Showing posts from December, 2012

Resolutions: 2012 and 2013

Another year is coming to a close which means it's time to look back on the year that's ending and to look ahead to the year to come.

My resolutions for 2012:

1. Continue to strive to live without regrets 
I won't say that I didn't have any regrets this year, but it was a good year. I've made some changes in my life and I think I'm better for them.

2. Revise Cardinal Three
Better late than never on this one. Another WIP took priority this year, but I have started working on revisions for CT.

3. Get a 4.0 this winter semester
So close on this one! I'm very happy with my grades this year.

4. Start riding again
Some things just aren't in the cards and this is one of them. Someday...

5. Read 50 books
I made it to 47 this year. 

And now it's time for my resolutions for 2013...

1. Read 100 books

2. Read 10 classics

3. Volunteer more of my time

4. Volunteer to work as a research assistant to gain experience in psychological research

5. Do five things that I…

Favorite Books of the Year

I managed to read 48 books this year, which was just shy of my goal of 50 books. Though the quantity was low, the quality was not. It took me forever to decide which books were my favorites. Which is why I'm going to cheat and do five books across three categories...

Top Three First Read (in no particular order)
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
I'm late to the Game of Thrones party, but I'm already a huge fan of the series. The first book has me hooked and I'm on the second right now. Already can't wait to get my hands on the third. This is a long book, but it didn't feel that way when I was reading. Martin made me feel like I knew the characters my whole life after just a few pages. It's a masterpiece.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
If you put my feet in the fire, I would say this is the best book I read this year. It was beautiful and it made me sob harder than anything ever has before. I can't wait to read it again soon.

Every Day by David Levi…

RTW -- Writing Songs

YA Highway is doing a special extended week of road trips this week! Today's topics are:

- Best Music to Write To/Be Inspired By
The music that I write to is kind of random. I have more Pandora stations than I know what to do with. Generally I just choose the one that I feel like listening to and just write. I don't make playlists because I rarely ever have songs that I associate with my WIPs. When I do have specific songs, it's usually just one or two and not nearly enough to make a playlist out of.

Mostly I listen to my Nickelback station because it's easier for me to tune out rock music than anything else. WTS was mostly written to my Keith Urban station because it takes place on a ranch in Nevada and that felt more appropriate.

Specific songs that I find inspirational:

"Impossible" by Joe Nichols

"Even If It Breaks Your Heart" by Eli Young Band

"Crazy Town" by Jason Aldean (The song itself isn't really the inspirational part, but…

RTW -- Favorite Settings and Characters

YA Highway is doing a special extended week of road trips this week! Today's topics are:

- Best "I Want To Go To There" Setting in a Book - Favorite YA Characters For settings, I would have to start this off with Hogwarts, of course. All Harry Potter obsessing aside, Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight really made me want to see London. Not that I didn't want to see it before, of course. Seeing London has been on my bucket list for years. Mark of Athena really made me want to see Rome. Twenty Boy Summer makes me want to go to a beach, any beach.
Favorite YA characters...I think I'm going to stick to the ones that I read this year. Otherwise I could be here half of 2013 trying to decide.  First up there's Cassel in White Cat. I have to admit that I'm very late to the series, but I really loved the first book and the second one is already on my stack. I couldn't help but fall in love with Cassel, in spite of -- or maybe because of -- his conm…

Pets: Real Life and Fictional

I thought it might be fun to talk about my pets in real life and those of my character's. There aren't a lot of animals in fiction that aren't central to the plot and that's always kind of bothered me.

My Pets: 
I don't have any pets that I can specifically call my own because I live in a college dorm and we're only allowed to own fish. Last year I had a betta named Rory Williams who, sadly, did not live up to his namesake's ability to survive death. After I get back from break, I want to get a new betta named Bates (after John Bates in Downton Abbey). 

At home we have one dog and six cats. We have a Husky/Chow mix named Loki that's getting up there in years. Then there's Bandit, an orange and white male cat that we've had for as long as I can remember; Diamond, a black and white male that growls at everyone; Lyra, a sweet brown and white female; Talon and Mia, Lyra's two kittens; and Scoot-Scott, a pure black female that is only sweet when s…

RTW -- By Any Other Name...

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.

