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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Short

And what a year it's been! The decade's coming to a close and there have been changes, not just in the publishing world, but in the entire world.

This was a big year for a lot of people. Congratulations to Hannah whose book, Break, was released this year and another big congratulations to Kody whose book will be released sometime next year! Also congrats to all the twifties and everyone who made the next step in the journey to publication this year and got an agent!

The publishing world was hit hard this year and it's plain to see everywhere. In the last week I have visited two bookstores that were having their store closing sales. E-books are making a rise everywhere, forcing publishers to consider their method of publishing as they rush to take control of the changing market.

But while the market is also struggling, we had some awesome books this year. Catching Fire for one. Yes, that will always be ranked number one on my list of favorite books released this year. There were also some record setting movies in Half-Blood Prince (my personal fave), New Moon (which I still haven't seen), and Avatar (which I would love to see, but will probably have to wait for the DVD).

I know I haven't been blogging all this year, but I'd like to go back and take a look at some of the blogging highlights of the year.

May:
Here's a post from BookEnds covering international writers querying in the US and outside of the US book settings.

MSFV has a post on over-shopped query letters.

Rachelle Gardner talked about getting ahead of yourself.

I HAD to share this post again. It's Nathan's interview with S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders.

June:
Nathan created a writing advice database of all his awesome posts and a revision checklist. I should probably check out that checklist again...

BookEnds has a dictionary of publishing terms.

July:
BookEnds reveals the truth about genre.

Writer Unboxed's tricks for writing when you don't feel like it. Now I just need tricks for editing when I don't feel like it...

August:
Rachelle Gardner reveals the myths and facts of publishing.

September:
Writer Unboxed talked about passive and active writing.

Natalie Whipple has a post on beating revision fatigue. I'm so bookmarking this one.

October:
Nathan announced the winner of his first paragraph contest and has his thoughts on first paragraphs and discussed showing vs telling.

Our own Kody has her post on the seven deadly sins of querying on YA Highway.

So Happy New Year everyone and may 2010 be the start of a new -- and better -- decade for everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Releases - To Be Mona, Need, and Burn

Sorry about the lack of post on Monday and teaser on Tuesday! Monday I was away from home all day and I just couldn't figure out a teaser for Tuesday. There really isn't anything more I can share until I get a new project.

Anyway, I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas! If you need an idea on what to spend that Borders gift card on, here are three awesome new releases.

To Be Mona by Kelly Easton
Sage Priestly is seventeen, and she longs to reinvent herself -- to strip away the fat, the past, the crazy mom, the unpaid bills. She longs to be her own version of the gorgeous and popular Mona Simms.
Sage starts dieting and exercising. She gets blond highlights and throws away all of her black clothes. Bit by bit she transforms herself. This is deeply troubling to her best friend, Vern, who is secretly in love with Sage just the way she is. But the boyfriend Sage wants -- the popular jock Roger -- suddenly notices her. And when they start dating, Sage thinks her life is turning around.
So why isn't Sage happier? Yes, Roger is a little too controlling and pushy, but isn't that what boys are like when you date them? What is it about the image Sage has created that just doesn't fit?
Need by Carrie Jones
Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.

Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

Burn by Suzanne Phillips
"Are our schools safe?"

It's hard to turn on the news without hearing this question, and the answer is typically "no." This novel explores what happens when bullying escalates to violence, and it challenges our definition of victimization.

With thought-provoking prose, Suzanne Phillips explores the psyche of Cameron, a bullied freshman who ultimately does the unthinkable: he kills another student. As she did with Chloe Doe, Suzanne has found a way to make this seemingly dark story ultimately redemptive. But she also dares readers to look at the behavior that provokes violence as having the potential to be as dangerous as the violence itself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Week in Short

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE! You guys do not know how ecstatic I am that today is Friday. To those of you who are already free from school obligations until the new year, I hate you. (Just kidding!) I'm just jealous. I have to drag myself out of bed on Monday and Tuesday for the simple reason that I have two tests on Monday and I can't skip one day only to need it later. So yeah. It sucks, but I'm used to it.

This is how the next couple weeks are going to go. There will be posts on Monday and Tuesday as normal. Then I'm taking Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off to enjoy my wonderful family Christmas and then I shall return on the following Monday.

Also, I finished City of Bones yesterday at the expense of my homework. I will not be reviewing it for a few reasons. The first and foremost is that I'm still not sure if I want to throw the book out the window or run to the nearest Borders and buy City of Ashes. I'm going to read the next two books and then maybe I'll post a review of the full series. I'm just not in any state to do one right now and if you've ever read the book, you'll understand why. :)

I think that's all my random thoughts for today. So let's more into the news of the week. (Oh btw, there will be no Week in Short next week. I'll keep up with my blog reading and just post two weeks worth of news on the second (which, incidentally, is a Saturday.))

BookEnds talked about negotiating your contract and looking for agents for multiple genres.

GLA has 8 links to great articles covering revisions. I need to go read those...

Nathan Bransford blogged about writing contests.

Pubrants answered a lot of questions this week. Round one covered instant turn-offs, the effects of e- and self-publishing credits in querying, and Kirkus reviews closing. Round two covered Authonomy and the like, YA trends, what to do with form rejections, and more.

Querytracker has an awesome post on the best time to query.

TWFT has a great post on passive main characters and an interview with Steph Bowe.

Writer Unboxed has a beautiful Christmas fable and a post on how to make time for writing in the busy holiday season.

That's all the news for this week!

Jump is coming along well. I finished my first read-through and the revision suggestions to myself topped out at seven pages. I organized them last night and tonight I'm going to start to put them into affect. My goal is to have Jump beta ready by the 28th.

Keith's story on the other hand is not going well. Editing and NaNo and stress seems to have chased my muse away. If anyone has seen her, I'd like her to come home.

Everyone have an awesome weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Graceling Review


Graceling by Kristin Cashore
This book isn't quite like anything I've ever read before. The plot itself fascinated me and there were a few twists that I didn't see coming at all even though looking back I should've seen it. This is the kind of book that you pick up at three intending to read for a few minutes and look back at the clock two hours later and wonder where the time's gone. Po was by far my favorite character and the twist at the end made me want to scream. Katsa intrigued me through the first half of the book, but become a little annoying towards the second half. She was so strong and then she softened up. Just once I wanted her to say no to her uncle. She had all the power, he was just using it. I loved the whole thing with the ring. I didn't see that twist coming either. Leck's Grace both disturbed and fascinated me. I could just imagine what would happen if someone in the modern world could do something like that.

Overall: 4.5/5

Monday, December 14, 2009

Intertwined Review

Intertwined by Gena Showalter
Honestly, I'm not quite sure what I think about this book. It's the kind of book that you read because you simply can't put it down and read the sequels to because you just have to know what happens, not because you love the book. The idea is very original and I just loved the concept of having four souls trapped inside your head. My favorite character is probably Riley. He's hot, sweet, and a werewolf. Aden and Mary Ann have a tendency to annoy me from time to time. The ending just plain shocked me. I can say that whatever I was expecting for the end of the book, that wasn't it. And *SMALL SPOILER WARNING* I can honestly say that I realized who Eve was very early in the book and wasn't at all surprised when they finally reveal her true identity. *jumps up and down* The next book doesn't come out for a long. time. I want it...

