8.15.2010

Inaugural BEDITSHOA Post

Today is August 15th, which means . . .

It's time for BEDITSHOA, Blog Every Day in the Second Half of August! (Semi-explanation at the end of this post.) I've never posted for this many consecutive days in a row—I rarely post two days in a row—so I have no idea how this will go. It could be awesome. It could suck.

Let's find out!

I've decided BEDITSHOA would be a good time to talk about some of the books I've enjoyed this year. Apart from my own and those of my critique partners, I don't think I've talked about any others. How shameful! In fact, I know I haven't, because I still haven't told you about this one:




I read L.K. Madigan's Flash Burnout the first week of February (February! The shame!), and it was the best book I read all winter. Here's the flap description:


CLICK.

Telephoto lens. Zoom. In a shutter release millisecond, Blake's world turns upside down. The nameless woman with the snake tattoo is not just another assignment. "That's my mom!" gasps Marissa.

CLICK.

Saturated self-portrait: Blake, nice guy, class clown, always trying to get a laugh, not sure where to focus.

CLICK.

Contrast. Shannon, Blake's GF. Total. Babe. Marissa, just a friend and fellow photographer. Shannon loves him; Marissa needs him. How is he supposed to frame them both in one shot?

CLICK.

Chiaroscuro. Lightdark. Marissa again, overexposed. Crash and burn. Talk about negative space.

CLICK.


I know, right? Now you want to read it.

The thing is, Lisa Madigan is nice. Really nice and really funny. I was nervous to read her novel, because I like her so much. What if I didn't like her book? Yeah. Not a problem! Here's an excerpt from the email I sent her afterward:


"I am dead serious when I say that it was the best book I've read in months. Easily. No question. Blake's story tugged on every heart string, made me laugh out loud, had me on the edge of my seat . . . I loved these characters. LOVED them. It's incredible when an author can take someone who does something terrible and make us understand how and why such a thing could happen. I felt such compassion for him—though never sorry for him—which is an extraordinary feat."


If you're wondering what the terrible thing is, sorry. There's no way I'm telling you! This is already verging on spoilers, but I included that part because it's important to me that you know I've never seen anyone pull off what Lisa pulled off. Writers in particular, TAKE NOTE. This is how you write a tough novel and still make it enjoyable.

I'm not the only one who was blown away. It won the William C. Morris YA debut award. Yay, yay, yay! I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys realistic fiction with a gritty, humorous edge—fans of John Green, Sara Zarr, Laurie Halse Anderson come to mind. The hardcover is available now, and the paperback will be released October 4th.

Also being released on October 4th?




Lisa's second novel, The Mermaid's Mirror! I was lucky enough to be gifted an advanced copy. In her own words, "It's a contemporary fantasy with a girl main character, so it's the polar opposite of Flash Burnout." Here's the description from the back cover:


Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf. But her father—a former surfer himself—refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport. Yet something lures Lena to the water . . . an ancient, powerful magic.

One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail. Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon . . .what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life forever.


Lisa has confessed that she's nervous about this one—fantasy, when she won an award for realism!—but this time *I* wasn't nervous. I knew it'd be fantastic. And I was right! The target audience has changed, but it's definitely still an L.K. Madigan novel. This means: well-rounded, likable, REAL characters, a page-turning plot, and rich language. Language like this:


"He tightened his hold on her, and she savored the knowledge that he wanted her."


SWOON!

If anything, read it for the rest of that passage! Another reason: It's my favorite mermaid book in, like, forever. This will sound both a little ridiculous and ├╝ber girly, but I was THRILLED when I realized she'd gone traditional—pretty mermaids who sing and comb their hair!

I confess, I'm tired of the ugly, creepy mermaids appearing in fantasy these days. (I know you've seen them. Stringy hair, pointy teeth? These are not the mermaids I daydreamed about as a child!) More importantly, Lisa's weren't just beautiful. The darkness was underneath; there was a genuine threat and tension between the humans and mermaids.

Speaking of . . . usually, it's one or the other—the real world or the fantasy world—that's "the good part." But both worlds were interesting and complex! If you'd like to read a thoughtful, modern-meets-classic mermaid story, please look for The Mermaid's Mirror this October.

(Don't worry. I will remind you.)




Another thing I'd like to mention is that Lisa keeps a GREAT blog. I wish I'd written this post about how authors feel about Goodreads:


"For readers, the site is a playground, where you can review your favorite books, bash the ones you hated, and connect with other readers . . . [But] I cannot blithely rate the work of my colleagues. I know exactly how hard it is to write a book. I will not reduce authors’ months and years of hard work to a number of stars."


