Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 17 - Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine. This week's choice is:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan - release date April 6, 2010
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.

It's John Green and David Levithan. Together. Need I say more?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review - Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
3 out of 5 stars

His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

I don't like to give negative reviews so I'll just say that this book didn't do it for me. While I liked the main character Phe, and several of the minor characters, I just didn't enjoy the plot the way I thought I would. Without spoiling anything I'll say that Shadow Hills is an odd mix of science and mythology that with the little explanation provided don't really mesh together well.

This story had so much potential but I didn't feel that it quite reached it. Intriguing mysteries were set up only to be solved with no effort whenever the plot required it. Help/solutions magically appear without explanation whenever Phe is in danger.

Romance fans will enjoy this book. The relationship between Phe and Zach is believable, and I cared about them. I felt most of the characters were well-drawn and interesting. They felt real. Overall, Shadow Hills is a good debut. I expected Anastasia Hopcus's books will only get better.

Cover: The cover is sort of cool looking but I have no idea what it is (orange smoke?) or what it has to do with the book. It doesn't give any sense of the spookiness of the town or the romance or anything else. I also don't think the tagline "His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her." is really representative of the story.

Writing: 2.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 2.5/5

Overall Rating: 3/5

Monday, March 29, 2010

Things That Make Me Happy

I've been sick for the last week so I decided to post some things that cheer me up. (Really at this point, the thing that makes me happiest is being able to breathe somewhat!)

First up:

Seeing my fave writer/bloggers acheive their goals. And today is a big one!

Shannon got an agent! Read about it on her blog!


I'm going to BEA!! Woohoo! NYC, free books and meeting my CP Lacey in person! Does it get better than that?


My latest musical obsession. This song:

The Ladder - by Andrew Belle

My favorite lyric doesn't actually appear in this video, so I'll quote it for you:

Woe is me
Sentimental you and faithful me
I will be the one to gaze on you discreetly.

What I love most about this song is that about a week ago I had an experience that inspired an idea for a screenplay and a few days later I discovered this song, which is essentially the theme of my story idea with just the right amount of joy and heartbreak. It so perfectly fits the tone of my idea that I feel like it's a sign from the universe. Now if I could just find the time to write it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In My Mailbox - 18

In My Mailbox comes from Kristi at The Story Siren

Split by Swati Avasthi

Beautiful by Amy Lynn Reed
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Lessons From A Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review - The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard -
5 out of 5 stars

Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one—not even Julia’s boyfriend— knew.

They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death.

When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

I LOVED THIS BOOK! Loved it. I seriously don't have much to say other than that. It was one of the most moving, and real books I've read in a long time.

I hate to use cliche words like "gritty" because it doesn't really describe this book, and yet, Colt is not a rich kid. He lives in a town literally divided by class (and a mountain) and his world is so vividly described. As someone from a small town (not a suburb) I could really relate to his world and I loved the way it was described.

Colt is a beautiful character and I loved being inside his mind while he read through Julia's diary entries and tried to sort through his feelings. His confusion and heartbreak are perfectly rendered here. This is such a great book. If you haven't picked it up yet, you're really missing out.

Cover: LOVE the cover! The cover of this book is one of the things that drew me to it. I love all the dark space with just the hint of the couple at the bottom. It looks sort of secretive and the way they're almost out of the frame gives a sense of motion and loss, like that moment is already drifting away from us. It really sets the tone of the book. Plus on the actual book it has a sort of velvety texture which is cool.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 16 - Faithful by Janet Fox

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine. This week's choice is:

Faithful by Janet Fox - Release Date: May 13, 2010

Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared, and is presumed dead.
The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana.

Torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her friends, from society, and verging on no prospects, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself.

And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture Maggie’s heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.

Faithful is Janet Fox's debut YA novel. Is it on your Debut Authors Challenge List? I would probably buy this book for the cover alone, but it also sounds like a great mystery set in a time period you don't see very often. Can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review - Hourglass (Evernight #3) by Claudia Gray

Hourglass (Evernight #3) by Claudia Gray -
3.5 out of 5 Stars

Bianca will risk everything to be with Lucas.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school where they met, Bianca and Lucas take refuge with Black Cross, a fanatical group of vampire hunters. Bianca must hide her supernatural heritage or risk certain death at their hands. But when Black Cross captures her friend—the vampire Balthazar—hiding is no longer an option.