Overall: 4/5

Friday, December 11, 2009

Week in Short

It's been a long week around here. Lots of snow and ice during the last three days outside. Two inches of snow still on the ground and it's freezing outside. Christmas dance is tomorrow and I had to go shopping tonight to pick up my shoes. I also got Winter's End so expect a review sometime after I finish City of Bones. I also discovered that one of my favorite bookstores is indeed closing.

I'm finally back to doing WiS again!

Quite a bit of news this week, but none of it actually good, unfortunately.

News:

I'm sad to announce that both the Rappaport Agency and Kirkus Reviews are closing. I wish Jenny and all those involved with both companies luck in the new year.

The entire WordServe Literary Agency and Jennifer Jackson are closing to queries until January 15th in order to catch up with their load and enjoy their well-deserved holidays.

GLA has seven things I've learned by Diana Jenkins.

Kody has an interview with Jennifer Hubbard, author The Secret Year, a fellow tenner.

Kristin has a list of her top five favorite YA girl characters. I came up with such a long list that I might have to write my own post next week just to fit them all.

Nathan Bransford has a look at his new blog and forum and also a post on pen names.

OPWFT has an interview with Jennifer Brown, author of the Hate List, and a book giveaway!

TWFT has an interview with Rhonda Stapleton.

It's been awhile since I've had a proper WiS so I'm going to bore you all with a quick runthrough of the progress of my WIPs.

Destiny - is on hold until Jump is out with betas. My goal to have it beta ready by January 15th still stands.

Jump - I'm giving it a read-through and making a list of all the big picture type things that I need to do. Character changes, scene tweaking, things like that. I've already got a list that's five pages long and I'm only a little over half finished.

ARML - also on the shelf. Probably won't come off until both Destiny and Jump are with my betas.

Keith's Story - this is my new WIP that I never expected to have. I've had the idea for years, I was just waiting for a plot line to pop into my head. Unfortunately Wednesday morning one did. I managed to hold off Keith (the MC) for almost the whole day, but then I just had to give in and start writing it. I wrote five pages over the course of an hour and haven't touched it since.

That's all for now! I'm going to go back to watching HBP. Everyone have an awesome weekend and I'll see you next week :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Releases - Fallen, Claim to Fame

Fallen by Lauren Kate


There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix

It was a talent that came out of nowhere. One day Lindsay Scott was on the top of the world, the star of a hit TV show. The next day her fame had turned into torture. Every time anyone said anything about her, she heard it. And everyone was talking about Lindsay: fans, friends, enemies, enemies who pretended to be friends....
Lindsay had what looked like a nervous breakdown and vanished from the public eye. But now she's sixteen and back in the news: A tabloid newspaper claims that Lindsay is being held hostage by her father.
The truth? Lindsay has been hiding out in a small Illinois town, living in a house that somehow provides relief from the stream of voices in her head. But when two local teenagers try to "rescue" Lindsay by kidnapping her, Lindsay is forced to confront everything she's hiding from. And that's when she discovers there may be others who share her strange power. Lindsay is desperate to learn more, but what is she willing to risk to find the truth?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RTW - Three Questions

I planned to post Graceling review today, but auto-post is refusing to listen to me so I'm going to push that back to next Thursday and join in on YA Highway's blog carnival instead. Because this is more fun. Also I'm procrastinating he large amount of work that I have to do since I skipped school today on account of the snow.

1) What are the three best books you've read this year?

Wow...Um...Well I'd say Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is definitely in the top three. Also The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan which was by far the best book in the Percy Jackson series. And either Wake by Lisa McMann or Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers or Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I've read too many good books this year to even remember them all.

2) If you could meet one author (living or dead), who would it be?

J.K. Rowling. I mean, who wouldn't? I have SO many questions that I'd ask her.

3) What book are you most looking forward to in 2010?

Oh dear. The Duff, obviously (and I'm not just saying that), both of Rick Riordan's new books in the spring and fall, and of course the third Hunger Games book if it comes out next year. No, I can't just pick one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Future Movies

In light of the leaked Deathly Hallows trailer that I have now watched at least seven times in the last 48 hours, I've decided to talk about the movies that are coming out over the next couple years. That, and I found out a couple of movies that I've been dying to hear about are actually being made into movies and I just want to fangirl. Sorry.

Next year's much anticipated movies:

1. The Lightning Thief - February 12th (based on the book by Rick Riordan) The third and most recent trailer is AWESOME
2. Eclipse - June 30th - Despite the fact that I have yet to see NM and I know already I'm going to be here with a rant the next day, this one is still on the list.
3. Avatar the Last Airbender - July 2nd - this one needs a better trailer
4. Secretariat - Fall - Sorry, had to be included.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - November 19th - HOLY CRAP I CAN'T WAIT!
6. Voyage of the Dawn Treader - December 10th - Third movie in the Narnia series. I can't wait to see Prince Caspian again :D

Possible 2011 movies:

1. National Treasure 3
2. Pirates of the Carribean 4: On Stranger Tides - July 8th - I just learned yesterday that this one has a title. I didn't even know they were making it for sure!
3. Transformers 3 - gives me a year to see the first one. I've seen the second already.


Am I missing anything? Any other movies to look forward to in the next couple years?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview with Maria and Dylan

This week I have two of my favorite characters, Maria and Dylan from Shipwrecked...with a Boy, in the studio with me. If you know about my writing, Shipwrecked has been trunked pending a rewrite. If you don't, well, I just told you.

Me: Hello, Dylan and Maria!

Dylan: Hi everyone.

Maria: Hi. *grins*

Me: So, Dylan, you and Maria are the starring characters in Shipwrecked. Can you tell me how all of this began?

Dylan: When the cruise ship wrecked, of course. Maria and I both washed up on the same island.

Me: Interesting. Did you two know each other before meeting on the island?

Maria: We'd met on the cruise ship when our parents had a business meeting, but other than that we didn't talk much. I wasn't quite sure what to think about him when we first met.

Dylan: I liked you right away. *smiles at her*

Maria: Shut up, you did not.

Dylan: Did too.

Maria: You told me you didn't believe in love at first sight.

Me: Okay, you two. I haven't rewritten the book yet.

Maria: So? We can't tell you a few of the things that happen beforehand?

Me: No! I need to finish editing Jump, Destiny, and ARML first!

Maria: Aw come on! You multi-task all the time.

Me: No. If I start writing something new, I'll never edit and then they'll never be done.

Dylan: Finish ARML first.

Me: Why?

Dylan: *shrugs* I want to read it.

Me: Okay... Dylan why don't you tell me something about yourself before you were shipwrecked?

Dylan: Well, I've lived in Southern California all my life. I went to the beach like every weekend, mostly to meet girls.

Maria: *glares at him*

Dylan: *squeezes her towards him* I hadn't met you yet. Anyway, my dad's a doctor and my mom's an accountant. We went on the cruise to get away from everything and get some alone time. I'd just broken up with my girlfriend a few days before the trip, so I really didn't want to go. But I'm glad they made me.

