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Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Short

Note: This is going to be an abbreviated Year in Short because I didn't do Week in Shorts all last semester.

Looking back over the last year, I realized that so much has changed. My life now is so different from my life this time last year, in so many ways. In some ways its for the better and in others, it's not but it's been a very good -- if not crazy -- year.

The writing and publishing world has also seen some major changes in the last year. E-books are growing in popularity and piracy is becoming an increasingly larger topic of conversation. We also saw the bankruptcy of Borders (I still can't drive past their empty storefronts). Rowling also contributed with the creation of Pottermore which I have to say is probably the best thing since Harry Potter itself.

Writing:
The truth about the Mary Sue
How to dig out of the Pit of Despair
When it's okay to quit

Querying:
Too many agents, not enough gin: the truth about multiple offer situations
Still your itchy trigger finger: why you should wait before hitting send
Choosing the wrong agent
Handling revisions from an agent
Thrashing in revisions
Agent edits
Reminder to always follow up

Publishing:
Rejection insights from an editor
"Free" books aren't free: the implications of illegal downloading
How book-based movies happen

Social networking:
10 things authors should know about Twitter

Other:
The power to choose
Sexual politics, women's rights, and becoming an adult
Sex vs relationships in YA
Phoebe North on Sex Positive YA
False memories: source confusion and suggestion
Hannah Moskowitz calls for more characters like you
Why the n-word matters

Hope everyone had a great 2011 and that 2012 is even better! Have a great weekend and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RTW: Best Books of the Year

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What were your top five favorite books of 2011?

This was a great year for books for me. I read 53 books this year and had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to five favorites. Here are my top five, in no particular order, and excluding those books that I read in previous years and reread this year.

1. The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
I was a little late getting to this series. So far this is the only one that I've read but I have Demon's Covenant in my "Must Read Over Break" pile. It was a fantastic start to a trilogy and despite the fact that I had the largest plot twist spoiled for me, I absolutely loved it.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This is one of those books that I wish I'd read years ago. It's a fantastic book with beautiful writing. Every teenager should it -- not in spite of the subject matter -- but because of it.
3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green
This is one of my favorite books. I tore through it in a few hours and I can't wait to read it again. It was a different experience reading a book written by two fantastic authors and I really enjoyed it.

4. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.
Thanks to WG, WG I decided to check out more of Levithan's books and this was the only one I was able to track down in the library. I have to admit it did not let me down. This is a great book that even cured my post-Potter depression (this is the first book I read after seeing the final movie).


5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Usually it takes me some time to read a book of this size, but this one I absolutely tore through because I couldn't stop reading. I can't wait for Insurgent!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Holdin' Onto Heaven by Nickelback

Must Read:
10 things authors should know about Twitter

News:
Barnes & Noble accidentally shipped out copies of The Fault in Our Stars
Spanish novelist Lucia Etxbarria quits writing in protest of piracy
Link
Elana Johnson:
Give yourself permission

Janice Hardy:
How kids' games can make revisions fun
3 tips for writing romance in YA by Kody Keplinger

Laura:
In defense of libraries

Querytracker:
Dissociative amnesia/fugue

Romance University:
Sara Megibow talks about the newbie mistakes she made as an agent

Merry Christmas! I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

IF I LIE Cover Revealed!

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson has a cover and an official release date!

**drum roll**

Isn't it beautiful?! I love the roughened edges and the black and white picture. Can't wait to have this one in my hands!

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in thei
r small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

If I Lie debuts on August 28, 2012.

For more information check out Corrine Jackson's website.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clockwork Prince Review

***WARNING: There will be spoilers from Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Angel in this review***

Clockwork Prince
by Cassandra Clare
#2 in Infernal Devices series
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.


Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?


As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

First things first: I love this book. I never thought a book could top City of Glass in my heart as a Clare finale, but I have a feeling that Clockwork Princess could be that book. This one is probably my second favorite Clare book ever.

Typically, Clare's books start a little slow and then turn into the world's largest rollercoaster in about the last third, but this one definitely broke that trend. The last third was still a rollercoaster, but I'm happy to say that it didn't start slow. I was hooked from the first chapter and I would have read it all in one night if I could have.

Usually it's easy for me to pick sides in love triangles, but this is definitely one of those series when that's impossible for me. Officially, I am Team Will but I love both of them so much. My heart almost broke when I found out that the reason why Will is so mean to everyone is because he's afraid that if he lets them love him, they'll die. I wasn't expecting that. Now that his fears about "the curse" have been lifted, I absolutely love the new Will. On the other hand, Jem is the sweetest boy ever. I love when Jem spoke Chinese to Tessa and then told her it meant her hair is coming undone when it really meant "You are beautiful." The kisses in this book (those with Jem and those with Will) were definitely some of my favorites. I still can't believe Jem and Tessa are engaged. That was a twist I definitely wasn't expecting. I feel so bad for Will...

I'm still in shock over the concept of Tessa being a child of a demon and a Shadowhunter, but it does make sense. The offspring of a demon and a Shadowhunter is death. If Tessa really is immortal, then she's the opposite of death. One thing that I still don't understand is someone said that because Nate died that they can't learn anything more from him. If they need to know more, why couldn't they just ask Tessa to turn into him? She's done it before so she doesn't even need to be touching anything of his in order to do it.

Overall: 9.5/10 I'm dying to get my hands on Clockwork Princess.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm Back!

