My Five Literary BFFs

Cat from The Night Huntress series (Jeaniene Frost)

imageHmm Cat… what can I say about Cat except that she totally kicks ass? Cat would make a great BFF because she’s totally tough, not afraid to go after what she wants, yet still totally tender and caring. She had a hard upbringing, hunting vampires, and has slowly grown into her gaining powers with every book. I wouldn’t mind if she were to bring that Bones over to hang out, either.

Rose from the Vampire Academy series (Richelle Mead)

imageI have a deep, deep love for the Vampire Academy series. I think it is the most concise, well-written YA  novel I have ever read. I think Rose would make a great BFF because she’s totally devoted to the people she loves and risks her life over and over to save them. Rose has demonstrated time and again how she is there for her BFF, my namesake, Lissa. We could totally bond over late night movies and the fact that I have the same as her old best friend. Also, I would never make her choose between me and the love of her life, Siberian hottie Dimitri. She can totally keep him. We’ll all hang out together.

Rachel from the Animorphs series (K.A. Applegate)

imageThis is the book series that defined my growing up. It shaped my adolescence and my reading expectations. I know half of the books were ghost-written, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had an Animorphs-related dream. Rachel was my first kick-ass girl heroine after Xena, but she was different: she was a teenager. She was so young and fearless and totally without mercy when she needed to be: she was also fiercely protective of those she deemed weaker than herself: her BFF Cassie and her boyfriend Tobias. I totally cried when she died. In MY reality, we’re eating pizza and talking about boys, because I’m totally not allowed to know about the Animorphs – but it was that very adventure that unlocked the Amazon warrior goddess inside the mall rat airhead, and allowed her to flourish into my number one guiding factor when it comes to my own heroines. (Brooke Nevin played a short vegetarian gymnast captain Rachel in the Canadian TV series, whereas the book version was tall, ate cheeseburgers, and sucked at gymnastics).

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)

Come on! How can I not have the cleverest witch of her generation as a BFF? She’s totally awesome! Even in the beginning, when she’s portrayed as a snotty know-it-all, she’s still totally awesome. Yes, she may require the occasional rescue, but she also stands for bloody magical torture and doesn’t break. She figures out almost every puzzle, always has a spell up her sleeve for every situation, and if she doesn’t know the answer to the question, she’s bound to know where to find said answer. She even falls in love with a ginger! What a woman! (Emma Watson portrayed Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series)

Jane from Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)

imageJane is my favourite classic heroine. She doesn’t let anyone stop her from getting what she wants, even when she’s not entirely sure what she wants. To compliment that, she’s not afraid of walking away, either. It’s a very powerful dichotomy that we don’t see very often in modern heroines unless they are damsels in distress. Jane is no damsel – she’s not even pretty. And the man she falls in love with, Rochester, isn’t handsome, either. This isn’t an epic tale of the two most beautiful people in the world meeting and falling head over heels – this love takes time to develop, to see past physical appearance and blossom into a love that we know will stand the test of time. I always found it a lot more believable than Elizabeth and that stick-up-his-arse Darcy, anyway.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.

Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

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Foreign Cover Friday: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Foreign Cover Friday is a weekly meme hosted by The Reading Fever, where foreign covers of the books we know and love are spotlighted and discussed. To join, either pick your favourite foreign cover, or pick many foreign covers, and start discussing!

I’ve decided to go with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone because it’s one of the most popular and famous works available. If you haven’t by any chance read any of the books or even heard about them, here’s a brief rundown:

All Harry Potter knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley—a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry—and anyone who reads about him—will find unforgettable. For it’s there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

There are more HP1 covers out there than I can possibly write about, so I’ve taken just a few that caught my eye for some reason or another.

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This is the original cover, published June 26th 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing. It shows Harry with his lightning scar and the infamous Hogwarts Express. It’s brightly coloured to appeal to children.

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This is the American copy from 2003, published by Scholastic Press. Taking inspiration from a different scene, it shows Harry on a broomstick trying to catch the Golden Snitch. This was published some years later than the original, so it doesn’t need to work so hard to get out attention as the Bloomsbury version. It can afford to be more obscure; and really, where else are you going to see a boy with a scar on a broomstick catching a flying golden ball?

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On the left we have the “Adult” version, published in 2004 by Bloomsbury in an attempt to get more adults reading the book. The idea was that it was embarrassing for adults to be reading gaudy, brightly-coloured books in public. I have to confess, I love the adult version covers. They’re the version of Harry Potter that I own. But the marketing people eventually realised that adults didn’t care whether or not they were caught reading a children’s book – after all, by 2004, Harry Potter was substantially famous and it even became the ‘hip’ thing to read the children’s versions.
The cover on the right is the tenth anniversary edition by Scholastic, retreating once again to bright colours and a scene from the book: Harry facing the Mirror of Erised. To me, it looks too childish.