If I were just a reader, Goodreads would be my favorite site everrrrrr! But as a writer? It makes me nauseous. There's a reason why I only review the books I love, and I only give five star ratings. Readers may not think this is fair, and you might be right. But writers? I think you get me.

Also, Tim Gunn has been known to drop by her blog and critique her works-in-progress. The results? HILARIOUS. Check it out here and here.


“Tell me about this,” he says, eyeing the uneven pacing of the plot.


And her recent post "Do you need a door?" is pure writer porn. That is, it's an opportunity to see the workspace of other writers! Looooove.

I tweeted a very messy picture of my own desk last May. (It doesn't always look that bad. Except it kind of does. And often worse.) If you've ever wondered why there's a mushroom in the illustration of my desk at the top of this website, it's because, well, there's a mushroom on my desk! Can you spot it in the picture? It's actually a rubber stamp from Japan that says "Bonjour." Of course.

Anyway—clears throat—I like Lisa. A lot. Please check out her books and her blog!

14 comments:

  1. HAPPY BEDITSHOA, Steph! Woo hoo! What my crazy, stressful world needs is exactly what you provide: smiles in words and pictures.

    Oh, and Lisa K's book sounds REALLY good. Her book jacket really speaks to me, how it uses the ideas of photography to draw you in, My own book "Hailey's Song" will use music in a HUGE metaphorical way to help my character cope with her physical differences.

    And just yesterday Daisy Whitney said she liked my title AND my premise (I believe the email had an "Ooooooh!" in it, hahaha).

    How COOL is that?? =)

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  2. I am utterly verklempt to find an entire post about ME here on one of my favorite blogs in the world.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

    And good luck with BEDITSHOA.

    xo

    Lisa

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  3. I read FLASH BURNOUT earlier this year and am looking forward to THE MERMAID'S MIRROR.

    I'm with you on Goodreads. I no longer give any stars and never review. I might leave a comment of some sort, but no reviews (like "this reminded me of..."). The Internet has made the writing world smaller and more public, and I have no intention of speaking ill of any other's work, indirectly or not.

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  4. Awesome recommendations! ANd OMG--you are blogging everyday!!!!!!! Your blog really is my favorite--I kind of squee whenever I see an update so you have no idea how ridiculously happy you just made me! Yay! And also...good luck:)

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  5. Flash Burnout was sooo good. I started reading it at 7 pm one night, and ended up finishing it at 3 in the morning. Anyway, thank you for doing BEDITSHOA. I'm going to read this every day. :)

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  6. Thanks for the recommendations. I've been on a contemporary binge lately which probably stems from the fact that I'm attempting to write my first contemporary. Attempting being the most important word in that sentence.

    I have to agree with you on Goodreads. I never thought about it that way (being unpublished myself) but since then, I only rate books I really liked/loved. If I really love a book I usually gush about it on my blog.

    Good luck with posting every day.

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  7. Your humor never fails to make my day, Stephanie! :) Thanks for the book summaries and recs, I'll be sure to check these out.

    Looking forward to your many more blog posts! :D

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  8. Oh, how marvellous that you're doing this! It's so quiet on the blog front these days, and my blog is no exception. I just got into a bad habit with Magnus taking up so much time, and now there's so much to tell, there's nowhere to begin. Uh. Yeah. I'm supposed to be a writer. But you know what I mean.

    I totally get what you're saying about Goodreads. I used to review books for a newspaper. I had 150 mm (ten sentences, maybe), to sum up that writer's blood and sweat and deepest fears, and add a catchy title. When I was new, I used to be so cruel, in the manner of a new teachers eager to show that good grades aren't free. Oh boy. If I ever get to the point where reviews are circling and swooping in my direction, I'll just move to my mother's cabin and pretend there's no internet there.

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  9. Good luck with blogging every day! :D

    And hey, I love your blog and gave you an award here: http://bahnree.blogspot.com/2010/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  10. I love Lisa and I love Flash Burnout!

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  11. If you are going to BEDITSHOA, then I'm going to commit to reading your posts every day!

    Thank you so much for this post about Lisa. First, because I have been wanting to read Flash Burnout and it's now in my reading pile. Second, because-HELLO-those Tim Gunn posts!!! Lisa so nails Tim. (I love Tim!) She needs Martha B's Tim doll that talks to her. Actually, I'd like one of those too.

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  12. LOVED Flash Burnout. And yeah, Lisa is that funny in real life. It's not fair, really.

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  13. Ooh I CAN'T WAIT to read this. I've heard only amazing things!

    I'm a follower :D

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/chloeeesays/statuses/21379247963

    HBP! --> http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:3Dxq_OI8tkjjtM:http://img140.imageshack.us/img140/2604/oliverwood.jpg&t=1

    lookaftermyheart1901(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Thanks! I'm excited to read Flash Burnout

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