Musings

WIP: The Soundtrack of Unfixed

Movies aren’t the only story medium with soundtracks. More books are having official or unofficial soundtracks. Authors and readers alike compile songs that go with the story.

Sometimes there’s one song, sometimes multiple. Sometimes for different scenes, sometimes for different characters.

Many authors need to listen to music while writing – sometimes this is just music in general, but sometimes the author finds a specific song to fit the mood of the section they’re writing.

There’s no doubt about it, music inspires story. In fact, art inspires art – no matter the medium. Books, movie, visual art, dance, music. They all bring inspiration for the others.

I don’t always write to music, but I do frequently hear a song and think of how it fits with my story.

If my protagonist, Julia Trencher, were a singer, I’m sure she would have sung this song. “Human” by Christina Perri.

 

What About You?

If you’re a writer, what songs have inspired your writing? If you’re a reader, what songs remind you of a favorite story? How does music play into story for you? Do any of your favorite books have a soundtrack?

for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

The Weirdest Book I’ve Read: “Stiff” by Mary Roach

Ever read something that immediately gets a reaction when brought up? I’m not talking about “This book is illegal in ____ countries.” I’m talking about “This book is socially unacceptable in…well, everywhere.”

That’s how I felt while reading Stiff by Mary Roach. It was fascinating and disgusting and  abject. I wanted to share all this new knowledge with everyone, and simultaneously wasn’t sure I wanted to see their reaction.

 

Image from www.goodreads.com
Image from http://www.goodreads.com

 

You see, Stiff is about the “lives” of human cadavers. What happens after you die. Whether embalmed, cremated, organ donation, scientific research, or other options. (Did YOU know there’s other options? I sure didn’t.)

I learned about plastic surgery practice, criminology, cannibalism, crucifixion research, and plane crashes. I learned about jobs I can’t imagine being a part of small-talk – how do you socialize with that job description? I learned about all the stages of decay. Interesting stuff I probably should not bring up anywhere other than this post.

If it sounds interesting, you should check it out. If you feel like you might upchuck your lunch now, then this book isn’t for you. It just makes me so happy to know that this repulsive state was never in God’s original design, and it’s not gonna be for forever. Hallelujah!

But what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever read? Let me know the weird books you’ve come across.

for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

Book Review: Then and Always

I am so thrilled I received this book through the FirstReads program.

Image
http://www.goodreads.com

How do I simply sum up Then and Always by Dani Atkins? It’s about parallel universes and what-ifs and second chances and, more thematically, loss and hope and faith. Imagine waking up from an accident with perfect memory of a traumatic 5 years. Only everyone else has a completely different memory of the past 5 years, as if the instigating traumatic event had never occurred.

Dani had me hooked, and bawling, from the first chapter – but then again I’m a sucker for the best-friend-your-whole-life romance (team Jacob, team Gale, team Eponine – and now team Jimmy.) Some of the characters seemed cliche and I guessed the plot ending, yet this book still gave me a sleepless night as I ripped through the pages to the end of the story hoping against hope – and what I was hoping for I wasn’t even sure. Which reality did I want to be true? And what did I want the explanation for the other reality to be? I guess I can understand the Rachel’s struggle, myself not sure of what I wanted.

I give this story 4 stars, plus 1 star for the best-friend-romance. I know, that last one’s biased, but it’s my review. Loved it!

for the Bookworms, for the Writers

Hateable Characters

I just finished reading A Map of the World. I have very mixed feelings about it. The plot didn’t seem to go anywhere. The ending was anti-climactic. Yet the theme was excellently portrayed without being in-your-face. And I was interested enough to finish the book.

www.goodreads.com
http://www.goodreads.com

The most confusing part for me though was the characterization. The protagonist Alice was so off-putting, along with just about all of the other characters.

Describing her husband as reeking of manure from farming, tromping into the house with manure-covered shoes, later even entering the hospital for a visit with manure-covered shoes. Just shower already! Take the boots off at the door.

