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Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Booker Award & the Versatile Blogger Award

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the-booker-award novel conclusions writing blogHey y’all, it’s award time!

The lyrically lovely writer Asha Seth over at Amidst Books presented me with the Booker Award last month.  Asha has a beautiful writing style; definitely stop by her site and say hello.  I am so honored that she thought my blog worthy of this award!  I have been putting off accepting the Booker Award on this blog because it asks me to choose my top 5 favorite books, which is excruciatingly like choosing a favorite child.  But I decided to bite the bullet and do it.  The rules for the Booker Award:

The Booker Award is for book and literary blogs that are at least 50% about books, reading, etc.  On being awarded with the Booker Award, you must share:

  • Your top five favorite books.  Mine are:
  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. The whole Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Your most favorite author (and why).  My favorite author is JK Rowling.  Her tight plotting is masterfully done, and I love her amazing characterization and world-building ability.
  • Your favorite genres.  I read everything, but lately I’ve been reading lots of YA fiction (it’s like market research for my writing…).
  • Give this award to 5 or more bloggers (see below) and let them know with a comment.
  • Show this award off on your site and link back to whoever gave it to you.

I’m awarding the Booker Award to these fantastic literary blogs  (should they choose to accept) :

versatile_blogger novel conclusions writing blogThe amazingly warm and friendly writer Pish Nguyen over at Blog of Loveliness has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Yay!!!  Definitely drop by Pish’s awesome blog and say hello.  The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

  • Display the award certificate on your website
  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself (see below)

I’m awarding the Versatile Blogger Award to these deserving blogs below (should they choose to accept).  I’m breaking the rules and only choosing 6:

I am ending with 7 things about me for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. My favorite color is burgundy, but I don’t like the color red.
  2. I have a twin brother.  It still amazes me how often people will ask, “Are you identical?”  Well, I’m a girl, and he’s a boy; what do you think?  Goodness.
  3. When I was little, I had a Southern accent (I was born in the South, after all).  There are home videos to prove this.  Sometime after we moved to Florida when I was a kid, the accent ran away, but I can still pull it out of my back pocket whenever I want.
  4. I worked at an overnight Girl Scout camp every summer for 10 summers starting when I was a teenager, including a few summers as assistant director, plus a week here and there for a couple summers beyond that.  Leaving teaching put a dent in my ability to work at camp.
  5. As hinted at in #4, I am a HUGE advocate of technology-free summer overnight camps.  Not only are they cheaper than camps that have air conditioning, they teach your child independence.  No matter what a kid grows up to be, she will need confidence and people skills, two things camp builds in abundance.
  6. I love Bananagrams.  So fun.
  7. Linguistics fascinate me.  I have hinted to my man that an OED might be a good gift someday.  This is perhaps a holdover from my days as an English teacher/copy editor/Creative Writing major.

Happy Friday, all!

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What Makes Cross-Genre Fiction Work?

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The Alchemist - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, via Google Images

We’ve all read a little cross-genre fiction, whether we called it that or not.  Cross-genre fiction, if you haven’t heard that term before, is fiction that mixes two different genres, or types, of writing, such as historical fiction and fantasy, or romance and supernatural fiction, or aliens and cowboys — well, you get the idea.

Lots of cross-genre fiction is pretty horrifically bad (if you’ve ever read online fanfiction or perhaps visited webook.com or Authonomy, you’ve certainly come across some of this; if not, count yourself lucky).  It’s also a lot harder to market, so it can be much harder to publish.  Consequently, less of it gets published by the big publishers, and less of it enters the public imagination than other genres.

However, cross-genre fiction has the potential to accomplish some phenomenal things by approaching the same archetypal stories in a new way.  And I would posit that, when cross-genre fiction succeeds, it does so for 2 reasons:

  1. We care about the characters.
  2. The story is tightly plotted.

Although these two things are important in all types of fiction, they are ever so much more important in cross-genre fiction because readers judge it much more closely than plain old contemporary fiction.

A beautiful example of cross-genre fiction is Paulo Coelho’s allegorical The Alchemist (<– affiliate link that helps keep this blog awesome).  Whether you like his writing or not, you have to admit that Coelho writes in a way that is gorgeous and simple at the same time — not an easy task.  This book reads like historical fiction with brief supernatural elements, and it manages to still be clean and smooth.