Me: Maria, same question.

Maria: *stares at Dylan* Sorry, what was the question?

Me: *snaps fingers* Can you tell us something about you before the shipwreck?

Maria: I was pretty popular in school. I had a lot of friends and went to all the parties. My parents are both businesspeople and they run a popular pizza place in SoCal. My boyfriend broke up with me just before I got on the cruise saying that he wanted to take a break. Personally I think he wanted to make out with half the school while I was gone without feeling guilty. I blamed my parents for our breakup because they were the ones making me leave my friends for the month-long cruise.

Me: Both of you went through a lot of challenges over the course of the story. What was probably the hardest for you, Maria?

Maria: Losing my memory. You don't know how much you rely on memories until they're all gone.

Me: What about you Dylan?

Dylan: It's hard to say. It's either watching Maria struggle to remember who I am and who she is, or waiting for the rescue boats to come when there was no help in sight.

Me: This question is for both of you. What is the one thing that you refuse to eat even if it means going hungry?

Dylan: I refuse to eat dog. I used to have a dog when I was younger, Blackie. Her real name was Gypsy, but I refused to call her that. I didn't even know what a gypsy was back then.

Maria: Snake. *shivers* I hate snakes with a passion. I don't mind them as long as they're far, far away from me or behind two inches of glass in the zoo.

Me: We'll see about that. If you had to stay on the island forever, what would you miss most?

Maria: My family and friends. And running water and hot showers. I miss those already and I'm not even there.

Dylan: My family. I wouldn't miss my friends so much, since they weren't really my friends exactly. I didn't really fit in with the geeks or the jocks or anywhere really. And vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup on top. You can't find that on a deserted island.

Me: One last question, what would you two miss the least?

Dylan: The hustle and bustle of the city. I always dreamed of moving out into the country after I graduated from college. Maybe getting a nice house with acreage so I could have a couple horses, a few dogs, maybe a cow or sheep or two.

Maria: *leans against his chest* That does sound nice. That's a hard one... I think I would miss the lonely nights at home the least. The ones when it's just me in our huge house because my parents are working late. Some of those nights I don't even eat dinner, I just go into my room, turn on some loud music, and dance until I want nothing more than to fall asleep.

Me: Thanks for joining me both of you. *smiles* I promise I'll get to your rewrite as soon as I can. I started it awhile back, but you guys didn't want to talk to me. When I listen this time, make sure your ready to tell me the story.

Dylan: Will do. Bye everyone!

Maria: Sorry. *frowns* Bye!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Great News!

I'm writing this while sitting on my bed with my newly returned laptop in front of me! That's right, my laptop is BACK! Which means I no longer have the share our only computer with my mother. For the next few days I'm going to catch up on things and hopefully next week I can start reading my blog list and doing Week in Shorts again! :D

Btw, you don't know how much I appreciate the laptop right now. If you have one, give it a big hug right now no matter how stupid you think it will look. Now I just need to get my mom off the desktop long enough for me to get my files.

New Releases -- Winter's End, Raven Summer, and Million-Dollar Throw

Winter's End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat
Escape. Milena, Bartolomeo, Helen, and Milos have left their prison-like boarding schools far behind, but their futures remain in peril. Fleeing across icy mountains from a terrifying pack of dog-men sent to hunt them down, they are determined to take up the fight against the despotic government that murdered their parents years before. Only three will make it safely to the secret headquarters of the resistance movement. The fourth is captured and forced to participate in a barbaric game for the amusement of the masses — further proof of the government’s horrible brutality. Will the power of one voice be enough to rouse a people against a generation of cruelty? Translated from the French, this suspenseful story of courage, individualism, and freedom has resonated with young readers across the globe.

Raven Summer by David Almond

Liam and his friend Max are playing in their neighborhood when the call of a bird leads them out into a field beyond their town. There, they find a baby lying alone atop a pile of stones—with a note pinned to her clothing. Mystified, Liam brings the baby home to his parents. They agree to take her in, but police searches turn up no sign of the baby’s parents. Finally they must surrender the baby to a foster family, who name her Allison. Visiting her in Northumberland, Liam meets Oliver, a foster son from Liberia who claims to be a refugee from the war there, and Crystal, a foster daughter. When Liam’s parents decide to adopt Allison, Crystal and Oliver are invited to her christening. There, Oliver tells Liam about how he will be slaughtered if he is sent back to Liberia. The next time Liam sees Crystal, it is when she and Oliver have run away from their foster homes, desperate to keep Oliver from being sent back to Liberia. In a cave where the two are hiding, Liam learns the truth behind Oliver’s dark past—and is forced to ponder what all children are capable of.

Million-Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica

What would you do with a million dollars, if you were 13?
Nate Brodie is nicknamed “Brady” not only for his arm, but also because he’s the biggest Tom Brady fan. He’s even saved up to buy an autographed football. And when he does, he wins the chance for something he’s never dreamed of—to throw a pass through a target at a Patriots game for one million dollars.
Nate should be excited. But things have been tough lately. His dad lost his job and his family is losing their home. It’s no secret that a million dollars would go a long way. So all Nate feels is pressure, and just when he needs it most, his golden arm begins to fail him. Even worse, his best friend Abby is going blind, slowly losing her ability to do the one thing she loves most—paint. Yet Abby never complains, and she is Nate’s inspiration. He knows she’ll be there when he makes the throw of a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sucks to Be Me Review

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberley Pauley

I loved this book! It's definitely an interesting twist on the idea of vampires. The voice caught me from the beginning and the plot kept me interested. I especially like the last line in the second paragraph on the first page. Read it and you'll know what I mean. I liked the idea of a vampire council and how the "turnings" were done.

The characters were starting to annoy me towards the end. Mina is so blind when it comes to guys. I just want to walk into the story and slap her a few times. The ending however, I really liked. Though it seemed a little sudden.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Interview with Katie

Me: Hope everyone had a great holiday and an awesome weekend! :) This week I have the MC of Aliens Ruined My Life, Katie, with us. Say hello, Katie.

Katie: Hello, Katie.

Me: *rolls eyes* Katie why don't you tell us about yourself?

Katie: Before or after the invasion?

Me: After. That is when your story starts.

Katie: Not really. Maybe you should write another one. A prequel.

Me: Maybe next year for nano. I'm kind of tempted to write Illiandora's story. Don't you think that would be cool?

Katie: Maybe you should explain who Illiandora is.

Me: I'm the interviewer here. Now, why don't you tell us about yourself after the invasion.

Katie: Well, I have brown hair and brown eyes. My hair is kind of wavy at the ends. I don't like to be interrupted when I'm reading and I like to be sarcastic sometimes.

Me: Sometimes?

Katie: Hey, every character has some part of their writer in them. Unlike most people, I don't mind homework as long as it's not a pile of physics worksheets, but I'd rather stay in bed than go to class.

Me: So tell me about Liz and David. How are they doing?

