December 2017 Archives

Daughter of the Burning City

DaughterBurningCity.jpgIf you've read Caravel, I think you'll like Daughter of the Burning City (Harlequin Teen, 2017) by Amanda Foody, as they have a similar flavor.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina is the only illusion worker in the Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival, and she runs the Freak Show. All the freaks, except for Sorina herself, are her illusions come to life. They're one happy family until one of her illusions in murdered. Her adopted father, Villiam, the proprietor of the festival, is investigating the death, but he has too much else on his mind. So with the help of a new friend, Luca, Sorina starts her own investigation. Will she be able to protect her family?

This compelling book was Amanda Foody's debut novel. Ace of Shades comes out next April and is the first in The Shadow Games series. Read more about Amanda here.


Know your ending I say

Know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.
Isaac Asimov

Before She Ignites

BeforeSheIgnites.jpgBefore She Ignites (Katherine Tegan Books, 2017) by Jodi Meadows was such a compelling read written in two time periods BEFORE and AFTER. (And isn't that a lovely cover?)

The story begins with a BEFORE: "The last day of my real life began with disaster."

The speaker is Mira Minkoba and she is the Hopebearer. A treaty was written between six island nations and named after Mira the day she was born. She is the speaker to the people for the Luminary Council. Her father rarely pays attention to her and her mother is often disappointed.

AFTER, she's imprisoned in the Pit. Surely, she'll be rescued soon, Mira thinks. But meanwhile in the dark, she's trying not to panic. Without her calming pills. And without her friends. And with much worse to come than the dark.

This book is the first in a trilogy--yea! The author has also written the Incarnate trilogy and the Orphan Queen duology. Good. More for me to read while I await the sequels to this book. She's also a co-author with some other books.

You can read about Jodi and her books on her website here.

Continuous Verbs

abstract-2915769_640.jpg"Sometimes I'm guilty of lumping continuous verbs into the same category as passive verbs because both types, used incorrectly, create wordiness and cause slow, turgid writing that could be much livelier." Pearl Luke

Raising my hand to say, "me, too!" I'm always circling "was walking," "am running," "was throwing," etc. and telling my students to use a simple past tense: walked, ran, threw. My advice to writers is often, "Search for those 'ing' endings and see if the verb can be straight past tense."

Leah McClellan says, "When overused, -ing words in the progressive forms (whether past, present, or future tense) introduce too many weak, little words like am, are, is, was, were, been, have, has, and had--and more."

You may remember the term "helping verbs" from grade school. The italicized verbs above are helping the main verb. However, those main verbs are strong enough to live on their own.

Let's look at a few examples with the "ing" removed:
"They were standing on the corner by the high school." - "They stood on the corner by the high school."
"She is brushing her hair." - "She brushes her hair."
"He has been walking his dog." - "He walked his dog."

Does that mean you never use an "ing" on a verb? Of course not. But if it is the only verb in the sentence, limit the use. Sometimes it is necessary in context.

We need it in phrases. "While walking the dog, Mandy called her best friend." "Shaking his head, Mike set his books on the table." In both of these cases, we are indicating two actions that are happening at the same time. If they are not simultaneous, they might look like this: "Mandy walked the dog, then called her best friend." "Mike shook his head and set his books on the table." Just make sure the actions are possible to do at the same time when using a phrase.

We use it correctly in examples such as this one: "They were eating dinner when I arrived."

It's necessary when using the verb as a gerund. "Skiing is my passion." Or "Reading is how I relax at night." Leah McClellan says, "Gerunds are useful because they point to the essence of an action--the concept or thing-ness of it--rather than the action in performance."

But, remember, in simple sentences less "ing" is clearer and more concise.


A writer never has a

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.
Eugene Ionesco

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

Lost-Girl-of-Astor-Street.jpgThe Lost Girl of Astor Street (Blink, 2017) by Stephanie Morrill was a hard to put down historical mystery with a very likable tough female main character. I enjoyed the book a lot.

Eighteen-year-old Piper Sail's best friend disappears two weeks before graduation and Piper is determined to find out what happens to Lydia. Along the way she finds out some uncomfortable truths about her own family, is disturbed out of her complacency about young men, and puts her own life at risk. The book is set during prohibition in Chicago.

The first sentence is a good description of Piper, "If he doesn't know it already, Jeremiah Crane is about to learn that I'm not the type of girl to be pushed around."

Author Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. You can read about her here and read about her other books here.