Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

I Cried Over A Book I Haven’t Read Yet

Kris and I went to the bookstore not too long ago. I still had a decent amount of gift cards left over from Christmas, so we decided to buy more books that we have no room for.

I’m sure you all know that I love the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. It’s a middle grade series about wild cats. The first book of this now 35-plus-book series came out when I was 11-years-old. I started reading it then and have gotten behind in the series, but I try to catch up when I can.

I’m on the first book of the fourth series (the writers are currently on the seventh series), but I only have books 1-3 of the fourth series (there are six books in each series).

Every time we go to the bookstore I check the kids section to see if books 4-6 are in hardcover. Since they’re older, they’re all in paperback. But I have books 1-3 in hardcover and I like it to be uniform on my bookshelf.

Anyway, I probably have to order them online, but I turned around and noticed the second book of the seventh series had just come out. Kris and I picked it up and was looking at the list of characters in the beginning.

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There are four clans with so many cats in each other, plus other characters, so there’s always a little of cats, their rank, and their home. I’ve always enjoyed reading the names, but the main reason I picked it up was because I was curious about Firestar.

Firestar was the main character in the first series. He found his way into the wild in the very first book and climbed up the ranks of his Clan and became leader. He found a mate, had kittens, protected his Clan and friends, etc.

The second series and beyond aren’t written with Firestar as the main character, but he was always there. He was the leader of the Clan, after all. That, and the second series are about his kids and then the next series is about his grandkids and so on.

Anyway, so I don’t confuse you guys further (I hope most of you are following me… it’s a huge series and it’s hard to explain), I’ll get to the point.

The latest book, the second book of the seventh series, did not have Firestar as the leader. In fact, he wasn’t listed at all.

In other words, he died.

I have no idea when he died since I’m so far behind in the series, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say my heart broke. I felt as though my childhood shattered, as dramatic as that may sound.

Then Kris noticed (and had to mention to me even though I was already crying in public…) that Sandstorm, Firestar’s mate wasn’t there either. So she must have died as well. Graystripe, Firestar’s best friend, was in the elder den, which means he won’t last much longer.

I teared up again when I told my mother I cried in Barnes & Noble over a book I hadn’t read and even as I’m writing this post I’m tearing up again. (I’m a girl, guys. Cut me some slack.)

But the thing is, I’m amazed that Firestar’s death, even though I haven’t even read it yet, affected me so much.

I grew up following Firestar’s story. Warriors was the book series that got me into reading in the first place. Erin Hunter was the author(s) who opened my eyes to the wonderful world of reading and writing.

I never thought Firestar would ever die. He was the one who started it all. He was the protagonist for a while, after all. He’s immortal, right? It’s the seventh series, the timeline for the books must span over years and years. They’re writing about a brand new generation, so it makes sense that Firestar is no longer there, even though he had nine lives (from being leader).

But I’m still in shock.

And, if I’m reacting to his death like this now, what’s going to happen when I actually read that scene in… well, I don’t know what book he actually dies in.

This is a crappy feeling, but I love it at the same time. It means this series has a special place in my heart even though I was only 11 when it began and I haven’t been able to keep up with it as quickly as I would have liked. I’m not 23-years-old and crying over the series in the kids section at Barnes & Noble. How silly does that sound?

I guess I have nothing else to say but thank you to Erin Hunter, every single one of them who created these books and allowed my imagination and creativity to run wild (no pun intended, but I have to say that was pretty clever!).

Now excuse me while I go start the next book and anticipate this dreadful moment…

Have you read the Warriors series? Is there a special book or series that has a permanent spot in your heart? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 144: Ants

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They marched in line like ants working to build their home and gather food for their queen. They felt small like ants, too. No one appreciated them, no one respected them. Some of the students were beginning to go stir-crazy. Some students were beginning to rebel, therefore getting into a lot of trouble. Others attempted an escape which made things much worse for them, meaning they were going to have to stay longer.

Jaime had no idea why her parents wanted her to go to this boarding school. Most of the kids that were attending this school either stopped going to their public school or they got into trouble all the time that their parents simply couldn’t handle them anymore. Jaime wasn’t like that, though. She always did her homework, she was never late to school or any of her classes, and she stayed away from the troublesome kids. She respected her teachers and her parents. So, why would her parents ship her off to a boarding school where only the bad kids go?

She tried her best to remain as well-behaved as she could. Maybe even more so than she used to be. She had heard, when she first found out she was going to this school, that some kids on a rare occasion would get out early with good behavior. Jaime was already a good kid, so she could totally be one of those rare occasions. Right?

