Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Exciting News!

I have joined forces with three AWESOME YA writers to start a new group blog called TANGLED FICTION! Each month, L. J. Boldyrev, Natalie C. Parker, Anne Marie and I will be co-writing a short story and posting it on the blog.

What do I mean by co-writing? At the beginning of each month, one of us will start a new story. Then each week, one of us will continue the story until the end of the month when the story reaches its exciting and breathtaking conclusion! (Think Merry Sisters of Fate with a twist!)

We're SO excited to start this new challenge and hope you'll come check us out! Join the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community as a watcher, OR follow the Tangled Fiction Blog on Blogger (You can get the RSS feed there too!). We'll be posting in both places with the first part of our story appearing one week from today! Tuesday, September 7th.

You can hear more about Tangled Fiction tonight at 6:30 pm EST when L.J. chats with Barry Eva on his radio show A Book and Chat!

And there's even MORE cool stuff! Anne Marie and her crit partner Lesley are hosting COMPLETE YOUR DRAFT 2010!

Got a half-finished ms that you need to finish? Love the idea of NaNoWriMo but 50,000 is too many words or November is a bad month for you? Want to win TONS of awesome prizes? (Like signed books and ARCs and iTunes gift cards!) Then check out the Complete Your Draft 2010 contest! Write 25,000 words on your ms in the month of September and win prizes! Check out the link for all the info! Ends September 30th but sign up before September starts!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Monday 2 - So Moody

Currently loving these songs while I revise. (Although honestly, I LOVE Andrew Belle all the time.) They've got the perfect vibe, very moody.

Meiko - Sleep

Andrew Belle - Open Your Eyes

What's on your playlist this week?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox - 38

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
You by Charles Benoit

Friday, August 27, 2010

Five Things on a Friday + WINNER!

First up: WINNER! - The winner of the signed ARC of RETURN TO PARADISE by Simone Elkeles is CAROLINA VALDEZ MILLER! Check your email, I will be contacting you soon for your mailing address.

2. The Apple Pecan Chicken Salad at Wendy's is my new addiction! If you love salads, you must try this! The Pomegranate Vinaigrette is amazing!

3. I'm not really a huge Katy Perry fan, but I can't stop singing Teenage Dream this week.

4. I'm STILL emotionally drained from reading MOCKINGJAY.

5. I spent ALL day Wednesday working on my new blog look! What do you think?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spoilers Suck

Since everyone out there is probably reading MOCKINGJAY (squee!) right now (like me), or blogging about it, I thought I'd talk a pet peeve of mine. SPOILERS. And I don't just mean when someone posts info on the net about a long awaited book. (Although OMG I almost cried yesterday when I caught a glimpse of Kiersten White's joke MOCKINGJAY post and thought she'd spoiled me!) I mean when the book itself is a spoiler.

I always hate it when the blurb on the back of a book, or the cover image gives away the BIG SECRET in a book. Like for example, HUSH, HUSH:

The plot is based around the slow reveal that there's something strange about Patch. What could it be? Why is he always there to save Nora, even when it's impossible? What's up with those weird scars on his back?

HUSH, HUSH is almost 400 pages long and around page 250, Nora is just starting to put the clues about Patch together, and yet, thanks to the cover, I'm screaming at Nora from practically page one HE'S A FALLEN ANGEL!!! WATCH YOUR BACK!!! (Um, yeah, sorry if I spoiled that for you. But, seriously, the UK cover even features the tag line "A fallen angel... A forbidden love.") And I couldn't help but feel a little bad for Becca Fitzpatrick because all the masterful plotting and suspense she created lost some of it's edge because the biggest secret was right there on the cover. There was still plenty of tension, and lots to keep you hooked though. HUSH, HUSH is a great book that I highly recommend if you haven't read it yet!

This also happens with blurbs, like with TWILIGHT, whose back cover blurb starts out with this quote from the book:

About three things I was absolutely positive:
First, Edward was a vampire.
Second, there was a part of him–and I didn’t know how dominant that part might be–that thirsted for my blood.
And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

Now I don't know if the original blurb from when the book was first released in 2006 is the same, but again, it gives away a huge chunk of the mystery. TWILIGHT is over 500 pages long, and much of the opening is devoted to Why is Edward and his family so strange? It's over 100 pages before it's revealed that Edward is a vampire. 100 pages that I wanted to flip through just to get to the part where he admitted it because I already knew it was coming. Again, I thought it was a shame because the buildup to that moment is done really well. I imagine that if I hadn't known, I would've found those opening pages, page-turners.