Sorry about the long dry spell of posts everyone. College turned out to be a lot more of a time suck than I expected, but my first semester is officially over and I'm at home. Hopefully this means I'll have plenty of time and inspiration so I can start blogging again. I'm going to start by resuming Week in Short posts starting next week. For now, I'll probably continue posting three times a week and if I have enough inspiration I'll try to up it back to five times.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I'll see you on Monday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

College Tip: Be Early, It's Okay

In college it's perfectly okay to be a nerd. In high school it was an art form to be able to show up exactly before the bell rang for class to start. If you were there even a few minutes early, you could be teased for "being a nerd."

In college (at least mine), everyone is at class early. It's not uncommon for people to be sitting outside of a classroom as early as twenty minutes before the class even starts. My sociology class does this every time because we like to sit around and talk before class starts.

I highly recommend showing up early for class the first week, at least. It only takes me five minutes to walk from the dorms to the academic halls, but for the first week I left the dorms a half hour early to go to class just because I was terrified of getting lost and being late to class.

If you have the opportunity to explore the academic halls prior to classes starting, take it and find all your classes ahead of time. Don't be afraid to try alternate routes to class once you have the layouts of the buildings hammered out or to ask for directions if you need them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNo Tip: Write When You Can

As a college student participating in NaNoWriMo, this tip is twice as important for me. You'd be surprised where you can pound out a couple hundreds words.

I write...
- To give myself a break between study sessions
- At meals if I'm eating alone
- While I'm waiting for class to start
- During class (highly not recommended)
- During commercial breaks for my favorite shows
- When my homework is done in the evenings
- During the weekends

Take a look at your day and if there is any time when you have a few extra minutes in writing-distance to a laptop or notebook, take that as an opportunity to write a bit. All those little bits and pieces will add up quickly and soon you'll be well on your way to 50,000 words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

RTW -- Writing Coaches

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you?

NaNoWriMo is in full-swing and, for the first time ever, I am participating along with some real life friends. I love college! What I really need is a writing coach that will make sure that I keep up with things besides writing. Like, you know, homework. If I have everything else done, then I'll have more time and freedom for writing. I also need a writing coach that I can bounce ideas of off when I get stuck and one that won't let me quit because I can't figure out where to go next.

I'm a very encouraging writing coach. I'll be cheering all my friends this year on to that 50,000 word goal while making sure that they don't fall behind on their homework.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Has Begun!

It's that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month has started and all over the world people are racing towards the 50,000-word goal.

I won in 2009 and completely failed at even trying last year so this year I'm back and going for it once again. NaNo is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet other novelists. If you don't know what it's about, I suggest checking out the NaNo website and considering joining in.

I have a feeling this month is going to be the ultimate lesson in time management for me. I haven't been able to sit down and write since I got to college so this could be very interesting. I'm about twelve hours in and already considering changing my idea because the one I have just isn't working out at the moment.

Are you participating in NaNo? How is it going so far?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RTW -- Best Book in October

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What was the best book you read in October?
My pick for this month is a classic, Forever by Judy Blume. Though I strongly wish that I'd read this in high school, this was my first time reading it. This is a great book and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially teenagers. If you're like me and you haven't read this book yet, you definitely should.

Monday, October 24, 2011

College Adventures: Dancing in the Rain

As some of you know, I am now a college student. Last night, a lot of the people in my hall went to a bonfire. And it rained. And when they got back, they were soaked so they decided to go dance in the rain.

I had spent the night in my dorm doing homework listening to them. So they came inside and said, "You should come dance in the rain with us."

And I said, "Okay."

There were six or seven of us (all girls) running around in the dark and the cold and the rain jumping in puddles and splashing each other and standing in the waterfalls of rain that are pouring off the roof.

And then we found a particularly large puddle and one of my housemates decided to lay down in it. So she did. And then we turned it into a house initiation where we all had to lay down in it. It was cold. And wet. But so much fun.

There was one guy that saw us and walked by and said, "You girls are all crazy" (we're an all-girl house). We kept trying to convince random people to come jump in the puddles with us but none of them would do it. When we were done, we tramped into the building, up the elevator, and stood in the hall until our RA came out and took a picture of us all standing there soaking wet.

Some days you just have to dance in the rain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RTW: My Writing Journey

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
Happy 100th RTW, YA Highway!

This Week's Topic:
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic jams and detours? Where are you going next?

My writing journey so far is the typical meandering road littered with unfinished manuscripts, forgotten ideas, and trunked novels. My most recent projects are currently on hold while I try to figure out how to revise them. I've had some great ideas recently on how to proceed, but college has kind of put everything on hold. I can't wait to start work on CT.

I'm hoping for inspiration for a new work in progress soon. I've had a couple of new ideas recently but nothing that's grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the computer. It's just hard for me to think of something that doesn't take place at college.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shadow Kiss Review

Shadow Kiss
by Richelle Mead
Is Rose's fate to kill the person she loves most? It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason's death, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can't concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret .... She's in love with Dimitri. And this time, it's way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever...

I'm not quite sure what I think about this book. The action is great and the romance is smoking, but just so much happens. This is both my favorite and least favorite book of the series. On one hand, the ending is probably the most powerful so far. On the other, I can't believe what happened to Dimitri.

I love the advancement of Dimitri and Rose's relationship. The fight scene and the cabin scene are two of my favorite romance scenes of all time. Especially the latter. I just can't believe that Dimitri is a Strigoi and Rose just left to go after him. I felt like my heart got ripped out.

Overall: 8.5/10. I loved it, but I'm not sure if I'm going to move on with the series too soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pick Two...the Art of College Life

The first time I saw the picture of the "college triangle" (Pick two: Schoolwork, Social life, and Sleep), I laughed. I would find some way to fit in everything. How hard could it be?

I've been at college for a month and I'm not laughing anymore.

