Friday, June 29, 2012

Week in Short

It's Friday! I hope everyone's staying cool and safe in this ridiculous heat. It hit 100 here yesterday. I can't even remember the last time that happened. The season finale of Legend of Korra was on Saturday, but I didn't get to watch it until Tuesday. BEST. SEASON FINALE. EVER. Seriously.

Song of the Week: Livin La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin. I completely forgot how much I LOVE this song.

Must read:  
Pub Rants: Action vs active openings to grab attention

YAHighway: Live from ALA

Adventures in Agentland: 
Novels in Nowhere Land

Blood Red Pencil: 
Another perspective on audio books
Author visits by Skype 
DRM - Digital Rights Management 

Janice Hardy:
Kill them all: Does killing off characters make readers care less?

Eleven authors who hated the movie versions of their books

Myth & Mystery: 
Covers from around the world

Pub Rants: 
Breaking the rule: Show don't tell
Mechanics vs spark  
A quick look at tag lines 

Sell it to me! 

Rachelle Gardner:
6 factors considered when choosing a publisher

Tangled Up in Words: 
Promises made must be kept

Writer Beware: 
More money-wasting "opportunities" for writers 

Writer Unboxed:
How to tackle critique notes

The first sale: expectations vs reality 

Video of the Week: 
This week's video is a mash-up of House, Sherlock BBC, and Fortysomething set to Cat's in the Cradle. It's seriously brilliant. 

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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Songs That Mean the World

Every once in awhile, a song comes along that impacts your life. A song that takes you back to another time and place. A song that makes you shiver or gives you goosebumps or makes you cry.

The biggest song for me is "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. It's an old song and my mom always used to sing it to me when I was young. The older I get, the more I find it relates to my life. Looking up that song and listening to it has made me think about other songs that have impacted my life.

"Honey, I'm Home" by Shania Twain is the first song I remember being my favorite. My dad had a Shania Twain CD and I'd sing along while he'd play it. This is the only song from the CD that I can still remember. 

I remember the exact moment when I saw "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride's music video for the first time. I heard it playing on the TV and I walked out into the living room from the bedroom, sat on the couch, and watched it. I can't watch this video without crying.

"Back at One" by Brian McKnight was my first ever slow-dance. It was junior year with a boy that ran with the same circle of friends that I did. He was a real sweetheart and I had a secret crush on him for awhile after that. I found out after we graduated that he didn't think any girl would ever want to seriously date him.

"Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith was my first boyfriend and I's song. It was playing the first time we slow-danced. Every time I hear it, it brings me back to those days of my senior year.

What songs have special meanings for you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

RTW: Best Book of June

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 June? 

I read a lot of books this month, especially for me, so I'm going to cheat and do my top three. I love them all for different reasons so it's tough to decide.

The first one is Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. It was the first time I've read one of her books and I loved it. I don't know why it took me so long to start reading them. She's a fantastic writer and I adored the ending. Every time I think about it I can't help smiling.

 Second one is Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann. I had nightmares about this book and it still makes me shiver just thinking about it. It's not something that I would normally read, but I'm glad that I did. The writing is fantastic and the characters just as much so.

Finally, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which I read for the second time. I cried just as hard -- if not harder -- this time around. The writing is gorgeous and the characters all fully fleshed out. One of my favorite quotes comes from this book: "I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." If you haven't read it yet, I highly, highly recommend it. This is one of those books that I think everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Releases: Dust Girl, Between the Lines, Smart Girls Get What They Want

Dust Girl
by Sarah Zettel
The American Fairy Trilogy #1
Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west": California.

Along the way she meets Jack, a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company — there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very much aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate

 Between the Lines
by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

Delilah and Oliver work together to attempt to get Oliver out of his book, a challenging task that forces them to examine their perceptions of fate, the world, and their places in it. And as their attraction to each other grows along the way, a romance blossoms that is anything but a fairy tale.