Soon, Bianca and Lucas are on the run again, pursued not only by Black Cross, but by the powerful leaders of Evernight. Yet no matter how far they travel, Bianca can't escape her destiny.

Bianca has always believed their love could survive anything . . . but can it survive what's to come?

When I read the first Evernight book, I went in with low expectations. I kinda thought, okay, another vampire book. Everything in it seemed so obvious at first, but then, it wasn't! Claudia Gray has a really great knack for making you think you know where a story is going, and then turning the whole thing upside down without ever making it feel forced or like it was just for effect. Because of this, I really liked both Evernight and Stargazer, and I had high expectations for Hourglass.

Hourglass is a good book. I loved the deepening of Lucas and Bianca's relationship and the fact that they faced tough, heartbreaking choices. The only thing I wasn't as into about this book is that there's less action and a lot more time spent on the day to day. It was a necessary occurrence given the things Lucas and Bianca are going through, but it slowed things down a bit for me.

Claudia Gray has one heck of a story in this series and while I wasn't totally happy with how things ended for Lucas and Bianca (this is on a total fan level like I love them and I want everything to be perfect for them, and not at all a comment on the writing itself) I'm very interested to see how this whole story comes to a close.

Hourglass sets a lot of big changes in motion and I can't wait to see how things come together in Afterlife.

Cover: I have never been a huge fan of the Evernight covers, I just don't think they represent the book well at all. You don't get any sense of how exciting and twisty the books are. This is definitely my least favorite cover. I think it's because you can see the girl's face so well. Bianca is a 17-year-old redhead. The woman on the cover looks old, and nothing like the way Bianca is described. Plus she looks kinda mad. It just, doesn't work for me. I love the font though!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In My Mailbox - 17

In My Mailbox comes from Kristi at The Story Siren

I got some cool international versions of some books I've been wanting to read from The Book Depository!

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review - Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr - 4 out of 5 Stars

Hunger for nourishment.

Hunger for touch.

Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.
Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

Alluring romance, heart-stopping danger, and sinister intrigue combine in Melissa Marr’s next volume of Melissa Marr’s New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series.

Radiant Shadows releases April 20, 2010

I really liked this book. In fact, I think it might be my favorite of the series so far. I didn't have the highest hopes going in, because I had a hard time getting into Fragile Eternity, but this book won me over right away. Ani is an interesting character in an even more interesting situation. She felt very authentic and was easy to connect to.

One thing that surprised me about this book was how much I came to like Devlin. He's a strange and somewhat distant man and yet I totally got him. I loved watching him struggle with his emotions and grow into a character that I really cared about. It shows what a great writer Melissa Marr is that she can take a character like Devlin and make me care about him.

As always, I'm astounded by the world-building in the Wicked Lovely series. It truly just blows my mind. The worlds and their rules are so complex and detailed yet I can follow them. The descriptions are so clear that I can see every place they go, can practically feel and smell it.

If I had one complaint it would be that there was maybe more setup than payoff. I'm eager to read the next book and see what happens but I would've liked a little more to happen in this book. Still, it was a fun read. I can't wait for the next one!

Cover: LOVE the cover! The Wicked Lovely books have some of the best covers out there and this one is no exception. Bonus points for the fact that it actually relates to the plot in the book, rather than just being pretty.

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3.5/5

Overall Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Contest - Win Guardian of the Dead!

Win Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey!

I'm giving away one brand new hardcover copy of Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey!

Read about it here:

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie's circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, "You need it. It will save your soul." Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies, Maori mythology, romance, betrayal, and an epic battle for immortality.

* You MUST be a follower to enter.
      - New followers get +1
      - Old followers get +2
* Contest ends at 11:59pm EDT April 1, 2010.
* Contest is open to US and Canada residents only. (Sorry! I've got an international one coming up soon!)

Ways to get extra entries.
* Follow my crit group's blog Sisters In Scribe +3
* Tweet about the contest. +1
* Write a blog post about the contest. +5
* Add a link to the contest in your sidebar. +3

To enter, fill out the form below.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This is my weekly post over at Sisters In Scribe

Recently, I had one of those moments writers dream of. An agent read some of my writing samples on my blog and requested a partial.

Awesome, right? AMAZING! I was stunned and surprised (and let this be a guide for everyone hoping to draw attention to their work, two tips - 1. MAKE SURE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS ON YOUR BLOG and 2. TAG your teasers!) and then moments later, the elation turned to that most evil of all emotions - DOUBT.

