again. Which I won't. I plan to be posting my "For The Win," post on Saturday. I'm posting early today because I work all day and there will be little writing when I get home tonight. So this word count reflects what has been done this morning. I may update the count late this evening.

SIX DAYS LEFT!

* * *

Words written today: 1,274
Finishing word count: 43,566

Favorite lines:

We started on our way, not yet knowing where to find the Chimra maiden, when we were called back.

“Be on your guard, mage,” Notch-eye said to me. “Been weird things happening here lately. Dark things.”

“Thank you. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“You’d do well to take it to heart, sir.”

We turned into a stable and let our horses rest. In a shadowed corner of the barn, we pulled Alpha’s hood off so he might inform us where to go without him seeing.

“You know where she’s at?” I asked. “These guys are spooked by something in this town, I think.”

“Last I met her, she lived by a well.”

“There are a lot of wells in a town,” Alanur said.

“You’ll know it when you see it. Can’t be more help if this thing’s going to go back on.”

“Unfortunately not,” I said.

We gathered our saddlebags and left the food and pans behind if we should stop for the evening here. We took a back door out of the stables, finding ourselves ankle deep in piles of hay and horse manure.

“Perfect,” Melana said sourly. She was the first to leap through all the hay and spring over a wall outside the stable. “Well, come on. It reeks here.”

After pulling our boots off and wiping them clean, we kept to the alleys that seemed to lead us to the business district. Each passerby eyed us scrupulously, some even slinking behind us as if to get a better look. Alanur did well to throw the followers off our backs. He need only turn around and glare at them. A big man with a temper has a tendency to do that to smaller, sickly Humes who have nothing better to do. I kept the reins in my hand, guiding Alpha, while Alanur played the role as as our guard, with his sword drawn and at ready should our prisoner try to run.

“I’m seeing wells in the market,” I said to no one in particular. Melana joined me at my side. “Too many.”

“Opals,” Alpha said muffled. “It has opals.”

We pressed on through the market, keeping to the less populated areas. Those tended to be soothsayers seeking patients and herbalists who looked like they couldn’t tell the difference between grinrich leaves and weeds. Melana tugged me back and Alpha bumped into her.

“Sorry,” he said.

“There,” she said, and pointed down an alley. At the far end, it opened into some kind of small field, like a tiny farm nestled in the middle of the market. “That well looks different from the others.”

I extended my sight. The arch over the well was high and pointed, the stones cut perfectly. Little bits of the semitransparent rock were thrown into the crevices on the arch. The well had a large lip, like a seat for the one drawing water.

“That’s the one,” I said, pulling my senses back. “A well with opals.”

We moved in that direction, but were stopped suddenly by one of the herbalists. He must have been watching us. He ran ahead of me and grabbed me up by the shirt. I was pinned against the wall after that. His face was emaciated, his sharp cheekbones like little discs trying to push their way out of his skin. His eyes were gaping brown holes, lost entirely to the reality around him. I was so frightened for how quickly he moved, I completely ignored the stench of shit, leaves and dirt coating his hands.

“Saved you, saved you I have,” he said quickly. “Life is yours if you want it. Saved you I have.”

Alanur was there the next second and yanked the blundering herbalist off me. He kicked him to the ground and the herbalist crawled away.

“Shove off,” Alanur said, stepping towards the herbalist with a threatening gesture. He growled and the man slid back.

“Fine,” the herbalist said. He sat up straight and dusted his hands. “Die today. Saved you I tried. Live you won’t. Witch she is.” He pointed to the alley. I turned. Someone was there watching us under a heavy cloak. “Witch she is, day and night. Where evil stems, day and night. Die today. Saved you I tried. Live you won’t.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 21 Wrap-up


Nine days left. YIKES!

* * *

Words written today: 3,011
Finishing word count: 37,341

Favorite lines:

Melana retired early that evening, as did the brothers. Alanur and I remained at the table, swapping stories of our distanced pasts, his understandably more vivid than my own. He had war stories, tales of conquering enemies that were seas away. He had lived longer than most veterans, he told me. He found the secret to a long life after war. Alanur leaned in close to me, his breath singing of mead, and said it was to not put your ass where it might get bitten.

I had a good laugh at that. I didn’t have friends like this back home. Patricio was a handful as a Hume, his lack of personal skills and clinginess the reason I never tried finding a girl to date. He’d ruin it one way or another, and I wouldn’t have it be him trying to give me a pep talk of where to stick my member. Alanur was great. Fatherly, hard to read at times, but he had Melana’s interest at heart one hundred percent of the time. I learned he had pushed her study a broad variety of magic while he had no training himself. He preferred barbaric combat, not of that where you could strike an enemy from afar like a coward, as he put it. I took no offense.

I stayed away from the mead that night as I tried to collect my thoughts about Melana and what I had wanted to ask Alanur. He reclined back in his chair.

“Can I ask you something personal?” I said.

He sat erect again and set his hands flat on the table. “Anything.” There was no slur of speech there, as if all the mead had suddenly drained from his body. I didn’t want to know where.

I thought putting it bluntly might be the proper way in Alanur’s company. “Are you and Melana a couple?”

He rubbed his finger under his nose as if stroked an imaginary mustache and grinned. “Do we send that signal?”

“I don’t know,” I said, instantly trying to change the subject. He seemed too well appropriated to the question.