 Smart Girls Get What They Want
by Sarah Strohmeyer
Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. They know their "real" lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents). But when an unexpected event shows them they're missing out on the full high school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge--and they will totally "rock" it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking--and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes--until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want--but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cryer's Cross Review

Cryer's Cross
by Lisa McMann
Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer's Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she's not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world's sweetest boyfriend, behind. 
But when Cryer's Cross is rocked by an unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: Help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn't get close to...the one who makes her question everything she feels for Nico. 
Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she's always loved, Kendall keeps up the search -- and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can't stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.... 
This book isn't something that I would normally read, but I absolutely adored the Wake trilogy so I figured, why not? I'm glad I did because this book is amazing. I read the first half huddled up in bed right before going to sleep. I knew it would be a mistake but I couldn't stop. I ended up having nightmares that night. I don't think I've had nightmares about any other book before. When I woke up in the morning, I huddled up under the covers and finished the rest. 

The writing was beautiful and fast-moving. It grabbed on to me and wouldn't let me go. The characters were beautifully rounded and I felt like I knew them from the start. I especially loved Jacian and his family. Also the portrayal of Kendall's OCD, her dreams of attending Julliard, and her love of soccer. It was great that the characters played sports and wanted to perform in plays without that being a main focus of the story.

Overall: 10/10 I loved every minute of it. I was pretty sure when I finished that I would never sleep again.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Week in Short

It's officially summer! I hope you're all staying cool and not melting in this heat. The finale of Legend of Korra is tomorrow. I can't believe the season is over already! It seems like just yesterday I was skipping around my room excited about the first episode...

Song of the Week: "(Kissed You) Good Night" by Gloriana [I didn't realize how much I missed them until I heard this song.]

Must read: 
Lauren DeStefano: Feeding another quarter to hype machine

A Fool's Golden Paradise: 
Slush pile: When agents stop reading

Blood-Red Pencil: 
Listen to the PDF lady: using Read Aloud function to revise
Embracing technology: Audio books

Janet Reid: 
Editing symbols

Janice Hardy: 
The Great Twitter Experiment: what does "more Tweets" really get you? 
Living in my head: Crafting natural-sounding internal thoughts

Guiding the reader emotionally
Button on character

Mother Write:
The beta reader browse

3 myths about villains

Rachelle Gardner:
Staying steady on the publishing rollercoaster

Writer Beware:
Author Solutions introduces BookStub

Video of the Week: 
This video is adorable and -- as any cat owner will attest -- SO TRUE.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Releases: My Life Next Door, This is Not a Test, Soulbound

My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 This is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

by Heather Brewer
Legacy of Tril #1
Tril is a world where Barrons and Healers are Bound to each other: Barrons fight and Healers cure their Barrons' wounds in the ongoing war with the evil Graplar King. Seventeen-year-old Kaya was born a Healer, but she wants to fight. In Tril, and at Shadow Academy, where she is sent to learn to heal, it is against Protocol for Healers to fight. So Kaya must learn in secret. Enter two young men: One charming, rule-following Barron who becomes Bound to Kaya and whose life she must protect at all costs. And one with a mysterious past who seems bent on making Kaya's life as difficult as possible. Kaya asks both to train her, but only one will, and the consequences will change their lives forever.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

RTW -- Summer After Graduation

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: 
How did you spend the summer after graduation?

My first act after my last day of school was to break up with my boyfriend. It was the first in a very long line of changes to my life. At the time, it felt like my heart would never be the same but now I wish I'd done it sooner. 

I had a pretty boring summer after graduation. Living in the country and not having a car isn't exactly conducive to an exciting summer break. I spent most of it freaking out about college, looking up job opportunities in my future collegetown, scheming with my best friend and now-future roommate. I was both excited and terrified of the idea of leaving home for nine months and living on my own. Orientation was in May and it was incredible. I met so many amazing people and for the first time, I really felt that I could do this.

I passed the time working on a now-trunked WIP and revising Where There's Smoke. I tried to take advantage of my free time by reading as much as I could. I also spent a lot of time obsessing over Doctor Who (series six was on summer break at the time) and watching Burn Notice. At some point, I also picked up an interest in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though sadly I never made it past season two.

