Wednesday, October 31, 2012

RTW -- Scary Books and Movies

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: 
Halloween! What's your favorite scary book or movie?
I'm not a big one for scary movies. I can count on one hand the number of scary movies that I've seen in my lifetime. Until a few years ago my answer to the question "What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?" was "Taken." 

That being said, my favorite scary book is Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann. I hid under my blankets and read it in a single afternoon. I also wasn't a big fan of sleeping that night. Coming from a small town myself, this one really hit close to home. I'm kind of glad I waited until after I graduated high school to read it...

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 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 boy 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....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Writers/Publishing on the Big Screen

Last week I talked about myths about writing in the media so today I figured that I would talk about some examples of writers or publishers in movies and television.

Ruby Sparks
I haven't seen this one yet, but it looks really cute. It's a story of a young novelist who writes about his perfect girl and is shocked when she comes to life.

The Words
The trailer gives me goosebumps every time. I've been dying to see this movie for months now, but I still haven't. It's about a struggling novelist who finds an old manuscript and gets it published.

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
This is my favorite romantic movie. It's about a girl that falls in love with two amazing guys: a struggling writer and a successful ad executive. It's guilty of multiple myths that I discussed (in particular, the "there is only one publisher in the world" and "having a day job equals giving up your writing dream" myths).

The Decoy Bride
In order to avoid the relentless eyes of the press, celebrity couple Lara (a famous actress) and James (bestselling author) decide to have it on a remote Scottish island where James's book was set. When the press finds out and Lara disappears, a "fake" wedding is staged to a local girl, Katie, but things get complicated when the wedding turns out to be real and Lara is still missing. It's a funny and adorable movie and David Tennant stars as James.

The Proposal
Margaret Tate, an editor for a publishing company, coerces her assistant, Andrew, to marry her so that she can keep from being deported. In my opinion, this movie is one of the more accurate portrayals of the publishing industry.

Monday, October 29, 2012

NaNo: Pre-November Preparations

November is only a few days away and that means it's almost NaNoWriMo time! I might be insane but I'm going to really go for it this year. My name on the site is Horserider if anyone would like to add me. I'll also be blogging my progress and NaNo tips every Monday from now until the end of November.

To kick off the posts, here are some tips on things to get done before November 1st rolls around.

1. Figure out the idea 
There's nothing worse than scrambling for an idea on November 1st. Figure out what you're going to write about and get a rough plot worked out in your head at least. Last year I started with a sweet contemporary love story that morphed into urban fantasy 5k in because I decided that it "wasn't exciting enough." This is the same NaNo when I didn't even hit 5k. That's why this year I have the basic plot already worked out.

2. Prepare the documents
Open a document on your computer and do any preparations required so you won't have to wait a second when it's time to start writing.

3. Do any outlining/character bios/playlists/picture hunts/etc 
Do anything that you need to do to prepare to write. Write up character bios for all your major characters. Write a rough outline to keep yourself on track. Make playlists to listen to while you write. Find pictures to represent your characters to help with description. Whatever works best for you, do it. This is also the time to do any research that might get in the way of your writing.

4. Get caught up on homework/housework/etc
This is a big one for me. I have a lot going on over the next month, so my goal is to get all caught up on my homework and make sure my room is clean before NaNo starts. Get all caught up and you won't have to worry about it while you're trying to focus on writing.

5. Look into write-ins
One of the best parts of NaNo is the awesome community feeling and what better way to experience that than to go to a local write-in? You can (hopefully) get a lot of writing done and meet people who are writers just like you. I didn't go to any last year so I'm really hoping to get to one this year. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Myths About Writing in the Media

I watch a large number of movies. A ridiculous percentage of those are romantic comedies. And every once in awhile, I find a movie that includes writers and/or the publishing industry. Here are some of the many myths that I've found these movies commonly entail.

You have to go to publishers to submit to them
So many movies have the aspiring writer going straight to the publisher and being rejected in person. In reality, this is extremely frowned upon.

Writers cannot have a day job and if they do, they're "giving up on their dream" 
The truth of this business is that most writers will not make enough money to support themselves solely on their writing. It's perfectly okay to have another job that pays the bills, especially in the beginning. Added financial pressure can even affect your writing negatively.  

