Friday, May 21, 2010

Book 30 - Thirsty

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: You want to go here today. Creepy Query Girl has an awesome interview with Harry Bingham on her blog.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:

When my BF and I started this whole 100 Books in 2010 challenge, we laid down a few ground rules.

For one, picture books didn't count. Short story collections were fair game, and YA definitely qualified.

We vowed to genre hop. We promised to peek outside our comfort zones, even if just a little. Fair rules, don't you think?

But since I'm also a writer - and thus read a considerable amount of first draft material from my amazing writerly friends - I made one more rule for myself: I couldn't count any of their unfinished, unpublished material.

I first broke that rule with Margaret Macpherson's truly awe-inspiring literary novel Body Trade. Although unpublished, I have little doubt it will be: this isn't her first book and she has many pub credits to her name. Plus, Body Trade was, essentially, complete, so really, I was only breaking the "unpublished" part of my rule.

Not even halfway into the challenge, I'm bending the rule again, this time after finishing a thorough read of Thirsty (tentative title), a (pretty much complete) young adult novel by Edmonton author-extraordinnaire Rita Feutl.

Set in a dystopian future where water usage is tightly-controlled (and limited), Thirsty is the story of four quirky children who use MacGyver -like thinking to protect Earth from completely losing it's most precious resource. The underlying message is subtle, but clear;  the theme of "what if water disappeared forever?" flows through the text with utter brilliance - and without preaching. Rita has some serious writing chops.

In Thirsty, Rita has created four amazing kids, each with their own talent (like Fern's ability to "speak" to birds and Xiphoid's ability to crack any lock). Their personalities are distinct, and each character is sympathetic, interesting and smart. One of them reminds me so much of my youngest nephew I couldn't stop picturing his cute little face the entire read.

The story takes place on Earth, but also on Gork, a technologically-advanced planet and the essential control centre for the world Rita has created. Maybe it's the geek in me, but I loved all of the great inventions - like PedGones for travel, and Viewphones for communication, and interesting foods that would likely NOT pass your country's safety protocols but would rank high on your teenager's want list.

Rita is a crisp, clean writer with a strong handle on craft. There isn't room for fluff, but I admit, there are some paragraphs of description that take my breath away. I'm not a fan of overwriting - and have seen the bloodbath that can sometimes happen after the ruthless slice of an editor's red pen - but Rita gives just enough descriptive flow to remind you of her incredible talent. She's a tough chick to critique :-)

Together, we worked through a couple of kinks she'd discovered, small fixes that shouldn't take long to iron out. And then it's off to her editor, who I'm certain will drink it up with enthusiasm. I know I did - I started it in early evening and stayed up almost all night to quench my thirst.

I'm looking forward to spending time with Rita this weekend as we tackle our works in progress in the comfort of her basement. I think our muses will get along just fine.

The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb


  1. Thirsty sounds like yet another fantastic dystopian I want to see on the shelves now!

  2. I don't see why those wouldn't count. And good on you for reading them and supporting your fellow unpublished writers!

  3. Crimey - Rita will be pleased to hear that!

    CQG - come to think of it, I couldn't remember why we originally thought unpublished books shouldn't count. I've been blessed with some amazing crit partners and beta readers - I like to pay that forward. Plus, I've got some talented peeps.

  4. Love the pic of the bird and the faucet! Do you have your list of 100 on your blog somewhere? I'd like to check out what's on your list.

  5. Jan - Good question. Uh, I don't have a pre-determined list. I just kind of buy stuff and read it. Ironically, YOUR book is RIGHT BESIDE MY DESK. Five copies, actually. And I questioned stealing one for the weekend to check it out :-)

  6. Babe. I'm so very proud of you in the way you take the time to help all you friend and fill them with all your knowledge and pure talent that you possess. For all these good things you do you will be rewarded and one day one day very soon you will be signing your own book and the people will be waiting line. love you

  7. I think manuscripts should count. It takes a looong time to read a manuscript because you're critiquing and commenting the whole way through. It's like reading TWO books!

    Rita's book sounds awesome and ridiculously sellable. Go Rita!

    Now I'm off to check out Creepy Query Girl...

  8. very cool you broke the rules!

  9. Jeffrey - you're the sweetest husband ever. Every girl needs their number #1 fan - so happy you are mine. I love you.

    Suzanne - now that I've broken the rules twice, I concur, manuscripts (full) should count. And yes, Rita's book WILL sell. Serious talent there.

    Mi - thank you.

  10. Just hopping by to say, hi.
    Kelly Bookend Diaries

  11. Thanks for dropping by Kelly :-) Welcome.

  12. Found you via the hop and I just wanted to say, I LOVE your glasses in your profile picture. Both of them. Awesome.

    And the plot thickens...

  13. Rules are meant to be broken...or at the very least adjusted as new information becomes available. I agree that a manuscript should be counted as a book even though it has not been published.

  14. Thanks Rachel! And thanks for stopping by.

    Sue-ber - you're SO logical :-) I agree, and I don't mind adjusting the rules in times like this. xo

  15. Picture books don't count? Awwww....

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's definitely awesome that your revisions are going smoothly!

  16. Oh, that sounds fantastic, like one of those books that would have you needing to drink and drink as you read it--sort of like books set in a really cold climate, and when they're well written, you actually will feel cold reading it. I just love it when you get that drawn into a book. Sounds like a great seller. Dystopian YA is all the rage right now, but this sounds like a winner. Lucky you, getting an advance reading ;)

  17. Thanks Julie! I appreciate you popping by.

    Thanks for reading Carolina. Yes, I am extremely lucky to have previewed Rita's book. And very proud to count her among my friends.

  18. Sounds like a fabulous book! I wish Rita luck getting it published. I just finished Hunger Games, so the dystopia theme is fresh for me, but I happen to BELIEVE if we end up with a futuristic dystopia for real--water will be what we are fighting over.

  19. That book sounds really interesting!

  20. WT - I read Hunger Games not too long ago and loved it as well. And absolutely, we will be fighting for water.

    WW - I'm sure Rita will be thrilled to know you think so :-)

  21. Hey Dawn--your encouraging comments, and the kind words of readers here, made me buckle down and get the darn thing done. I printed it off yesterday and sent it to the publisher. I'm grateful for your interest everyone....keep writing.


  22. Rita - WOOT! I am so excited for you. Can't wait until I can pick that one up on the shelf. xo