Thursday, September 26, 2013

New Releases: Where the Stars Still Shine; All the Truth That's In Me; Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

Where the Stars Still Shine
by Trish Doller
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

 All the Truth That's In Me
by Julie Berry
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. 

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer
by Katie Alender
Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

I thought I might try something new on Wednesdays. What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading
It's a complicated mixture right now. My main focus is on The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien for a class (on Tolkien). I have about two weeks to read it so that's taking a good amount of my time. Also on my shelf with bookmarks in them are Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (a reread I started before the movie came out, to give you an idea of how long I've been at it) and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  

What I'm Writing
The occasional short story that strikes my fancy mostly. I'm neck-deep in revisions for Cursed Kind. Some of the changes are relatively major so I need to be sure that they're making sense and fit with what's already there. Mostly clarifying motivations and upping the stakes. 

What Inspires Me
My friends, in more ways than one. I have the three best roommates a college girl could ever ask for. Last weekend we went to the halloween store for costumes and ended up with masquerade masks. Which then inspired me to write a short story featuring them.

What Else I've Been Up To 
TV. Lots of TV. The premieres for my fall shows began this week with Castle. Not at all happy with that premiere. Last night was NCIS (next week is going to break me) and NCIS: Los Angeles (mixed feelings). Then this morning I watched the premiere for Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and it was amazing. In non-airing television, I started watching Heroes last week and I'm so addicted. I finished the first season on Sunday and I'll be finishing season two today. Also, hockey (go Red Wings)! It's preseason but I missed this sport so much. I'm ready for the regular season to start.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Heroes and Why I Can't Stop Watching It

I know I'm late to the Heroes party (given that it was cancelled four years ago) but I'm addicted. Like genuinely "can't stop watching, thinking about it all the time, curled up in bed for hours watching episode after episode, seriously considering staying up all night" addicted. It's one of those shows that I probably should have saved for Christmas or summer break because I would easily finish it in less than two weeks.

If you've never seen it, Heroes is about a group of people with special powers trying to save the world. It reminds me of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (which starts today and I'm SO EXCITED) and X-Men, but it's also it's own show.

I started watching it on Tuesday and I finished up the first season on Sunday, despite the fact that I have Actual Things to do (like go to class. Once I get started, it's really hard to stop. I expect to finish the second season tomorrow, if not today. 

My favorite thing about the show is the characters. There isn't anyone that I totally love all the time and there isn't anyone that I totally hate all the time (except maybe Jessica). They all make good decisions and horrible decisions. They all have their own histories and their own motivations and their own lives and they all handle the discovery of their powers in their own way.

Then there's Sylar. I shouldn't like Sylar. Sylar isn't complicated like the others. He's terrifying and he knows what he wants and he's going to get it no matter what it takes. He's also played by Zachary Quinto but when I look at Sylar, I don't see Spock. I can barely see how they're played by the same person and, to me, that's incredible.

There are the powers. Some of them are the usual go-to special abilities (mind reading, healing, flying, invisibility) and some of them aren't. I really like some of the ideas for the powers, like the guy that can take on others' powers by being in close proximity to them and the guy who can paint the future.

Finally there's the cliffhangers. I love and hate the cliffhangers. Every episode ends one with "To be continued." EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Which is why I spent my Friday night sitting in bed for eight hours straight (except for the shaky half hour break I took for the new Legend of Korra). It's really hard to find a good stopping point because there isn't one. 

If you've watched Heroes, no spoilers please. I've heard the quality goes down as the seasons go on, but I intend to find out for myself anyway.

Monday, September 23, 2013

College: 5 Tips for Reducing Procrastionation and Getting Stuff Done

In an attempt to organize my life and make sure I'm staying on top of things for once, I've started a new routine. It seems to be working so far, though we'll see if I can stick with it as the year goes on.

1. Move to a different area 
I'm used to doing my homework sitting in bed or on the couch, but I find doing work in a place where I would normally relax makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So I cleaned off and organized my desk and set up shop there. It helps to put me into a focusing mindset and cut down on distractions. For especially long study sessions, a trip to the library can be big for motivation.

2. Turn off the Internet 
Shut down any open tabs that aren't related to your homework. It'll keep you from being tempted to click over to Facebook or Tumblr "just for a few minutes." If you give yourself short breaks, don't use websites that are known time sucks. I tried to use Tumblr for homework breaks, but I would give myself five minutes and take half an hour.

3. Minimize distractions
Close the door, put your phone on silent, tell your friends that you need some study time, put in earplugs, whatever it takes. My friends know that if my door is closed that I'm working and not to disturb me unless it's for something specific. I also find putting in headphones without music playing can help, but I prefer quiet rock or instrumental music.