You can only submit to one publisher
I'm always confused by movies that make it seem like there is only one publisher in the world. One of my favorite romantic movies of all time, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, includes a writer that repeatedly goes back to the same publisher (in person) and gets rejected. He doesn't try to revise the manuscripts that are rejected or take them to anyone else. 

Writers are isolated
A favorite media interpretation of writers is to portray them as hermits typing away at their keyboards (or writing away in their notebooks) in seclusion. I know a lot of writers are introverted, but life is where the best ideas come from. So many of my SNIs have come when I'm out doing something or talking to people.

Writers don't have to revise their own work
So many movies show writers dashing off a first draft and then sending it directly to a publisher. I wish that the world worked this way, but sadly it doesn't.

Bestselling authordom results in the high life
Think Richard Castle from the TV show Castle. If you've never seen the show, Castle is a best-selling mystery novelist who has a house in the Hamptons, another place in New York City, a Ferrari, and a friendship with the mayor. For the very, very select few, this might be true. However, it's extremely unlikely. 

What are some other common myths about writers from TV or movies?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Releases: Dark Star, Conjure, and Ask the Passengers

Dark Star
by Bethany Frenette
Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it's hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she's lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human--something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile. 

Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn't fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers--livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin. 

To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person's memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers' next move. But Leon, her mother's bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won't let Audrey out of his sight.
When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything--and everyone--she loves.

by Lea Nolan
The Hoodoo Apprentice #1
Be careful what you search for...

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends--are lost forever.

Ask the Passengers
by A.S. King
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

RTW -- Ideal Books for Adaptations

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 is it that makes some books seem ideal for a film translation?

I think the biggest factor in a film translation of a book is an established fan base. Books that are extremely popular (think: Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, Percy Jackson) are all but guaranteed a good showing in the box office simply because people will go see them because they love the books.

There's a recent trend towards making YA books into movies for this reason. A few series do very well in the box office and they start looking for other great series that might be the next "hit."

This trend also reflects the preference for "series" books over stand-alones because there's more money to be made for each movie. The same reason the final book in a series is being divided into two parts. Harry Potter did it and did it well, so now everyone else is trying to get in on a piece of that.

Another factor that contributes to a book's film translation potential might be a plot filled with action. Movies with a lot of conflict are always popular and it's a big draw for audiences outside of the book's fanbase. Another thing is an original premise or something that fits in well with established movies. Percy Jackson was around the time of other adaptations of myths and legends (300, The Immortals, Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, etc).

Good Examples:
Hunger Games -- This book translated really well to film, in my opinion. I felt that the internal focus of the book and the external focus of the movie complemented each other in a surprising way.  

Harry Potter -- This is debatable in later movies, but I really liked the entire series. The movies are beautifully done and cinematic. The scene with Snape's memories breaks my heart every time.

Bad Examples: 
Eragon - This book had quite a bit of potential to be cinematic, but unfortunately that potential wasn't pursued. Entire parts and plot points were changed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recovery Period

When I finish reading a book, I have what I call a "recovery period." This is a time when I'm still mulling over the book, raving about it if it was good, trying to figure out why I didn't like it if it was bad.

Sometimes I have what I call the "honeymoon period" which is when I run around raving about a book until I've had enough time to let it settle in my mind and all the things I didn't like about it start to float forward in my brain.

Note: This only applies to books that I'm reading for pleasure. I don't have recovery periods for beta reads or class-assigned reading. 

Factors affecting my recovery period:

  • Stand-alone or part of a series. Books that are part of a series generally have longer recovery periods than books that are stand-alones. This is especially true of the second book in a series. This is probably due to the fact that the second book rackets up the tension and makes me want the third book next.
  • How emotionally taxing. The more emotionally taxing a book is, the longer it takes me to recover. Lighter books generally have very short recovery periods. 
  • Level of satisfaction. The less satisfied I am with the way a book ended, the shorter my recovery period. 
  • Thought required. The more thought a book requires for me to absorb what happened, the longer the recovery period. 
  • Amount of free time. The more free time I have, the more likely I am to want to start a book right away just so I have something to do. 
  • What I expect from the next book. If the next book in my stack is one that I expect to be very emotionally taxing and the one I just finished was also emotionally taxing, this can lengthen my recovery period. It can also shorten my recovery if the next book on my list is one I'm very eager to get my hands on. 
  • Reread or first read. Rereads generally don't have recovery periods because I already knew everything that was going to happen so I don't need to let it mull over in my head.
  • How fast I read the book. A book that I read all in one sitting is going to take longer to recover from than one that I read over the course of a few days or weeks.
Some examples of book recovery periods:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- One week
This book had the longest recovery period of any in my memory. It's an incredible book and I wanted to let it simmer for awhile before my brain turned to something else. It was also very emotionally taxing to read.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins -- One hour
I started reading another book about an hour after I finished this one. Part of it was I just needed something light, partly was because I really wanted to read the next book on my stack, and partly because I was left feeling confused and a little unsatisfied.