“The answer is no,” he said. “I’ve been around her for a long time. Her body is eighteen. She is older.” He paused and rubbed his finger on the table. “I’ve seen the way you look at her.”

Part of me wanted to run from the cottage. All the sudden, the racks of weapons seemed they could have been aimed at me.

“Before you run away scared, thinking I might not approve, let me give you some advice. You’ve been with a woman, right?”

Do I say yes just to get the conversation rolling? It didn’t matter now. For however long I took to answer that, and it couldn’t have been any longer than five seconds, Alanur suspected the answer.

“Ah,” he said.

“Ah, what?” I asked.

“It’s fine, really. You’re young. Doesn’t matter.”

“You make it sound like it does.”

“Think nothing of it. Anyway, Melana doesn’t put her feelings out in the open like a normal woman you may or may not have bed.”

He put it so fine. I should have told him how she kissed me when we were alone in her chambers.

“It’s not my business to know if she’s been with anyone, either,” he added. “The last thing I want this to become is a father-son talk, for obvious reasons. Just know that she’s like an egg. You have to crack that layer to get to know her. As thin as it might be, she protects her emotions well. As you saw, she was ready to do something desperate when she confronted the polymorph. I have never seen her react so quickly.”

“I don’t want to have to force it out of her,” I said. “Are my feelings for her that far in the open?”

“It’s only the way you look at her. Believe me, when the time comes, I won’t intrude. She deserves a chance to be with someone who can respect her. I think you’ve got a shot.”

I wanted to jump out of the chair and hoot and holler. That would have been all sorts of inappropriate. Instead, I laughed inwardly and looked at the table just to play it safe. Alanur was still her guardian. Silence came between us, my thoughts stirring in all different directions. For a brief second, I imagined her naked and grinned.

Alanur cleared his throat and I instantly looked up.

“You know I’ll have to kill you if you hurt her, though,” he added.

“You are just her guardian, right?”

“Guardian. Mentor. Second father. Whatever you want to call it. I’ll always be around to protect her, but it’ll be nice to have someone else to help me out.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 15 Wrap-up


Well, it seems that while the NaNoWriMo website underwent some fixes today, my graph would not update which means it will not show my finishing word count written today. And that just sucks. Anyway, I haven't made a NaNo post in a while. Here it goes.

* * *

Words written today (but not recorded by the website @.@): 1,943
Finishing word count: 28,744

Favorite lines:

That was it. This thing, whatever it was, hinted it was one who killed my father. Lemmick lunged at us, the hand he had behind his back revealed holding the hilt of a sword, minus the blade. Before my mind could process it, an opaque yellow stone replacing the hand guard shimmered so fiercely, it made me turn away. I was pulled away, then looking over my shoulder to see it was Alanur’s doing. Lemmick had slashed downward, the blade that hadn’t been there a second earlier present and very real.

Hadrion and Hallund reacted and took Lemmick by both his arms and tossed him across the chamber with their combined strength. His back arched over a table and he fell head over heels. He did not stay down for long. Lemmick rose and in one go was in a sprint around the tether. The brothers were there again, in front of Melana and I, as was Alanur. The stone shimmered. I feared what it would mean this time around. The brothers each took a swing, but Lemmick dipped under both arms. My brain leapt ahead, seeing the sword cut them both down. Lemmick brought the sword at their head level, but the brothers were already out of its decapitating path.

I pushed Melana back instinctively when Alanur shoved me away. The guardian pushed off the ground, arms spread and he tackled Lemmick to the floor. Alanur rose to his feet, Lemmick thrashing but not deterring him, and threw the impostor through a gaping hole in the chamber wall. It was a perfect toss with precise strength to calculate the distance across the chamber. I didn’t know where it went, nor did I have the time to think about it. Lemmick crawled back through the hole, absent his sword, but his fierce smile was screaming, “I don’t need it,” in my head. He tossed off his cloak and spread his arms with a squared stance beneath him.

My channel went ablaze, reacting to everything his channel was putting out. It was too much and my eyes started watering. I backed up again, unable to focus on Lemmick. Everything in the chamber started spinning. Melana held me up straight long enough to see Lemmick cast an enormous missile that spiraled out of his hands with tails like comets. She pulled me out of its path. Alanur and the brothers were not as fortunate. They were taken off their feet, each of them as light as rag dolls in the force of the missile, and landed in motionless piles on the ground. I worked myself up to my elbows, staring at the three. I pushed out with my channel, begging they were alive.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 7 Wrap-up


I wouldn't usually make a NaNo post two days in a row, but I knocked my words out of the ballpark today. So, I just had to gloat. With another day off tomorrow and a Starbucks gift card at my disposal, I may go into another writing comatose.

* * *

Words written today: 4,009
Finishing word count: 15,110

Favorite lines:


Lucel made a sound hinting that he understood how my conversation went based on my silence. He didn’t make an attempt to talk to me about Irien, but took me by the shoulder. We waited under the breezeway that would take us into the coliseum and before the Affinity Council. For a half hour, we just waited, each in silence. Lucel didn’t leave my side. He must have sensed everything I was feeling, but he kept it all contained, trying not to instruct me what to say, but rather letting speak from the heart.

“You knew my father well, right, Lucel?”

“He was one of my best friends in school. He helped me with a great deal of my work when I began falling behind.”

I chuckled. “I would have never seen you as the type of student who fell behind.”