Katie: Liz is my best friend. She's doing great. She and Nate broke up for awhile, but now they're back together. They're both planning on going to U of M when they graduate. As for David, he's my boyfriend. He's pretty hot and he's got this awesome Polish accent.

Me: Very nice. So there are aliens in ARML. Can you tell me a little about them?

Katie: You would know. Yes, there are aliens in ARML. More than you expected, huh?

Me: Yes. They weren't actually supposed to play a part. *glares*

Katie: Why are you looking at me? It was your story. You are the one that decided to screw with my life.

Me: It was your idea!

Katie: Whatever.

Me: Anyway, why don't you tell us why 1984 is your favorite book? You reread it a few times over the course of ARML.

Katie: I have no idea, I just like it. I mean, it's like a nationally available Mayan calendar or an old, book version of Day After Tomorrow and 2012.

Me: Have you seen 2012?

Katie: Not yet, David and I are going to see it next week.

Me: Let me know if it's good. So do you believe the world's going to end in 2012?

Katie: Heck no. Why are we even talking about this anyway?

Me: I have no idea. I'm just saying the first thing that comes to mind.

Katie: I think your mind needs to go back to ARML.

Me: Fine. What's your favorite movie?

Katie: Day After Tomorrow and Prince and Me.

Me: Why Prince and Me?

Katie: *shrugs* It kind of reminds me of David and I. Only he's not a prince and he doesn't drive like a maniac and he's Polish.

*knock on the door and David walks in*

David: Hey, sweetie. *kisses Katie on the cheek* I have reservations for dinner tonight. They're in half an hour.

Me: Glad to see you two are still together. David, what do you like best about Katie?

David: *looks at Katie* The fact that she's good at biology and is willing to help me with my homework so I don't fail.

Me: And if you failed, you'd have to leave Ridgedale. Right?

David: Right. So far it looks like I'm staying.

Me: That's great! Katie, what do you like best about David?

Katie: His hair. *tousles David's blonde hair*

Me: Okay you two, I'm going to let you get going. Don't stay out too late.

Katie: We won't. Bye everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Once again, no formal post today. If you absolutely must go out and brave the throngs of insane people battling over the products for sale, be safe and good luck! I don't want to hear of any deaths like last year. If you're sane and staying home -- like me -- enjoy your day off and get to work on that NaNo project!

Either way, everyone have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chapter Length

It's something that a lot of new writers obsess over though it doesn't have a lot of bearing on a story. I've read books with everything from one to two page chapters (which got a little annoying after awhile, but it was easy to keep track of how many chapters I was reading and keep myself from losing track of time) to books that only had ten chapters and 384 pages.

Does it really matter what your chapter's length is? No. In fact, it can vary. You can have chapters that are a few pages long and other chapters that are ten or fifteen. Just do whatever works for your book.

Because I'm curious, here's a cute little poll. When reading (or writing) what chapter length do you prefer?
































What chapter length do you prefer? Online Casinos
Very short (1-3 pages)
Short (4-7 pages)
Medium (7-10 pages)
Long (10-15 pages)
Very long (15+ pages)
No preference





Web Polls

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cracked Up to Be Review

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Cracked Up to Be is an amazing book. For the first ten minutes after I finished it, all I could think was wow. The characterization was just amazing. Parker is probably one of the first characters that I wanted to strangle and hug at the same time, without being able to put the book down. She's such a witch to everyone around her -- even those that are just trying to help -- but you just want to keep going to figure out what made her like this. And Jake...I love him! He's such a sweetheart and you just have to love him.

I love the way that Courtney Summers reveals the events of the party that made Parker the way she is by showing it in bits as Parker remembers and thinks about it.

Note: don't read Cracked Up to Be during NaNo. Or when you're supposed to be working on something. It was really hard for me to put it down.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Interview with Claudia and Erik

Okay, I planned to do this...12 days ago on Destiny's actual one-year birthday, but that's when everything hit me so happy belated birthday, Destiny! *cue noise-makers* In celebration of this event, I'm going to interview the two main characters, Claudia and Erik. Hello guys!

Claudia and Erik: Hello!

Claudia: Thanks for having us.

Me: You're welcome. You're always welcome around here. Being my first characters and all.

Erik: I thought that was Fluffy.

Me: Shut up. Stories that I wrote when I was six don't count.

Claudia: Aww, but Fluffy was so cute.

Me: *rolls eyes* All right, let's get started.

Selma: *walks in without knocking* Am I late?

Me: Selma, this is an interview between me, Claudia, and Erik. I was planning on having yours in celebration of the one year anniversary of Destiny's completion.

Selma: Too bad. Besides, you don't even know what day that is.

Me: All right, you can stay. You didn't tell anyone else, did you?

Selma: *looks guilty* No...

Me: I guess that means we'd better get started before someone else comes barging in. Claudia, can you tell us something about you?

Claudia: Well...I'm eighteen years old and I live in Walraven, the capital, with Erik and my friends. I have dark brown hair and brown eyes. I'm kind of short and I used to be skinny, but not so much anymore.

Erik: *grabs Claudia's hand and kisses it* You're beautiful.

Selma: Knock it off you too. Andreas' had to go visit the isles and I'm tired of you two wandering around looking like lovestruck puppies.

Claudia: *glances at Selma* You didn't seem to have a problem with it on the Skeppa.

Me: No fighting you two. Erik, why don't you go next?

Erik: All right. I'm almost nineteen years old and I also live in Walraven. I have an ability that allows me to sense the presence of other people and what they're doing. It's because of it that I got imprisoned on Isle Fanlar for three years, though if I hadn't, I never would've met Claudia.

Me: Claudia, you have an ability as well. Can you tell us about that?"

Claudia: *nods* I can control people through words. So if I told Selma to leave this room and never return, she'd do it. Not that I'd ever do something like that.

Me: And do you like this ability?

Claudia: *shrugs* It's okay and I can turn it off so people don't have to do what I'm telling them. I'd hate to have that kind of control. But when I get angry, it can still get out of control.

Me: Perhaps you should work on that. Selma, you were the first in the story to discover these abilities. Can you tell me what yours is and how you did that?

Selma: Sure. My ability is conversing with plants. Sometimes I can hear their thoughts as well, but that was more when I was first discovering my ability. I had to learn how to tune at least some of them out so I wouldn't go insane hearing billions of plants all the time. It all started when I stepped on a dandelion and it started yelling at me. I had no idea that dandelions knew so many curse words, but apparently they've picked up a few things from us.

Me: Just a couple more questions, you three, I don't want to bore our readers.

Selma: Are you saying we're boring?

Me: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Starting with Erik.

Erik: Can it be my family?

Me: Sure.

Erik: Then that's what I'd change about myself. Nikolaus is okay now, but I've always wanted a big family.

Claudia: *touches his hand* I told you, you have a big family. Look at me, Selma, Andreas, and everyone else. What more could you want?

Erik: Have I ever told you I love you?

Me: Only a hundred times since the fire. What about you, Selma?

Selma: *frowns* I'd change my recklessness. I mean, pranks are fun and all, but there is a line.

Claudia: I've been trying to tell you that for years.