Sold by Patricia McCormick -- Several days
This was another long recovery period as the result of an emotionally taxing book.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth -- Three days
I read the entire thing in one sitting -- nine hours -- and it was very emotionally taxing. The next book I intended to read I expected to be even worse, which is part of the reason why the recovery is so long. It's also the second book the series so all I could think about was how much I want D3.

Do you have recovery periods or can you start books right away after finishing one?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

College: How to Find Time to Read (for Fun)

Between classes, homework, friends, clubs, and everything else, college doesn't leave a lot of free time. And when it does, it's usually taken up by catching up on sleep. For a lot of people, college means pleasure reading is now a thing of the past.

It doesn't have to be. Here are five tips on finding time to read for fun during college.

1. Find time.
This is the biggest thing. Chances are if you say "I don't have time to read" it's not true. Take fifteen or twenty minutes to read before bed. If you have an hour between classes that you don't need to use for last-minute studying, find a quiet corner somewhere and read. If there's a meal that you have to eat alone, bring a book and read while you eat.

2. Prioritize free time
A couple weeks ago my roommate said she wanted to read a favorite series of mine, but she didn't have time. This is the same roommate that spend four hours yesterday playing Sims 3. If you want to make time to read, you might have to make some sacrifices.

3. Read to de-stress
Reading can be a great escape from the stress of life. Last semester during finals week I re-read two of my favorite books because I needed to de-stress between finals. If you need to relax, don't be afraid to take an hour -- or even a half hour -- to curl up with a good book.

4. Keep a book in your backpack
Always come prepared for a few minutes of reading time. This way you'll never find yourself sitting outside of class waiting for it to start without a book to read.

5. Don't force books that aren't holding your interest
Chances are if you're having to force yourself to read a book, you're not going to be as likely to want to find time to read that book. So if you're struggling with something, move on to something new.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Releases -- The Assassin's Curse, Sanctum, Out of Reach

The Assassin's Curse
by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

by Sarah Fine
Guards of the Shadowlands #1
"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos's best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn't just anyone – she's determined to save her best friend's soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she's captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city's endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn't – the dark city isn't the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

Out of Reach
by Carrie Arcos
Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home.

Rachel’s terrified—and she can’t help but feel responsible. She should have listened when Micah tried to confide in her. And she only feels more guilt when she receives an anonymous note telling her that Micah is nearby and in danger.

With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler…and the possibility that Micah may never come home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RTW -- NaNoWriMo

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: 
Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?

I have every intention of doing NaNo this year. I'm still trying to work out which idea I'm going to use (it's a toss-up between two right now), but I know that I want to do it. I might be insane for trying considering I have classes, clubs, friends, and the last weekend of NaNo will be the first time I'll go home this semester.

The first idea is a WIP that's already at 10k. I don't really want to use that one because it's a very heart-wrenching book to write and I feel like it's one of those that shouldn't be written in a mad one-month rush. This one will probably have to wait for me to write until Christmas break.

My alternative right now is a Jorinda/Jorindel retelling told in alternating points of view between Jorindel, Jorinda, and the witch. This one's been stewing in my brain for a while now and I've had some great ideas for it. 

I did NaNo back in 2009 and won. The WIP is Aliens Ruined My Life which will probably never see the light of day. I went for it again last year, but quit only a few days in. I started with a contemporary set in my college town and then ended up giving it a fantasy twist that completely changed the plot. The combination of that and schoolwork killed my chances. 

Having a deadline doesn't really inspire me as much as being part of a ton of people who are writing together. It's incredible to have such a diverse support group. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to get together with a writers' group on campus this year because I think it would be so much fun to write while hanging out with other writers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Resources for Writers

I know I have that handy little list of sites for writing over there on the sidebar *points* but today I wanted to do a more in-depth post on great resources for writers.

