Sunday, May 30, 2010

In My Mailbox - 27 BEA week!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi (who I met this week!) at The Story Siren

I'm still in NYC hanging out with family and recovering from bookstravaganza that was BEA! So this week I'm posting a pic of my BEA haul, which did not come in my mailbox but instead came at the expense of my sore shoulders and tired feet (and was so totally worth it). I had to box most of them up and mail them back so technically they'll be in my mailbox next week but anyhoo, LOOK AT WHAT I GOT!!

Some of the ARCs I'm most excited about are:

Delirium by Lauren Oliver *signed*
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Matched by Ally Condie
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger *signed*
Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles *signed*
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff *signed*
Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan *signed*

But as you can see there are tons more and I am so excited to read them that I can hardly decide which to read first. I also got to meet some of my favorite authors and get signed copies of their books, like Richelle Mead and Spirit Bound!

A full post on BEA is coming next week!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - 23 - Pretty Little Liars #8: Wanted

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

Pretty Little Liars #8: Wanted by Sara Shepard - Release Date: June 8, 2010
In Rosewood, majestic estates sprawl for acres, and Tiffany toggle bracelets dangle from every girl's wrist. But not all that glitters is gold, and the town harbors secrets darker than anyone could imagine—like the truth about what really happened the night Alison DiLaurentis went missing. . . .

Back in middle school, Ali plucked Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer from obscurity and turned them into the beautiful, popular girls everyone wanted to be. Ali was the best friend they ever had. But she also made them do terrible things and taunted them with their worst secrets. Now, three years later, all their questions about Ali have finally been answered and they can put this awful chapter of their lives behind them. Or so they think.

Not every story has a happy ending, especially when four pretty little liars have done so many wicked things. In the dramatic conclusion of Sara Shepard's bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer could get everything they've ever wanted—unless A has one more horrifying twist in store.

I have really enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars series (seriously, I read the first 5 books all in like, one week) and while I'm excited to find out how it all ends, I'm a little sad to see it go.

But I won't have to miss it for long because also on June 8th, the NEW Pretty Little Liars TV Series premieres at 8pm on ABC Family!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where You At? - All About Setting

Right now I'm probably on a plane to NYC for BEA or at Books of Wonder meeting the class of 2k10! Jealous? Since I'm off doing writer things I thought I'd share one of my recent writing posts from my crit group's blog Sisters in Scribe.

So today I'm going to talk about setting. As in, where your story takes place. At my recent SCBWI conference, agent Beth Fleisher of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency, Inc. spoke on the importance of setting in your ms. Here's some of what she had to say:

Setting makes a story unique. (Which helps with sales.)
Look at something like, Titanic. If you take away the boat, you just have a pretty common story about forbidden love between a poor boy and rich girl who's supposed to marry someone else. It's a story we've seen a thousand times, but never on the biggest, most opulent boat ever, or in the middle of the ocean.

In a good book, setting informs character and plot.
Setting can give the character's view of the world, and show so much about a character without explicitly saying so.

In Beautiful Creatures, (a book that's dripping with setting - so much that it's almost another character in the book) the setting tells us so much about Ethan, and the townspeople just from it's description. We know it's small, and hot, and steeped in history, all of which gives us a sense of what kind of people live there.

In Twilight, the rainy weather gives us hints about character and plot early on. We notice that The Cullens are never in school when it's sunny long before we find out why.

Setting has an external function.
Think again about Titanic. Once the ship hits the iceberg the setting becomes the major motivator for all of the characters' actions. Jack and Rose are no longer focused on being a couple, they're fighting to stay alive together. The setting moves the plot along.

Setting can be used to set up a juxtaposition, which can be powerful and moving.
One example of this that has always stuck with me is September 11, 2001 was a beautiful day in New York City. Then the terror attack happened. It was surreal to see the bright blue sky and sunshine while there was so much horror and tragedy going on. It felt like it should be a dark, bleak day, but it wasn't, and in some ways that made it worse. Bad things aren't supposed to happen on beautiful days.

On a smaller scale, think of a girl getting dumped inside the most beautiful prom ever, in the most perfect dress. Or standing on a beach in Hawaii and getting a phone call that their mother is in the hospital. The reverse can work too. Stranded and freezing cold in a rain storm, a girl learns her crush is in love with her and suddenly she doesn't even notice the rain anymore.