Me: *laughs* Okay, Claudia, what would you change about yourself?

Claudia: I lose control of my anger easily. I used to be more in control, but ever since I found my ability, it's been a lot easier for me to lose control and let it run away from me.

Me: Okay, last question guys. If you found someone with the power to grant you each one wish, what would you wish for? Selma, you first this time.

Selma: I'd wish for...a teleporter. That way Andreas would be able to visit places and come back within hours instead of weeks. And I think it would just be awesome to be able to go anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.

Me: I'll remember that if you guys get another book. Claudia?

Erik: Wait. We might get another book?

Me: We'll see. I know Carina is getting one, and maybe Selma, but we'll have to see about the rest of you. Maybe next NaNo. Now don't interrupt.

Claudia: I'd wish for more hours in the day. Like maybe 30-hour days instead of 24. I just need more time.

Me: You and me both. What about you Erik?

Erik: I'm with Claudia and Selma. A teleporter would be useful and so would more hours in the day. I'd probably wish for something that allows me to fly over the land so I don't have to ride Spela anytime I want to visit another city or get a car.

Claudia: That would be sweet.

Me: Okay, any last thoughts guys?

Selma: Yeah, what is this I heard about me getting my own story?

Me: I never said that.

Selma: Yeah, you di--

Me: OKAY let's get out of here guys. Thanks for coming tonight. Say goodbye everyone!

Claudia, Erik, and Selma: Goodbye!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Printing a Manuscript

Okay. I've got every post planned through December 14th. So hopefully there will be no more missed days (except for the weekends, because I take those off blogging.) The laptop is supposed to be back by the 14th so I figured I'd plan through then and see where I stood.

Yesterday I printed the first chapter of Destiny. It's one of the coolest things in the world to hold your own manuscript in your hands, even if it's just a fraction of it. But besides the coolness-factor, there are other reasons to print out your manuscript.

1. It's a great way to edit. I don't suggest doing this with a first draft unless you can afford to buy a few cartridges of ink (if you have a printer like mine that sucks up ink faster than a jet sucks up fuel) and a package of paper because a first draft is definitely going to have a lot of things that need to be fixed. Better to fix all those errors and do all those rewrites on the computer and save the printing for a later draft.

2. Hard copy for backing up. Unless you lose the draft, this is one copy that isn't going to disappear when your computer crashes or you don't have access to the internet to reach your back-ups.

Want to print our your manuscript? Here are some tips:

1. Print it out a little at a time. Not only will this help you to spread out your ink and paper usage, but it will also keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by the volume of paper that you have to edit. Print a chapter, edit it, change the electronic copy, and then print out another.

2. Have spare ink and paper handy if you want to print out the whole thing at once.

3. To conserve paper, print on both sides. If you don't have one of those awesome printers that flips it for you and you don't want to have to sit next to the printer and flip every sheet, then here's something I learned yesterday. On the printer settings that show up before you print, there should be an option towards the bottom that will allow you to print only odd and even numbered pages. Normally it will say "Print: All pages in range." Click on the down arrow so it shows "Odd pages" and "Even pages." Click "Odd pages" and then hit print. Let all the pages print and pay attention to how they come out of the printer. Once they're all finished, pick them all up and put them in the printer so that the blank side will be printed on. Hit print again, change it to "Even pages" and print out the rest.

Hole-punch the papers and put them in a binder to keep them safe and clean. I have a piece of notebook paper that I keep in the front with all my revision suggestions on it. I read them over real quick before each editing session to remind myself what I need to accomplish. Then I use a pen to go through and edit my manuscript. If I need to make an addition that won't fit between the lines, I take a piece of notebook paper, write down the addition, and then put it in the binder behind the page it belongs to.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Guess what?

I have returned! And this time I have a little more time on my hands. No, the laptop still isn't back. It'll be two weeks this Saturday. But I AM finished with NaNo!! That's right, Aliens Ruined My Life is complete at 50,300 words!

If you ask me how the heck I did it, the answer is: sugar, a character that wouldn't shut up, and a willingness to put everything else aside and just sit in the house for an entire weekend (probably the last beautiful, slightly warm weekend we're going to get until April) and write.

I've started editing Destiny, Jump, and ARML with the goal to finish all three of them before Christmas break. I'll ship them out to betas and then hopefully start working on my next project over break.

I'm taking tonight off, but tomorrow I'll get my butt in gear and start editing. I've already got the first chapter of Destiny printed out with a list of revision suggestions in front of me. I'm also going to try to be a better blogger and start working on blogging every day again.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Write or Die

I HATE having only one computer. You do not truly appreciate your computer time until your computer disappears and you have to share with your writer mom. Trust me on this. One week survived, two to three to go. And the worst part is, I still don't have my backup files. Which means I can't turn in that AP Lit essay (which means I'm probably failing right now, but I'm too scared to check my grades to see), I don't have my notes for the book reviews I had planned, and I don't have the first 10k of my nano project.

*sighs* Anyway...a few random notes before I begin.

I finished Bloodhound. Review will come eventually. I've started Sucks to be Me. There will definitely be a review on this one. :D

I hit the halfway point on ARML. YAY! Goal is to hit 35k this weekend. Only 16 days left!

Taylor Swift won Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs the other day, a title that is usually given to Kenny Chesney if I remember correctly. I am so happy for her and ecstatic right now. :D Personally I think every girl has a Taylor Swift song that describes them perfectly. I have two right now that are mine.

By now you might be wondering what the title of this post has to do with anything. Because I can't think of anything else to write about, I'm going to tell you about Write or Die, writers' block's worst nightmare.

WoD is a website where you choose a time limit and a word count goal. The smallest time limit you can choose is ten minutes, which I kind of hate because I think I'd rather write in five minute spurts rather than ten, but whatever. Underneath that you can choose a consequence if you stop writing and a grace period.

The three grace periods are Forgiving, Strict, and Evil. I've been using Forgiving lately because I have serious writers' block.

The consequences you can choose from are Gentle, Normal, and Kamikaze. Gentle is the one I've been using because I can't have sound with my mom listening to music and Kamikaze scares me (more on that in a second). Gentle mode just gives you a pop-up reminding you to keep writing. Of course that doesn't work if you have a computer like mine that either doesn't allow pop-ups or is just screwed up in general (not really sure what the problem is). Normal mode plays an extremely annoying song or sound until you keep writing again. Kamikaze mode is the worst. If you stop writing for over the allotted time, it starts to delete what you wrote before. Crazy, huh? I'd never do that... There's also a fourth mode that says Electric Shock that you can't select. I think I'll stay away from that one...

If you don't write well under pressure and still want to use WoD, I'd suggest starting out with Gentle mode and a Forgiving grace period. Now I'm going to go get rid of this writers' block and see if I can write 4.5k today. Happy writing guys!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lots of News

Before I begin, I'd like to say sorry for being such a horrible blogger in the past week. I realize that it's been...almost two weeks since I last posted. I'm so very sorry! Life decided to get in the way and make blogging nearly impossible. So I've decided to drop in and let you all know what's up.