Absolute Write Water Cooler
AW is a forum for writers that is a goldmine of information. There are subforums for every genre and format of writing as well as a place to ask questions for story research and a subforum for finding beta readers. Perhaps the greatest resource is the subforum on publishers and agents for background checks. There's also a section for sharing your work and critiquing the work of others.

Emotion Thesaurus
This is a thesaurus of signs of emotions. There are also thesauruses for settings, character traits, weather, colors, textures, and shapes, and symbolism.

Character Therapist
The character therapist takes questions from characters and answers them from a therapist's standpoint.

Baby Names
There are lots of baby name sites and books, but this one is my favorite. You can search by alphabet, origin, or category. You can also see what the top baby names were by year all the way back to 1880. If you want to go for relevant meanings, you can search by those too.

Behind the Name
This is my first stop when I'm looking for last names for my characters. You can browse by alphabet or by origin. You can also search for the most common surnames for various countries. This website also displays some history about the names.

What are some websites that you can't live without when it comes to writing or writing advice?

Monday, October 15, 2012

College: 10 Tips for Scheduling Classes

I can't believe it's almost time to schedule classes again already. Registration for us starts at the end of the month and I'm already chomping at the bit for them to post the offered course list. Here are some tips for scheduling whether you're a freshman or scheduling for your very last semester.

1. Schedule classes according to when you work best
If you're a morning person, schedule classes for the morning. If you're not at your best until after noon, avoid early morning classes. It might take you a few semesters to figure out when that is at the beginning of your college career. My goal for next semester is have class from 10 to 12 and then 1 to 3 four days a week. It gives me time to sleep in a little in the morning and then gives me most of the afternoon for homework and whatnot.

2. Make sure you take care of required classes
I have a spreadsheet of classes that are required for my major, minor, and liberal arts. Yours doesn't have to be quite as in-depth as mine is, but you should definitely find some way to keep track of what classes you've taken and which ones you have left.

3. Give yourself time to eat 
When scheduling classes, keep an eye on how much time you have between classes. Look for breakfast, lunch, and dinner times. I have noon classes every day this semester and they make it difficult for me to eat lunch because I have to either eat early at 11 or late at 2.

4. Keep in mind typical meeting times and events
A lot of clubs have meetings in the afternoon and evening, and if you're in class you won't be able to attend. All evening classes won't be able to be avoided but it's one thing to keep in mind during scheduling. A lot of campus events are also in the evening.

5. Talk to your advisor 
Your advisor will be able to tell you which classes you need to be able to stay on track for graduation. They might also be able to give you advice on which classes should be taken when and make sure you don't miss out on any pre-requisites.

6. Talk to other students about classes/professors
If you can, talk to other students that have taken classes that you need to take. It's a great time to get information about the classes and when it's good to take them. We have one class that's notorious for being very difficult, so that semester I'm planning to cut back to 12 credits instead of my usual 16 so that I have more time to devote towards it. If different professors teach the same class, you can also find out the pros and cons of various professors. Just remember that opinions and teaching styles vary. A professor someone else hates, you might love.

7. Register on time
If you have time slots for registration, use yours. You don't want to wait a couple of days and find out that all the classes you need to take are full. Some classes fill up faster than others, especially with liberal studies and ones that everyone needs to take for their major.

8. If a class is full, there's still a possibility
Sometimes professors will allow in extra students to a full class. Just send an email or visit them during their office hours. Remember, the worst they can do is say no. You can also keep an eye on it. People change majors, drop classes, change time slots all the time. Around here, people check classes after grades are finalized (in case someone had to drop a class because they failed a pre-req) and after tuition is due (if you don't pay on time, all your classes get dropped).

9. Watch locations
If it's listed, look where a class is going to be held and work out which buildings you'll be in when. Nothing is worse than checking your schedule on the first day and realizing that you have to make it all the way across campus in ten minutes. Some classes here require you to catch a bus, something that's best not attempted in the ten minutes before you need to be in class.

10. Don't over-tax yourself 
Keep an eye on how many classes you're going to have each day and be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Some days will be tougher than others. I refer to Mondays as my "death days" because I have class from 9 to 5 with only two one-hour breaks in between. This also applies to overall credits and the difficulty of classes. Try not to schedule all of your roughest classes in the same semester.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fine Line Between Love and Hate

Over time there have been characters I loved and characters I hated. And then there are the rare few that I hated for the longest time until something happened that changed everything.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Avatar: The Last Airbender (the TV show, of course).