Next week's topic:  How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?
I have a friend with a really cool name who I've already told I'm going to steal it at some point. As for family members, maybe but only because I have family members with really common names. As for exes...never. I have trouble separating people from their names so when I name a character after someone I know in real life, I have to work to separate their appearance and personality from that character.
As for how I decide on names...that's a complicated question. A lot of my characters come with their own names. If they don't, then generally I just hop on my favorite baby names site and g…

Mark of Athena Review

***WARNING: This is the third book in the Heroes of Olympus series. There will be spoilers for the previous two books and this one***
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan Heroes of Olympus #3  Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand:
Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will s…

Tips for Querying Multiple Projects

It's best to query one project at a time, but if you just can't help but query two projects simultaneously, then here are a few tips.

1. Best with diverse projects
Querying multiple manuscripts at once is best if they are all very different. Perhaps you have one non-fiction proposal and one YA novel. Or perhaps one is adult and the other is middle grade. This way your agent pool for each project is more likely to be segregated.

2. Write individual queries for each project
There should be one manuscript per query. Don't try to save time by putting summaries for all your projects into the same query.

3. Don't query the same agent with both projects simultaneously 
If you're querying the same agents with both manuscripts, it's best to choose the manuscript that you think would be their best fit. If you have a YA fantasy and a YA contemporary, and the agent is looking for all types of YA and specifically mentions fantasy in their wish list, don't send them the c…

Random Things I Miss About Home

There are some things that you don't realize you miss about home either A) You're back at home, or B) You're on campus and realize how much you miss it. Friends and family are a given, so here are a few random things that I always miss about home.

1. My pets. The lack of animal companionship is one of the things that I hate most about living in the dorms. I mean, sure, you can have a fish, but you can't snuggle up in bed to a fish.

2. The ability to lock my bathroom door

3. Actual food

4. Being able to retreat into my bedroom and avoid everyone if I want to. I'm a major introvert, so the fact that I have to be around people all the time without any real means of escape can be exhausting, no matter how much I love my friends.

5. Being able to listen to music in the shower

6. Long showers without having to worry about someone walking in

7. Not having to worry about loud or drunk neighbors (Though, I suppose this could be a problem at home depending on where you live.…

Book Recs: Young Adult Part 2

Last week I talked about ten young adult books that I love. This week I'm going to talk about seven more.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he's found his other half until he blows it and realizes he has to get Noah back while everything is falling apart. It's a quick read with amazing voice and beautiful characters.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice's world everyone is divided into five factions, each with their own focus: Amity (peace), Abnegation (selfless), Dauntless (bravery), Erudite (intelligence), and Candor (honesty). When Tris turns sixteen it's time for her to decide where she wants to spend the rest of her life and the choice she makes surprises everyone, including herself. This is the first book in a trilogy and it's absolutely brilliant.

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
When Kendall's classmates start disappearing she has to push her problems aside and help to find her missing friends, even if it means teaming …

RTW: Measure a Year in Books

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:  About how many books do you read in a year? Do you want to read more? Or, less? For the past few years, I've been averaging about 50 books a year. It was a lot easier when I was in high school and had more time to read. Now that I'm in college, there isn't a lot of free time for pleasure reading. So far this year I've read 46 books and my goal is 50. 
I would really like to be able to read more. My to-read shelf on Goodreads is 457 books and counting. At this rate (assuming that I don't add any more books to the list, which is impossible) it will take me 9 years to read all of them.
I'm thinking next year my goal is going to be 100 books, but I doubt that I'll make it. …

CRUSHED Release Day!

Crushed by Dawn Rae Miller For seventeen-year-old serial womanizer Fletch Colson, life is a game and if he plays by the rules, he’ll win it all: his dream college, his parents’ money, and a hot (if a little vapid) girl on his arm. Really, it couldn’t be easier. All he has to do is get good grades, live a privileged boarding school life, and try not to mess up too much.

However, when he accepts the seemingly impossible bet to change his ways and be “just friends” with smart, beautiful, tempting Ellie Jacobs – a girl who seems hell bent on confusing him - Fletch’s whole world is turned upside down.

Suddenly, what seemed simple and clear, no longer feels right and Fletch must decide if winning it all is worth losing a piece of himself.

Check out her website for more information and the first four chapters!
Happy book birthday, Crushed!