School and homework has been taking up the majority of my time. We're nearing the end of the trimester which means teachers are now piling even more work on us in an attempt to get through all their lessons before exams. At this point our trig teacher has already told us that we're not going to have any time for review in class before our exams. Which sucks. Whatever time I don't spend working on homework, is spent writing. NaNo is very time consuming, but I'm quite happy with my project so far.

Yesterday my laptop broke and it's now in the shop. I think I have a vague idea how parents feel when they're children go away to summer camp. Everything was on that laptop including all of my nano project. I did have the sense to backup all my novels, except for that one. I'm getting everything taken off my harddrive, but I'm not getting that until tomorrow. So until then I'm just working off what I remember. The worst part of a broken laptop is I now have to share our lone computer with my mom who also happens to be a writer working on a novel. So now we're fighting over who gets top priority on the computer.

So where does that put this blog? Well, unfortunately at the bottom of my priorities. I will continue to blog as often as I can. Blogging will probably be pretty sparse this week but I'll try to get back into regular posts next week. I had book reviews planned for this week, but my notes for those were also on the laptop.

Note to readers: BACK UP EVERYTHING! As soon as I get my backup copy of my files, I'm going to backup everything that I need. It doesn't have to be complicated, all I do is email an attachment of the document to myself.

Also, today is November 8th. Which is Destiny's first birthday! I had a celebration planned that included interviews with my favorite characters, but that is going to have to wait a few days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Naming Characters

It's Wednesday again which means YA Highway has another blog carnival! I really liked this week's question, but before I start, I have an exciting announcement. JUMP IS COMPLETE! Final word count: 45,000 words! Which means it's time to put Jump and Hannah away for a month until I can start revisions after NaNo is over.

Okay now for the question: how do you name your characters?

This is a tough one. I don't have any set system for naming them, but I can't write a story without a name. Sometimes I have a name that just comes to me. Like Katie in ARML. Her name didn't require any thought at all. Hannah was the same way.

Then there are times when I can't for the life of me come up with a name that I like. So I turn to my number one source for names: baby name sites. There are whole listings of names for boys and girls. The best ones even show the origins and meanings of names in case you want to choose one based on that too. If you, like me, struggle with coming up with last names, there are sites with those too.

My two favorites are:

First names: http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/

Last names: http://www.last-names.net/

If I can't think of a name right away, I just go on those sites and scroll through them until I find one that pops out at me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week in Short Two Days Late

I'm so sorry I'm late! I had one busy weekend. I wasn't home at all between noon Saturday and 9 pm Sunday so WiS pretty much fell to the sidelines. It took me quite awhile last night when I remembered to catch up on all the blog posts. So here is Week in Short, two days late.

There are three Must Reads this week. This first one is from YA Highway on the weight of words and sentences. I know this is really late, but here is Nathan's thoughts on first paragraphs and the winners of his contest! And last but not least, Hannah has her thoughts on word count.

Blood Red Pencil talked about ghostwriters last week. Back before Destiny was even started, I thought the only one of my ideas was going to be finished was if I hired a ghostwriter.

BookEnds agent Jessica answers some random questions.

GLA has the essentials of a novel synopsis.

Querytracker discussed the value of text to voice in editing. It really is a great editing tool. And unlike with reading your manuscript out loud, you can use headphones to listen to it if you don't want anyone listening in.

Rachelle Gardner has a guest blog on a writers' climb and talked about exclamation points and other annoying devices.

Quick warning: Week in Short this week will either be on Saturday or Monday depending on what I'm doing on Saturday and whether or not I keep up with blog posts during the week instead of trying to read them all at one time. I'm going to be away from my computer all day on Sunday (which, sadly, is also the first official day of NaNo).

Jump is almost complete! It currently stands at 41,000 words. My goal is to write two bullet points on the outline (which equals roughly two scenes) a day. If I can do that, Jump will be complete by Friday, just in time for the start of NaNo. Right now I'm procrastinating writing a particularly painful scene. But I will do it...

My NaNo project has an official title now: Aliens Ruined My Life. Much better than whatever I was brainstorming before. Can't wait to start! Though since I'm going to be gone all day on the first, I'm debating if I should start a day early or if I should just accept that I'll have one less day.

Destiny and Shipwrecked will be officially trunked today. Destiny will come back out in December and as for Shipwrecked...I haven't decided yet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Writing, with School

Ahhh the school year. The time when teenagers spent eight hours a day trapped in the hall of "learning", work hard to keep up with the homework, and enjoy extracurricular activities. But doing all that and keeping up with writing can be difficult. So here are some tips on how to balance writing and school while you count down the days to summer break.

1. Remember, as much as we wish it was otherwise, school should always come first. Do your homework as soon as you get home instead of *ahem* putting it off until a few minutes before it's due. This way you can relax and just write, rather than worrying about that history project or math worksheet.

2. Set aside a period for writing/editing. Maybe you write best after dinner or right before bed. Set aside an hour or two to unplug and just write.

3. If you're like me and you have trouble setting aside a specific amount of time for working, then at least try to write each day. As soon as your homework's done, open up your WIP instead of the internet. Resist the urge to "just check your email" or check Facebook. Write first, play later.

4. Use your weekends and breaks! Days off are a great time to get writing done, but don't feel pressured to get a lot done just because it's your day off. Take some time to relax too. Make sure you're not taking all the fun out of writing.

5. Give up extra things if you have to. No, I don't mean extracurricular activities or homework. But if you have to cut back on your blogging, or internet time, or beta reading, do it. Your writing is more important. I've already decided to write all my blog posts on Sunday and set them to auto-post so I don't have to worry about that during the week and I'm severely restricting the amount of beta projects I'm allowed to take on.

6. Work in school! Carry extra notebook paper around with you during school for brainstorming during downtime. This is also a great idea just in case you -- like me -- sometimes get random ideas that pop into your head that you just have to write down so you don't forget. If you're working on editing, print out a few manuscript pages and take them with you.

7. Becky at TWFT suggests using assignments to your advantage. For example, if you have an assignment to write a short story, try to find a way to incorporate that short story in your own writing. Maybe write a short from a minor character's point of view to better get to know them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Releases: Prophecy of the Sisters, Leigh Ann's Civil War, Liar

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Book 1 of Prophecy of the Sisters Trilogy

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-

One good...

One evil...

Who will prevail?

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.

They just know they can't trust each other.

Leigh Ann's Civil War by Ann Rinaldi

Leigh Ann Conners is spunky and determined. Although she often finds herself in trouble, she loves her two older brothers dearly and would do anything to make them proud. When the Yankees arrive in Roswell, Georgia, Leigh Ann places a French flag upon the family’s mill. She hopes the Yankees will then spare the mill from destruction, but her actions have disastrous results. Sent north with the women and children who worked in the mill—all branded traitors for making fabric for Confederate uniforms—Leigh Ann embarks on a journey that requires her to find her own inner strength. Only then will she be able to rise above the war raging around her.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah will freely admit that she’s a compulsive liar, but that may be the one honest thing she’ll ever tell you. Over the years she’s duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents, and she’s always managed to stay one step ahead of her lies. That is, until her boyfriend dies under brutal circumstances and her dishonesty begins to catch up with her. But is it possible to tell the truth when lying comes as naturally as breathing? Taking readers deep into the psyche of a young woman who will say just about anything to convince them—and herself—that she’s finally come clean, Liar is a bone-chilling thriller that will have readers see-sawing between truths and lies right up to the end. Honestly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo

Ahhh NaNoWriMo. If you have no idea what that is, you're missing out. NaNo is National Novel Writing Month, when writers sacrifice their sanity and personal life for one month in an attempt to write an entire 50,000 word novel. NaNo takes place during November, which means it is 14 days away. :D

If you'd like more information about NaNo visit http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/node.

