June was a pretty big month for me. I went to Book Expo, my blog turned eight years old, I posted about the merits (or lack thereof) of happy blogger fairy dust, and I set a deadline for my novel. My writing's actually started to pick up. I've read a lot of advice from different writers and blogs over the years, and for the most part ... I've ignored it. I always seemed convinced that everyone writes differently and that things that apply to other people might not apply to me.
But I finally found a piece of advice that resonated with me - pick small goals. Sounds stupid. What could be a small goal about writing? Well, for me, it's going for a small results-based goal rather than a strict count. Going in and telling myself "write as much as you can" isn't a goal. It's pretty open-ended since I can't really define "as much as you can." It means that more often than not, I feel like I haven't written enough, that I haven't met this goal, and that shoots down my morale.
Moreover, measuring progress by word count (other than during National Novel Writing Month) doesn't really mean anything. I could (and can, and HAVE) written thousands of words that do absolutely nothing to further the plot or get me closer to the end of my book. So instead of word count, I do scene count. I decide on a scene, and I write until I get to the natural conclusion of that scene. It may take a thousand words, it may take three hundred, but when I'm done, it's there, I get a sense of accomplishment, and my book has progressed in a significant way (one more scene means way more than another 500 words).
Anyway! The reviews:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily M. Danforth. YA, Contemporary. A-
Pros: Fantastic, nuanced characterization. Detailed environment. Engaging coming-of-age storyline. Cons: Slow pacing for the first two-thirds. Occasional overabundance of detail. Some narrative loose ends.
The Wild Marquis, by Miranda Neville. Romance, Historical. B+
Pros: Delicious hero, interesting book collecting subplot. Cons: Heroine is a bit of the silly type who sometimes ignores sage safety advice for the plot to go forward.
Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novik. Fantasy, Historical. B+
Pros: Amazing worldbuilding, fantastic bromance between and dragon. Cons: Slow slow slooooow pacing.
Pixar's Brave. Animated Film, Fantasy. B
Pros: Strong female-centric storyline, no tacked-on love interest. Cons: Uneven pacing, narrow scope.
Where It Began, by Ann Redisch Stampler. B
Pros: Interesting mystery, hilarious hilarious voice. Cons: Heroine is completely passive in her own story.
American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Fantasy, Contemporary. C
Pros: Original storyline, detailed setting. Cons: Dull characters, scattered and unfocused narrative.
Motherland, by Amy Sohn. Fiction, Contemporary. C-
Pros: Soapy scandals galore! Cons: Unrelatable characters, unresolved storylines, and SURPRISE INCEST.
Dark Fever, by Karen Marie Moning. Urban Fantasy. D+
Pros: The brief appearance of a fairy so sexy he literally causes people to spontaneously take their clothes off. Cons: Dickbag hero, TSTL heroine, gratingly annoying future-heroine narrator spoils all the good parts, no conflict resolution at all.