When I was in high school, I didn't have to study at all before tests until I started taking AP classes. I spent eight hours a day in school, went home, and sat on the computer until bed (usually about midnight or two on the weekends). "Sleeping in" meant nine, maybe ten if I had a particularly late night. Homework took a few hours at most. I was only involved in one club and I didn't really go out much.

Take the complete opposite of that and you have my college life. I go to class a few hours a day, but study for so much more. I'm rarely on the computer for something unrelated to class. Progress is going to bed before midnight instead of two in the morning. If allowed, I will easily sleep in until almost noon. I'm involved in house and hall government, and two clubs on top of that. Plus I'm always doing things with my friends, especially on the weekends.

College is the ultimate teacher in time management. Sometimes you will have to decide between hanging out with friends and studying for an exam the next day. You'll have to learn how much you can handle. There will be times when sleep is more important than homework. You will have to figure out how much studying is required for each class and when you can get away with taking a night off.

Add a relationship, writing time, pleasure reading, or hobbies to that list and you have even more of a balancing act. I've been averaging about one book every two or three weeks and I consider that very good. I told myself back home that I was going to take riding lessons at least once a month while I was up here...and so far I haven't even had time to look into the riding stable that I plan to go to.

The best advice I can give is just learn to prioritize. It might take a few weeks for you to get everything straight. You will have to make sacrifices. For me, I have to sacrifice sleep, writing time, and reading for fun. When I do have time for those things, it makes it that much more precious.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Frostbite Review

Frostbite
by Richelle Mead
Second book in the Vampire Academy series
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians—including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.
But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…
I didn't think it was possible for me to love the Vampire Academy series any more than I already did, but Frostbite proved me wrong. When I finished it, I was about ready to run to the nearest bookstore for Shadow Kiss if I had to (I've since bought and started reading it). The characters were all just as great as ever and I adored the voice once again.

I enjoyed getting a closer look at Rose's relationship with her mother. Rose has always talked about how she feels about her mother, but this was our first chance to see it first-hand.

I also loved the development of Rose and Dimitri's relationship. I can't believe how long it took for Rose to realize that there was something more than friendship between Dimitri and Tasha. I'm a very firm Dimitri/Rose shipper (probably more invested in their relationship than I should be) but I wouldn't have minded seeing Dimitri and Tasha together for a little while.

Before Mason died, I kind of wished it was easier for me to ship Rose/Mason but they lacked the passion that Rose and Dimitri have. I absolutely loved the scene where Rose and Dimitri kiss. I might have screamed out loud. Also the roof scene where Rose tells Dimitri that she just wants him to be happy. SO CUTE. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried over Mason's death. I still haven't come to terms with it.

I liked the additions of Tasha and Adrian. Tasha's speech was so amazing. I loved it when she set the guy's sweater on fire. I'm not really sure what I think about Adrian. On one hand, he's a jerk but on the other, I'm intrigued by the fact that he's another spirit user. I just can't believe it took Rose so long to figure it out.

Overall: 9.5/10 Great second installment to the series and I can't wait to continue!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RTW -- Best Book in September

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in September?

Unfortunately college didn't leave much time for reading for fun in the last month. However, I did manage to fit a couple books in.

I'm very late to the Anna and the French Kiss party, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. St. Clair is a great love interest and the romantic tension is crackling throughout the entire book. After all the wonderful things I heard about this book, it kind of let me down but I think I'll enjoy it much more when I read it again. I can't wait for Lola and the Boy Next Door!

Full review here

Friday, September 16, 2011

Disadvantages of E-Textbooks

Before I begin, I should mention that I don't have any e-textbooks. All of these points are inspired by a friend of mine that bought all of the textbooks she could on her Kindle.

1. No resale
This is the main disadvantage that I didn't even think about until she mentioned it. If you buy hard copies of your textbooks, you can sell them somewhere and get some or most of that money back. But if you buy the e-book versions, you can't sell that anywhere.

2. No highlighting
I'm not positive but I think there are some e-readers that have highlight capabilities. But if you don't own one of those, then you lose the ability to highlight and make notes as you read the chapters in your hard copy textbook. I highlight a lot when I'm reading because I find it helps me focus rather than constantly zoning out.

3. Pages can be messed up
One of my friends with e-textbooks found out that, for one of her books, if she needs to get to another page she has to flip through the section titles rather than just finding the right page number. Also, if you need a certain page and you're not sure what the number (or section title) is, you can't just flip through them real quick looking for it like you can with a hard copy.

What do you think? Would you buy hard copy or e-textbooks? If you've bought e-textbooks, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RTW: Recurring Elements

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

I made a list of things that I realized were recurring in my works, but it's quite old. My recent works have been so different in nature that I'm having trouble thinking of something for this post.

A few things that are on the old list are business owner parents, white rooms, and characters that can't pick out clothes on their own (I've had two main characters whose best friends helped them pick out outfits at least once over the course of the story). I think the majority of my early main characters also had brown hair and brown eyes. I was an unimaginative person when it comes to character appearances.

Most of my books have some sort of "coming of age" or "finding yourself" theme most likely because that is the stage of life that I am currently in. I also think it's a fascinating and turbulent time that all teenagers go through at some point and I enjoy writing about different characters' journeys through it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

I did just read this book now after hearing people rave about it so long. I kind of wish I'd read it months ago. Don't get me wrong, I loved this book. But after hearing people talk about how it was such an awesome book, my expectations got too high and I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. Though I did want to read it again immediately after finishing it so that's a good sign.

It started a little slow for me. I started and stopped reading quite a lot through the first third. Then I was using it as a reward for doing homework and I ended up doing more reading than homework because I couldn't force myself to stop. I also felt like the ending was a little rushed.