4. Make a "to do" list 
Every day, make a list of the things that you need to accomplish and then check them off. Break large projects into smaller steps and do a little work at a time. Quantifiable goals (read X chapter, complete Y assignment, find Z sources for a research project) are better than vague ones (do research, work on term paper, start powerpoint presentation). Check syllabi regularly and keep a calendar with due dates on it. Designate days for regular tasks. For instance, Tuesday is my laundry day and Saturday is my "work that isn't homework" day.

5. Use rewards
Find a reward that works for you. It can be something small for each task completed or something large for when you finish off your list. For instance, if I finish my list for a day then I can spend the rest of the day watching my current TV show (which, right now, is Heroes).

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flash Fiction: Kiss in the Rain

This is a bit of a sequel to last week's piece “The Umbrella.” I thought of it while I was sitting in stats class for some reason. I just really love "kiss in the rain" stories.

It’s sunny when Jake texts me. We’ve talked every day since the time we shared the umbrella. Turns out we went to rival high schools and are both obsessed with old cartoons. It gives us a lot to talk about.

Walk with me to the lake? 

Meet me in ten. 

It’s a nice day, probably one of the last few for a long time, so I pull on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Jake’s waiting for me outside the building, dressed in a muscle shirt and cargo shorts. He pulls it off strangely well.

It’s only a fifteen minute walk down to the beach from campus. My hand brushes against Jake’s several times before he finally catches it and twines his fingers with mine.

When we get to the beach, there are clouds rolling in from across the water. “You don’t think it’s going to rain, do you?” I ask.
He shrugs. “You know anything can happen here.”

I nod. It’s been sunny and warm one day and snowing the next before. The weather is about as unpredictable as an angry cat.

We wander down the beach, kicking off our shoes to wade in the water. It laps at my ankles and I laugh, spinning in circles. Before we know it, the clouds are blocking out the sun above us and the temperature is dropping.
I’m about to suggest that we should head back when fat drops of rain start falling.

“I think it’s us,” Jake says as he grabs my hand and spins me into him. I brace my hands against his chest for balance.

“Maybe.” The rain comes down harder but I barely notice. Jake is looking at me with those beautiful eyes and I feel like I’ll never be cold again. He reaches up to brush my wet hair out of my face before he kisses me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Releases - Frozen, The Burning Sky, Tumble & Fall

by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Heart of Dread #1 
Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies?

 The Burning Sky
by Sherry Thomas
Elemental Trilogy #1 

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

Tumble & Fall
by Alexandra Coutts 
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the Earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

RTW -- To Boldly Go...

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic: 
This month's Bookmobile selection, STARGLASS by Phoebe North, takes place on a generation starship. But the characters wouldn't be there if their ancestors hadn't left Earth with the hope of their descendants one day colonizing elsewhere. 
Would you go on a generation starship, if given the opportunity? Why or why not?
At the time of writing this, I'm watching Star Trek: Into Darkness for the second time in three days. While I would prefer to be the person born on the ship so that I could have a chance of seeing new worlds, I would go on a generation starship if given the chance. 

There's nothing like the chance to travel the stars, the chance to see things that no one has seen before and may never see again. Sometimes I love this world, but the idea of finding a new one and building civilization there--a world that would hopefully learn from the mistakes of this one...

Also, stars. Being able to travel among the stars. It wouldn't be easy and I'd have to give up a lot of things I love (horses, hiking, privacy), but if I had to, I would.

Monday, September 16, 2013

College: Tips for Cold Season Reprint

This is a partial reprint of my post from last September. It's cold season once more. I was sick two weekends ago and the cough is sticking around. At the same time, most of my roommates got sick along with half of campus. Here are some tips on how to get through it as quickly as possible.

Drink plenty of fluids
The biggest thing when you're sick is to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water or your favorite drink in your bag when you're running around campus. I also recommend tea, especially green tea. Peppermint is my personal favorite for when I'm sick, especially if there's a sore throat involved.

This is the best thing for getting better. If you have the chance to take a nap, do it. If not, try to relax and get as much sleep as possible. If you're sick, I don't recommend running around outside, especially if it's cold. The more running around you do, the more likely it's going to take longer for you to get better.

Skip class only if you have to
On a similar note, don't skip class unless you have to. Sometimes it's better to skip class if it means you'll get more rest and recover faster. At the same time, it's hard to make up for lost class time in college. Even if you have someone to get the lecture notes from, it's not the same as being there and being able to write them down in a way that you'll be able to study from easier. There's also the risk of missing quizzes, tests, and assignments.