My name on there is (unsurprisingly) Horserider.

I have never officially done NaNo. Whether or not I actually did or not last year is debatable. I did start Destiny in November and I did finish it at 100k in December, but I didn't actually know about NaNo at the time. So this will be my first official year of participation!

Some things you can do to prepare:

1. Use a '100 questions for your character sheet.' (I've got one for Katie, my MC for my NaNo project.)

2. Outline.

3. Character bios.

4. Character pictures.

5. Anything you want, as long as you don't start the novel until November 1st! And the good news for this year is, October 31st is on a Saturday. So everyone that has to get up for work/school on Monday gets to stay up until midnight for the start too! Well, at least I plan to. :D

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week in Short

Contest:
Nathan Bransford had his first paragraph contest last week. The finalists were announced Friday and tomorrow we'll know who won.

Kidlit.com is hosting a query contest for YA, MG, and picture books. Deadline is October 31st and the prize is a critique of the first 30 pages of your manuscript.

Kody is also hosting her own query contest.

News:
I recently learned that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (my favorite movie) is coming out on DVD December 8th! HA! I told my mom it would come out before Christmas. :D

Blood Red Pencil
talked about redundancy and wordiness this week.

BookEnds explained why agents auto-delete mass-mailed and 'Dear Agent' queries.

GLA reminds us all about Google alerts.

Rachelle Gardner adds her on to what to do when an agent offers to rep you.

That's all the links for this week! Short, I know. I was surprised too. Now I'm going to talk about what I read and wrote this week.

I finished The Last Olympian, the final book of the Percy Jackson series, yesterday! I am pleased to announce that I enjoyed it just as much now as I did then and TLO is still my second favorite book. Was planning a review of the entire series, but might not do that now. I don't really have that much to say about them... Can't wait for the Lightning Thief movie or Riordan's next series!

Also finished Blue Moon this week. Probably won't be a review of that one either. Not because all I want to do is fangirl, it's the opposite. I liked the writing as much as I did with Evermore, but the plot made me want to throw the book out the window. I just didn't like where the story's going.

Destiny: Line by line revisions are underway! I think I prefer plot and character changes over line by lines. Hoping to finish by November so I can send it out to betas while I do NaNo, but probably won't happen.

Jump: Still coming along. Doubt it'll be done before NaNo like I hoped. Also starting to worry that I might be glossing over parts of the story in an attempt to get it done faster. Which is bad.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Steampunk

Steampunk. If you're like me, you no idea what that means. You just know that it's some genre of books. So what is steampunk? I went to my resident expert on all that I don't know (Google) to find out.

Steampunk is a sub-genre of fiction set in past centuries -- commonly the Victorian era or the Old West -- but uses modern or sci-fi-type technology. Often steam power technology is also involved.

Some examples of steampunk according to this website:

1. The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

2. The Age of Unreason by J. Gregory Keyes (a four-book series)

3. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

4. A Nomad of the Time Streams by Michael Moorcock (a trilogy)

5. The Pesawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling

6. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

7. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman (personally, I don't see it...)

8. Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter

9. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

10. Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

There. I hope that cleared that up for some of us...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Releases: Ash, The Georges and the Jewels, Intertwined

Ash by Malinda Lo
In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

The Georges and the Jewels by Jane SmileyJane Smiley makes her debut for young readers in this stirring novel set on a California horse ranch in the 1960s. Seventh-grader Abby Lovitt has always been more at ease with horses than with people. Her father insists they call all the mares “Jewel” and all the geldings “George” and warns Abby not to get attached: the horses are there to be sold. But with all the stress at school (the Big Four have turned against Abby and her friends) and home (her brother Danny is gone—for good, it seems—and now Daddy won’t speak his name), Abby seeks refuge with the Georges and the Jewels. But there’s one gelding on her family’s farm that gives her no end of trouble: the horse who won’t meet her gaze, the horse who bucks her right off every chance he gets, the horse her father makes her ride and train, every day. She calls him the Ornery George.

Intertwined by Gena ShowalterMost sixteen-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him:

One can time-travel.

One can raise the dead.

One can tell the future.

And one can possess another human.

With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's a younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die.

He's so over it. All he wants is peace.

And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a loner; she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, he should stay away. But it's too late....

Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist.

Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger but not everyone will come out alive....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RTW -- Rough Drafts

As some -- or most -- of you probably know, YA Highway has a new thing they call "Road Trip Wednesday" where each contributor writes a post on their own blog about a certain subject. Then you get to go on a road trip and read their awesome responses.

Well this event is also open to random bloggers. Visit YA Highway for more information and to read the awesome posts.

This week's question was: How rough is your rough draft?

The first thing I want to say is: all rough drafts need work. It's a fact of writing. I don't believe anyone in this world can produce a flawless draft on the first try, or even the second.

As for my rough drafts...well...they suck. A lot. Destiny's been through one full rewrite, one partial rewrite, and is still looking forward to another partial rewrite and revisions. Let's not even talk about the 100k rough draft still saved on my computer that it started out as.

Black Diamond and Shipwrecked are the same way. I refuse to even think about the rough draft of BD anymore.

But the more you write, the better your first drafts will become. I know Jump's going to require revisions and I look forward to them, but in my opinion, Jump's first draft is going to be a LOT better than Destiny's first draft. And I'm definitely not editing as I go -- unless I find a spelling mistake, which I can't leave without correcting.

So try not to worry about revisions, know that all first drafts need work, and just write. Because just like all published books on the shelves today, all books started out with a rough draft.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Non-Teaser Tuesday

Sorry guys, no teaser this week! Like I said last week, Jump is too far along for teasers and Shipwrecked isn't ready to be displayed. Hopefully I'll be able to start doing proper teasers when NaNo starts up and I have snippets of that yet-unknown project to share. In the meantime, here is a short story. If there are any words that feel out of place, it's because they're vocab words that we were forced to use. But I think this is pretty good for a five-minute vocab exercise.

***
The women of the village were disconsolate as the men prepared for their venture. The men held themselves with confident mien though the majority knew they would not return. Their group was a multifarious mixture of young and old, strong and weak, tall and short. All wore shirts and pants of a lawny texture. As the women shook with sadness, the men doggedly set out into the woods after a denizen of its heart, a creature so vile that few dared to enter its territory alone. That night, as the women waited around the campfire, only one boy by the name of Damien returned. In one hand he carried a sword coated in acid green blood and in the other, the head of the fearsome beast.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Edgy YA

Before we begin, I'd like to share the results of last week's poll. Summary won the poll with 50% of the vote, reviews was second with 25%, and author and cover both won 13% each. I admit to voting summary myself. The only way a cover gets me to buy a book is if it has a horse on it, and I still read the summary first.