The "FINALLY" Moment

The "Finally" moment is a major factor in the majority of TV shows, movies, and books with romance as a big element. That's the moment where two characters finally get together after a long period of sexual tension and beating around the bush and readers/viewers screaming "Just kiss already!" 

There's a fine line between dragging it out and building up to just the right moment. There's commonly a lot of "almost there" moments where it almost happens, but it's not quite the right time.

There needs to be tension and it needs to feel right, but there's always the potential that it's going to start dragging on forever.

A couple good examples of "Finally" moments that come to mind right now...

Ross and Rachel in the finale of Friends is the ultimate "Finally" moment. That's actually the scene that inspired this post. We always knew they would be together from the first moment to the last. It was a ten year span …

College: How to Survive Finals

It's that time of the semester again: finals. The time when the library is always packed and free time is in extremely short supply. Here are some tips on how to make the stressful time a little easier.

Start studying early 
Don't wait until the day before the test to read the chapters for the first time. Instead, start early. Make flashcards a week in advance and study them every night up to the test. The same thing works for notes. Every night before you go to bed, read over your notes. Studying often implants the information more deeply into your brain.

Study the way you do best
Some people learn best by reading the information multiple times and others by listening to the information. Review notes, make flash cards, complete study guides, listen to lectures, review Powerpoints, read chapters again, have a study session with a friend in the class, and anything else that might help. Do whatever works best for you.

Plan your studying
Make a list of everything that you need to …

Book Recs: Young Adult Part 1

Continuing with my series of book recommendations is my young adult recs. Part two will come next week.

Every Day by David Levithan
Every night at midnight, A shifts into a new person's body and has to be them for a day. A is fine with this, until one day he breaks one of his own rules by falling in love with his current body's girlfriend. This book is absolutely beautiful. It has wonderful characters and great writing. It's one of those books that I recommend everyone read. It's a great "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" kind of story.

Cracked Up to Beby Courtney Summers
Parker -- cheerleading captain, teacher's pet, and future valedictorian -- starts failing all of her classes and drinking at school in reaction to a traumatic event that just might be her fault. This is another beautifully written book. I love the characters and the plot and the writing. It's all true to high school life as well.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
When Verity -…

RTW: Approaching Revisions

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:  For many, December is a post-NaNoWriMo revision haze! How do you approach editing/revising? Any tips or tricks or resources you can share? I'm in the midst of revising right now (a project that is not my NaNo) so this subject is definitely on my mind. Here are three random tips that I like to use: 

1. Break it down
I break my manuscript into chapters and scenes and then, using Scrivener's notecards, I summarize each scene and chapter so that I can see how things progress. even if you don't have Scrivener, you can use a bulleted on a separate document or Post-It notes on a corkboard (this also works well to make a calender to check for timeline issues).

It makes it easier for you to …

Misuse of Apostrophes

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I'm going to say it anyway. We need to talk about the correct use of apostrophes.

Recently I've picked up on a lot of misuse of apostrophes. I have a Game of Thrones poster that I've found no less than three mistakes in so far and I also went to a craft show over the weekend where I picked out two things that misused apostrophes.

So, here we go.

Apostrophes have two uses:

1. To indicate possession 
Amy's husband's name is Rory. [There are two apostrophes in this one. The first indicates that the husband is Amy's. The second one indicates that the name "Rory" is the husband's.]

I need to borrow six doctors' white lab coats. [In this case, "doctor" is plural so the apostrophe goes after the "s."]

2. Contractions
Let's = Let us
Can't = Can not
Won't = Will not

Next up, some situations in which apostrophes are NOT appropriate, but somehow get used anyway.

1. Sp…

NaNo Wrap-Up

I made it! I'm tired and behind on my homework and sleep-deprived and I'm not sure what to do with this bit of free time that I now have, but I've had it! I hit 50k on Tuesday. For now, Hacker (that's the nickname for my WIP) is going to be trunked. It needs a complete rewrite, but that's okay.

Final word count: 50,520 

First line: I remember the murder very clearly. 

Last line: Everything's not back to normal, but everything is okay.  

I'm really excited about this one and its characters. It's just going to take a lot of time. For now, I get to concentrate on getting caught up on homework and finals that are only a week away. 

Did you do NaNo this year? How did you do?