“When my mother passed away, all the motivation I had to do better went with her. My father wanted nothing to do with mages, the arts or the Affinity. He would not support his own son. Despite all rumors, mages can be born to non-mage parents. I’m one such mage.”

“You helped make me who I am,” I said.

“And your father helped make me who I am. You are much like him in your young age. Your brother,” Lucel said with a sigh, seeming to suddenly travel back in time, “less so.”

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 6 Wrap-up


The words posted here were written yesterday, but I finished at such a late hour, I had no energy to post it to the blog. Seeing as today I won't be able to write until I get home at 6pm, these words will suffice. Also, I had to choose two sections of lines, as I was really unable to judge myself which I liked more.

* * *

Finishing word count: 10,057

Chapter 3 favorite lines:


I began crying, the facade of the strong, young man I always wore overtaken by an afraid, lonely child.

“I’m so sorry, Mother,” I said as she kneeled next to me. I buried my face in her shoulder, unable to contain anything.

Even though we thought it all to be over, with Kolin the Ironback’s family and friends around him in mourning, the ground shook more. Looking out into a fiery sky, we watched the Erishore tower sink into the chasm that had opened around it. Layer upon layer dropped, the middle of the structure then falling off the foundation. There was nothing to hold our sight after that, but still we looked and waited, each of us the shade of blood under a red dawn.

Chapter 4 favorite lines:

I stood in the field again, still unplowed. My hands were stuffed in my pockets. I was tempted to sit down in the chair, but I didn’t want to appear too nonchalant, even to mother. I left her alone, but I dared not leave home unless she asked me. My mind kept returning to the sight of my father’s body. His once strong arms had been sliced up the soft side, practically deveining him. His chest had been caved in, as if beaten with a mallet, and then slashed up for good measure. Both eyes had been blackened, his lips swollen and the bridge of his nose shattered. Whatever did that to him took its time, and took care in the process. I would reap all that and worse to the thing responsible, be it a person or creature. Part of me hoped it was a person. I never thought of myself as the violent type, but I’d gut the bastard and throw his innards to the crows.

I shook my head, trying to make myself less heated. My mother taught me better. My professors showed me how to be fierce, but upstanding. I didn’t know if I’d be able to balance that anymore.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 3 Wrap-up


Before I proceed with NaNo news, there is an announcement which must be forwarded.

My awesome critique partner, friend and writing mentor, Stephanie Loree, has finally been put in print. Her debut short story, THE SKIN SCRIPT, is now appearing in An Honest Lie Vol. 3: Justifiable Hypocrisy, by Open Heart Publishing.

I've only read the first draft before it became the published version, but I was sold. Her characters are rich and the depths you experience from them demands that the story not end. I do plan on reading it again for myself, and I urge all my blogging friends to support Steph on her debut piece. You can visit the link to Open Heart for an excerpt of The Skin Script.

Now, onto NaNo news!

Because I worked a 10.5 hour day yesterday, I did no writing, despite all my attempts and urgings that I WAS going to write at least a measly 500 words when I got home. That didn't happen. So, today on my only day off, I had to write double the words lest I be mocked by the Estimate Day of Finish displaying December 15th.

* * *

Finishing word count: 5746

Favorite lines:


He finally put his back to me, dropped his crutch and threw off his cloak. I noticed his body slumping in the direction of his good leg, but it didn’t prevent him from proceeding. My eyes went to his cotton shirt. His marks and brands were glowing through it. I didn’t know the marks had that kind of power. His shirt came off next and my mouth dropped. At least ten more brands were spaced over his back, surrounded by marks and the occasional patch of flesh tone. From black to green, they glowed. The show wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.

I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when I watched the marks begin to move over his skin, still black and green. Kolin pursued the chanting and his marks reacted. The brands uncoiled like tiny garter snakes and slithered over his shoulders, around his ribs, and to his front. It was as if he was Hume for a moment. What I thought was a natural ink born on our skin at birth was nowhere close to what was happening: the marks rose off his body, each seeming to join with others to become the width of ribbons. When the marks attached to the shell exterior, my heart skipped a beat again and I curled my toes more tightly.

The gears inside thumped again and the ribbons became taught. Kolin pushed his arms out to his sides, his slump ever more present at this point. As the ribbons withdrew back to his skin, eventually drawing onto his back again, the shell peeked open. The power that struck the heat shield around me was instant. The chamber was a celebration of emerald light after it had been released. The surge of power continued, not yet finished, but the shield held as my father said. When the shell’s sides finally lay horizontal to the floor, the tip of each piece sparked to life. That tiny crystallized bead of energy shattered. Thread-thin beams of light converged at a point above the shell and all at once, the force that smacked the shield was that of a battering ram.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo 2011: Day 1 Wrap-up


Hailing in NaNoWriMo 2011, I was very happy to see the site didn't crash at all today. Perhaps I chose the right time to log on. Anyway, there's no particular format to my NaNo posts. I generally just share my favorite passages written today and my current word count. I came out of the gate strong today. I hope all of you do the same.

* * *

Finishing word count: 2643


Favorite lines:

I lurched forward when something suddenly butted my shoulder. A well-fed Hume, another head taller and wider than me, took me around the shoulder. The downside of being shorter than him is when he decided to be overly friendly, usually a sign of his intoxication, he would put his arm around me and grace my nose with a wonderful man-scent.

“Let’s go to Grumnach’s!” he said to me.