The romantic tension was definitely hot. I spent about half the book screaming "WILL YOU TWO JUST KISS ALREADY." I want to read this book a second time to just to focus on that.

Overall: 10/10. Fantastic book regardless of my impossibly high expectations.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday...Wait, What?

So...I blame Labor Day for my completely lack of ability to remember what day it is. I told myself I was going to do RTW and then I forgot it was Wednesday (I also had classes from one until seven in the afternoon so that didn't help). But because this week's topic was so AWESOME, I decided to do it two days late.

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.


This Week's Topic:
What non-YA character would you love to see star in a YA book as themselves?

I'm going to cheat and do a couple because I'll be sitting here all night if I try to pick just one.

Numair Salmalin
If you don't know who this is, you need to go read Tamora Pierce's Immortals series right away. Meaning NOW. I think he was my first fictional love way back in middle school when I first read these books and he's still one of my favorite male characters. I'm not even entirely sure if I should include him on this list because according to Tamora Pierce's website, my dream is becoming a reality.
2013 TBD: NUMAIR: THE EARLY YEARS 1 (very tentative title), in which we learn of Numair's last years at the university of Carthak, the beginning of his conflict with the newly-made Emperor Ozorne (Numair's best friend), his quick departure from Carthak, and how he survives afterward, in Random House hardcover in the U.S. and Canada
I am so excited! I haven't been this excited for a book since Harry Potter. Is it 2013 yet?

Severus Snape
It would make my year if Rowling wrote a book (or a few) from Snape's point of view. I think that would be so incredible just to see everything that he went through and everything that went on that isn't shown. His memories are some of my favorite scenes in the books. I just love his character and I think it would be incredible to see things from behind his eyes and explore him in more depth.

Friday, September 2, 2011

College-Age Main Characters

Sorry about my complete lack of blogging on Monday and Wednesday. College has me a whole lot busier than I expected.

I have now been at college for over a week and it's giving me a whole new perspective on the debate about college-age main characters. I feel kind of lonely knowing that there aren't many main characters out there that are my age. I didn't enjoy the adult books I've read enough to want to read more, but I feel kind of out of place reading YA (not that I intend to stop any time soon).

Why do you think there aren't many college-age MCs? Is it because we're kept so busy that there isn't enough time for interesting things to happen (not true)? Is it because the differences between college campuses (in contrast to the fact that most high schools are relatively the same) make it a difficult task? Is it because there's a stigma attached to college kids that says we don't read (which my hall has repeatedly disproved)?

Does anyone have any recommendations of books with college-age main characters?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Change is Coming...

I watched Soul Surfer yesterday. It's now one of my favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, I would definitely rent it when you can. It's an amazing story.

Now...

On Wednesday, I'm officially leaving for college. Because this is my freshman year, I'm not sure how things are really going to work. Instead of stopping blogging completely, I'm going to cut back.

I'll be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Because of their time consuming nature (and the fact that, unlike normal posts, I can't just schedule them when I have an idea for a post), I'm discontinuing Week in Shorts, at least until I get an idea of my workload. Querytracker and YA Highway both do a fantastic job of weekly link round-ups.

I will, however, attempt to continue participating in Road Trip Wednesday. Except for this Wednesday because I will literally be on the road and without computer access all day.

Once I have an idea of my workload, I may up my posting or bring back Week in Shorts depending on how things go.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Somewhere Only We Know by the Glee cast (Warblers). I'm going through a Glee phase today. I can't seem to listen to anything else.

Must Read:

Too many agents, not enough gin: the truth about multiple offer situations
First draft syndrome symptoms
Link
News:
The Republic School District (which you may remember as the same school district that challenged Speak, Twenty Boy Summer, and Slaughterhouse-Five and banned the latter two) has now had a lawsuit filed against them after failing to protect a middle school girl after she was raped. Laurie Halse Anderson talks about it and provides several awesome links to coverage.

In an apparently long-line of offers to take books to famous names, PA set up a promotion where people could pay for them to show their books to J.K. Rowling and she knows. Here is PA's full response. Talk of the events ranges from Twitter, Galleycat, The Associated Press, and Publishers Weekly.

WriteOnCon:
LinkHere are some of the highlights from WOC. If you missed it, check it out! The blog posts and vlogs are still available and there are transcripts of all of the live chats.
Here are recaps of day 1, day 2, and day 3

Janice Hardy:
Describing your first-person narrator

Pimp My Novel:
Keeping your butt in chair

Querytracker:
Don't sweat the small stuff
War of the genres

Rachelle Gardner:
Poor sales can affect your future

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson Review

I was glancing through my post drafts and I realized that I never posted my review of this amazing book.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

I adore this book. It's been several months since I've read and I'm still raving about it. I devoured it in twenty-four hours. It wouldn't have taken that long but I needed sleep and then I had to go to school. I wanted to read it again within a few hours of finishing and I'm dying to buy it so I can. Especially because there were a few lines that were so profoundly made of awesome that I want to write them down on my "favorite quotes" sheet.

The voice of both Wills was amazing. I think David's will was my favorite, but it was a very, very close vote. I loved them both so much. In addition, no one knows how to make completely and totally awesome and original side characters like these two. When I first saw that will grayson's sections are entirely lower case, I thought it would bother me. But it worked so well that I wasn't bothered at all.

Overall: 10/10 I can't recommend this book enough

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RTW: Inspirational Places

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What is the most inspiring setting you've ever visited in real life?

Most of my books take place in imagined towns or even countries. However, I recently went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (which we call "the U.P.") and I'm dying to write a story set there. I'm a little biased, but I think it's the most gorgeous place in the world. There's nothing quite like standing on the rocks overlooking Lake Superior and watching the sun go down.

