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.

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.

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.

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...

Rachelle Gardner reveals the myths and facts of publishing.

Writer Unboxed talked about passive and active writing.

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

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.


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.