Or her daughter Emma who is a total brat, and she realizes it but just gives up. I wanted to whack her upside the head and tell her how to raise her child. Don’t give her breakfast after she throws it! Or better yet, tell her to eat off the floor what she threw down there….oh wait, no there’s probably manure all over it now.

And also every time Alice goes into a long monologue (which is often, she doesn’t listen well), I can’t help but think of Mrs. Marcus in the movie It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, jabbering away about absolutely nothing – only Alice isn’t funny.

Then there’s the kid Robbie who is a terror later to a preposterous extent, but I can’t see how he was specifically a terror back when Alice smacks him. A kid just standing there refusing to answer a question is frustrating, but really, slapping him over that? But Alice goes on and on the first few chapters about what a horrendous kid he always is.

Yet I read the entire book.

And it gets me thinking. These characters aren’t heroic. They’re not your likeable character with a couple flaws to make it realistic. No, they’re actually realistic.

Sure there’s people in the world that are like likeable characters in stories. But most? Most people have something that will drive you crazy if you stay with them for 200 pages of their life story. Many people in the world will jabber on and on to where you just want to make them shut up (me included, sorry.) Many parents will have days where they give up on their kid behaving and just try to placate them to get through the day. Many people have moments where they want to slap someone over something small, just because it was the last straw – all the little daily nuisances piling up to an unbearable height.

I’m not sure I liked the story. I’m certain I didn’t like the characters, except maybe Lizzie or Claire, the 2-yr-olds. I was frustrated and angry at the characters, wanting to strangle them or yell or run away, for the entire book. But maybe this story had some worth, something that held me, because I had to admit that I probably encounter more people like this, and am more a person like this, than any of my favorite characters from other stories. I don’t know if that makes this story alright or not. Maybe that means the story is crap. I don’t know.

 

Your Turn:

Have you read any books with unlikeable characters you’re pretty sure you were supposed to root for? What do you think – is this more real-world portrayal, and do we want that in books? is this type of chracterization crap writing or genius writing?

for the Bookworms, Musings

WIP: Unfixed Teaser

In the course of writing a novel you inevitably come across people asking, “What’s your book about?” In the course of submitting a work-in-progress (WIP) to an agent or publisher, there is a query to submit that states what the book is about – quite similar to the back of a book to pique the reader’s interest. Though I am still writing my WIP tentatively titled Unfixed, the number of people who ask “What’s your book about?” gave me reason to practice. Below you will find my working query, back of book, or teaser – whichever way you want to think of it. While the general wording or story may change, this is my current idea.

“Shall we put her together again?”
Silence.
“Well?” Dr. Wise looked at the pale couple.
“What do you mean?” Mr. Trencher coughed, finding his throat very suddenly dry.
“Put her together. Fix her,” Dr. Wise replied.
“But she is dead,” Mr. Trencher hoarsely explained.
“She isn’t Humpty Dumpty, Mr. Trencher. She left death before. She is simply fascinating. She could live again.” Dr. Wise rubbed his hands together and leaned forward to touch the arm closest to him on the floor. Then he paused, as if realizing the inappropriateness of such behavior in front of two bewildered and grieving parents, and sat up in his seat, letting his hands clench the desk to ascertain that they would not move again.

Julia Trencher has died. Twice. Yet she is no zombie. Hiding behind her parents money had been enough for her, to simply visit the doctor each time she broke. But when she meets the strange boy Sylas in the waiting room, he offers hope of others like her – freaks and outcasts, content as they are.

Great Geppetto’s Circus of the Travelling Strange is a place she could be welcomed, celebrated even. Just a simple contract Geppetto has written could provide a place where Julia may not be so strange after all. Geppetto has plans of his own, having learned that the success or obliteration of the entire circus depends on this contract with Julia. Meanwhile, Julia must decide if the circus is truly a community as it claims, or rather an enslavement the others have been powerless to escape from.

Your Response:

If you’re a writer, what’s your query (tentative or otherwise)? If you’re a reader, what makes you want to read a story? Is there any specific info that grabs you in the writing on a bookjacket?