I won't get into what those doubts were, they were the standard fare that I'm sure you can come up with on your own. What I doubted is not the point. The point is that in a moment that should've felt like validation, I was personally invalidating myself.

The important thing is that I realized I was doing it. And 90% of solving a problem is figuring out what that problem is. (Okay I just made that up, it could be like, 78%.) Knowing I was having an irrational reaction helped to tone that reaction down and keep it from overwhelming me and convincing me that before I send anything I need to say, rewrite my entire book in the 3rd Person POV of a snail, and remove all instances of the word "the".

So what to do about doubt? I don't think it will ever go away. It's like the weather. Sometimes it has to rain, but you can prepare for it, and you can know it's not going to rain forever. If you're serious about being the best writer you can be, and creating the best work, then you will have moments of doubt. Even Mother Teresa questioned her faith!

Just make sure that when those moments come you recognize them for what they are - your desire to be your best - take a deep breath and don't email or delete anything until you've calmed down!

Waiting on Wednesday 15 - 13 To Life: A Werewolf's Tale

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine. This week's choice is:

13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale by Shannon Delaney - Release Date: June 22, 2010

Jessica's life seemed difficult enough since the sudden loss of her mother, but meeting Pietr Rusakova turns her world upside down again.

The newest member of Junction High, Pietr is a first generation Russian-American, a fact that by itself makes him different enough to get lots of attention in the small town.

But Pietr is far more than good looks and an interesting accent, Pietr has secrets to hide-secrets including dramatic changes he's undergoing that will surely end his life early.

Secrets dating back to the Cold War get the better of Jessica's curiosity, leading her into an exciting and dangerous world where her understanding of reality and what makes a man or a monster will be challenged.

13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale is Shannon Delaney's debut novel. Is it on your Debut Authors Challenge List? Not only does this book sound cool, it was started as a novel written in cell phone text messages! Shannon won the grand prize in the first-ever cell phone novel contest in the western world through Can't wait to check this one out!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In My Mailbox - 16

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Got lots of great stuff this week! Been waiting for The Dead-Tossed Waves and Hourglass for forever!

Hourglass by Claudia Gray
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Ghost Medicine by Andrew Smith
In The Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Win a 20 Page Critique or Book of Your Choice!

Karen Healey author of Guardian of the Dead is having a contest over at her blog!

The first person to send her photographic proof of her book out in the wild gets their choice of a 20 page manuscript critique or any book from The Book Depository! I already won the online retail part of the contest, but there's still a chance for more winners. This contest is international too!

Learn more HERE

Friday, March 12, 2010

Majorly Awesome Giveaway!

Sara is having a HUGE March Madness Giveaway on her blog!

She's giving out several prize packs and you can win a TON of great stuff! Check it out:


* SIGNED copy of Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
* The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters


* SIGNED copy of The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent (and bookmark)
* The Help by Kathryn Stockett


* The Everafter by Amy Huntley

* 2010 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market


* LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries Series:
o The Awakening and The Struggle (Books 1&2)
o The Fury and Dark Reunion (Books 3&4)
o Nightfall (The Return: Volume 1)


* OPI Giftset: Alice in Wonderland edition, which includes: Off with Her Red! - A glowering, empowering hot red & Absolutely Alice - An absolutely amazing blue glitter & Mad as a Hatter - A madly marvelous black-multi glitter & Thanks So Muchness! - For this "much-have" red shimmer Lights, camera, excitement!
* Vera Bradley ID holder (Turquoise)
* OPI Regular sized polish: Mad as a Hatter

Contest ends March 22nd. Enter HERE and tell her I sent you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Staying In The Moment With First Person

This is my weekly writing post over at Sisters In Scribe be sure to check out our blog!

I usually write first person present tense. It feels most natural to me and it's what I'm used to from writing screenplays. For my current WIP I made the choice to write first person past tense because I thought it better suited the way I wanted the story to unfold. What I noticed almost immediately was that some of the energy of my story was lost. The ms starts with a short piece of necessary backstory (paranormal world-building) and then moves into present day. My problem was that the "present day" stuff still sounded like it was happening in the past. It was all telling. Then I stumbled across this quote by Tami Brown over at the blueboards:

The biggest hurdle, I think, is true for all first person narratives. It's what I call "let me tell you my story" syndrome. The narrator tells the reader about what happened to them rather than jumping into the middle of the action and letting it unfold with the reader right there in the middle. You can debate showing vs. telling all day, but having plenty of showing and a minimum of telling is very important in a first person story, in my opinion. If you "tell" too much that creates a huge distance between the reader and the story- the narrator/protagonist is literally standing there, blabbing, instead to acting, and that equals boring.