“Can’t now, Patricio,” I said. I took his arm off me and ducked away for a moment to catch my breath. He didn’t notice. “Although I’d say you’ve had you’re share of ale today, right? What’s the occasion?”

“Celebrating life!” He joked a couple punches at my shoulder and ran ahead, turning and proceeded to jog backwards.

“Weren’t we celebrating life a week ago when you polished that ale barrel from my father’s cellar?”

“That was last week, Valence!” Patricio bumped into a Hume another head taller than him, who shoved him away for choosing idiocy over courtesy. He sported the grumpy Hume a mocking gesture I had never seen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pre-NaNo 2011 Series: The Structure Sheet, or "How To Convert A Pantser."


In early March, after the euphoria of my first NaNo win had worn off, I was struggling to go back and make Bond of Darkness better. This was when the plot wasn't working (and I failed to see it). I had pantsed my way through NaNo 2010, and my project at the time, The Shattered Darkness, a sequel to a currently unfinished first manuscript. Yeah, I did the bad thing.

This is when my awesometacular critique partner, Steph, shared with our critique group her structure sheet for plotting. I haven't used another plotting sheet since then. That's how well it works.

So, for the next post in the Pre-NaNo series, I figured I would share it with you. I'm sure variations of the plotting structure sheet exist, but this is what I use. Thanks, Steph. You're a writer's life saver.

The structure sheet consists of three acts, each respective to a certain point in the manuscript as the plot progresses. Let's begin.

Act 1 is your Expository. We learn about the world and the people inhabiting it. We learn what is about to happen that forces our protagonist's hand to do something. 

Act 1 consists of the following:
The Inciting Incident. This is the first time your stakes are likely introduced. It takes some time, for you first should build your world and show me what is leading to this event that is going to change everything. Then, something goes wrong. It should matter enough to the protagonist so the consequence's do not affect them in the end.
First Act Turn. This consists of a following in this order: Choice, First Disaster, and Consequence. Let's rewind for a moment, however. Your first disaster is technically your second disaster, as you've already written the Inciting Incident. Remember that. The stakes have already been created. Choice stems from your Inciting Incident. Your protagonist must fix this. However, what are they to do? Typically, they don't know the grand scheme of things yet, and this leads to your Disaster. They mess up, or overlook something, and now have something else to consider or fix, lest they suffer the Consequence of their Choice.                          
Act 2 is your Rising Action. Your protagonist learns more and grows more. The event they are trying to prevent reveals itself more.

Act 2 consists of the following:
The Midpoint. The unexpected happens here. This is moment when things go sideways, things get worse, and the stakes are raised again. This often comes with a revelation that while the problem is connected in a way to the protagonist, it is also bigger than him/her. Glimpses of the larger picture are revealed yet again. If the big picture has been introduced early on, then change it up and make things more personal for the protagonist.
The Lowpoint. You're getting to the 75% mark in your manuscript. Here, the protagonist learns that trying to fix everything, beginning with the incident and the other disasters caused by choices, are hopeless. The protagonist begins to think they will never win because they learn the full scope of the problem. The stakes escalate again, often paired with a sacrifice. Do not mistake this as you, the writer, having to kill a character, although it is usually what happens. The more problematic things become, however, the protagonist learns perhaps they we're meant to fix this problem. He/She learns their role. The learning of the role can go two ways: it can either frighten the protagonist, or deepen their resolve to make a difference. 
Second Act Turn. This is essentially the same as above, but with all things in place, remember that you're closing in on the end.
Act 3 is your Falling Action. They have come to confront the antagonist and/or the problem. The final battle ensues.

Act 3 consists of the following:
Climax. The stake raise one final time here. Your antagonist is one crazy son of a bitch and they want to defeat your protagonist. Here, the protagonist learns why exactly everything happened the way they did and all of the past events culminate to being the most personal at this point in time. It's do or die. Failure is not an option.
Resolution. The final battle is over. Your protagonist has either defeated the antagonist or learns there is more to be done, despite winning. Things are still wrong, and will continue to go wrong. For stand alone manuscripts, it is the end. For series manuscripts, the cliff hanger is introduced. 
So, here, at the end of all things (yes, channeling Frodo), you have you're structure sheet. I encourage you to try it out. It works.

Until NaNo, Peace and Writing Love.

JWP

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pre-NaNo 2011 Series: Cover Art

Here is the cover art for my NaNo 2011 novel, as promised.


Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

So, before this kicks off, I'm butting my head against a wall because I haven't posted in about two months. I'm a sucky blogger lately. That is all. Let's stay on topic.


November 1st will arrive in a short ten days. It was at this point this morning that I went, "Fail..."

However, I'm not entirely behind. In the recent weeks, after working on various other projects, the spark for my first and baby manuscript ignited once again. The best part being that I have a new plot, and that freshness and raw simplicity of where I'm taking the story just boggles me sometimes.

For the longest time, I couldn't find any way to make that manuscript, Bond of Darkness, any better. Friends of the old story, I do hope you come back and support me for the new plot. It takes a really interesting look into some science-fantasy concepts I've been dreaming up, all wrapped nicely (with a bow) in an immense world, stuffed inside a jam-packed multiverse of awesome.

No pantsing this year, either. While I did win NaNo 2010 by pantsing, this time I have an outline to go by. I'm feverishly working to finish all of Act 2 (of 3), hoping I can get 50,000 words out of them. 

