Okay, now that I've finished the first book in the Twilight saga, I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised.
Some of the reviews I've read of the book seem a bit unfounded. For example, I don't recall ever reading the main character, Bella, complaining about how boys never like her. Not once. Sure, there was a brief moment where she said that boys didn't seem to find her interesting back in Phoenix where she was from, but it didn't come across as whiny, just matter of fact. But everyone's entitled to their own opinions and tolerance levels about such things.
There was a lot of complaints about Bella letting others do all the thinking and deciding for her. This I'm middle ground on. There were times where she did let others tell her what to do, but others where she made plans and decisions of her own and resisted being ordered around. I didn't expect this character to call all the shots and make all the decisions because she's supposed to be a seventeen year old girl. Let's face it, most teenage girls are not in 100% control of their lives, it's just a fact of life. Could she have done more to control things and take action, perhaps, but it still the amount of control she surrendered didn't seem overdone.
The dialog rang true for the most part, though there were still some corny sounding dialog and scenes (sorry, but I still giggled a bit at the 'sparkly vampire' part). I enjoyed Bella's reaction to the boys, as I've said before, they're funny. Along with her conversations and interactions with Edward.
I didn't like the frequent use of 'smoldered'. I think another word could have been substituted at the very least, if not a different reaction given.
The thing that I disliked the most, was how often the Vampire characters are referred to as inhumanly beautiful, angelic, and the like. I've never personally be into guys that look like they came out of the 'pretty' mold. To be honest it felt like the author was trying to force me to think that the characters were gorgeous. I would have preferred if she'd given descriptions of the characters, but also let me make my own decision about whether or not I found them physically attractive. The characters did not not need to be so pretty to be interesting.
For me, I'd rate this book a 3.5 of 5 stars.
As for my own writing, I'm happy to say I'm making ground. Right now I'm working on employing the use of outlining for the entire story, instead of doing one at a time and not knowing what would come next in the story. Doing that made it where the first story did not turn out the way it needed to to allow for the rest of the story to flow as it should. I guess my embarrassment at having to pull a book from sale to rewrite it is my penance for not having done it right the first time.
I'm also try my first shot at doing story structure, rather than writing by the seat of my pants. To be honest, I wish I hadn't published it the first time, but I was unlearned and inexperienced and let a deadline make me publish it too soon. I fully admit I have a lot of learning to do, but the way I see it, this was a learning experience and now I will do better.
I have been obsessively studying blog posts intended to help authors improve their writing. With the help of the wondrously helpful blogs, Wordplay by K.M Weiland, and The Bookshelf Muse by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, I've gleaned quite a bit that I did not know prior to this. I spent the last two nights studying and taking notes from Weiland's story structure lessons and going through the samples on The Bookshelf Muse out of their book The Emotion Thesaurus along with the other Character Trait and Setting Thesauruses posted there. I can't begin to say how informative and educational I've found them. These aren't the only blogs I follow by any means, but if you're a new or wannabe writer, you should definitely check them out!
One thing I've learned is that an antagonist does not need to be evil. I hadn't really wanted to make a certain character evil, but felt it was necessary to in order to make him an antagonist, so I settled with a mental instability that didn't really feel right to me or the character I wanted to portray. Which made every scene with him in it feel forced. I admit, I let perceived 'rules' about what was 'allowed' get in the way of writing the story the way I wanted to. I just strive to never do it again.
Important Edit: I've made a decision about the title of my book. When I chose the name for the series, I originally had a different story planned and outlined, with Katherine's being the first of three characters lives. However, I feel that Katherine's story line is important and interesting enough on it's own to deserve it's own series and at the same time still want to tell the one of the other characters' lives under the title of Moon Blooded. Therefore, the title for this series will be changed to The Last Doomling. The name of the first book in the series will remain Bad Blood.