Setting is the soul of the book.
You can use your setting to build a sense of intensity and fear, or romance. In most cases, it should work invisibly with the plot. Use your setting to build your atmosphere.

Everything must serve the book.
Don't be afraid to create your own setting. Even in a contemporary, realistic story. If there's no town or place that fits your needs, make one up! Just be sure to do your research, especially if you're setting your fictional town in an area you've never been.

Monday, May 24, 2010

So Much Awesome!

So, lots of randomly awesome stuff has happened in the last few days!

I broke 400 followers, which means that the first bonus prize in my MASSIVE BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZA CONTEST has been added!

Friday, I got invited to participate in the ABC Family PRETTY LITTLE LIARS Secret Keeper contest and today THEY SENT ME A DROID! Which I get to keep after the contest is over! It arrived in a box of dirt and I don't have Verizon, but I don't care, it's still awesome. It should be fun trying to keep up with the game while in NYC for BEA.

Also Friday, the awesome Elana Johnson announced that she SOLD HER BOOK! Go check out her blog to read about her inspiring journey to publication! Plus she's having a HUGE Book Deal Giveaway!

And finally, today my awesome crit partner Lacey was named one of the winners of this month's Secret Agent! (She's #3 Greyskin which you should read because it's awesome!) That makes the Sisters In Scribe 2 for 2 in Secret Agent!

And now I must go get ready for my flight to NYC tomorrow. BEA here I come!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In My Mailbox - 26

This week was the BEST. WEEK. EVER! I thought I would never get my hands on a copy of Linger! Woohoo! And Spirit Bound is out! So excited!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
The Light (Morpheus Road, #1) by D.J. MacHale

Spirit Boundby Richelle Mead
Gimme A Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In My Mailbox - 25

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Siren by Tricia Rayburn

The Daykeeper's Grimoire (Prophecy of Days, #1) by Christy Raedeke
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another Awesome Contest!

Candyland is celebrating reaching 100 followers! With TWO awesome contests!

She's giving away prizes for readers (including Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr donated by me!) and prizes for writers like a query critique from Elana Johnson! And it's international!

Contest ends Thursday, May 20th at noon (EST). So head on over there and ENTER NOW!

Plus, her blog is awesome, you should go over there and check it out anyway!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My birthday is exactly 4 weeks from today (June 10th) and I decided that this year I want to celebrate it by giving something to all of you out there in the blogosphere that have made the past year so amazingly AWESOME for me!

I'm going Oprah style and I'm giving away my favorite things!

I've got awesome prizes for readers, writers, and of course, this contest is INTERNATIONAL!

There are two grand prize packs, one for writers, one for readers, two more writer and reader prize packs, plus weekly giveaways and bonuses if I get enough followers! Here's what you can win:

Reader's Grand Prize Pack
My Favorite Books So Far This Year:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summer

2nd Reader's Prize
Choice of ANY Pre-Order from my Wish List:

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Replacement by Brenna Yovannoff
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Sister's Red by Jackson Pearce
Fixing Delilah Hannaford by Sarah Ockler

Writer's Grand Prize Pack
Choice of:

A 30 page critique
Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

OR if you don't want a critique

Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King
The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler
Write or Die - Desktop Edition (works on both PC and Mac)

2nd Writer's Prize
The You Can Write A Novel Kit

If I reach 400 followers I will throw in a prize of a choice of ONE book from my favorite books of 2009 (see list here)

If I reach 450 followers before the end of the contest, I will add in a mystery grab bag of at least 3 books for a US/Canada winner OR if the winner is International a choice of either one of my faves of 2009 or 2010 !

If I reach 500 followers my mind will be blown and I'll have to come up with something amazing to give away!

- You MUST be a follower to win a prize.
- Contest is open to anyone who lives in any country the Book Depository delivers to. (See list here.)
- Contest ends at 11:59 pm ET on June 10, 2010
- Winners will be announced around June 17, 2010

+10 An actual blog post about this contest.
+ 5 For being an old follower (May 12, 2010 or earlier)
+ 3 For being a new follower. NOTE: You MUST be a follower to win. I will check!
+ 5 For following my crit group's blog Sisters In Scribe
+ 8 Add me to your blogroll
+ 5 Link to this contest in your sidebar
+ 2 Tweet about this contest
+ 2 Link to this contest on Facebook

Leaving a comment does NOT enter you!

check back next week for the winners

Monday, May 10, 2010

Screenwriters! Do The Write Thing For Nashville!

