Review for ‘The Song of Achilles’

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerDNF!

I did not even make it 100 pages into this book. I tried, really I did. There were entire passages of description that could have been taken out. The book could have been much shorter if, rather than describe every unimportant detail, Miller had just gotten to the point. I get it, show don’t tell, but readers do not need to see every detail. I’m truly disappointed because I had such high hopes for this book and it let me down.

It was too slow paced and I really just couldn’t get into it.

 

I give it a 1/5 star rating.

‘Artemis’ Review

Artemis is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I borrowed the copy I read but you can bet that I am going to buy myself one. Yeah, it was that good. (5/5 stars.) At one point, I even dreamed that I lived in the city on the moon.

One thing that I really loved about the book was the writing style. This is the first I’ve read any of Andy Weir’s work, so I didn’t know anything about his style going in. In Artemis, the style is very realistic, it’s practically stream of consciousness. It seemed as if the protagonist, Jazz, was having a conversation with the reader, or giving a confession. At times, the fourth wall was broken to actually address the reader. It worked very well for Jazz and her personality. I think that it was the best way to go about the setting, as well. Very few people have ever been to the moon. The way that Jazz interacts with the reader, and how realistically the story was written, make it much easier for the readers to understand how life in Artemis and life on the moon (yes, they’re different, a city has politics and the moon has different gravity) work.

Something that was obvious from the get-go was how much research Andy Weir put into this book.

Or, he’s really good at making things up.

There was a lot of chemistry and math, a lot of information about welding and physics and aerodynamics. It blew me away how tediously he researched everything. I learned a lot about gravity and space travel. The novel didn’t seem too information heavy, either, which is usually hard to do given how much explaining is needed for the general population to understand not only the basics of how Artemis works as a city, but how Jazz functions in her day to day life and how she completes her mission that compels the rest of the story.

I also enjoyed how diverse the story was. Jazz is Saudia Arabian, all of Artemis is possible because of Kenya, the aluminum is made on the moon by a Brazillian company. Honestly, I think the only recurring white character is Rudy, and he’s a rude Canadian (a character type that we don’t usually see…I’m talking about Canadians, not rude Canadians). It was very refreshing to read a book where the protagonists aren’t white Americans in a post-apocalyptic world or a John Green novel.

What? I’m not salty.

There was one thing that did confuse me while reading, though. Sporadically, throughout chapters, there were emails between Jazz and a character named Kelvin. This isn’t much of a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know anything AT ALL about the book, then skip this paragraph. These emails start off in the past to help establish Jazz and Kelvin’s relationship, as well as help explain how Jazz ended up where she is at the start of the novel. While reading, I thought that the emails were in real-time, which confused me because the events that Jazz relayed to Kelvin didn’t add up. If the emails had been time-stamped or said that they started 9 to 10 years previously, it would have cleared up the confusion that I had. I didn’t realize that the emails were taking place in the past until they caught up with the present, over halfway through the book.

The reason that I wanted to read Artemis is because Artemis is my favorite Greek goddess, so there is really no connection between the two other than the name of the city. Though this wasn’t a story about Greek heroes, I was not let down at all. This book gave me a rollercoaster of a ride and a rollercoaster of emotions. I recommend you pick up a copy.

How to get writing again!

Scrolling through Tumblr (I follow the #amwriting) I found a post that I think would help writers, including myself. Thank you, Kira Martin, for your wonderful advice!

Hello! I am a writer that is fairly new to the game. I realized I wanted to write full time a few ago. Since then, I’ve been working on a book, that I consider to be my baby; the masterpiece that will create my overall brand. However, I struggle with the discipline of it all. I have such a hard time getting myself to just sit down and finish! I’m currently working on my 23rd chapter but I know I still have so much to go. Working 40 hours a week isn’t necessarily helping either. Advice?

[asked by Anonomous]

 

What you’re experiencing is what a lot of aspiring/newbie writers go through–you need to sit yourself down and come up with a plan of action. And because it’s my style, here’s a list to help with that plan of action:

1. Find your motivation. What inspires you? Why do you want to finish your book? Why do you want to write? Once you find your motivation, surround yourself with it. Realizing that you will never be a career writer unless you write your book is a good kick in the ass.

2. Make writing a habit. The way to form habits is to do them daily. Put aside an hour every day to focus on your manuscript—you can even set an alert in your phone. Be very clear to everyone that if they interrupt you during this time that their deaths are on their hands. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes natural (the writing, not the interruption murders).

3. Set goals. Find what works for you. A page a day? 700 words? Set you goals as your phone’s lock screen. Put sticky notes on your mirror. Do a goal thermometer and scribble out a notch for each chapter/page you complete. Hang it somewhere where you’ll see it every day.

4. Create a ritual. What I’ve always done is play some music, open my document, and read what I last wrote. By now, when the music comes on, I know it’s time to get to business. Combined with my habit of listening to the same song on repeat for days, I once accidently conditioned myself to open my doc when I heard a certain song. Find whatever works for you.

5. Consider your future. How serious are you about being a writer? For any sort of dream, there are risks/stresses/extra work required for them to come into fruition. If you can’t find time to write, you need to think about what that means for the future. In five years where will you be if you continue down this path? Where do you want to be? What are sacrifices (time/energy/money) you might need to get there?

3 Ways to Edit Your Own Book!

Thank you, Book Doctors, for this video and these tips. Check out the video here.

  1. Read it out loud!
    • Trust me, hearing is different than seeing.
  2. Have people read it!
    • But not people who are related/biased toward you
    • Join a critique group (Goodreads is a good place to meet people who love to read)
  3. Hire a professional
    • If you have a smaller budget, try a librarian.
    • Make sure that they are experts in your genre!
    • Do research before you pay anybody–you don’t want to get scammed.

 

 

8 Basics of Creative Writing

According to Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five), the following are eight basics of creative writing.

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that they will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just on person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

 

Now, I’m not saying that every single piece of writing you every create has to follow these basics…in fact, nothing you write has to follow these. Break the rules if you want.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK: Step One

BECOME A READER

I am a strong believer in the idea that to be a writer, you must also be a reader.

Read everything, classics, romance, children’s books, fiction & nonfiction anything you can get your hands on.

I know you’re saying something along the lines of “If I only want to write Young Adult books, then I only have to read Young Adult books, right?”

Wrong.

Yes, you want to ready YA, and probably 60%-70% of what you’re reading should be YA, but you want to read other things to exercise your brain and to get your writer juices flowing.

In order to write, you must also read.

For any more advice, check out my YouTube video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5BYafaKBmo&t=24s

 

Shriver’s Speech

If you deem yourself to be a part of the writing world (like me) but have not yet read Lionel Shriver’s speech on current day identity politics and the way that they have the potential to impact fiction writing (I just read it), I highly recommend reading it here. It’s very powerful and has many good points.