Going nine hours away to college also means that a lot of people want to spend time with you. I hung out with my niece more that summer than I ever did before. There was also a week-long camping trip with my youth group that involved a sudden thunderstorm on our first night, an ice-cold river, and practice throwing knives.

Looking back, it was an extremely stressful summer and I wish I'd taken more time to enjoy it now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman Review

I promised a full review of Snow White and the Huntsman last week and so here it is.

WARNING: There are spoilers beyond this point.

Okay, first of all, it was a good movie and I fully intend to own it when it comes out on DVD, but it could have been so much greater than it was.

The majority of the cast was incredible. Charlize Theron made a brilliant queen. She actually made me feel kind of sorry for the queen despite hating her so much. The part where she turns back into her human form after being a flock of crows is just beautiful. And the part where they show her as a child and how her power was tied to her beauty was a great addition.

Chris Hemsworth nailed the part of the Huntsman and he looked hot doing it. He's such a great actor, being able to play the part of the drunkard, the huntsman, and the grieving widower all in the same movie.

Sam Claflin made a flawless Prince William. His acting was amazing and the expressions on his face made me melt. I loved the scene where the queen is disguised as Prince William. His acting in that was spot-on.The scene where the queen's brother's bowman shoots an arrow at him and he grabs it out of the air and shoots that arrow and one of his own back is awesome. I could watch that one forever.

The one shortcoming in this great cast was Kristin Stewart. I can't explain how disappointed I was when I heard that she was going to be Snow White, and I'm sad to say she did not surprise me and change my mind. Even her character took a backseat to the queen, the Huntsman, and Prince William. She almost felt like a secondary character in comparison.

I really liked the addition of the queen's brother, though he was kind of creepy. I've never heard of the queen having any siblings in any of the tales so that was new.

Major thumbs-up to the special effects team on this one. They were amazing. I love the scene where they attack the dark army and every time they kill one, they shatter. The Mirror was absolutely incredible.

Now, Snow White is supposed to have, "Skin white as snow. Hair black as night. Lips red as blood." But young Snow White from the beginning has brown hair. And not even dark brown hair. And Kristin Stewart seriously needs lipstick.

The part with Prince William attacking the wagon train at the beginning has a distinctly Robin Hood feel to it. When Snow White is in the Dark Forest, the one creatures she sees bear a remarkable resemblance to dementors. And finally -- the biggest one -- when Snow White is walking through the Sanctuary and the dwarves said she was going to meet "him," my mom and I both were fully expecting Aslan to appear.

Big twist with the Huntsman's kiss breaking the curse at the end. I liked that, though I wonder if they both know that it was him that broke it. That being said, WHO WAS HER KING? They make it look like maybe she and the Huntsman are in love there at the very end. I've been thinking, though, and I don't think the Huntsman would be very happy as king. And hen she kisses Prince William, she looked king of disappointed, but was that because it wasn't quite what she expected or because the queen was disguised as him at the time?

If you've seen the movie, what do you think of it?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Daily Word Count Goals

One piece of advice for writers that is often given is to set a goal each day for the amount of words you want to write. After a couple months where my writing became even more sporadic than usual, I decided to give this advice a try.

It's working out incredibly well. I've found that it really helps me to push through writers' block and get the words on the page. Over the past two weeks, using a goal of 500 words per day, I've written anywhere from 565 words to 3,389 words in a single day. Initially, I gave myself weekends off my word count goals and I found that I barely wrote at all.

If you're planning to set a daily goal, start small. Around 250 or 500 words is a good start-off point. You may hear that some writers have goals of 3,000 or more words per day. While that may sound fantastic, I don't recommend starting there. You may get burnt out incredibly quickly, especially if you find it impossible to hit that goal each and every day. A small word count goal allows you to write far beyond it, but also gives you the confidence to know that you can hit that goal. It also lessens the possibility of you having a "bad" writing day and missing your goal.

If you don't hit your goal for a day, don't beat yourself up about it. Don't promise to "make up for it tomorrow." These are two more risks of high goals.