Stayed tuned for the fun, and by fun, I mean insanity. Tuesday, I'll be creating and posting my NaNo project cover art (I hope). Also, instead of posting whole excerpts like I did last year, I'll only be taking the last few paragraphs of the word count on the day of posting. I'll try for two posts a week, like last year.

Peace, Writing, and for the love of coffee houses and repeating playlists.

JWP

Monday, August 29, 2011

Changing Direction

I feel I've been posting more of these self help/venting articles than before, but if it works for me, then maybe it will work for you, also.

Shifting gears on projects are often the best way to stay fresh, be it with the varying diction you use (modern, poetic, broken, etc.), the world you're writing from, or the most simple and common rut: the plot.

I've noticed when I get attached to stories, most notably for me, my first manuscript, Bond of Darkness, I tend to not want to think of anything else. As writers, it's unhealthy. For years, I had been obsessed (literally at points) to only wanting to make Bond of Darkness better, (faster), stronger on all levels. Then came the rut. I kept editing on top of old material, keeping the best material, and in the end, I lost my plot.

My critique partners are my best friends and they've helped me see that I needed to work on other things. After I trunked BoD, I wrote a few outlines for different projects in different genres. I tried paranormal. Didn't quite work. Then I added thriller elements to the paranormal. Wasn't quite right.

Then I moved onto a new project, different in all areas: YA fantasy in first person. A few outlines later, I trunked that project, knowing it'd come back, but moved on again.

At the heart of everything, however, I needed to remove myself from the equation of wanting to produce manuscripts.

The best method I'm now making myself learn is to move through the stages of length. Challenging myself through flash, short stories and novellas will push me back on track for novel length manuscripts.

I also now keep a notebook on my end table, not only hoping to make myself an insomniac, but to jot the ideas down even as I dream them. Sounds cheesy, but it helps the process.

Have you found you need to change directions? How often?


Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New WIP Preparations

Yesterday I finished the second draft outline of my soon-to-be new WIP, titled "Of Sin and Virtue."

It's been sent off to my trusted critique partners for a review before I begin the writing process. Now comes my wait. However, I never really have a longing to hear comments, especially when my creativity is at a bursting point.

Being an artist at heart (and officially with my very expensive piece of paper), I tend to illustrate when I cannot write, and vice versa.

So, here's the product of my waiting: a first shot at sketching my protagonist, Anna.



Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

P.S. - For those of you who couldn't put it together, my expensive piece of paper is my diploma.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Hexed by Kevin Hearne
Book Two of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published June 7, 2011
ISBN-10: 0345522494
ISBN-13: 978-0345522498

Review: 5/5


Cross reviewed on Goodreads.

Atticus O'Sullivan, steered ungracefully but with flare by author Kevin Hearne, has impressed me yet again. The badass nine-hundred year old Druid is back in the second volume of The Iron Druid Chronicles.

Here, following the events of Hounded, Atticus finds himself pitted against some very nasty German witches. We discover that the one creature cult that Atticus fears most are witches. He actually befriends vampires and werewolves. When it is discovered that Atticus is the target of an ancient hexen that can make him drop dead on the spot, more hell breaks loose.

He also befriends the Polish witches that were introduced in Hounded and rounds them to battle the Germans along side him. Greater detail into the Druid's long history is opened and we learn that Atticus has confronted the German witches in the past. Stir in more mythology, sex-capades with the Morrigan, Goddess of Death, and jealousy of said sex-capades with another Goddess, Brighid, and you've got an unsteady can of kick-ass ready to be pried open.

At the very end, when all the battles and badassery is complete (with more to follow), we're slowly introduced to the new and greater enemy that Atticus must face in the third volume, Hammered. In fact, the title kind of says it all. Atticus's showdown against "shadowy figures," comes teamed with strange sorcerers called the Hammers of God and an elite panel of Norse Gods who he must avoid at all costs, save for one -- Thor, his target.

I'd also like to share some of my favorite lines from Hexed, as the dialogue was taken up a notch.

"Ah, it's your job that makes you act like such an asskitten."

I laughed, looking back at the remaining German witches, and said to them in their language, "I can't believe you started shit with her
[Malina, leader of the Polish witches], when you had only one fancy trick in your bag. She can pull exploding hell-fire whips out of the fucking air."

"There, Rabbi, you see? I said. "Heinous witches don't let asspuppets like you live."


So there you have Hexed (in a nutshell). I can't wait to get through Hammered, which I'll be posting my Now Reading feature tomorrow. Also, good news for all of you who have read the series or at least started. I discovered today that The Iron Druid Chronicles have been extended to a six-book series! The next books are tentatively titled:

Tricked
Trapped
Hunted


My excitement for this is kind of beyond words, so I end the review here.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Hunger Games?

So this is probably an easy one for all those of you who have read the series, but I'll gamble with the question anyway.

Read or watch? These have me sold for both really, although I've been putting off reading them forever.



Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Friday, July 1, 2011

Forgive and Forget

This post is very personal to me as a writer. I had the idea for my first manuscript when I was a junior in high school. My good friend, Tara, told me she was writing a manuscript and I figured it'd be fun to try.

Fast forward to today, roughly seven years later, (I think) five drafts of the manuscript later and a bunch of frustration, reviews and criticism swallowed, I've been able to write an outline for a new WIP.