Jaime bumped into the tall kid in front of her as the line abruptly stopped. She grunted at the jolt and whispered a polite apology to the kid in front of her. She had been too busy trying to figure out her parents’ decisions for her that she completely forgot what was going on around her. Thankfully, though, the kid in front of her didn’t seem to notice Jaime had crashed right into her.

That was the other thing about the kids in this school. They would be sent here to be “fixed” if they were bad or sick. The longer they were here, the more brainwashed they got. Some of the kids were so numb from medication or the dull, weary routine of each day that they just gave up.

Jaime had only been at this school for one week. She vowed to never get like some of these other kids. She wasn’t going to go crazy because of a stupid boarding school. As long as Jaime kept track of the days (in her notebook back in her bedroom, there were no clocks around that she had seen), Jaime should be able to keep it together.

Then again, she had no idea how long she was supposed to be there for. She had assumed she would be out by the end of June since she was a senior in high school. But she hadn’t even heard from her parents since the bus came to pick her up at her house, which was two hours away. She never got care packages from them, not even a phone call.

Either way, she turned 18 in July so at least by then she would be able to check herself out, right?

The line was so long that Jaime had no idea why they had stopped in the middle of the hallway. She couldn’t poke her head around the bodies to try to see, either. If a teacher noticed her breaking form, she would go straight back to her bedroom and would have to start all over again. She learned that one the hard way, quickly. No one told her the rules when she had first arrived.

That was the difference between her old public school and this boarding school. At her high school they wanted the students to succeed. Here, they wanted the students to fail.

The line started moving again as the teacher up front began dispersing the kids into various classrooms. As the line moved forward, Jaime noticed three teachers walking a boy back towards the end of the line. Two of the teachers held onto his arms, even though he seemed to be walking willingly with them, and the third teacher walked behind them. As they got closer, Jaime averted her eyes to the ground. They were not allowed to make eye contact with students of the opposite sex. If she was caught staring, she would be considered nosy and therefore received the same punishment as the offender so she would know first-hand what was going on. Again, she had learned that the hard way when she first arrived.

When Jaime got to the front of the line, the teacher before her pointed to the right. Jaime bowed her head and broke the line to go into the classroom next door. There was only one seat left and it was right in the front row. She sighed taking the seat reluctantly. That was the problem having a last name that began with “R.” She always entered class as one of the last students. They had the freedom to choose their own seats (how big of the teachers, right?), but no one wanted to be in the direct eyesight of the teacher. So students always chose the seats in the back and worked their way to the front as the room got filled up.

Jaime hoped being in front all the time would give her brownie points, though. Maybe the teachers would assume she wanted to be up front paying close attention. Then again, they probably didn’t even notice. Brownie points most likely didn’t exist in this school.

Jamie sat down and looked at the wall to her left. Oh, right. No windows in the classrooms. She sat up straight folding her hands on her desk waiting for the teacher to arrive. She felt like a robot.

But June was a month away. She began a legal adult in two months. She could survive until then. If they still didn’t let her out… Well, her roommate already had an escape plan drawn up.

Words: 1,002

I hope you enjoyed this short story. Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: 
HarperTeen, October 2015
Genre: Young adult fantasy
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

My Review:

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This was the second book I’ve read written by Patrick Ness. After reading When a Monster Calls from him, I figured any book written by him would be amazing. So, when I found this, I just had to pick it up.

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I found the characters to be super interesting. They each had their own internal conflict. Mikey, the protagonist, has anxiety and OCD. It was really cool to read through the perspective of a character with those issues. I have an anxiety disorder myself and I could relate to a lot of his feelings. His sister was recovering from an eating disorder and his best friends each had something going on (not necessarily disabilities, though).

The characters weren’t the “chosen ones” so they just went on with their lives as normally as possible. It was an interesting perspective.

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The point of this novel is that the characters are living their lives as normal as possible. Other things are happening in the world, but they’re not the “chosen ones.” They just go on with their lives and hope the chosen ones do survive. There are no heroes, no journeys, nothing.

I found the plot to be really cool because we’re set in a fantasy world with vampires and zombies and such, but it doesn’t really faze the main characters. There’s nothing they can do about it, so they just hope for the best and try to get good grades in school. I definitely like the idea of having the main cast not be the heroes of the story.

 

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Each chapter was written in first-person through Mikey’s eyes. We followed his day, his internal issues, as well as his family and friend issues, and more. He is, for the most part, a normal teenager hoping to make it to graduation.

However, at the beginning of each chapter, there’s a quick paragraph about the “indie kids,” who are the chosen ones of the story saving the world. There’s a little blurb about them explaining what they’re doing and what they’re currently fighting. It’s an insight to what’s happening in the world while Mikey panics about prom.