If you still think 500 words is too small of a goal, remember you can always increase the number later. Start out with a small goal and then, after a couple of weeks, if you're easily beating that goal day-after-day you can go up to 1,000 words or more. 

Daily goals are great for writers' block. They encourage you to push through the block until you reach a point things get rolling again. I also find that, once I beat my 500-word goal, it's hard for me to stop writing when things are going so well.

What do you think about word count goals? Do you set one each day?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Week in Short

I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman this week. I have a proper review planned for next week but the short version is: It was a good movie, but it had the potential to be phenomenal. I also watched the first part of the two-part miniseries for Casanova with David Tennant. I have to admit, he makes a great Casanova. And Burn Notice started back up this week! I haven't watched the premiere yet -- sadly -- but it's on my to do list for today.

Song of the Week: Dancing Away With My Heart by Lady Antebellum

Class action lawsuit filed against PublishAmerica

More BEA 2012 reports:
Writer Beware

Janet Reid: 
Not that me, the other me: responding to emails sent in error 
Want me to buy your book? 

Layers of emotion

Nathan Bransford:
The randomness of bestsellers 

Rachelle Gardner: 
Using setting as a character 
Understanding the role of emotion: 5 ways it can help you

Video of the Week:
When I went to see Snow White and the Hunstman, this trailer for The Words is the last one that played. I actually don't really remember the first few minutes of Snow White because I was too busy thinking about this. I've watched it three times now and I break out in goosebumps every time. I want to see it SO BAD.

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Releases: For Darkness Shows the Stars; Crazy; Shadow and Bone

For Darkness Shows the Stars
by Diana Peterfreund
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

 [I want this book in my hands RIGHT NOW. I love everything about it from the title to the cover to that amazing-sounding plot.] 

by Amy Reed
Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place.

As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain... but what if no one else can?

 Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy #1
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

RTW -- Writing Retreat

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: 
If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere, where would you go & who would you bring?

This is a tough one! Normally I would just go straight-out and say "England" but I can't imagine I would actually get much writing done there... I think I'll say Sweden. Somewhere beautiful, but a little bit isolated so I don't get too distracted. Where exactly, I'm not sure. I would bring all my friends from AW (*waves* Hi, guys!) because I think that would be amazing and hilarious and we'd make sure to keep each other on track while still having a ton of fun. 

As for inspiring authors, I think I'd like to borrow John Green and Tamora Pierce for awhile. And J.K. Rowling, too. After all, why not? I've always had questions I've wanted to ask her... 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

City of Lost Souls Review

 City of Lost Souls
by Cassandra Clare
Mortal Instruments #5
The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

I've read all of Clare's books. I was a huge fan of the original Mortal Instruments trilogy. I adore the Infernal Devices books. So, I knew that this wasn't going to be an easy read. I started it on May 12th and didn't finish until June 7th. It didn't take me so long to read because I didn't like it or because it dragged on; it took me so long because I was terrified of how things were going to end and because I spent so much time throwing the book on the floor because I wasn't very happy with the characters (more on that in the spoiler section).

The characters were, as always, brilliant. I was surprised and delighted when my favorite character in this book turned out to be Isabelle of all people. I wasn't a big fan of her in the early books, but I love her in this one. And even though I was originally a Maia/Simon shipper, I'm definitely 100% behind Isabelle/Simon now. Isabelle just shows a whole new complex side and I really enjoyed that.

As for Sebastian, I didn't believe it was possible for me to hate him any more than I already did until I read this book. Clare created a whole new level of hatred, just for him.

The cliffhanger was insane and I don't think it's possible for a more shocking one to be written for this story. I know City of Heavenly Fire isn't going to be an easy read, but I desperately want it in my hands.

Overall: 9/10


Alec and Magnus are my favorite couple. They're a good majority of the reasons why I've made it this far into the series. I'm not even sure how to react to the two of them breaking up in the epilogue. I still can't believe Alec went behind his back and even considered taking away his immortality without asking.

Jordan and Maia. I wasn't a big fan of their relationship early on, but now I love the two of them together. Their first kiss was amazing.