I tried to download pictures from my phone, but my phone apparently doesn't like this laptop. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gemma Doyle Trilogy Review

***WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***

After reading the entire trilogy I decided instead of reviewing each book individually like I normally do, I'd just review them all together.

A Great and Terrible Beauty
This was my first Libba Bray book ever and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. This was also my favorite book in the series, which I don't think I can say about any other first book. I did feel like the characters were a little flat. They all had their set personalities and they never really did anything outside of them.

I hated that Gemma thought she could touch the crystals despite her mom's warnings and everything would be fine and dandy. I loved the twist ending that I didn't see coming.

Overall: 10/10 Good book with a great premise and voice

Rebel Angels
This is the book where the characters really started to drive me insane. I hated that Felicity always wanted to go into the realms and have fun without a care to what would happen if something went wrong. I also knew right away Pippa had been corrupted so it drove me insane that it took them all of this book and most of the third to finally get it through their heads.

I love the introduction of the anagrams. Very clever.

I loved the twist that Miss Moore is Circe. I always felt like there was something strange about her, but I couldn't figure out what it was. The only thing about the ending that bothered me was Gemma worrying about having Nell's blood on her hands. Nell told her to "save an arrow for me." She knew it would end like this. Gemma's about as guilty for killing Nell as Snape is guilty of killing Dumbledore. Gemma's guilt made sense, but I would have liked it if she'd just once thought back to Nell's words.

Overall: 9/10

The Sweet Far Thing
This book took me two weeks to read, probably because of the large amount of time I spent yelling at it. If it wasn't a library book, I would have thrown it against the wall at least three times. I kept waiting for the main characters to evolve, but they didn't until the very end. For example, it bothered me when the river boy says "She's no beauty" in reference to Gemma and it bothers her while she's disguised as a boy. If she's supposed to look like a boy, of course she's not going to be a beauty. Despite her annoying qualities, Gemma does have her awesome moments of cleverness. I love when she punches out Tom.

There were only two reasons I made it to the end of this book: 1) I had to know how it ended, and 2) Kartik. I love Kartik. The scene in the Caves of Sighs somehow made the entire book worth reading. I still can't believe the only character I loved becomes the Tree of All Souls. I started sobbing when Gemma goes to visit the tree and she hears her name in the breeze blowing through the leaves.

Overall: 7.5 I honestly don't know what I think about the conclusion.

Series Overall
I enjoyed it and I'm glad that I read it. I'll be looking for more of Libba Bray's work soon. I just wish that her characters hadn't gotten on my nerves this much.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Following Agents on Twitter

In the age of social networking, agents are now more accessible to aspiring writers than ever. A lot of them have Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or other ways of social networking. General advice tells you to get to know the agents you want to query. Personalize your queries to them and target your agent hunt for agents that you think that your book suits the best.

But is it a good idea to follow an agent beyond the typical information search? I don't mean stalking them to their house. I mean, for example, following them on Twitter. Oftentimes writers who follow the agents they're querying find themselves analyzing every harmless tweet the agent makes. An agent mentions an amazing partial that they're reading and you immediately begin to panic, wondering if it's yours and worrying that if it isn't, yours will pale in comparison.

On the other hand, some agents tweet when they've caught up with queries. This is great with both non-responders and responders. With a non-responder, the writer knows that they can cross the agent off their list if they didn't receive a response. On the other side, with a responder the writer knows that their query may have been lost in the interwebs if they didn't receive a response.

What do you guys think? Should querying writers follow agents? Or should they only follow the agents that they don't have a submission out with?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Searching for a Heart by Luke Olson (this isn't a well-known song, but I heard it on Pandora and immediately fell in love with it. Must. Have. Album.)

Must Read:

The power to choose

News:
Prayers to everyone in London and everywhere else affected by the riots. Stay safe. I hope you're all okay. I'm thinking of you all.

WriteOnCon:
Just a few more days!

Mary Sues:
There's been a lot of discussion about Mary Sues on the blogosphere lately. Zoe Marriot began with her post on what a Mary Sue truly is. Sarah Rees Brennan talked about insecurity in fiction and real life. Holly Black makes the great point that female characters are at the center of the story because they are the protagonist and suggests that the intentions of the writer should be left out. Cora Buhlert discusses Mary Sues in-depth and suggests that it's normal for beginning writers.

BookEnds:
Workshop Wednesday

ktLiterary:
What not to tell an agent in a query

Literary Rambles:
Paint chip storytelling

Querytracker:
Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses

Rachelle Gardner:
What to bring to a conference
Questionable practices by literary agents

YAHighway:
5 tips on writing outside your gender

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RTW: Tick Tock Time to Write

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What time do you prefer to do your writing?

I write anytime inspiration strikes and I have time and access to a computer. I've never really had a set writing schedule. However, I am typically a night owl. I've been known to not write a single word all day and then stay up until three in the morning because inspiration struck and I couldn't stop writing.

Psychologically, night has always kind of been my "play" time and day has always been my "work" time. Because of that, I write more during the night and revise more during the day. I have a lot of work that needs to get done during the day so when night hits, my brain knows it's time to settle in and have some free time.

I've tried to set aside a specific time for writing, but it hasn't really worked out. I'm probably going to try again once I'm at college because I don't know how easy it'll be to find time to write when there's so much else to do.

My absolute favorite time to write is oddly specific: after dinner during a thunderstorm. I'm not sure what I find so inspirational about thunderstorms but I hate watching the truly fantastic ones we've had the past few weeks go by knowing I can't write.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Buying Tally Analysis: 2011

Yesterday I posted a list of the books I've bought or borrowed from the library recently and why I picked those books. Today I wanted to talk about the results. I also wanted to compare this year's results from last year's.