1. Severus Snape -- Harry Potter
Snape is by far the best example of this change of heart. For five books, he was the character I loved to hate. I hated the way he treated Harry. Then, book six came around and Snape took hate to a new level. When he killed Dumbledore, I actually ran from my room in a murderous rage and told my mom that I was going to murder Snape.

And then, book seven. The memories. The revelation that Dumbledore knew he was going to die. Snape's true alliances revealed. And all of a sudden...I loved Snape. I cried for him when he died and then all over again during his memories. Now I knew why Snape had always hated Harry so much and why he had always acted the way he did.

And because of that, Snape is now one of my favorite characters of all time. He is, arguably, the best character depth-wise in history.

2. Luke -- Percy Jackson and the Olympians
I'll admit, I loved Luke at first. He was handsome and charming and he seemed nice enough. But then he betrayed everyone. He brought Kronos back. I wanted him dead more than anything. Then TLO came around. I was shocked when Luke destroyed himself in order to destroy Kronos. I cried at his death. My transformation with Luke wasn't nearly as extreme as the one for Snape, but it was still a big change in perspective for me.

3. Zuko -- Avatar: The Last Airbender
Okay, I never really hated Zuko. But he's another example of a character that I didn't really like and then ended up loving. At first his only goal is to capture the Avatar and bring him to his father and through his travels, he eventually changes his mind. He's a great example of a character who's perspective changes when he realizes that there are bigger forces at work in the world than himself.

These are my favorite kinds of characters. They've all done horrible things in their lives, but they also didn't let that stop them from doing good things either.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Releases - Son, Send Me a Sign, Through to You

by Lois Lowry
The Giver Quartet #4
They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice. 

 Send Me a Sign
by Tiffany Schmidt

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. 

Through to You
by Emily Hainsworth
Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RTW -- Hope to be Writing

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 do you hope to be writing in one year? Three? Five?

This is a really tough question. I love writing YA and I'm always getting new ideas. I know that I want to keep writing over the years, but what is a tricky thing. I don't plan to leave the YA market, but you never know. If I came across the right adult or MG idea, I might be willing to give it a shot.

I love the YA genre. Books really got me through high school and the idea of teenagers reading my books thrills me to no end. I love the "first" experiences that high school can bring and the way it changes characters and their lives.

I also seriously want to write something New Adult. College is brimming with potential characters and plot lines. I'd love to explore a few of them. 

At some point I'm going to have to start writing research papers and -- with any luck -- a dissertation. I don't know how much time there'll be for fiction writing in five years.

I don't know what I'll be writing in five years, three years, or even one year, but I do know that I'll be writing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Causes of Writers' Block

We all have those days. Those days when anything is more appealing than writing. Those days when hitting the 1k mark or even writing a single paragraph is like pulling all four of your wisdom teeth. If you ever find yourself saying the words "I'd like to be writing right now, but it's like pulling teeth" then there might be a problem.

Trying to write an out of character scene 
One of the biggest road blocks for me comes when I'm trying to force my character to do something that they wouldn't normally do. For example, in an unnamed novel some time ago, I was trying to write a scene in which the MC apologized to her best friend. No matter how hard I tried to write the scene, it just wouldn't work. Then another idea popped into my head where, instead of the MC apologizing, she blew off her best friend. I battled against the idea for awhile and then finally gave in. The moment I did, the words started to flow again.

If you're having a lot of trouble with a scene, pause and think "Am I trying to force my character into this?" If the answer is yes, try to think of a way to alter the scene so that it fits your character properly. If you listen to them, they just might reward you.

Something else is calling 
Another major road block occurs when another WIP is calling louder than the one you're trying to work on. I find that, in general, the best thing for this is to indulge that new WIP for a bit. Write down any ideas that you have in a word document so you don't forget them. Write a couple scenes if you have to. Once you get it out of your system, come back and try again.

Plot point is not working
This one is similar to the out-of-character problem, except in this situation it's the plot points that aren't working out, not the character.  Sometimes, especially with pantsers, problems occur when you write the story into a corner. The best thing for this is generally to take a step back and figure out where you're going. You may have to back up a bit in the story and delete a few scenes in order to take it in another direction.