Isabelle and Simon are now my new favorite couple. I can't wait for them to finally admit their feelings for each other! I hope they do it very soon.

I love the bits of Infernal Devices references weaved throughout the story. Like Jocelyn telling Clary that there was a female warlock present at her ceremony. I bet it was Tessa. And then there were all the mentions of Will. I'm still confused as to why Valentine had his signed copy of A Tale of Two Cities...Oh, and the fact that the second Mortal Cup is called the INFERNAL Cup. That's so not a coincidence.

I hated Clary in this one. I know that I wasn't her biggest fan in City of Bones but she got better as she went on. But now...when she yelled for Sebastian to stop Jace from going to the Silent Brothers. There's a part of me that understands and a part of me that will never forgive her for that one. I had to stop reading because I was yelling at her too much. It's like she was going to do whatever it took to save Jace, no matter who she hurt including him.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Premise vs Plot

Premise and plot. They're both essential to every story, but they're not the same thing. I've had books where I loved the premise, but didn't love the plot. I saw a TV commercial for the movie Ted that showed the premise, but not the plot, and started thinking about the difference.

This is the basic idea. For example, the premise of Harry Potter is a boy attending a school that teaches wizardry. The premise of Twilight is a girl meeting a family of vampires. It's the foundation that the plot of which book and the overarcing plot of the series is based on. 

This is the arc that drives the story. It's the escalating conflict and has an obvious beginning, middle, and end. Going back to the Harry Potter example, this would be Harry's fight against Voldemort across the series. In the Twilight example, the plot would be the girl falling in love with the vampire and wanting to become one herself.

Here's the commercial for Ted that brought about this whole thought process. It showed the premise -- a boy makes a wish and his teddy bear comes to life, but boy grows up -- but little of the plot. Does the man have to figure out how to turn the teddy bear back into a stuffed animal? Does the man go on a hunt to find a child for the teddy bear to live with? Is the teddy bear kidnapped by evil scientists intent on figuring out how it came to life?

Now, which is more important: plot or premise? Think of the premise as the foundation and the plot as the actual house. If the foundation isn't stable, the whole house will come tumbling down. However, if the roof has holes in it, or the paint on the walls is peeling, or the basement is flooded, no one's going to want to live in the house no matter how stable the foundation is. The same goes for novels. You can have the best premise in the world, but if the plot isn't well-executed then the story still isn't going to work out.

What do you think? Are premise and plot two separate things? Which one is more important? Would you read a book with a great premise without a sense of the plot?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week in Short

It's been a very productive week in the Chasm. BEA was this week and, once again, I was not there.  (SOMEDAY!) I'm kind of hyper at the moment because finally, after three long weeks, THE BELMONT IS TOMORROW! If you've been living under a rock, the Belmont Stakes is the third jewel in Thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown. I'll Have Another rocked both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and if he wins tomorrow, he will become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

ETA: No Triple Crown this year. A couple hours after I wrote this, it was announced that I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont. 

Song of the Week: Call Your Girlfriend - Erato [Click the link and watch the video. It's awesome.]

Must read: 
Beth Revis: Never surrender

Perks of Being a Wallflower trailer!  I am so excited for this movie!

Shatter Me has a new and COMPLETELY AMAZING cover 

Janet Reid: BEA Day 1
The Strangest Situation: BEA re-cap
YAHighway: BEA 2012

Adventures in Agentland: 
Unsolicited revise and resubmissions

Intern Spills: 
5 signs you're about to land an agent: observations from a freelance editor 

Janice Hardy: 
Writing smooth transitions

Nathan Bransford: 
Why writers shouldn't be paranoid about having their query critiqued online

Pub Rants:
What editors are buying - young adult and middle grade

#224 - it's a winner!

Protecting your professional reputation 

How a book blogger tackles conferences

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

In Honor of Ray Bradbury

When I was in tenth grade English, we read a book called Farenheit 451. I spent large amounts of time raging at the ending, but was fascinated by its truth in predicting the future. I loved the idea of the "TV room." It reminded me of many people's obsessions with television, especially reality TV and soap operas.