2010 tally results

My results from August 2, 2010:
23% Word of mouth
15% Liked author
15% Book in a series
15% Cover/book trailer
8% Similar to another author
8% Referenced elsewhere
8% Similar to a WiP
8% Back summary only

My results from this year:
35% Book in a series
20% Liked author (10% read author before, 5% heard good things about author, 5% author's internet presence)
20% Word of mouth
10% Already read and wanted to own
5% Being made into movie
5% Summary

I'm not surprised that my purchase of books in a series went up 20%. A lot of the books from series I'm reading came out in the last couple months. There are also more series on the market and more that I'm reading.

Liking the author and word of mouth both increased from last year. I'm not really surprised by either of the increases. The more books I read, the more authors I find that I enjoy reading and I want to find more of their work. Also, as I become more active in social networking and become friends with more and more writers/readers, I'm getting more recommendations. It can be hard to keep up at times.

I'm surprised that summary went down three percent. A few years ago, these stats would look very different. Summary probably would've been closer to seventy-five percent with maybe five going to word of mouth and the last twenty going to books in series. This is probably related to the fact that most of my new release posts are coming from my Goodreads instead of my typical searches of Amazon's and Borders' new release lists.

I predict that if I do this next year, books in a series will go down (I'm avoiding series as much as possible for the exact reason that I don't want to have to constantly be buying the next book) and liking the author will increase.

What do you think? Is there anything that surprises you about your recent buying habits? What's your biggest factor when choosing a book?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Buying Tally Results: 2011

About a year ago, I decided to do a little experiment to see why I buy the books that I do. Over the course of a few trips to the bookstore, I came home and wrote down the reasons why I bought those particular books over all the others. I thought it would be fun to do this again, to see if my habits have changed.

2010 tally results

Note: This also includes books I checked out of the library.

Already Read, Wanted to Own
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Bought because it was the only book in the series that I still didn't own.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- I actually read this some time ago, but I bought it recently because I loved it so much.

Book in Series

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. Bought because it's the last book in the series and I have to know how everything ends now.

Demon's Covenant
by Sarah Rees Brennan. Bought because it's the second book in the series and the first one was amazing.

Rebel Angels
by Libba Bray. From library because it's the second book in a trilogy.

The Sweet, Far Thing
by Libba Bray. From library because it's the third book in a trilogy.

Forever by Maggie Steifvater -- Final book in the series. As scared as I am to read it, I couldn't not buy it.

Original Sin
by Lisa Desrochers -- Second book in the series and I needed it ASAP. Not to mention that awesome cover.

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund -- Second book in the series. I couldn't wait any longer.

Author
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. From library because it was the only Levithan book they had and I wanted to read something by him because of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

White Cat by Holly Black -- I'm not actually sure how I heard about this book first. It was either author or summary that caught my eye. I've never read anything about Holly Black, but I've heard great things about her.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz -- I love Hannah, I love Break, the summary sounded good.

Wildfire
by Karsten Knight -- I found out about this book through the YARebels of which Karsten is a part of. The summary sounded awesome so I had to buy it.

Word of Mouth
The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. From library because I heard amazing things about it from a fellow writer.

Eighth Grade Bites
by Heather Brewer. From library because I've heard good things about the series and it looked like a short, fun read.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I haven't heard one bad thing about this book and the summary sounds great.

Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins -- I've been wanting to read this for so long because of all the wonderful things I've heard about it.

Being Made Into Movie
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. From library because I heard about the movie and I have a habit of reading the book before seeing the movie.

Summary
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler -- I originally found this book soon after it's release while looking for books to feature on a new release post. Recently, I was reminded of it through great things readers were saying and also because it's being banned from a school library. That tipped the scales for me.

Tomorrow I'm going to analyze my results.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Bad Day by Daniel Powter

College is three weeks away and I'm overwhelmed with how much stuff I have to get done before I go. I NEED MORE HOURS IN THE DAY. The bright spot of my week: I got into Pottermore! After three days of sleeping through the clues and the alarm that was supposed to wake me up for them, I finally managed to catch one.

I also spent an extraordinarily large amount of time watching vlogbrothers videos starting with the very first Brotherhood 2.0 ones back in 2007.
It's like traveling back in time.

Must Read:

Zoe provides a new perspective on the term "Mary-Sue"
Kody's post on sexual politics, women's rights, and becoming an adult
Rejection insights -- Tweets by Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, covering snippets from a rejection report she was working on collected by Juliana Haygert

News:
The YARebels are auditioning vloggers

WriteOnCon:
Live forum events and how they work
Ninja agents!
More faculty announcements

BookEnds:
Perception vs reality
Workshop Wednesday -- cozy query

Janet Reid:
Imitation is the highest form of flattery?

Janice Hardy:
Staying organized during revisions

Mandy Hubbard:
"Message boards are not your living room" -- the dangers of venting online

Rachelle Gardner:
Explains high-concept

Queryshark:
#207

Querytracker:
Pre-revision: before you break out the red pen

Veronica Roth:
Book to movie process + ComicCon

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Balancing Act of Life: 7 Time Management Tips

Two things have happened in the last couple weeks: I turned eighteen and my mom started working second shift. In less than a week, I went from being a teenager to an adult and I've learned a few things about time management.

1. Switch when something's not working.
If you're stuck on a scene or a revision point, do a load of dishes, take the dog for a walk, or do some cleaning. I find this helps to loosen up my mind and help me get past blocks.