What are some common problems that you run into that cause writers' block?

Monday, October 8, 2012

College: 5 Random Things I've Learned

College is all about learning, but not all of that learning takes place in the classroom. There's also a lot of learning that has to do with growing up and being an adult. And then, sometimes, there's just really random bits of information that come up.

1. Not having class on Fridays is amazing. Except in the beginning I always thought it was Friday when it was really Thursday. Fridays might not always be class-free, but when they are...they're definitely enjoyable.

2. Eight a.m. classes are terrible. It doesn't seem that early, especially considering high school classes generally start at the same time, but in college it's like having a class at six instead of eight.

3. Everyone says that college is a time suck, but you have no idea how true that is until you're experiencing it.

4. College can be emotionally draining for a natural introvert. When I was at home, I could go in my room and be left alone if I needed some time to relax. But here, even if your dorm you've got everyone around you and homework to do and a roommate to deal with. One of the hardest things about college for me is that I have to be "on" all the time.

5. It's not a good idea to drink espresso right before going to math class. Or any class. Especially if caffeine makes it difficult for you to sit still and/or concentrate (like me). 

Friday, October 5, 2012

I Have a Confession...

This post was inspired by one of the Broke and the Bookish Top 10 Tuesday topics some time ago. The topic was book-related confessions. So, I have a few confessions to make.

1. I guard my book collection almost like a dragon guards its treasure hoard. I'm very selective about the people that I let borrow my books. I still remember the time my mom lent out my copy of Twilight to someone that I didn't know.

2. I don't dog-ear pages. Ever. I do, however, occasionally set books face-down without closing them if I don't have a bookmark anywhere near me.

3. I have never read Jane Eyre, anything by Charles Dickens, any of the Lord of the Rings books, anything by Mark Twain, and many other popular classics.

4. When I was in high school, I only read half of most of the assigned classics and then I used Sparknotes to finish my reading questions and pass the tests. I did manage to finish The Outsiders, The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet, and Fahrenheit 451. 

 5. I've owned a Kobo for almost three years now and I've only used it to read ARCs and the free classics. I love print books too much to give them up.

6. I cried when Borders closed. It was my bookstore of choice because our local Barnes and Noble doesn't have as good of a selection in YA.

7. When I was a kid, someone went through my books and got rid of all of my favorites but none of the kid's books that I actually wanted to give away. Now I hate it when anyone even packs up my books into totes to put in storage. I don't like throwing or giving away books, even picture books from my childhood.

8. When I finish a book that I absolutely adore, I sleep with it next to my pillow. I can only remember doing that with three books: Deathly Hallows (which I slept with under my arm), The Book Thief, and most recently Code Name Verity. 

 9. If all the word of mouth I hear about a book is glowing, I tend to be hesitant about reading it. I think this results from the fact that I read Twilight because I wanted to know what all my friends were talking about.

10. There are a few movies that started as books that I actually prefer over the books. This very short list includes Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, Prince Caspian and Beastly.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New releases: Stealing Parker, Magisterium, and Fall to Pieces

Stealing Parker
 by Miranda Kenneally
After a scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.

by Jeff Hirsch
On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

 Fall to Pieces
by Vahini Naidoo

When your best friend dies, you’re supposed to know what happened. You’re supposed to know why.

But Ella has no idea what happened the night Amy jumped to her death. She has no idea why Amy would want to die.

Ella’s other friends, Mark and Petal, are hiding something. Ella thinks they know exactly what happened that terrible night. But they’re not talking. Instead, Ella, Mark, and Petal play Pick Me Ups—a game in which they jump from dangerous heights. And every time Ella falls, she begins to remember pieces of that night. . .

It’s still not enough. So Ella brings a mysterious new guy into the group, hoping he will help shake things up and unearth the truth. But Ella’s “Explosive Boy” has secrets of his own.

And there may be some secrets that Ella doesn’t want to face. The truth – the real truth – about Amy’s death might just be more than she can handle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

RTW: Writing Changes

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 does your writing (place, time, inspiration, etc) change with the seasons?

For me, fall equals going back to college and that means not nearly as much time for writing. I've been struggling to fit in time for it the past couple of weeks. On the other hand, college also means spending a lot of time in Starbucks between classes. I'm not sure what it is about Starbucks but it's a great place to focus on writing or revisions. I also spend a lot of time in the dorms where it can be hard to concentrate on writing with the spontaneous movie nights and friends dropping by.