It's so interesting to me to read this, because I've found it doesn't happen at all in present tense. There's just not a lot of room for sitting around ruminating on the past in present tense, because you are by definition, in the moment. I looked over my (very) rough draft and realized that I had fallen into this trap of "let me tell you a story" which was making my characters distant and the story itself, less powerful because it was being told as if it had already happened rather than as it was happening.

Here's an example of some of the changes I made (and remember please that both of these are still rough drafts!):

The "Let Me Tell You A Story" version:
I had a bad feeling as soon as Jenna said “party at Snake’s,” but I ignored it. Snake, Jenna’s latest victim, was twenty-two, and when he wasn’t busy selling drugs to the rich kids at West Haven, he worked at his uncle’s body shop.

Jenna was stoked though, so what could I do? I had just dumped my boyfriend, it wasn’t like I had other plans.

The "In The Moment" version:
Jenna shoved her phone into her back pocket and flashed me a grin. “Party at Snake’s.”

My gut said bad idea, but one look at her face told me I had no choice. Jenna had that “new guy glow”. Even the pink streak in her hair looked brighter.

I shrugged.

Jenna rolled her eyes. “It’s not like you have other plans.”

See the difference? One is a character standing in some undisclosed place, musing on events that happened, and the other is that character actively experiencing those events. I think the second version feels much more connected to both the character and has more energy than the first.

I find for me that it's important to remember that just because the character is narrating in past tense, doesn't mean that everything happened in the past.

I'll leave you with my new favorite piece of advice on tense: When it's done right, tense should be invisible.

Waiting on Wednesday 14 - Prophecy of Days

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine. This week's choice is:

Prophecy of Days - Book One: The Daykeeper's Grimoire by Christy Raedeke - Release Date: May 1, 2010

When her safe-cracker mom and code-breaker dad inherit a Scottish castle on the Isle of Huracan, sixteen-year-old Caity Mac Fireland is the only one in the family who's not happy about it. Ripped from her cushy life in San Francisco, taken away from her best friend Justine whom she's known since preschool, and relocated to the dreary island fortress, Caity's secret fantasy of being discovered by a Hollywood agent, talent scout, or even just a pageant coach seems more unlikely than ever.

But when Caity stumbles across a hidden room in the castle, its walls covered in strange symbols, her life takes a bizarre turn. She finds herself center stage in an international conspiracy involving warring secret societies (complete with their own scouts, double agents, and assassins), the suppressed revelations of the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012, plus the fate of humanity. With the help of her friend Justine back home, and Alex, the mysterious and gorgeous boy next door, Caity must rely on her own courage and creativity as she races to decipher the code and
reveal its message to the world before time runs out.

I read the description for this and just said YES! All the things I love, castles, mysteries, prophecies, cute boys next door. Can't wait to read this one!

What's your pick this week?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In My Mailbox - 15

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

Exit Strategy by Ryan Potter
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin
Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Schwa Was Here by Neal Schusterman

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Favorite Books on Writing

As I wade deeper into revisions, I thought I'd share some of my favorite books on writing!

The Writer's Journey by Christopher E. Vogler - This has been one is a carryove from my film school days, it's been one of my favorites for years. A GREAT look at plotting and the three act structure. It's aimed at the screenplay, but it works just as well for novels. I like to take my finished draft and compare it to the steps in the journey and see if I'm getting the most out of my story. It can also help if you're stuck on a plot point.

The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley - Lots of great info on POV, the benefits of each kind, staying in the POV you've chosen, and how to choose the best POV for your story.

Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt - Another cool one with tons of plot/structure ideas. It's fun to flip through when I'm stuck, but also gives a good understanding of how plot structure works if you just read through them.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass - A book loaded with info. I mean, literally LOADED, it tackles everything from POV to plot to editing by an agent who knows what he's talking about.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne, Dave King - I'm actually about to dive into this one this week. I haven't read it yet but I've heard nothing but good things about it.

On Writing by Stephen King - because, well, it's Stephen King.

What are some of your favorite books on writing?
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