If you haven't already you need to check out Do The Write Thing For Nashville!

Authors, agents, and editors are donating their, books, time, and advice to raise money to help with flood relief in Nashville! You can bid on critiques, signed books, phone calls with agents, and all kinds of cool things!

I'm even donating a full feature-length screenplay critique a copy of The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler

AND a signed copy of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher!

PLEASE help get the word out! If you don't write scripts, there's plenty of other good stuff available, and if you know someone that does have a screenplay in need of critiquing, please tell them about the auction! It ENDS WEDNESDAY MAY 12!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review - A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner -
3.5 out of 5 stars

For months, Cass Meyer has heard her best friend Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a sudden car accident, and while Cass is still reeling from her death, Julia’s boyfriend and her other drama friends make it their mission to bring to fruition the nearly-completed secret project: a musical about an orphaned ninja princess entitled Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.

Cass isn’t one of the drama people. She doesn’t feel at home with Julia’s drama friends, and she doesn’t see a place for her in the play. Things only get worse when she finds out that Heather Galloway, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school, has been cast as the ninja princess.

Cass can’t take a summer of swallowing her pride and painting sets, so she decides to follow her original plan for a cross-country road trip with Julia. Even if she has a touring bicycle instead of a driver’s license, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware.

Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. About making peace with the past, and making sense of it. And it’s a story about the bloodiest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

This was a sweet book. It's told in chapters that alternate between the past and the present following both Cass's bike ride across the country and the setting up of Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.

Once I got past the idea that parents would actually let a 17-year-old girl ride her bike across the country by herself (which, honestly, was really hard for me to get over, especially once you see the kind of conditions she has to deal with, like camping in abandoned fields by the highway, alone, in a tiny tent) I was able to enjoy the story.

It drags a bit in the middle, but just when you're starting to wonder where the story is going, it picks back up and gives you a couple surprises. I thought the unfolding of the love story worked really well, and the grief everyone was dealing with was complex and real. All in all, this was a good book, you just have to stick with it to the end.

Cover: 4

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

In My Mailbox - 24

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Winner! Stolen by Lucy Christopher

The Random Number Generator has spoken and the winner of Stolen by Lucy Christopher is:


Congrats Skyla! Look for an email from me so I can get your address and send it out!

If I don't hear from the winner in 48 hours, I will choose a new one. Thanks so much to everyone for entering!

How To Inject Suspense Into Your Novel

This past weekend I attended my local SCBWI spring conference in Lansing, MI. It was all kinds of awesome. There were SO MANY great lectures and workshops and this is especially amazing because it was only a one day conference!

THE Jay Asher gave an inspiring talk on his 12 year path to publication. Seriously, 12 years! And how he held onto the idea that would become his first published book for years before he finally came up with the perfect story to execute it. (If you haven't read his NYT Bestselling book Thirteen Reasons Why yet, you really should.)

But you see, Jay Asher wasn't just there to tell us not to give up, he was there to teach. And I learned a lot. So here we go.


One of your goals as a writer should be to keep your readers reading. Make your book un-put-downable. Don't give them convenient stopping places because they might not remember to pick it back up!


We learn over time what happened to cause the situation the MC is in. Usually this type of story begins with the major event already having happened to the main character and throughout the story we learn bits and pieces of what lead up to that event, OR the main character is thrust into a new situation and as the story progresses we uncover the reasons why.

books that do this well: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Holes by Louis Sachar

BEWARE of gimmicky slow reveals. It can be difficult to pull this off without making the reader feel duped. A story like Speak works because the MC is too traumatized to even think about what happened. But if a reader gets 3/4 of the way through the book and discovers that even though they've been inside the MC's head the entire time the MC never once let on that they knew exactly what happened the reader will be frustrated. Wondering why didn't the MC just say so in the first place.

Forcing the reader to flip pages faster and faster builds tension.
One way to do this is Pacing:
When things get tense/exciting, use shorter sentences and paragraphs.
White space on the page makes readers feel like they're moving through the book faster.
So that big, action-packed chase scene?
Don't fill it with long, winding, literary descriptions and huge blocks of fifteen line paragraphs.
See? Dialogue can also speed things up this way.

