March 25th, 2010


Book Recommendations and New Projects

This post is divided into two parts; in the first I share my book recommendations, and in the second I update you about what's going on with my personal Works In Progress.

Book Recommendations:

Thank you SO much again to everyone who made me book recommendations over the past few days! A few of you have asked what I recommend to people when they ask. It's gonna be a weird list, so let's get started.

1. RANT by Chuck Palahniuk. This is perhaps one of my favorite books of all time, but the majority of people who read it absolutely hate it. Let me tell you why:

If you liked Fight Club, there's a good chance you'll like the rest of Palahniuk's work. RANT is, I feel, Palahniuk at his best, but some people approach it like they're expecting it to be another Fight Club, or Invisible Monsters, and RANT is a whole other ball game.

Premise: In the future (and an alternate timeline) everyone has 'ports' in the backs of their heads that allow them to 'port in' to entertainment. When you 'port', it's like living your life through someone else's eyes, like a first-person hologram. You can hear, see, smell, and touch what they do. You can't hear their thoughts, though. There is a whole entertainment industry of port artists who record and edit experiences then sell them to the public. AWESOME, right?!

Meet Buster 'Rant' Casey. Rant is the weirdest and most kick-ass character. Ever. He grows up in Nowhere Oklahoma or something, and develops an addiction to venom. Yes, venom. He seeks out scorpions, spiders, and rabid animals to 'infect' him. Rant grows up and moves to the city where he meets a deformed girl named Echo and her posse, who participate in a social activity called Party Crashing.

Party Crashing is where you get in your car, fly the flag (the 'flags' are things from wearing a wedding dress, strapping a christmas tree to the top of your car, bolding coffee mugs to the roof of your car like you forgot them there, etc. 'Flags' are just symbols to the other participants that you're playing the game). And what is the 'game'? You drive around, try to find other people playing, and then you try to crash into them. Whoever crashes into who at a net impact of less than 10 mph gets points.

How. Amazing. Is. That?!??!

Meanwhile, Rant is perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, going around and infecting people with this big, bad case of rabies. And eventually there is a rabies outbreak, sorta like zombies, which leads to this huge social quarantine. Because in the big cities, the population has grown so large that they've segregated everyone and given them shifts where they are allowed outside. Day walker and Night walkers. There's a curfew, and if you're caught outside your curfew, you get arrested. GENIUS!

So... as people get rabies they start to get angry, and soon there are zombie-like people rushing around infecting more people and challenging authority, and it turns Party Crashing into a particularly dangerous game.

The last 30 pages of the book will BLOW YOUR MIND as they have to do with time travel (I know, where did that come from, right?). I had to read this book 5 times before I got all the nuances. The first time I read it I didn't know wtf was going on, and I think that's why most people don't like it; Chuck Palahniuk doesn't give a back story at all, he just dives you right into it.

Anyway, that's my favorite book of all time. Others I recommend are:

2. Beloved, by Toni Morrison. This is one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of African American fiction I've ever read. Toni Morrison is my favorite author, right before Chuck Palahniuk. She's the one responsible for my favorite passage of all time, which reads, 'Nuns go by, quiet as lust.'

3. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (yes, it's HUGE, but you'll be having such a good time you'll beg for it to never end).

4. The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Nifenegar. Not only is it incredibly entertaining, but it's heartbreaking as well.

5. Silence of the Lambs. I've never read an author who has such a beautiful grasp of human psychology as Thomas Harris. He never uses exclamation points, and rarely assigns an action to his characters when they are saying something emotional. The action is all in your head, and it's just amazing. Not for the faint of heart, however.

Yes, it's an eclectic list, but I'm drawn to excellent stories and literary emotion :-)

--------WIP News-------

A few of you might know I sent my agent my novella Go Look There. GLT is a very unusual story; a set of connected short stories (if you click on the link you can read all about it and a sample chapter!). Like the books I list above, it is not for everyone. I've had friends hate it, and friends who adored it. So I was nervous about what my agent would think, and unfortunately she didn't feel it was very marketable. So, I'm researching similar books to help her out in locating a potential publisher, but I feel like the project is going to be shelved until a later time when I have more of a reputation. Which is so sad, because it's my favorite book so far out of those I've written.

So, I figured, that's all right, I'll send my agent the synopsis for the time-traveling novel I'm working on. But I sent it to my Crit Partners Sarah J. Maas and Biljana Likic first.

Two. Completely. Opposite. Reactions. Ultimately we decided there simply wasn't enough action in the potential plot, so it's also getting shelved until I figure out how to add more sub-plots.

Cue more disappointment. I was 8,000 words into that one.

Then! A flash of hope! I remembered a novel idea I had set aside last fall, and dug up the sample chapter again. I talked to Sarah about it one night, and suddenly the action that had been missing came pouring out of me! I couldn't write fast enough to get the ideas down! I knew how to make THIS book work!

...Even though I was a complete idiot and threw away my original notes on the project when I thought it wasn't going to work out. Total fail. Never do that. Seriously, never throw away your notes. You never know.

This one is called A Clear and Beautiful Lie, and follows Kiera Porter (thanks to those on Twitter who helped me come up with her last name!), a young biracial woman working for the UN as an Energies Ambassador and helping to set up a force-field system globally across the world in order to block out radiation from the sun. Did I mention it takes place in the future?

A soon as the force field goes up, solar power fails, even though it never has before with any of the mini force fields, and Kiera and a young executive named Jonathon Hollander must discover the reason behind the failure before the world's economy collapses. This goal is complicated by Jonathon's loyalties to his company, and his company's refusal to be of any help at all.

Anyway, if you're interested, I'll post the beginning of the summary in another lj post, because this one has gotten too long already.

Again, thank you everyone for helping me the past few days! I really, super appreciate it!