Even worse is when the blurb gives away the answer to a cliffhanger ending of a previous book. You know, Book 1 ends with the love-interest missing and presumed dead, and the blurb for Book 2 - or the cover image, even - starts off with something that makes it clear that the love-interest is alive and well. I'm trying to come up with a series that's done this, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment.

It's a trade-off I suppose. HUSH, HUSH could've gone with a more ambiguous cover. Maybe something with a mysterious cute guy with a hat pulled down low over his eyes and a sexy grin, but it wouldn't have been as eye-catching. And even though we don't learn what Patch is right off, the cover does highlight the overall subject of the story. It doesn't bother me as much as say, if the entire book had been about finding out what Patch was, and it ended with the reveal that he was an angel.

With TWILIGHT, between the totally vague and unrelated cover image and the long buildup of an even longer book, I can see why it would be important to state the hook up front, otherwise, people might not keep reading.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you feel about covers and blurbs that give too much away? Does it ruin the story for you if you've figured out the mystery the main character is still trying to put together?

Also, if you're actually still reading, what do you think of my blog's new look?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Skip A Starbucks, Help A Child Get Home, And Win Prizes!

If you haven't seen this already, C.J. Redwine author and query whiz extraordinaire (check out her AWESOME Query Workshops!) is hosting a contest to raise funds to help bring home the baby girl she's adopted from China. Read her heartwrenching story.

For just the cost of a coffee at Starbucks, ($5) you can help! And by donating, you can win some pretty awesome prizes donated by some even awesomer people! C.J.

Donate at least $5 through paypal at C.J.'s blog and you will be entered into her massive giveaway.


I'm chipping in too. If you donate a minimum of $5 by noon PT tomorrow August 26th, and come back and post about it in the comments, you will be entered to win a SIGNED copy of RETURN TO PARADISE by Simone Elkeles! This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL! I will ship the book anywhere in the world.

AND it's not just me that's chipping in! Lots of Authors and Bloggers are pitching in with giveaways of their own!

Donate $5 or more and you can enter to win AMAZING prizes like:

- An EGMONT Prize pack, including an ARC of THE LOST SAINT from Bree Despain

- An ARC of DEMONGLASS (Hex Hall #2) from Rachel Hawkins

- The Mortal Instruments Trilogy including a SIGNED copy of CITY OF GLASS from Myra McEntire

- Registration for C.J.'s September Query Workshop and one of five Query Critiques from Shannon Messenger!

- SIGNED copies of SHIVER and LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater, an ARC of EXTRAORDINARY by Nancy Werlin, AND extra entries into Sara McClung's International ARC Extravaganza!

- SIGNED Hard cover of CLAIRE DE LUNE by Christine Johnson PLUS extra entries into Carolina Valdez Miller's ARCs Galore contest!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Music Monday

I love seeing what authors are listening to when they write, and I love finding new music so I decided to start doing Music Mondays to share what I'm listening to!

This week, since I'm knee deep in revisions on Imaginary Heart, I thought I would share a couple of songs from the playlist.

These are from the first draft, and it's interesting how my music choices have changed as I've moved into revisions.

The Ahn Trio & Susie Suh

Aqualung - Strange and Beautiful

Paramore - All I Wanted

Do you use playlists when you write? What are you listening to?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox - 37

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren

Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

How To Make A Bird by Martine Murray
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cover Love!

I'm a very visual person (hello, filmmaker!) so I find I'm really drawn to books by their covers. There are books I've bought (or in some cases pre-ordered), just because I loved the cover so much that I HAD to have it. Like these:

And books that I thought sounded pretty good, but whose cover made them seem awesome. Like these:

Upcoming Covers I'm drooling over:

I've tried to figure out just what it is that draws me to these covers but they're all pretty diverse. I'm definitely drawn to images that are outside, and not so much to faces. I also tend to like photographs more than drawings. I like images convey a mood - preferably a darker one. And images that are striking but I'm not that good at pointing out just what it is that makes them striking!

What about you? What are you drawn to in a cover? What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Books (and other things) That Push Me To Write Better

I liked the topic of my Sister In Scribe Kristi's post so much yesterday that I thought I would do my own post on the things that push me to be a better writer.