2. Allocate time to certain tasks.
For example, during the day is my "work" time. This is the time I use to do stuff around the house, work on revisions, beta-read, and do other things on my to-do list. Night is my relax time. This is the time I just hang out, watch Netflix, read for pleasure, write, and sometimes do things that I didn't finish during the day.

3. Use rewards
Give yourself a reward for each task you complete. This can be a TV show you have recorded, a movie that you want to watch, or some time to relax. My reward at the moment is for every task on my to-do list I complete or every five pages I edit, I can watch one vlogbrothers video.

4. Prioritize
There will be days when you can't get everything done. There will be days when something comes up and you won't be able to do everything you thought. This where prioritizing comes in. You have to be able to decide what has to be done and what can be put off for another day.

5. Learn to multi-task.
Yesterday I watched episodes of Star Trek while I did the dishes. If you like audiobooks, you can listen to them while you do housework or take the dog for a walk. Read while you're waiting at the doctor's office.

6. Make unpleasant tasks more enjoyable.
Watching Star Trek while I did the dishes made it more fun. Play music and dance around the house while you do housework.

7. Keep a to do list and stick to it.
I have two of them. One has the list of things that I must do today and the other one has things that I need to do, but can be put off for another day. If there's something you're really looking forward to such as an episode of your favorite show on DVR or that great new movie that just arrived from Netflix, don't let yourself have it until everything on your list is done. (I've been withholding the season finale of Covert Affairs since Tuesday).

New Releases -- The Near Witch; Epic Fail; Chain Reaction

The Near Witch
by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Epic Fail
by Claire LaZebnik

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.
When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.
Chain Reaction
by Simone Elkeles
Luis Fuentes is a good boy who doesn't live with the angst that his big brothers, Alex and Carlos, have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. But when he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he's never known, and just when he thinks he's got life all figured out, learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?[After reading Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction I am so excited for this one!]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RTW: The Five Senses

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.

This is a really hard topic for me because description is definitely my writing weakness. I've been actively concentrating on making sure I get the right amount of description and it uses all of the five senses.

I think the most commonly used senses are sight, sound, and smell. Sight is definitely the most common because it's the easiest to use in description. The two most under-used are taste and touch. Those last two are definitely the ones missing the most from my work.

In Where There's Smoke, I tend to lean more towards the smell side of the five senses because the story takes place on a ranch. And the first thing I think of when I think "horse barn" are the mixture of scents of horses, hay, and leather. Here are some examples of the five senses appearing in my story:

Sight of the dirt road leading from the ranch into town

Sounds of trees rustling and crickets chirping in the dark

Smell of smoke

Taste of a kiss

The feel of a horse's coat

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sisterhood Everlasting Review

Sisterhood Everlasting
by Ann Brashares
Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn't take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can't seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever -- but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

***WARNING: There will be spoilers throughout the review***

When I found out that Ann Brashares was returning to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in an installment taking place ten years after the last one, I was ecstatic. I've always wondered what happened between Lena and Kostos after the final book and I finally got my answer.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the book as a whole. I was both disappointed, satisfied, and torn to pieces. I probably spent about eighty percent of this book in tears. It took me about ten minutes after turning the final page to stop crying. And those weren't tears of joy. I described the feeling as "like my heart's been ripped out. Stomped on. And then run over by a truck."

I had a lot of trouble getting into this installment and I didn't enjoy the characters as much as I used to. Bridget and Carmen stood on my nerves a lot. I still can't believe what Bridget did to Eric running away like that. I'm glad Carmen broke off her engagement with Jones. I don't know if I would have been able to stand it if they got married.

Lena was my favorite character. She's always been the one that I've been able to relate to the most and I've always rooted for her and Kostos. While I'm not sure how I feel about Kostos having other girlfriends when he promised her "Someday," I'm glad they got together in the end.

As for Tibby...Oh, God. Tibby. She drowns in the Caldera before the other three arrive in Greece. At first it's believed to be an accident, then a suicide, and then it's revealed that she had Huntington's disease and it had taken her sooner than she'd thought. Her death destroyed me. I kept hoping and praying that the girl who drowned would turn out to be someone, anyone, else. It was quite awhile before I finally accepted that Tibby was gone. My heart ached for Brian. I started crying again when Bridget meets Tibby's daughter, Bailey. I loved Bailey.

Overall: 8.5 It was a good book and I'm glad I read it, but...I don't know. I don't feel like I've had total closure yet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why I Love Real Bookstores

I said goodbye to my Borders this weekend. I'll admit I almost cried when I got home. I've shopped at Borders for as long as I can remember. I just can't believe this was the last time I'll walk through those doors. We had to wait awhile for our ride to come back from CVS where he'd gone while we were shopping so while my mom waited for him outside I actually went back in the store and just walked around the YA section for awhile.

Goodbye, Borders.

Today, I want to talk about why I love brick and mortar bookstores so much.

First of all, there's the smell. That beautiful, crisp smell of books. If they could bottle that smell, I would spray it around my room like crazy. I love to just walk into a bookstore and take a deep breath.

(Stop looking at me like I'm crazy.)

Another thing I love to do in bookstores is walk around the shelves and run my fingers along the spines. I love the feeling of the smooth book spines under my fingers as I take in the different titles.

There are actual people there who are willing to help you find a book and would be glad to give recommendations, if you need them. I also love watching the people buying books and looking to see what they have.

The immediate gratitude. If I buy a book in a real bookstore, I don't have to wait several days/weeks for it to arrive. It's there in my hands right away. I can go straight home and open it up right away if I want to. I don't even have to wait that long if I don't want to.

