Monday, August 8, 2011

A New Story Experience with Michael Grant

Storytelling just got even more fun! Michael Grant, the author of the Gone series has created an online reading experience where you join the main character, Nexus Humanus, through the action. It is filled with puzzles, videos, and community collaborations. Here is a Q&A with Michael Grant to help you understand a bit more about the concept:

What is “Go BZRK”? Is this a book or some kind of interactive story?

Both. The book comes out this winter, but the interactive part starts now. One leads up to the other, but they're part of a complete package.

Why “transmedia”?

There are different approaches to transmedia. Most people take a single story and reproduce it on various platforms. My philosophy has been to make each element - ARG, app, web, book - a thing unto itself, each revealing some aspect of the world of BZRK. I've been fascinated with this is as a new way to tell stories. The book remains central, but now I can reach beyond the book and create a much more complete world. I can tell stories that enhance the book, and stories that parallel the book, and stories that are offshoots of backstory. I guess the answer to "why" is "because it's fun."

Is this the future of publishing?

I began a few years ago reaching out to publishers and saying we collectively needed to understand that the old models were dead or dying. I want publishing to survive, and of course I'd like my own career to thrive. So Egmont Publishing and my partners and I certainly hope this is a part of the future of publishing.

How long is this running? Is this part of a larger picture?

We'll be running this in several chunks between now and the book release this winter. Because these things have a hard start/stop point, August is a ramp-up phase. There'll be a lot of content coming out, but the experience really gets underway at the end of the month… just in time to distract the kids from their schoolwork.

What if someone wants to follow the story but doesn’t want to participate?

You don't have to do anything. You can do one thing and not another. But the deeper you plunge the wetter you get. I think every part of this is fun, I think people will enjoy the ARG, the app, the site and the books.

App? You've mentioned that a couple times now.

Just wait and see.

What can you tell us about the story? What is “BZRK”?

It's a battle for the soul and freedom of the human race carried out simultaneously in the world we know, and in a world that you're not going to expect. It's a world where if you make a false move, you're going to lose your mind.

Insanity… is this something you have a personal familiarity with?

The line between writer and crazy person is very thin. Both go around holding long, involved conversations with people who aren't there.

What’s this other world thing all about?

Do you really want spoilers? I'll tell you this. We'll be going "down in the meat." It's going to be vast, bloody, and beautiful.

Wait… isn’t this supposed to be for kids?

Adults like to flatter themselves that kids won't get, won't understand, won't be able to handle, more intense, more complex stories. That's nonsense. It's the adults who are easy to creep out or scare. Say the word "biopsy" in a room full of adults. Or "audit." See? Easy to scare. Kids are a tougher audience because kids think they're immortal.

* I did not conduct this interview but was provided to me.

The missing son of a U.N. diplomat... the reemergence of a strange organization... a pair of society twins caught in the middle... this is just the beginning of "Go BZRK," a new transmedia experience from author Michael Grant.

If you're ready to take the plunge in an interactive story like you've never experienced before, visit SocietyTWins.Com and register with NexusHumanus.Com to take your first steps in a strange and compelling universe.

Filled with video, puzzles, community collaboration, and more, "Go BZRK" put YOU the player right in the middle of the action as you join Nexus Humanus and unravel a mystery that may hold the key to the fate of all mankind.

So go ahead and join! I sure will.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Here Lies Bridget
What do you do when the five people you meet in limbo all want you to go to hell?

Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don’t worship as attentively, teachers don’t fall for her wide-eyed “who me?” look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she’s always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.

When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she’s wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she’s inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.

And Bridget’s about to learn that, sometimes, saying you’re sorry just isn’t enough.…

At First Sight:
I thought this would be an interesting read. I've never really liked mean protagonists before because I find it very hard to relate so I treaded this book with caution.

My Thoughts:

Bridget is definitely the Queen Bee. She's popular but has gained her popularity for being intimidating rather than nice. She's even horrible to her friends and step-mom. I have to say, throughout the book in general, I really didn't connect with Bridget. I tried to feel sorry for her, to understand her confusion, to feel some kind of sympathy for her--but it never came. That was my biggest problem with the book.

Of course, there's a rival girl and a cute guy. Anna (the nice/rival girl) is too cliche for me to relate and the cute guy (what was his name again? See, this is why I hate reviewing books months after I read them) was bland, nothing that stood out as a perfect match, to be honest.

My favorite character was the step-mom. She had the most depth and complexity out of all of them and actually reading her part in the book made me like the book more.

The story is not bad, I suppose. I enjoyed the book and some parts were fairly entertaining and light enough to read quickly but I've discovered that I certainly do not like the mean-type characters (why do I still want to read Before I Fall?). I'm such a big character-driven reader and writer that any time I face a character I cannot relate to, I'm not as invested in the story.

By the end, it got better but it didn't feel as believable as it should be. I don't want to spoil it for any one so I'll leave it at that.

Plot: 4
Characters: 2.5
Writing: 4
Cover: 5
Overall Feeling: 3
Average: 3.7

Sunday, July 24, 2011

OMG I met Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, and Maggie Stiefvater!