Keep a ration of supplies 
Around this time, make sure you have supplies, just in case. Just whatever makes you feel better: soup, medicines, vitamins, Kleenex, whatever. It'll be easier to have this stuff now rather than waiting to get sick and have to go to the store for it. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flash Fiction: Umbrella

It's raining and gloomy outside right now (and has been off and on for the past few days). I was staring out the window when this little fic popped into my head.

Rain poured down when I stepped out of class. I reached into my backpack, but the only things in there were my books and my paper.

I took out my umbrella the day before, to give myself more room. Right.

Nothing to do for it now. I had to cross campus in order to get back to the dorms. I stuffed my hands into my hoodie pocket, scrunched up my shoulders, and stepped out.

Within a few steps, the rain was running down my face.

A few more and I could feel it soaking through my hoodie and my jeans rasped against my legs.
I pulled the hood up over my head, but it did little to protect me from the driving rain. I hunched over as a cold wind blew out of the north and blasted straight into my face.

I should have stayed in bed.

I was only about a quarter of the way across campus when a boy’s voice caught my attention. “Umbrella?” he said.

I looked over to see him staring at me, his umbrella held at an angle so there was enough room beneath it for two. His hair was black and cropped short above rough features and a powerful build. I recognized him from my math class, where he sat in the front and scribbled constantly in his notebook.

“Thanks.” I stepped underneath it, feeling the immediately relief of getting out of the rain. I was still soaked but at least I couldn’t get any worse.

“Where do you live?” he continued as we kept walking.

“Nelson.” I pushed my hood off my head, running my fingers through my scraggly hair. “What about you?”

“Same. My name’s Jake, by the way.” He switched the umbrella to his other hand so that he could reach over to shake.

I clasped his hand briefly, enjoying the momentary warmth on my freezing skin. “Nora.” 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Releases: Fangirl, Antigoddess, Living with Jackie Chan

by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

by Kendare Blake
Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

 Living with Jackie Chan
by Jo Knowles
Companion to Jumping Off Swings
After fathering a baby, a teenager moves in with his karate-loving uncle and tries to come to terms with his guilt — and find a way to forgive.

This isn’t how Josh expected to spend senior year. He thought he’d be hanging out with his best friends, Dave and Caleb, driving around, partying, just like always. But here he is, miles from home — new school, new life, living with his Jackie-Chan-obsessed uncle, Larry, and trying to forget. But Josh can’t forget. So many things bring back memories of last year and the night that changed everything. Every day the pain, the shame, and the just not knowing are never far from his thoughts. Why is he such a loser? How could he have done what he did? He finds some moments of peace when he practices karate with Stella, the girl upstairs and his one real friend. As they move together through the katas, Josh feels connected in a way he has never felt before. He wonders if they could be more than friends, but Stella’s jealous boyfriend will make sure that doesn’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter. If Stella knew the truth, would she still think he was a True Karate Man? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

RTW -- Quarterly Check-In

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic: 
Quarterly check-in: we did one in March and one in July. Now that we're 3/4 of the way through the year, how are you doing on your goals?
What? No. Not possible. We can't be three-quarters of the way through 2013 already, right?? Wow. Goals-wise, I'm back in school, which means I'm back to settling into my usual routine. 
My reading goal for this year was 100 and, once again, I won't be meeting it. I'm up to 23 right now. I'd be higher, but I'm currently reading three books at the same time (one classic, one reread, and one for class). I also set a goal to read 10 classics and I'm up to 2. I'm taking a class on Tolkien, though, and I'm counting each of his books that I have to read for class as classics on my list.

My only writing goal was to write and that's going relatively well. I don't have a new WIP yet, but I have been working on revisions for my dragon-girl novel. They've been on hold while I'm getting settled, but I'll be starting work again very soon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rose Under Fire is HERE

Rose Under Fire
by Elizabeth Wein
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY. IT'S HERE. I hesitantly read Code Name Verity last year after weeks of hearing glowing recommendations and praise. I'm cautious about reading books that I've only heard good things about, because my expectations can end up being far too high. 

My expectations were extremely high going in...and absolutely blown away. It was a gorgeously written book that shattered my heart and contained one of the most amazing plot twists I've read. 

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

Monday, September 9, 2013

College: Getting Involved on Campus

Classes are starting and students are heading back to school. College isn't all classes and homework and partying. There are lots of clubs and events that students can get involved in.

Start looking into your options early. If there's a club fair, go wander around and find out more about anything that catches your attention. Most clubs have interest meetings that you can attend without committing. Here you can find out more about the club and what they do. I recommend attending these meetings widely and then cherry-picking the ones that you're really interested in.

Consider getting involved within student government. This can be a great opportunity for leadership experience, planning events, meeting people, and getting your voice heard.

Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Pick one or two clubs to begin with, keeping track of the time commitment involved. Some clubs require more time than others, especially those that put on a lot of events. Clubs typically are always open to new members, so in a year or two if you decide you have room for another, then you can always join later.

If you attend college close to home, consider staying on campus during most weekends. Typically there are a lot of events on weekends, in addition to it being some of the best homework time. At the same time, be open to new experiences. Do things that you've never done before. You never know what you might enjoy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Flash Fiction: Don't Stay Out After Dark

This fic was inspired by this Tumblr post containing the writing prompt "Use some or all of these in a story or poem: A vampire, a stolen debit card, and a coconut."

Everyone knows the streets aren’t safe after dark. Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I’ll tug back the curtains and peek out the windows.

Outside, the world is dark and silent. It seems that even the stars are afraid to come out. The trees rustle. Garbage tumbles through the streets. An occasional stray cat or dog will dash down the alleyway.

If I look closely, I can catch a flash of movement in the darkest shadows, the predators of the night hunting for anyone foolish enough to get caught outside after dark.

Anyone like me.

I pull my coat up closer around my body, trying to block out the cold winter wind that is cutting through my layers. I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for my stupid debit card. I’m sure it was in my pocket when I left the grocery store, but when I got home and checked, it was gone.

Really it’s Lisa’s fault for sending me out so late in the evening to buy a coconut of all things. Pregnant women want the strangest things.

Three blocks from home. I stay alert, keeping to the parts of the road lit by the streetlamps above as much as possible. My heart pounds in my chest, probably alerting anyone within a five-mile radius that there’s a piece of prey moving about in their territory.

I haven’t even managed to find my stupid debit card. Someone probably picked my pocket on the way home. Maybe it was that little girl that bumped into me as I walked out the door. Or the old man with the hollowed eyes that I gave my pocket change.

I’ll have to call the bank in the morning. Unless, of course, I die and then I won’t have to worry about it.

Two blocks from home. I move a little faster, the wooden stake tucked in my jacket knocking against my ribs.

One block from home. I can make it. Relief blooms in my stomach. I can see my house, a light still on over the porch.

There’s a flash of darkness behind the tree in my front yard. Ice rushes through my veins. I reach for the stake, not about to get murdered right in my front yard. At least not without a fight.

The vampire steps out, his white fangs gleaming in the darkness. It’s probably the porch light that drew him in, the universal sign of someone being out after dark. He’s lithe with red eyes and a thick black cloak.

I don’t know why they have to wear those things, considering vampires don’t actually get cold. Must be a provision in the Vampire Code.

I wait for him to make some sort of sarcastic remark, ask me why I’m out so late, but he just attacks. Simple, straightforward. I like that.

I ground myself, watching him come. Vampires move faster than anything I’ve ever seen. I can feel the panic building in my veins but I don’t let it overwhelm me.

Three, two, one…I bring the stake out of my jacket and slam it straight into the vampire’s heart. I’m allowed a few seconds of enjoyment over the look of utter shock in his eyes before he disintegrates into a pile of dust.

“Gross,” I whisper, brushing what I can off my jacket. I run the rest of the distance to the door, pushing my way inside and slamming it behind me. I flick on the hall light and something glints at me from the floor. I growl as I lean over to pick it up.

It’s my debit card.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

New Releases: The 100, Conjured, Starry Nights

The 100
by Kass Morgan
In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

by Sarah Beth Durst
Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.

  Starry Nights
by Daisy Whitney
Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tracking Productivity

When you're working on a WIP, sometimes it can be useful to keep track of how much you are progressing. This is especially true when setting word count goals. There are a number of different ways to track progress when drafting.

The easiest is to write down what the word count on your document is before starting a period of drafting and then again at the end. This can be difficult to remember to do, however, especially if you're anxious to get started on a scene.

When I used Word for writing, I would change the text color to red at the start of a writing session and then, to see what my word count for that day was, I would just select the red text. This works well if you remember to change text color before you start writing and then remember to change it back to black before you start another session.

Some programs have functions that keep track of session word count on their own. Scrivener does this and allows you to set goals that it lets you know when they are met.

Once you've figured out how to track your daily word counts, the next step is to decide how to record them, if you wish. You could use Word or Excel to record them. I keep a simple Excel sheet with the days of the week and a column for me to input word count. It's also set to auto-sum so that I can see my weekly word count. At the start of each week, I clear off the records from the last week so I can start with a clean slate.

You can also use more advanced worksheets, downloaded or created on your own. I used to have one that had a new sheet for each year, a box for each month, a column for each week, and a cell for each day. It requires a good level of dedication to remember to record the word count for each day, however.