Fall also means NaNoWriMo! I'm definitely shooting for it this year, though I haven't decided which idea it's going to be with. It can be one of the busiest times of the college year, but it's also wonderfully motivating to be writing with so many awesome people. 

Winter tends to be a little easier when it comes to time because there's a lot less running around, what with all the snow. In the spring when it starts to warm up, spring break rolls around, and everyone starts to spend a lot more time outside, writing slows down again. Last summer, I managed to find a lot more time to work on revisions and writing and hopefully I'll be able to continue that trend some in the future.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Doctor Who Series Seven Fall Review

Anyone who has known me for more than a few days knows that I'm completely obsessed with the show. My dorm room is plastered with posters, I have an Adipose toy, and I own both Ten and Eleven's sonic screwdrivers.

The fall series ended on Saturday. Here is my episode-by-episode review of the season so far.


Asylum of the Daleks
I'm so psyched for this series! Steven Moffat delivers another great premiere. I was really worried about the new companion because she didn't look like one to me but I'm not worried any more. I'm kind of in love with her and I can't wait to see how she becomes the new companion. Rory and Amy broke my heart in this one. I JUST WANT THEM TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. WHY IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Love. So much. Amy is a total badass in this episode. Also I love Rory and Rory's dad and Lestrade and Queen Nefertiti. So much awesomeness in one episode! It's dinosaurs. On a spaceship! I'm a little terrified of Amy and the Doctor's conversation where she talks about how she's scared that something is going to happen to him and she'll always be waiting for him to come back. I have a feeling it means that something terrible is going to have to happen so that she realizes that she can't wait for him.

A Town Called Mercy
Not the best but good nonetheless. It drives me insane that everyone seems to have forgotten the Doctor's hatred of guns. I love Amy telling the Doctor that they need to be better than the town's doctor/assassin.

Power of Three
Such a great episode. I love Rory's dad so much, and not just because I'm still thinking of him as Mr. Weasley. The cubes were a seriously brilliant, although terrifying, idea. I just really want Amy and Rory to be happy and I loved when they started making long-term plans. I also loved seeing the Doctor trying to act normal while he was waiting for the cubes to react.

Angels Take Manhattan
My heart. It's broken. The scene where Amy decided to let the Angel take her so that she could go back in time to Rory made me sob. In front of people. I actually screamed out loud when Amy and Rory jumped off the roof. I'm surprised the RA didn't come running in to see if we were being murdered.  In other news, I will never be able to go to Manhattan. I can't believe the Angels turned the Statue of Liberty into a giant Weeping Angel. I was sure that after Don't Blink, Time of Angels, and Flesh and Stone there was no possible way to make the Angels creep me out anymore than they already did. But the baby Angels? *shivers*

It's still breaking my heart that the Doctor promised to bring Amy and Rory back safe...and then he couldn't.


Monday, October 1, 2012

College: Dealing with Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a real thing and it doesn't get any better in college where the tests are worth even more and are more difficult to prepare for. In a lot of my high school classes, we were given study guides and told the formats of the tests. In college, that doesn't happen more often than it does. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.

Remember the first exam is always the hardest
Try not to worry too much about what you'll get on the first exam. If you don't do as well as you expected, remember there will always be more exams. The first exam is basically a learning period on what to study and how the exams are formatted.

Study hard
The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be. If there are a lot of vocab words, make flashcards to help you learn them. Skim through the chapters again. Do any of the questions at the end of the chapters. Review your lecture notes and the Powerpoints if they're available.

Don't cram
Don't start studying the night before the exam or worse, a few hours ahead of time. At the very least, start studying a few days before. This is especially important when it comes to making flashcards. It's better to be able to study them multiple times, especially right before bed, in order to make sure you'll remember them.

Take care of yourself
Make sure you get a good night's sleep and eat well before the exam. This way your brain will be working at full capacity. There's nothing worse during an exam than not being able to stop yawning. If you have an early class that you don't normally eat breakfast for, you might want to consider eating anyway on exam days. It's also give you some time for a quick review session.

Find your ideal method of relaxation
If you get really anxious before a test, try different methods of relaxation until you find one that works for you. It might include visualization, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation. It will help keep you relaxed and in the best frame of mind to rock the exam.