Friday, December 14, 2012

Out of Reach Blog Tour: Guest Post

How do you find someone who doesn’t want to be found? A girl searches for her missing addict brother while confronting her own secrets in this darkly lyrical novel.

Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home.

With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler…and the possibility that Micah may never come home.


What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

Developing a unique voice is something that I think a writer is always working on. I don’t know. I don’t know if that can really be taught. I love it when I read something and I recognize the author’s voice right away. Oh yes, this is Hemingway. See his short, clipped sentences. But this is something that takes time.

            What I’d suggest may seem counterintuitive, but for an exercise, I would try and copy the voice and/or style of an author you admire. Don’t worry, you’re not stealing or doing anything wrong. The writer’s work will become a great teacher. This will do a couple of things. It’ll really help you focus on exactly how the author has achieved his or her voice from the specific word choice, to sentence structure, to syntax and diction. Once you mimic it, you can vary it and try changing it. This will all help you in finding your own voice and style. I remember doing this once in a writing class for my MA. I took a section from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, which is a wonderful novel, by the way. It’s one where he’s basically listing off in a very syncopated rhythm the things the men had to carry in the arm, both physically and emotionally. Well, instead of writing about men in an army, I chose an elementary cafeteria and what the kids carried. I shifted the tone to a more humorous one, but I modeled O’Brien’s voice. I loved it and learned how to cut off the excess, to write tighter. I would suggest doing this process with a couple of different writers.


       ABOUT THE AUTHOR (Carrie Arcos):

Carrie Arcos lives in Los Angeles with her family. She writes young adult literature and is an adjunct professor. You can find more about her at




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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Book Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Title: The Tragedy Paper
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Format: Ebook
Source: For review (NetGalley)

Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.
The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

When I found this book in the NetGalley newsletter, the cover interested me. I immediately checked out the synopsis. Once I read the synopsis, I definitely had to read this book. The best part was, I didn't have to request for the book, I got it immediately.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan is a story within a story. It is about Duncan, who listens to the story of Tim through a bunch of CDs. I have to mention, I really enjoy stories within stories; they have this appealing charm to me.

The Tragedy Paper was very enjoyable for many reasons. First of all, the story of an albino was very intriguing. With Tim, we got to know about his life. We got to know about how people views him, how he reacts to the society and his being an "outcast". Tim was a very well-developed character, and his voice was genuine and interesting. Secondly, the writing technique LaBan used was refreshing and remarkable. Knowing about Duncan's story and listening to Tim's story simultaneously added up to the overall tone of the story. Readers will want to flip the pages, wanting to know what is yet to come. Because it is written in a very realistic way, readers will want to read more and find out what is going to happen with the characters.

In addition, the idea of the tragedy paper itself kept me wondering and wanting to know what it was. As the title suggests, The Tragedy Paper doesn't end happily. Without giving anything away, LaBan should be praised on how she handled her characters and the relationships. She should be further praised on how she revealed everything and everything wrapped up.

I'm not sure how to classify this book because it was many things. Mystery, contemporary, tragedy, experience, and life, all combined in one. This is a book that makes you think. Tim's voice is still in my head. Even though he is different than most people, he is wise, deep, and is understanding. Tim is one of the best characters written in YA literature. I liked Duncan as well, but I found Tim's story and character to be much more interesting.

Overall, stunning debut from author Elizabeth LaBan. This story will haunt you by its reality and poignancy.