Not only do we as readers care about what happens to main character Santiago, every moment in this book has a purpose.  Coelho either did an amazing job editing this book many times over, or he had outlined everything scene-by-scene before putting pen to paper.

What cross-genre books do you love?  What do you think makes them succeed?

P.S. Check out a cross-genre novel written by a fellow blogger here, called The Seneca Scourge.  It’s on my to-be-read list for 2013. 🙂

Book Forests, Commandments, and Voracious Readers

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This past week, I’ve run across a few pretty cool things, and I wanted to let you all in on these catches:

Have you heard about the ridiculously awesome Book Forest book swap in Berlin?  The Book Forest combines two of my favorite things — books and nature! 🙂  It’s a book swap set up by BauFachFrau Berlin that is arranged to look like actual trees clustered together.  Each tree has a few cut-outs that function as shelves.  Apparently, it was originally supposed to be a temporary installation, but the community loved it so much that they couldn’t part with it.

Check out bookriot.com’s The Ten Commandments of a Righteous Readerly Life.  Number one is my favorite, but I won’t list it here, or I would be breaking Commandment #10, “Thou shalt not spoil.”

Goodreads is up to 20 million reviews.  The community of voracious readers is expanding rapidly!  Check out the original post on the Goodreads blog here.

goodreads 2012 infographic - novel conclusions - writing blog

goodreads 2012 infographic

Libba Bray’s Gorgeous Characterization

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Libba Bray - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty

How is it that Libba Bray makes her characters so achingly real?  I’ve talked a bit about character motives and character quirks in the past, and there are always more avenues to explore in characterization.

I’ve recently been reading Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, which begins with A Great and Terrible Beauty.  The cover, a young girl in a corset, threw me off when I first saw it, as it looks like some silly romance; however, I had heard some great things about Libba Bray and was intrigued by the book blurb.  Generally, I can read the first couple paragraphs of a book and decide if I want to buy it; A Great and Terrible Beauty passed this test and pulled me right into the mystery.

The character Felicity gives us a wonderful example of Bray’s ability to create realistic, dynamic characters.  Felicity, first introduced as a bit of an antagonist, grows into one of the most complex characters in the trilogy.  This is hinted at when she jumps dramatically onto the page:

Her white-blond hair is arranged neatly in a bun, as young ladies must wear their hair, but even so, it seems a bit wild, as if the pins won’t really hold it.  Arched eyebrows frame small, gray eyes in a face so pale it’s almost the color of an opal.  She’s amused at something, and she tosses her head back and laughs heartily, without trying to stifle it.  Even though the dark-haired girl is perfect and lovely, it’s the blond who gets the attention of everyone in the room.  She’s clearly the leader.

What did Bray do here that characterizes Felicity?

  • Shows the character in action
  • Points out telling details of her appearance
  • Shows the way others react to her

In just a paragraph, and without stopping the scene to describe the character, Bray creates a dynamic, fluid picture in our minds.  One of the most important things here is showing the way others react to a character, something often overlooked.

What other strong characters stand out to you?  What makes those characters stand out?

Related Posts:

The 10 Most Read Books in the World

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This post contains affiliate links that help this blog continue to be awesome.

Happy 2013!!!  Today is the first day of Lucky 13.  Are you excited?  I can’t hardly wait!

I thought this would be a good time to start out the new year with a super fun infographic from Business Insider, The Top Ten Most Read Books in the World:

Most Read Books - Novel Conclusions - writing blog

Top 10 Most Read Books Infographic, via Business Insider

I’ve read at least part of every book on this list except for Mao’s little red book (and I think it’s fairly safe to assume I can continue on just fine without reading that little Communism handbook).  2 things struck me about this list:

1.  These books are dramatically different.  This is great as it means that there’s lots of room at the top!  As a reading public, we aren’t stuck inside any one genre — we read lots of different things.

2.  Some of these books are relatively recent, which means that this list is ever-changing.  In a few years, your book could be on the list!

Have you read any of these “most read” books?  Which were your favorites?

P.S. Speaking of the new year, there’s a great new year’s resolutions post over at bottledworder.

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