It took this long because, as a critique partner...cough...Steph, asked, "Is Bond of Darkness really the only manuscript you ever want to write?"

After she hit me with that question, I realized that it wasn't the only thing I WANTED to write, but the only thing I was ALLOWING myself to write. I had already invested so much time with my protagonist, the world, the magic system, and the story that I just wanted it to be done. The fact is that I was doing the project wrong all this time. I never actually sat and wrote an outline. I never planned any of it.

Bond of Darkness started as me just writing and making shit up as I went. First draft done. Me, naive. I start querying. I get a bunch of rejections. No surprise there. After I start doing some research behind manuscripts and whole business of publication, agents, editors, etc., do I really start getting into writing. I can see it becoming a hobby.

Then comes the time where I sunk into that seven year period of only working on Bond of Darkness. Because I never wrote an outline and only continued to edit on top of what I had already written -- keeping what I liked and revising what I didn't -- I was making it worse.


Again, fast forwarding to about a week ago, a new idea for a WIP hits me. Out of left field (left field being me sitting in church with my parents one morning). All of the sudden, I need to get it written before I lose it. I pump out an outline in a week's time and the euphoria began. I hadn't had that feeling of having a new project to be proud of because I was always working on the same thing. Different versions, but the same thing.

After I completed the outline, I discovered that I was attempting something I never had. I was breaking out of my writing shell. I had always written adult themed. The WIP is young adult. I favored male protagonists with an edge. My WIP protagonist is a timid female. I wrote strictly in third person. The WIP will be first person.

While I will return to Bond of Darkness with a plan, I'm thrilled to say I'm working on something new. FINALLY!

Do you have any stories of WIP triumph? What setbacks have you experienced that you were able to overcome?

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Now Reading: Hexed by Kevin Hearne

Hexed by Kevin Hearne
Book Two of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published June 7, 2011
ISBN-10: 0345522494
ISBN-13: 978-0345522498


Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.


There's really not much to be said for this post other than I'm stoked to start reading it. I literally just finished Hounded the other day and immediately downloaded Hexed to my Kindle. The cover art is a nice change up from the Hounded, also. You can clearly see the celtic knots on Atticus's arms (from which he can recharge his magic).

So based on the back cover run-down, I'm putting my guess on Atticus will be in deep shit this time around. In the climax of Hounded, he pissed off some people, but saved more. He has gods and deities watching his every move because he's finally shown how much a powerhouse a two-thousand-something year Druid can be. The flap makes me guess he's going to be taking on more witches and Atticus despises witches over any other creature. Should make for some good, clean family fun.

Review of Hexed to come.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Book One of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0345522478
ISBN-13: 978-0345522474

Review: 5/5


So I don't think I've reviewed a book yet and given it a five. However, Hounded is just that awesome. I finished in about a week, which could have been done faster given more time. In my "Now Reading" post of Hounded, I compared the protagonist Atticus O'Sullivan to Harry Dresden. I went on to say how Atticus could be Harry's apprentice.

After completing Hounded, it's clear Atticus is on a whole different level than Harry. Granted, Harry is still amazing, but the method behind Atticus's coolness can't be described in a simple review. While Harry has an array of magic at his disposal, Atticus blooms as the first warrior Druid protagonist. He uses earth magic primarily, having to be connected physically in some way to the ground. He draws all his power, and then some, from the earth. His celtic tattoos act as anchors which give him all that power.

At one point, after duking it out with a god-gone-bad, Atticus is weak beyond weak. His method to recharge is to camouflage himself, strip bare ass naked, and sleep in the grass for the night. I wasn't only laughing (respectfully), but I was also amazed at the simplicity Hearne used to super power his Druid.

Also like Harry, Atticus has an array of strange allies that come through for him at the climax. Of these, you're looking at werewolves, vampires, an Idian witch trapped in a gorgeous bartender's body, a mentally speaking Irish wolfhound and then there are some gods.

I'm very exicted to begin Hexed, Book Two of the Iron Druid Chronicles. I can't wait to see what Atticus has up his sleeve after he trumps the big bad in Hounded. Believe me, that's no where near a spoiler.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vote For Me!

Hoorah! I'm a semi-finalist in Brenda Drake's "Redesign a Book Cover" Blogfest Contest.

Please visit her blog to vote. There are some great contestants. It all ends Friday, June 24th when the top three are announced.




Please, VOTE FOR ME! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freelance

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR MY ENTRY FOR BRENDA DRAKE'S BLOGFEST, CLICK HERE!

While I never really advertise my own work, I've been slowly producing more and more these days as my writing (unfortunately) is slowing back to a hobby.

My rates are reasonable. I will also draft contracts on a project to project basis for whoever wishes work done.

Below are projects I've completed on a personal level, but whatever you're looking for -- blogfest banners, blog headers, margins, badges, cover art, exterior or interior illustrations (color or black/white) -- I'll consider any project.

Hook, Line & Sinker Blogfest badge.
Awkward Writing Blogfest badge.
NaNoWriMo 2010 badge.
Writing Share Wednesday banner.
The Fantastical Society of Writers and Liars banner.

Redesign a Book Cover Blogfest Contest

Today marks Brenda Drake's "Redesign a Book Cover" Blogfest Contest. I thought this was just a fantastic idea because I'm an artist and it was right down my alley.

Please visit Brenda Drake's blog for the list of participants.