Onto today's topic: Edgy YA. So last week my mom was talking about her story and how "kinky" it is. (Which pretty much means edgy to her.) But her book is adult and I've never heard of "edgy adult." So we started to get a little bit into the edginess of YA novels these days. Now, me and my mom recently read a book that has sex in it. It's barely mentioned and there's very little detail whatsoever.

And she was shocked.

Apparently my mom hasn't read YA in ten or twenty years, because not only is sex in YA not only allowed, it's pretty widely known. But her reaction is EXACTLY why she's not allowed to read anything I write. Ever.

Why are parents so surprised that YA has gotten so edgy lately? This is a common thing in our society. I don't even want to think about some of the conversations I've overheard lately in my high school. Teens do not live in a little protective bubble and when we're in public school for eight hours a day, it's impossible to avoid subjects such as these.

Yes YA is edgy. And that's real. Abuse, drugs, sex, violence, that's all things most teens know about and some have experienced! Yes it's nice to pretend that we all live in a bubble gum pink world where everything's fine and no one gets hurt and I'm not saying all YA books have to be real, but there's no reason to outlaw the ones that saw things like they are.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week in Short

What a busy week it has been! I can't believe it's the 11th already. Not that I'm complaining. :D

The Must Read this week comes from our very own Kody at YA Highway where she talked about her seven deadly sins of querying.

News:
Some big books are coming to the big screen in the next few years! Check to see if your favorite is on the list. :D Hopefully some of them will wait until 2011. I already have six movies that I need to go see in theaters and I rarely ever go there. The last movie I saw in theaters was...probably G-Force.

BookEnds talked about what publishers do for book publicity.

Editorial Ass added a glossary of all the main posts.

GLA discussed the bio section of a query letter and had a short interview with Nathan Bransford.

Nathan Bransford talked about calling books "trash." I must bookmark this...

Writer Unboxed has a post on how real realistic fiction has to be. It's a fascinating post. Now does anyone know if I can get away with medical miracles?

My writing is coming along slowly. Destiny has returned from the trunk and I'm getting ready to run through some revisions. There's a couple minor things that I want to change while I contemplate the more major changes that have popped into my head. Jump is still coming along, but I'm not sure if she's going to be finished before NaNo. Shipwrecked is not going well at all and will probably be trunked again during NaNo.

Everyone have a great week :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weather in Writing

Today I'm going to talk about the weather. Not whether. Weather. And not the fact that the sky looks like it can't decide if it wants to rain or not over here either.

One of the things that the writer can do to make their worlds more realistic is pay attention to what the weather is like. I'm not saying describe the clouds in very specific detail and point out the one that's shaped like a bunny and the one that reminds your character of alphabet soup. (I don't know where that comparison came from either.) But in the real world, it's certainly not sunny all the time. Unless the MC lives in the desert.

Weather fits right in with the setting. Take, for example, Forks, Washington. Yes that's a real town. Who knew? (Please don't hurt me.) Forks apparently is the rainiest city in the U.S. That fit right in with Twilight since vampires can't be seen in sunlight. Forks was the perfect setting for them and yet there were still a few days of sunlight in the story. Another example is Michigan. In the summer it's hot -- unless it was this year which was just insane -- in the winter it's cold, and in the autumn and spring it's in between with lots of rain.

Integrate this into the story. Choose a season and a setting for the story and stick with it. If you're like me and have trouble remembering what season, month, year, and day of the week it is in a story, try to keep track. Keep a spreadsheet if you have to. If your story is set in Phoenix in the summer, don't forget that it's going to be unmentionably hot there and it should affect your characters accordingly. If it's set in Maine in the winter, there's going to be a lot of snow.

In addition to the normal, seasonable weather, don't forget other things like fog, rain, hail, etc. If your characters are in school, give them a snow day or fog delay once in awhile. We usually have a few a year. Fog delays usually happen in spring and fall, as the nights start to get colder. It's going to be more common in places with a lot of water. Maybe throw in a thunderstorm once in awhile.

Our weather isn't boring and predictable, so don't make you characters weather like that.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Made You Buy It?

Sorry there was no teaser yesterday. I've gotten up to the point in Jump where teasers are no longer possible without requiring some kind of explanation or avoiding a major spoiler, so no more Teaser Tuesday for me for a while. My goal is to finish Jump (which has now hit 30k, yay!) before November so I can put all my time and energy towards NaNo, which I fully intend to do officially this year. But more on that when it gets closer to November.

So I was thinking while I was catching up on blog posts and a thought popped into my head. I know why I buy/check out the books I do, but why do you buy/check out the books you do? Think back to the last time you bought a book. What made you want to buy that book over all the other AWESOME books in that store?

To help me with this little question, I have created this cute little poll. Feel free to explain your answer in the comments. Should be fun to see the answers.

What made you buy it?
Cover
Title
Summary
Cover Blurbs
Recommendation
Author
Reviews
Other
sheepskin boots

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back With the Last Two Weeks in Short

Sorry I've been gone for the last week! I had a ton of stuff that I needed to do and I just didn't have the time and wasn't in the mood to blog. But I'm back this week, though I don't know if it's going to be much better. My sinuses are all stuffed up so I barely want to move, let alone think about something to blog. :)

Must Reads: Nathan blogged about another of my pet peeves this week: telling vs showing. I was trying to figure out how to do my own post on the subject, but Nathan tells it a lot better than I could.

*bounces up and down* This second one is from GLA. It's the query that landed Lisa McMann her agent for Wake!!! I like the title now better than the title then, but it's fascinating to read and think, This is where it all began.

News: Rick Riordan announced on his blog that his next series (featuring Egyptian mythology this time) has an official release date: May 4, 2010!!!

I know this is a little late...okay, really late, but last week was Banned Books Week. Here are the ten most challenged books of 2008.

Querytracker also went through a full make-over the last couple weeks. I've checked out some of the new features and they look AWESOME! I can't wait to start querying again just so I can play with them...even if that day is awhile in the future.

You may have noticed the new widget on the side of the blog. I decided to put that there for updates on my WIPs instead of talking about them here. I'll try to remember to update it at least twice a week.

BookEnds Jessica has her opinion on male protagonists in women's fiction.

GLA talked about publishing a book while living in another country.

Janet Reid has a few questions to ask prospective agents.

Nathan Bransford discussed what agents do and submitting to editors without an agent.

Pub Rants talked about earning out. That seems to be a popular subject among blogging agents lately.

Queryshark ate five the last couple weeks: a first five pages instead of query, tragicomic novel (what exactly is that?), long crime novel, unfinished fantasy, and a thriller.

TWFT had an interview with the wonderful Lisa Mantchev, author of Eyes Like Stars.

I think I'm finally getting into the swing of things again. A month after starting school... So I'm going to go catch up on stuff and hope that I can sneeze so I can start breathing normally again.