Yes, you read right! Photos and squeeing ensue:

The event took place at Books & Books at Coral Gables in Miami, FL. I am here visiting grandparents and it was total coincidence that the authors happened to have a signing the weekend before I leave. I've been dreaming about this forever.

That picture above (and the other ones I'll be showing) was taken with my phone (so pardon the quality). Those who follow me on twitter (@paperezelias) might have noticed my annoying spam reporting of the events. I got to the bookstore early in order to purchase Libba's Beauty Queens (I had to purchase a book to get a ticket to enter. I already have Meg's Abandon and I haven't read book two and three from the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy).

Obviously, I was VERY excited for the event. I was most excited for Meg, of course, since I basically worship the ground she walks on (she's amazing). But I was still excited about Libba, too, because I've read all of her books (except Beauty Queens which I'll be getting into soon). At about seven fifteen, they walked in.

(again, sorry for the bad quality. Phone camera + hands shaking = shitty picture)

I could not contain myself in my seat. Like seriously, I went from being freezing cold to completely over excited in two seconds. Meg is so tall and beautiful! And Libba, my gosh, I didn't recognize her! She was adorable and was dressed super cute in a summer-y dress and black sheer shawl. Maggie (although I was excited for her) looked so young and nice with her super down-to-earth hippie-style jeans and boots.

Maggie talked first about her inspiration for Shiver (a hilarious anecdote about Sultan the Wolf Man). Libba was so excited she actually knocked over a bottle of water. That brought in many jokes that lasted through the night (it was not the only one, believe me).

Libba talked about one of her most embarrassing moments when she tried to impress some boys at a hotel pool. She touched on the subject of her tragic accident and how she grew from it. It was so inspiring and I found myself loving Libba more and more. This, however, continued when she used Mad-Libs to tell us about Beauty Queens. The funny 'blurb' was accompanied by naughty jokes such as 'Eat Pray Thrust' which made us all double in laughter.

Meg, hilarious as ever, talked a bit about how she started writing and where the story of Abandon came from. When she finished, she gave a very convincing imitation of Bella Swan (aka KStew in the movie Twilight) discovering she was pregnant. It was to die for! Dubbed the Uterus Dance.

After all three talked, the floor opened to questions which prompted more jokes (especially from Eat Pray Thrust) and Libba admitting that she has never read Harry Potter or seen the movies. After that, the authors left and we started to make a line to get the books signed. I was thankfully in the first group and got into the signing room real quick. First, I went to Libba's line and she signed my book (and gave me an awesome pin that says Sparkle Pony). She was so sweet and took a photo with me! She even complimented my outfit! GUSH!

(This one is either worse quality since I took it with my phone from the digital camera that I used to take the actual photo)

Then I went to Meg and I couldn't even speak well because I was so excited. She also complimented my outfit, signed my Insatiable copy, took a photo with me, and gave me tons of cool bookmarks.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience that I'll never forget. It is always amazing when one meets their role models and favorite people. It's something I didn't imagine would happen to me and propelled me to work even harder on my dreams at becoming a published writer. Thanks Meg, Libba, and Maggie, for writing great books and being the awesome people that you are.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Never Give Up...Maybe?

No, I will not give up!

I have queried about 5-7 agents. Most of them have said no, there are a few who haven't answered. I knew it was going to be hard but I hoped it would be easier. I've been in a little funk lately but I'm hoping to tackle my synopsis and query further and try to send out some more queries by the end of the month.

It may sound cheesy, but maybe it's not meant for me now because I'm so young and everything but the publishing business is hard itself so I won't give up! I just need a bit more encouragement for my peers, I guess. It's a lonely ride. Of course, my parents support me and my family ask about my novel but I guess I want someone to say constructive and supportive criticism and be my cheerleader. Every attempt I've made at starting a crit group has failed because the people are not as committed to it. Sometimes I think if maybe I'm just too young and headstrong and it puts people off.

Anyway, I saw the Harry Potter film at midnight. I loved it! I cried so much, too. Probably the last half hour or so I sobbed.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's A Scary Journey


Two days ago I did the unthinkable: I sent two queries to two different agents.
I'm not revealing who these agents are because I'm secretly afriad that I'll jinx everything and it would go horrible but just know they're agents.

It was scary and and exciting. After I sent the first letter I started crying because I could not believe I was at this point of my writing journey. To be honest, it's scarier that in it exciting because it's the first time I've put myself out there, plain and simple and ready to take the punches (and they will come).

I'm proud of myself and want to keep my head in the ground and just enjoy the moment. I'm not expecting anything and I know my writing has yet a lot of room to grow but PAPER ANGELS is my baby, you know?

Naturally, after I sent the queries, I keep thinking of all the things that I could have done wrong and all the things I could have made better. Did I spell my name right? Did I spell the agent's name right? What if the agent gets mad that my query appears in their inbox? Will they care if I'm from Puerto Rico?

All these thoughts and more crossed my mind and I had tot take a breather. I had to close my eyes and think that what's done is done and I should be proud of myself...right? What do I have to lose? Nothing. Yet I have so much to gain. I'm still young and still have a lot of life ahead of me. Life is nothing without risks, after all.

I'm glad to have you all here in this crazy journey with me and I hope you stick around for the wild ride that's just beginning.



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