I began with designing a cover for a book (or story) that didn't have a cover, and that proved more difficult. I then switched to redesigning a cover for Ender's Game, suggested by a friend. I haven't read Ender's Game since high school, but that doesn't mean I don't forget how epic it is. While the original cover(s) show space battles and Ender Wiggen, I went with a more digital-in-appearance route.


Links (made tiny for convenience):



Best of luck to all participants.

JWP

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now Reading: Hounded by Kevin Hearne

Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Book One of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Published May 3, 2011
ISBN-10: 0345522478
ISBN-13: 978-0345522474


Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.


I've been hearing only wonderful things about this new series, so I of course had to give it a try. Like all other reviews have stated, the first few pages have excitement. Atticus has magnificent voice that is reminiscent of Harry Dresden, which in all respect to Kevin Hearne, could very well be the druid's mentor. He has flare and style in the way he moves and talks, and that all shows in the writing.

Atticus wears an amulet imbued with iron, the natural weakness to faeries and all things magical. What I found instantly fascinating is the way that it all is described: Hearne has a finesse about giving you a lot about Atticus's history and what he did to get to this point in his life. I'm only three chapters in, but I can see this series being one to gobble up.

There's a great handful of mythology behind the story, too. Two characters that I've met in a previous series (The Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel), the Morrigan and Hecate (or Hekate), make an appearance. Celtic lore is the backbone of this series and I'm extremely excited to learn more about it.

Review to come.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: The Warlock by Michael Scott

The Warlock
Book Five in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Published May 24, 2011
ISBN-10: 0385735332
ISBN-13: 978-0385735339

Review: 4/5


In the fifth installment of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Nicholas, the Alchemyst, is minutes from death. In a desperate attempt to have him for one more day, his wife, Perry, gives one day of her life to revive Nicholas to health. At this point in the novel, I was more connected to the Flamels as a couple than ever. Perry would truly do anything for Nicholas and this was a fantastic example.

Dr. John Dee is moving ahead with his plan to unleash monsters on the city of San Francisco, all in an attempt to have the people run in fear. He then plans to save the humans from the monsters by summoning the Elders to the city. They will all be worshipped as gods. The plan is foiled to an extent however as the separated twins, Josh and Sophie, miraculously reunite under strange circumstances. However, it is not a happy meeting. They blame each other for choosing the wrong side -- Sophie with the Flamels and Josh with Dr. Dee.

The end of the novel does not, however, leave a hint to the title character as it did in the previous five books. The last chapter of book four had something to the effect of: "The world is in need of a warlock again."

Nothing at the end of this novel. Makes me excited to learn who The Enchantress (title of the sixth book) will be.

# # #

In other news, my good friend and (occasional) blogger Tara is hosting a blogfest for her one year blogiversery. You can sign up at her blog, Aleatoire. It takes place Saturday, June 18. It's a rather simple contest challenging you to write a scene while taking inspiration from a song. More details are on her page.

Finally, I'd like to give a huge flyby congratulations to my critique partner, Steph (at Scribbler to Scribe) for receiving her first short story publication!

That's all for now.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Monday, June 6, 2011

Staying Motivated

While I slowly progress in the outline of my current WIP, I use my talents in illustration and painting to carry me along. Basically, it gives me something else to do. Most of you don't know I freelance, so I'll add a shameless plug of my website.


If you're ever looking for freelance for any reason, whatever the project, I'd be glad to take a look and help you out.

Here's the latest progress of my current project.

SUBJECT: Nicholas Flamel, protagonist of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.
MEDIUM: Pencil > Illustrator Render > Corel Painter Render


Friday, May 27, 2011

Now Reading: The Warlock by Michael Scott

The Warlock
Book Five of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Published May 24, 2011
ISBN-10: 0385735332
ISBN-13: 978-0385735339

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series will easily go down as one of my favorite YA series to date. This is the fifth book of the series and in the next installment, The Enchantress, the war of Nicholas, the Twins of Destiny, and other famous Immortal warriors will end. They've been battling Dr. John Dee since the first book as the he grew an army of Immortals, Elders and baddies from all corners of mythology.

In this installment, we discover Nicholas Flamel is dying and fast. He will not live out the night. The Twins of Destiny, Josh and Sophie Newman, have been separated -- Sophie who has remained loyal to Nicholas and his wife, Perry, -- and Josh, who was taken and seduced by Dee and his minions to believe Flamel is evil.

What I know so far is that this novel will not take place in only one era. I'll say no more. Just know that time traveling is on the list of things to do.

These books are an easy and addicting read. If I haven't mentioned it in the original review of the first novel, my favorite part of the series is that it all takes place in the course of a week (so far). DANG! That's talent.

To send you off, here's a sketch I did of good ole' Nicholas Flamel. Yeah, I do remedial sketching when writing gets me down. It's nice to have a fall back.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Review: Beyond The Shadows by Brent Weeks

BEYOND THE SHADOWS
Book Three of the Night Angel Trilogy
Published: December 1, 2008
ISBN-10: 0316033669
ISBN-13: 978-0316033664

Review: 4/5

So I took a massive hiatus in reading, writing, and even art. Work was just bogging me down for a long time. Anyway, it took me forever to finally finish Beyond the Shadows. Truthfully, I forgot a lot of the stuff that I read in the very beginning, but when I was finally able to sit down and pound away some pages, I got back into the swing of Weeks' world.