The most recent experience I've had with this feeling isn't from a book at all. It's from THE BEST MOVIE EVA!!! a movie.

I saw Inception last week, and I left the theater with one thought in my head:
I can do better.

The level of ingenuity and depth of emotion in the storytelling of the film blew my mind. It really just sort of stopped me in my tracks and I thought about the plot issues I was having with my current (and what feels like, the millionth) revision and it all seemed so small and silly. I realized not just that I needed to up my game, but HOW MUCH I needed to up it. Somehow I'd slipped into playing it safe, and safe = boring and seen it before. So I took a step back and started really ripping my tiny little impersonation of a book apart and all of a sudden I was excited about revising it again!

There are other books I keep in mind when writing as touchstones. Books that when I'm in a good mood, inspire me to attempt to reach some of their greatness and on a bad day thrust me into the pit of despair as I think I will NEVER write anything that good!

Some of those books are:

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - because Jo Rowling's world-building and heart blow my mind every time I read one of the books.

The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - again, the world-building! The action! The emotion! Even now I get teary-eyed when I think about Rue!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater - I love how poetic the writing is, the emotion, the sense of place, and the way she made two narrators such complete unique characters that you always know who's talking. I especially love that she created her own mythology.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher - This story is so emotionally complex and moving, it still haunts me. And the detail to setting is so good that every time I think about it, I feel like I'm in the desert of the Austrailian Outback. I can completely see a place I've never been or even seen photos of.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - I love the way she makes the ordinary beautiful in this book. The actual prose is beautiful and very poetic but it's also the way Sam observes things. I also love that she made very real, three-dimensional characters who could be unlikeable at times and made me care about them.

All of these books (and SO MANY more) do things that I hope to do in my own stories and they remind me that it IS possible to do if I just keep my focus on the goal. Also, I've just realized that all of these books have made me cry! I guess that's what sticks with me. And that's what I want to do, tell stories that stick with you.

What are some books that inspire you?

Monday, August 9, 2010


It's my blogoversary today! Exactly one year ago today I posted my first post in this blog. Since that day, I've learned SO much and met so many AWESOME people I can hardly believe it! I truly feel so fortunate to have found the YA community. I can honestly say that it's changed my life!

Since I started this blog I've:

- Found some awesome Crit Partners. (Like my Sisters In Scribe.)
- Gone to some amazing conferences. Yay SCBWI! Hello Write On Con!
- Got crazy amounts of support and encouragement. (Love the Verla Kay Blue Boards!)
- Discovered tons of new authors and great books.
- Met so many awesome writers and bloggers.
- Made some real life friends.
- Won and placed in some writing contests. (Woohoo Secret Agent, Adventures in Children's Publishing and of course, Nathan Bransford!)
- Gotten helpful feedback.
- Learned SO MUCH about the publishing industry.

In celebration of how awesome my first year in the YA community has been, I'm going to spend the next month celebrating it! Yes, that means CONTESTS! Even INTERNATIONAL CONTESTS!

I'm also going to try to come up with a better more regular blog schedule, so I'll be testing some ideas out and hopefully you'll let me know what you think! There might even be a new look for the blog!

Today I just want to say THANK YOU to every single one of you who welcomed me into this community, read this blog, and who love YA as much as I do! You've made this past year, which was a difficult one personally, one of the best I've ever had. I can't wait to see what the next year has in store!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In My Mailbox - 36

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Jealousy (Strange Angels #3) by Lili St. Crow
I Am Number Four by Pitticus Lore
Infinte Days by Rebecca Maizel
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Echoes (Fingerprints #1-3) by Melinda Metz

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inspiration and Preparation

My Note From The Universe this morning:

"If someone wants A to happen, yet they prepare for B, they will always get B."

What are you preparing for? The joy of success? Or the pain of rejection?

This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity."

Noticing a trend? PREPARE yourself to be the the writer you want to be. Whatever that means for you.

- Take a class (Write On Con is free and just a week away!).
- Read a book on writing.
- Get your work critiqued by people you trust and then listen to what they have to say.
- Visualize your name on the NYT bestseller list.

Whatever you do, don't spend hours (weeks, months!) writing your book while at the same time mentally preparing yourself for all the rejections you're going to get.

Take a moment today and ask yourself what you've been preparing for. You might be surprised. The good thing is there's still time to fix it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In My Mailbox - 35

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Forget You by Jennifer Echols
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass
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