And finally, that feeling of finding a book that wasn't on your list but you just had to have it. That happens to me a lot. Oftentimes I go into a bookstore with a complete list of books to look for in my phone and when I walk out, half the books in my arms aren't on that list.

What do you love about real (brick and mortar) bookstores?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri. I can't stop listening to this song.

Must Read:
Still your itchy trigger finger -- Why you should wait before hitting send

News:
Borders has officially gone under and is selling all of its stores. I feel like I just lost my home.

Janet Reid is taking a break from queries

Peeta and Gale from Hunger Games are on the cover of Entertainment Weekly What do you think? I'm hoping Gale and Peeta's looks are different in the movie than the are on the cover. IMO both of them look too old and I've always imagined Peeta as looking younger and softer than that. Katniss looks okay.

The publication date for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has been moved up from to January 10th from May. My first thought: IS IT JANUARY 10TH YET?

Omnivore Books live-tweeted in-store surprise marriage proposal

WriteOnCon:
It's almost time for WriteOnCon 2011!
How the live events work
Faculty announcements

BookEnds:
Workshop Wednesday -- YA query

Caroline in Space:
Editorial rejections: To read or not to read?

Rachelle Gardner:
Elevator pitch critiques

Writer Beware:
Offer of representation and book deal hoax

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RTW: Best Book of July

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in July?

The best reread was, of course...
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
I spent a large portion of July rereading this book in preparation for the movie. This was the third time I've read it, the first time I've read it since I started writing seriously, and I'm happy to say that it has not lost it's magic. This book is still one of my favorites of all time.

And yes, I cried.

The best book I read for the first time was...
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
I love this book with a passion. It's actually overdue at the library by about a week and I don't want to take it back. You can read my full review of it here.

What was the best book you read this month? Have you ever loved a book so much you didn't want to take it back to the library?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Legacy Review

Legacy
by Cayla Kluver

#1 in Legacy trilogy
In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.

When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.

In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.

I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. I wanted so badly to love it, but I couldn't. Through the first half of the book I was constantly waiting for the "real" action to start. When it did, I got caught up in the story a little bit more but by the time I got to the end, I felt like I had just read an entire novel of backstory.

London and Narian were the best characters, though I'm still confused as to what both really want. I wasn't surprised when Alera asked London to marry her. I was more shocked that she didn't consider that sooner. I can't believe Narian fled to the mountains, though. He doesn't seem the fleeing kind.

Temerson was also an excellent character and I hope we see more of him. Steldor is the stereotypical arrogant son of a very powerful man who has it all (except the wife) and insists on charming everyone around him. The King is flat and I'm having trouble believing that he would be so adamant about someone with as quick a temper as Steldor being King.

I love the self-defense scenes, the bedroom scene, and the sneaking out scene. Though I'm a little confused as to why Narian would teach Alera how to handle a sword when he's supposed to be teaching her self-defense. In the event where she needed self-defense, the odds of her getting her hands on a sword in time to defend herself are long.

The Cokyrian weaponry was genius. I particularly loved the poison darts hidden in the threads of his clothes. I was a little confused, though, that Narian doesn't show proficiency at hand-to-hand combat. I figured when he said that no Cokyrian is ever without a weapon, he meant his body was a weapon. And yet it seemed like he meant the daggers hidden in his boots and the poison darts in his clothes.

Overall: 5/10. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. If I spotted the next book in the library, I might pick it up, but I'm not in any hurry to get my hands on it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mom, Where Do Ideas Come From?

It's probably the most common question any writer gets asked after "Are you published?"

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Like a writer is suddenly going to answer with the location of an Idea Store where beautiful ideas line the shelves and we can just walk in and pick up a likely looking one. The real answer tends to be a lot more complicated. My answer is always the same:

Everywhere.

It's the best answer I can give and it's 100% true. I've had ideas hit me while I was sitting in a car driving down the road. I've had ideas hit me at track meets. I've had ideas hit me while I'm sleeping. Here are the stories behind some of my novels.

DestinyThe original story (called Andra) came from a dream I had. I know there was more to it, but the only part that I can remember with full-clarity now is an actual scene in the book. My dream self woke up on a stretch of grass and looked up to see a barbed wire fence surrounding her. She screamed and ran at the fence and clutched at it like she was going to rip it apart to escape. Men in black robes came up behind her and dragged her away into a building. When I woke up, the full story bloomed inside my head. I let it simmer for a year or two before I finally set down and wrote it out.

Black Diamond
Inspired by Parker in Joanna Campbell's Thoroughbreds series, I wanted to write a series of books about a girl and her eventing horse.

Jump
I was sitting at a track meet and looking up at the top of the bleachers when I started to wonder what would happen if someone jumped off there and ended up in a coma. Then I started to wonder why a girl would want to do that. And Hannah was born. I held the idea in my head for an hour until I was able to get to the car and write it down.
Aliens Ruined My LifeThis one was inspired by my constant thoughts about what it would be like after someone "normal" saved the world. In my mind there were so many stories about someone normal getting special powers and then saving the world from certain destruction, but very little about what happened after the world was saved. And so the story of Kate, a girl that saved the world from aliens, was born.

Where There's Smoke
The idea that kicked off WTS only vaguely resembles the draft that is here today. It was born when I was sitting in a car contemplating ranches for troubled teens and got the itch to write a love story with this setting. WTS is no longer set on a ranch for troubled teens, but the premise is the same.

Cardinal ThreeThis one was born from a news article about how scientists believed they had discovered the gene that causes people to cheat on their significant others. I went off on a tangent over this and CT was born.

Where do your ideas come from? Have you ever written a story from a dream? What's your usual answer to the infamous question?