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Here are two German versions, the left published in 1999 and the right being the hardcover version published in 2000. I absolutely love the hardcover version. I think it’s gorgeous. I don’t like the left version because it shows a scene from right near the end of the book. At least with the Bloomsbury edition they were showing a scene from right near the beginning of the book. The issue I have is that you shouldn’t have to go through the entire book to reach the scene being depicted on the cover: there should be plenty of interesting scenes before that. And there is. Scholastic choose Quidditch.
Translation: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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These are the covers for the Italian 1998, the French 2007, and the Finnish 2008 versions. I don’t even know what the scene on the left is depicting. I haven’t read the book in a while, but I don’ remember a giant rat. The middle cover is OK, but it makes it appear like a children’s book, and I wouldn’t be interested in picking it up off the shelf based on this (but it is a children’s book, I hear you all yell. Well, yes. But adults love them too. So shut up). And the cover on the right… where do I even begin? It’s ugly. It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets Picasso. And what is up with their noses?
Italian/French translation: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Finnish translation: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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This is the beauty I have been waiting to unveil. This is the Dutch/Flemish 2000 version. Isn’t it gorgeous? The text is clearly inspired by the film font. It gives us a broomstick and a hint of a boy riding it, and the Snitch in the bottom corner. I think it’s beautiful.
Translation: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

What are your thoughts?

Which covers do you like? Which do you hate?

Check back at The Reading Fever for her Foreign Cover Friday!

Write What You Love Or What Will Sell?

A few of the blogs I’ve read recently have started saying things like, “The most important thing to a writer is a reader,” and “You must write what will sell,” and “You must write what will appeal to a reader or you will never sell anything and you’ll be a FAILURE!”

That’s great if you’re looking to be the next Stephen King or Danielle Steele, and never have a novel that differentiates too much from what you’ve already written and sold.

But where’s the heart, the soul, and the passion of a writer who isn’t writing what they love?

The books that are written to a trend are obvious to savvy readers. Maybe the agents and publishers think we’re stupid, but we can tell when someone’s trying to rip off Twilight or Harry Potter and quite frankly, I’m not impressed. The rip offs will never be as good as the original and sure, some people might be duped into parting with their hard earned cash; but in the long run, they’re missing something. An essence. A passion. Love. Call it what you will, but trend-written books are never as good as originals.

So what do you do? Do you write to trends and turn out a bunch of similar novels that can never compare to the original (oh my god, where do I start!), or do you write what you want to write, write something that makes you excited and hope that a similar trend comes along in time to take advantage of that enormous wave of popularity?

Of course, I don’t have the answers, because I’m not a published writer. In fact, I’ve done both. I’ve written a short story collection of some generic paranormal tropes such as werewolves, vampires, fairies, angels, and sirens – but my full-length novels are a space opera about cyborgs and a high fantasy/paranormal series about magical creatures no one’s ever written about before. If I ever write something trendy, it will be by accident.

What are your thoughts? Would you ever write to a trend – considering it takes 2 years for a book to go from bought by a publisher to on the shelves? Or would you write to a trend and self-publish (faster turnaround)? Do you only write what you’re interested in reading, like Meyer did with Twilight? Do you hope a trend might come along that you can surf the success of?

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Six

Day Six: A book that makes you cry

The MasterHarper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey.

There are a lot of books that make me cry. I could have filled this particular day with a few more. Particularly Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I figure Harry Potter is already so well-known that I’d choose one less well known but still powerful.

The MasterHarper of Pern follows the life of Robinton, Pern’s most well-loved citizen, from his childhood as a musical prodigy with a jealous father, to his marriage to a beautiful woman who dies on their honeymoon, to the revolution that destroys Lord Fax’s stranglehold on the holds, and then discovering AIVAS.

Robinton is not only the greatest Harper (kind of like a musician and a teacher) in the world, but he can also talk to dragons and they will respond to him. They do this from a very young age. That’s a queen dragon on the cover, notoriously uptight and dangerous – but child-Robinton is fearless and speaks to her anyway. Dragons only normally speak to their riders. Rob was special from the beginning.

I’m so glad Robinton got his own book, because all through the Pern series I wanted to know more about him. He’s gentle, caring, and tough. He’s like everyone’s favourite uncle. And when he dies (peacefully) I cried like a baby. Like a hungry, angry baby.