The part that most deeply affected me, however, was the censorship. The book burnings. The very idea was enough to make me shudder. There have been a lot of books in my life that I haven't enjoyed. Books that I've tossed to the floor (though, I've never thrown one into a wall, it makes me feel bad). Maybe even a few that I truly hated.

But burning books? Never. The scene in the original Footloose makes me twitch. It's unthinkable for me. I don't know what my life would be like without my books, but I know that I can't even begin to imagine it.

Fahrenheit 451 was my first exposure to censorship, something that I've violently opposed ever since. Even though I wasn't particularly fond of it when I read it back then, it was definitely an influential book in my life.

Ray Bradbury was a great writer and he will be missed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RTW -- Best Book of May

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 May?

This month's best book was hands down, no contest... (Don't worry, no spoilers!)

by Veronica Roth
Divergent #2
I've been excitedly waiting for this book since I read Divergent and I can say that it did not disappoint! Even my mom, who knows firsthand how fast I can read, was surprised when I devoured it in nine hours. There were points when I actually wanted to stop reading because I didn't want the book to be over that fast, but I couldn't stop turning the pages. It took forever for me to be ready to read something else because I couldn't stop thinking about it. I can't wait for D3!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare Release Day!

I'm so excited to get my hands on this book!

A Midsummer's Nightmare
by Kody Keplinger 
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sherlock BBC

Some time ago, one of my friends suggested that I watch Sherlock. Far too long after that initial conversation, I watched the first episode.

I was hooked instantly. I gradually watched all six episodes. Last week I watched the finale of the most recent season. I am now an official Lockian.

I will freely admit that I was never really into Sherlock Holmes. I've never read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books (though I plan to spend part of this summer fixing that) and it wasn't until this year that I saw the two Sherlock Holmes movies: Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. But I love Sherlock.

The show has a strange format. Each series consists of only three episodes, but each episode is an hour and a half long. And they're all some of the most brilliant things ever written.(If you've ever watched Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, head writer of DW for the past two series, is the co-creator and writer of Sherlock. So you know it has to be genius.)

Moriarty is now one of my most hated villains of all time, a list that is populated by Umbridge, the Master, Voldemort, Regina, and Anson. He's certainly one of the creepiest. Some of his scenes in the series two finale actually made me shudder.

As for Sherlock, I think I'm in love with him. There is no one who possibly could have played him better than Benedict Cumberbatch. He's brilliant and clever and he really does care about those very few people that he calls friends.

Here's the promo trailer for series. Even though I've already seen all the episodes (the first one three times), it makes me want to watch them all again. 

And one of my favorite, non-spoiler scenes:

Series three won't be out until sometime in 2013 and I'm already dying to see it. It's been almost a week since I watched the finale and I still can't stop thinking about it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Week in Short

I hope everyone had a great week. The temperature here dropped about 30 degrees overnight so I'm really hoping the sun comes back out soon. I finally watched the series two finale of Sherlock (which rendered me unable to think about anything else) and am now dying for next summer to be here.

Song of the Week: Even If It Breaks Your Heart by Eli Young Band

Must read: 
Seeking the Write Life: Don't compare and don't compete 
Beth Revis: How to respond to negative reviews 

Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan cover reveal! SO BEAUTIFUL. It's definitely my new favorite. You can also read the first chapter here!

The movie version of Perks of Being a Wallflower (with EMMA WATSON AND LOGAN LERMAN) has a release date! September 14th!

Sign-ups are available for Once Upon a Read-a-thon 2012! The goal is to read more books than you normally would from July 9th to July 11th. Check out the link for more information and to join in!

"And it was all a dream..." Starting novels with a dream 

Navigating the Slush Pile: 
FAQ about conferences

#223 - suspense 

Making the most of writers' workshops 

Rachelle Gardner:
What a publishing contract covers 
6 ways to never run out of ideas  

The Strangest Situation:
Psychological insight 

Veronica Roth: 
Philosophy on character death 

Writer Unboxed: 
The best writing conferences to attend 

Conference tips for writers and readers
An overview of the major conferences
Kody's Keplinger's experience as an author at BEA

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