The only reason I gave this final volume of the trilogy four of five stars is because is very long. Long books are great. Long books with great characters are even better. However, there are WAY TOO MANY characters in this entire series. Some have all the face time while others are below third-supporting characters. They're basically mentionables.

However, into the grit of the story. Weeks finished off the Night Angel Trilogy with a massive blow. While I followed the boy Azoth as he became Kylar, an enigma and soon to be one of the most legendary Wetboys (assassins) in Cenaria, his character is every part of every other character's role in the series. He is connected to almost everyone. By meeting, speaking, humiliating, or killing.

The battle for Cenaria closes with Kylar finally earning his right as THE Night Angel. He is judgment and retribution, death and life, but he is lover and compassionate man at the end. Kylar's growth spans the whole series. If you ever find your to-be-read list running thin (which most readers don't), I would certainly recommend adding The Night Angel Trilogy to your TBR. The world is vast and rich, the magic and lore so woven into dialogue and mannerisms, it sold me from beginning to end.

Weeks has recently put out the first novel of his second series, The Black Prism. I hope to get to that one, but I also recently found out Weeks is set to publish (soon) a Night Angel novella, Perfect Shadow, which will tell more about the rise of Kylar's witty mentor, Durzo Blint.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

KISS

Among other things, KISS is called the mantra for writers. It is supposed to make you think. Slow things down. Put invigorating, yet comprehensible storytelling in your manuscript.

For a long time, I never kept things simple. My writing has always been about the large and in charge: the next big thing that is going to change a genre. It was stupid of me to think like this.

All writers really want to do is have a kick-ass manuscript that agents can gobble up. However, it's not about complexity. It's not about how many words you can cram into the story.

It's about your protagonist. You've chosen your protagonist to be the guy or girl for you because you see something in them. They're interesting. They're fulfilling to you as a writer. They're witty or emotional. They carry a burden or are in the midst of creating one that will affect others. All of this surrounds the story, but if the plot cannot be made simple, it will become lost in the words.

My generous critique partners, who I trust indefinitely, have since pounded this mantra into my head. When I started a new project to get my head out of another giving me trouble, I went through two outlines, neither of which were simple.

It can be about the protagonist or it can be about the journey. It can be about growth or loss. But whatever you choose, make it the focus. Don't allow your strong protagonist to become lost in the journey. Don't let him or her both grow and lose equally. There must be a happy center point. Choose and make peace. If, at the end of your outline or planning process, that way doesn't work, you start again.

How do you KISS? 

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Like Creative Deodorant

This is a follow up from my post on March 15th, A Painful Truth. Following the aftermath of trunking my baby, Bond of Darkness, my manuscript that received so much TLC, I started with a new project.

It took me a while to break out of the fantasy shell. I really didn't know anything else. Fantasy is what I have always read and always been interested in. But to get my mind of Bond of Darkness, I needed to start a project in a new genre. 

This genre became paranormal, with historical fiction involved. I was happy to be able to start something that bloomed quickly. It was fun to be able to do research for a novel. When writing fantasy, research is hardly required. You're the god, tilling the world and creating the people. In a world that exists (Earth), you need to research the real aspects: towns, cities, types of people, transportation. 

But I didn't want to entirely abandon fantasy. So, I added my historical fiction twist. 

My partners are proud that I'm working on something new. We've all started breaking out of our writing shells, and while it took me a while to get going, I think my project will be healthy for me creatively. A creative mind needs to be stimulated in various ways. Reading is the obvious matter to do this. But you also need to experiment. Write outside your genre. Partake in conversation that might stimulate voice for character. Learn from other writers. Browse blogs. Force yourself to do prompts.

Only if it were this easy.
All will push you to better yourself, slowly but surely. Even if you're like me, where writing is more of a hobby and not something that will be your career choice, remaining creatively healthy is a must.

What have you done to spark a change in your writing? Do you force new projects on yourself to stay diverse, or do you pick up a new project when deemed necessary?

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels
Book Four of The Mortal Instruments
Published: April 5, 2011
ISBN-10: 1442403543
ISBN-13: 978-1442403543

Review: 5/5

Cross posted at Goodreads.

SPOILER FREE:

Just when you think The Mortal Instruments has concluded, Cassie Clare blows your mind on a new story brewing around the culmination of events in City of Glass. The Three Mortal Instruments are back in their rightful places, Jace is resurrected by the Angel Raziel, Valentine is gone and Sebastian is dead. Right?

Well, I can't tell you that. But City of Fallen Angels is certainly worth reading and definitely has the same strength that we loved The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices for. There's even mentions of characters from The Infernal Devices in City of Fallen Angels, just as there was vice-versa. City of Fallen Angels picks up two months after the death of Valentine. Things are being repaired in the Shadowhunter world. Jocelyn and Luke are getting married. Clary and Jace are deeply in love. And Simon is...well, still a vampire.

I assure you, you'll love this book. Clare really had this all planned, even if she says books 4-6 weren't planned. Secretly, they were. Shh, it's just between us. Finally, the conclusion of City of Fallen Angels is what really blew my mind. With all the shit that goes down, happy ending under way, BALL IS DROPPED (again).

I'll say no more. If you haven't read The Mortal Instruments, do it. Although this review is littered with spoilers on the behalf of the first three books. I'm eagerly awaiting City of Lost Souls (the cover release and book, too), which is due out next year.

Peace and Writing Love,

JWP