Mini-Reviews: Pretties & Abandon

For the Holiday book read I was able to get 2 books under my belt, namely Pretties by Scott Westerfeld and Abandon by Meg Cabot. What did I think? That I pretty much wanted to abandon both series.

It’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, but neither book made me want to read the sequels. I didn’t regret reading either, and I think I learned a few things about my own preference and what not to do with my own novels. They’re still fairly well-written overall, and it really may just be my own preference.


PrettiesLet’s start with Mr. Westerfeld’s book. Let me begin with saying I loved Uglies and it’s the whole reason I was dying to read Pretties in the first place. I’ll try to be a bit general so as not to give out spoilers. But this is Book 2 of the series, so some spoilers for Book 1 may appear.

Pretties is the continuing story of a girl named Tally who lives in a world where all anyone wants to do is be made pretty—a surgery that happens when you’re 16. But Tally gets mixed up with some rebels and decides she doesn’t want the surgery. Plus they discover it does something to your brain, kind of like mind control. But the only way to test the cure is for Tally to go get pretty. In Book 2 her friends attempt to rescue her from her pretty brainwashing.

Continue reading

Row 80 Check-In Nov 26th

best nachos

Yep, I went there. Best nachos ever!!! These are Jae’s Famous Nachos, and they’re ridiculously delicious. How to make them? Well that’s easy. First you need some good tortilla chips, then refried and black beans. Clump those on top of the chips, then grated cheddar on top and pop it in the microwave until the cheese is mostly melted. On top goes guacamole (I recommend Wholly Guacamole), plain yogurt (I know, some of you are skeptical, but I promise this is waaaaaay better than sour cream, healthier too), olives and pico de gallo. Our local grocery makes this amazing pico salsa, we love it! You can climb this mountain and it’ll be worth it, I promise. You’ll probably need a few extra chips on the side for good measure.

Now wipe the drool off your face, here come the goals:

  • Write at least 3 short stories intended for publication.  I’ll probably try my hand at several more than three, but the hope is to find three gemstones among the rocks.
    On hiatus.
  • Read the helpful books to prepare me for the editing fest that will be late November early December on SHADE.
    I’m more than 3/4 through Story and I’ve pulled some great exercises from it for later with SHADE. Hopefully I can finish it up this week.
  • Have read all 201 available Anton Chekhov’s short stories, sprinkled with Hemingway and Bradbury.
    I’ve read 50 of 201 Chekhov short stories. I haven’t switched to anyone else yet. This last week was comprised mostly of trying to read my other books and work on SHADE for Pitch Wars
  • Polish SHADE to pure awesomeness.  I turned in my first 250 words for that YA contest with Gotham Writers. We find out the results in February, so no updates on that until then. Now I’m prepping for Pitch Wars. I went through the first 3 chapters again, doing the editing backward and in a different font AND reading it out loud, all of which I thought was very helpful. To edit backward you start with the last page of a chapter, edit that page, then move to the next page in backward order. It really jars you out of the story so you don’t get sucked in and can see if things are working.I’m also trying to rework my query letter. Seriously, Brian, thanks for talking me through it with your encouraging words. I still have a crap query, but I’m reading some short e-books on it and trying to pull all the information together. Query letters are the hardest part of this biz, but I know hard work pays off, and with all the hard work I’ve been putting in I’m certain something decent will come out of all this—or at least it had better. 😉
  • No Treat November. Of course Thanksgiving was… no comment, but I actually did lose nearly 2 pounds since a week or two ago. I’m back on MFP today and trying desperately to be good. There’s still a cinnamon pie in the house, but I plan to work those calories in with exercise so it doesn’t put me over the limit. I’ve done all this before, I can do it again.
  • The Holiday Book Read! I’m 99% finished with Abandon. I didn’t really like it per se, but I don’t regret reading it. It’s oddly similar to Twilight. Maybe that’s why it’s been so successful? More on this tomorrow I think.

I’m on track with my goals, I’m just in a knock-down-drag-out brawl with my query letter. But I’m a martial artist, so I know some sneaky moves.

How about you? Have any advice on query letter techniques or links to sites with helpful info? How are you doing on your goals? Are you participating in Pitch Wars or any contests? Let me know below.

Row80 Check-In Nov 7th

I’m really going to miss these leaves. They’re already starting to disappear, although many trees are still very beautiful. My goals:

  • Write at least 3 short stories intended for publication.  I’ll probably try my hand at several more than three, but the hope is to find three gemstones among the rocks.
    Trick or Tree got its final feedback session. Not as red as I thought, and my editor friend gave me a few good suggestions to tighten it up. I’ll probably focus on getting Trick or Treeready this week and submit it to the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Contest. Keep your fingers crossed for me, will ya?Dog Shy I finished this morning, but I can’t decide how I feel about the ending. I’m not sure if I want it to be nefarious or sweet. Decisions, decisions. Maybe spending time on Trick or Tree will help me decide. I’m thinking nefarious might be better…
  • Read the helpful books to prepare me for the editing fest that will be late November early December on Shade.
    Life events have been kind of crazy and I had my parents visiting from out of town, so helpful books have not really been read. I intend to remedy this from today on out. I really want to finish Story so I can get to On Writing and eventually Donald Maass’s two books.
  • Have read all 201 available Anton Chekhov’s short stories, sprinkled with Hemingway and Bradbury.
    I’ve read 32 of 201 Chekhov short stories. It can barely be called progress. I really need to take the train and leave the car at home!
  • Once December hits, tear Shade apart and polish it to pure awesomeness!  I’m going to pull Shade‘s Chapter One out early for a contest with the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. It’s YA only. You can submit your title and the first 250 words of your novel. If you win you get a full manuscript submit with NY agent Regina Brooks. I think the top 5 get a one-on-one with her. Either way, I think it’s worth trying. Shade will come out after Trick or Tree is all finished and entered.
  • No Treat November. Thusfar has been wholly unsuccessful, but yesterday I finally got on target, and I’m working for it today as well. It isn’t very easy. I think the problem is I used to cook all the time and take the leftovers for work, now I’m just scrambling for whatever I can find in the fridge or at the store. Oh well, No Treat November continues. I’m using MyFitnessPal to help. I lost 15 pounds two years ago with it, and was able to maintain those lost for another year. I’ve gained 10 back now. It’s my laziness in eating habits really, since exercise hasn’t changed that much. Back to MFP I go!
  • The Holiday Book Read! Okay, I felt like I needed to at least snag a couple books from the library to shake things up. Plus I’ve been reading a lot of your blogs and you mention all the books you’re reading and I got jealous. So yesterday I picked up Pretties by Scott Westerfield and Abandon by Meg Cabot. I’ll check in with a short review when I finish them. I’m thinking sometime next week or the week after (due to time, not my reading pace).

It’s odd, things feel like they’re on track even though as I look over my goals they aren’t as on track as I’d like. I have to admit, I recently took a strengths test that I think Gallup sponsors. What was my top strength? Can you guess? When I name it a few of you blogger buddies I know won’t be surprised in the least. Ready? POSITIVITY. Yeah, are you surprised?

Anyways, how are you guys doing with your goals, be they Row80, NaNo or otherwise? We have to keep each other motivated, so let me know in the comments below.