This goes for emotionally suspenseful moments too. If a character is about to learn that her dad is having an affair, that can be every bit as tension-filled as fighting off a zombie attack.

BEWARE being obvious about this. It should be undetectable, so save it for the moments when it really is tense and use it to ENHANCE those moments, not to make your boring chapter about going to the dentist feel more exciting. (Because unless that dentist is a ninja assassin, it's not.)

The end of a chapter is not the end of an episode/scene/event, it's the promise of something more. Let me repeat that because it's worth hearing twice: The end of a chapter is not the end of an episode/scene/event, it's the PROMISE OF SOMETHING MORE.

Ways to do this:
- What just grabbed me?!? (Think: A character walks into a dark room, he hears a sound, turns and something grabs his shoulder. He thinks OMG! What just grabbed me? And the chapter ends.) - This is a fairly cheap way to get the reader to turn the page. (According to Jay, all of the Goosebumps books work this way, but I haven't verified this.)

BEWARE: The problem with this type of cliffhanger is that it only encourages the reader to read the next few sentences to find out what grabbed the MC. Once they're read that, they can stop. This is often used when the reveal is not that exciting, like in the example I used, the beginning of the next chapter would reveal that it was just his friend that grabbed him, not some hideous monster, they would both laugh at how scared they were and the tension would be gone. Too many of these will disappoint your reader and they start to believe your book is just a bunch of cheap parlor tricks.

- Cut the Action Early - This causes anxiety in the reader. It's similar to the above example but instead it occurs in the middle of an event like a confrontation, fight or chase scene. The reader simply has to read the next chapter and find out what happens next.

- Hint at Stories To Come - This builds anticipation. If you wrap up a major event in a chapter, make sure that the end of that event sets up the beginning of the next one.

For Example: Your MC finally finds the magic box they've been looking for. Yay! (Do NOT end the chapter here.) But wait, what's that rumbling sound? Oh no! Dislodging the box from it's hiding space has set off a rock slide! How will they get out of this? (And... end chapter!)

BEWARE tying things up in pretty bows. When you wrap up a chapter with all the loose ends tied up you lose anticipation. There's no reason for the reader to keep reading because everything was just resolved. Coming from the screenwriting world, this is probably my biggest weakness when it comes to suspense. I think in scenes which means generally they end neatly, and then the next one starts somewhere else at some later time. Do not be like me.

books that do this well: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Other Easy but Effective Ways to Inject Suspense:
- Prologues
- Countdowns
- Chapter Titles

What about you? What are some of your favorite ways to inject suspense? What books do you think do it well?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday 22 - Sisters Red

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

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - Release Date: June 7, 2010
Scarlet March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

I love the sound of this. It's like a modern day fairytale. Like Little Red Riding Hood meets Buffy. Can't wait to check it out!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spread The Awesome: Win Stolen by Lucy Christopher

So I just found about this this morning, but the awesome Elana Johnson is hosting a Spread The Awesome day today where bloggers post the books they think deserve ten stars! Obviously, I had to participate! So here's my pick:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty--rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar--pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare--or die trying to fight it.

Stolen is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it. It's really stunning, on so many levels. The description of the Austrailian Outback is so clear that you feel like you're right there with you and the way the story unfolds... I don't want to spoil anything for you, but wow. It will leave you breathless, and heartbroken, and triumphant, and most of all you will want to tell everyone you know to read this book!

In honor of the spirit of Spread The Awesome, I'm going to giveaway ONE copy of Stolen to a reader who lives in any country the Book Depository ships to. That's right, this contest is INTERNATIONAL!

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment with your email address (be sure to spell out @ as "at" and . as "dot" like this - name at email dot com - so you don't get hit by spambots). You MUST be a FOLLOWER to win!

Contest ends Wednesday, May 5th at midnight EDT. I'll post the winner on Thursday, May 6th.

Find more awesomeness at Mary Campbell's blog and be sure to check out the full list of Recommended Reads on Elana's blog. It features all the books bloggers are posting today!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In My Mailbox - 23

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Fire Will Fall by Carol Plum-Ucci
Faithful by Janet Fox

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner
Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
The Everafter (signed!) by Amy Huntley
Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe
Thirteen Reasons Why (signed!) by Jay Asher
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