I thought it was cool to see the “news” of the world but continue on as though not much is happening. Because, let’s face it, we see stuff happen on the news every day, good and bad, yet we still go to school and work because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

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The novel had a great premise and was very well written. Patrick Ness just proved further to me that he’s a wonderful author. The characters and meaning behind the story was different and fun to read.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness gets…
5-stars5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Give him words and sentences to put together and his forehead creases down so you can see exactly what he’ll look like when he’s eighty.” –Patrick Ness, The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Posted in Quotes, Writing

5 Quotes by J.K. Rowling

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1. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

2. “Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.”

3. “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”

4. “I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

5. “Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”

Which one is your favorite quote from J.K. Rowling? Do you know any good quotes by her that aren’t listed here? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Writing

Antagonists Are People, Too

It’s hard to have a good plot without someone to drive your protagonist forward. Often times, that someone happens to be a “bad guy.”

Someone who is not nice, someone who isn’t your protagonist’s number one fan, someone who wants the spotlight for themselves and goes about it the wrong way. There are a lot of reasons a protagonist becomes a protagonist. Often it’s something bad, but sometimes it’s not.

antagonist

Who is the antagonist?

The antagonist is a character in your novel. Often times they are the “bad guy,” the person the protagonist is trying to stop, the person the readers don’t root for.

However, you have to remember that the antagonist is just as important to the novel as your protagonist is.

There are many different types of antagonists.

  • The Psychopath
  • The Hater
  • The Power Hungry
  • The Insane
  • The Rival

There are more types of villains, of course, but those are just a few. You can tell which type of antagonist you’ve created based on their personality, their background, and their motives.

How to create an awesome antagonist

Just like your protagonist, your antagonist should have a story too. Give them a personality, give them a background story. Things that have happened to them in the past may have made them out to be who they are now.

Antagonists should…

1. Have a motive.

They need to have a motive for why they do what they do. They should be trying to accomplish something for their own benefit, acting on personal desires.

Good motivations can stem from the seven deadly sins, such as greed or envy.

2. Get in the way of the protagonist.

The antagonist’s wants are most often the opposite of the protagonist’s. They may be racing each other, they may be trying to stop each other.

Speaking of envy, some antagonists are jealous of the protagonist and that ends up being a motivation for hate.

3. Be trying to hide something or trying to gain something.

Antagonists should have secrets. They should have a deeper, internal motive for doing what they do.

In turn, they should be trying to gain something. Most antagonists do what they do purely for selfish reasons.

4. Have flaws.

No one is perfect and that includes protagonists and antagonists alike. Some people may believe the antagonist’s motives are their flaw, but there should be character traits that allows the character to stand out, that allows the antagonist to be known as the antagonist.

Remember…

Antagonists are a character in your story. They should be fleshed out just as much as the other characters in the story.

The only difference is, a villain is someone whose story hasn’t been told.

How do you write antagonists? Do you have any tips to create memorable bad guys? Let me know in the comments below!

Did you enjoy this post? Why don’t you check out Why Does Your Protagonist Matter?

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Posted in Writing

Would You Rather (For Writers)

I’ve played a few Would You Rather games here on the blog. It’s a fun game and I decided to come up with one on my own.

Unlike most of these kinds of posts, I won’t be tagging anyone to participate. However, feel free to answer these questions on your own blog if you would like. If you do, be sure to link back to me–I would love to see your answers!

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Would you rather go on a writing retreat in the middle of nowhere with no wi-fi, or in your home office being interrupted every so often by friends and family?

I’d rather be home getting interrupted. People bother me, but I think I couldn’t handle not being able to blog or check my e-mail. Plus, I would miss my family and friends. I do occasionally socialize. (Aren’t you proud, Mom?)

Would you rather publish one best-selling novel and never write again, or publish multiple novels that either don’t sell well or sell average?

Multiple novels, definitely. I’d rather be writing for the rest of my life, even if I needed a day-job to continue it.

Would you rather be a best-seller with your real name and people stopping you everywhere you go, or a pen name no one knows who you are?

I’d rather use my real name. Not that I want to be bothered by everyone all the time, but I would like to be recognized for my work. As long as it’s in a good way.

Would you rather teach English/creative writing high school classes, or college classes?

College. I feel like there would be more creative freedom with that.

Would you rather only be able to write during NaNoWriMo months (April, July, and November), or only be able to write five days per month?

Only during NaNo months. Those would be busy months, but it’s a total of 91 days, whereas five days a month would only give me 60 days to write.

What are your answers to these questions? Do you agree with me or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!

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