Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fives -- Cover Lust

So, this week's topic on Paper Hangover's Friday Fives is: FIVE book covers you're currently lusting over. 

Oooh, I love this topic.  :D   My five:

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)Dearly, Departed
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Virtuosity  Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) 
They all give that same kind of feeling.  Dark, but beautiful.  Relatively simple designs that speak volumes about the stories between the covers.

Love.  Love, love, love.  I hope one day I get a cover as beautiful as these.  *dreams*  *sighs*  ;)

What about you?  What covers are you lusting over?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Recommendation -- Virtuosity

By Jessica Martinez


Blurb from Goodreads: "Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. Two weeks before the most important violin competition of her career, she has bigger things to worry about—like growing out of that suffocating “child prodigy” label, and not disappointing her mother. But it isn’t just the wrong time. It’s the wrong guy. Jeremy is Carmen’s most talented rival, and according to her mother, he’s only interested in one thing: winning. He isn’t the only one. Carmen is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to control performance nerves. But what started a year ago as an easy fix is now a hungry addiction. Her mother insists now is not the time to quit, but Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of doing what she’s told. When the darker side of the classical music industry and her mother's ambition collide, Carmen must choose between her career and her love for music."

First, take a moment and stare in wonder at that magnificent cover.  It's just so PRETTY! 

Guys.  Oh, guys.  Seriously...I am without words.

This book is so moving, so full of emotion and hope and love and life, that it absolutely sings on the page.  It was 100% unputdownable.  I kept sneaking peeks at it while I was at work.  I devoured it in the evenings, on my lunch break, any spare moment I could find.

It not only stole my breath, it stole my heart.  I can't stop thinking about it, about Carmen, about how brave she was, and how noble. 

Funny side note -- I always wanted to play violin.  I played guitar, but it never felt right.  I begged my parents, pleaded with them, to let me take violin lessons.  They couldn't afford to buy me a violin though, not to mention the fact that there was probably nobody anywhere near us that could give me lessons.  But it was a dream.  :)  This book brought the dream back, and I may just put playing violin on my bucket list now.

I can't tell you enough how simply amazing this book is.  You're just going to have to read it when it comes out in October.  And don't worry, I'll remind you about it.

A humongous thank you to Simon and Schuster for the egalley.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - Sing Me a Song

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.

This Week's Topic:
If your WIP(s) or favorite book(s) were a song, which song would they be?

Well, I did a post similar to this not long ago for HAPPILY NEVER AFTER's song.

I have a new WIP though, (Which has a working title now!!) and a song actually inspired the whole concept of the book.  Are you ready for this?  Because I'm not sure you are.

The song that inspired my WIP is... 

F**K YOU by Lily Allen

Look inside, look inside your tiny mind, then look a bit harder
Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired, of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not OK to be gay, well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist, who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do and we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch
F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small-minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control a bit
And it's really distasteful

F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do and we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch
F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

F**k you, f**k you, f**k you
F**k you, f**k you, f**k you
F**k you

You say you think we need to go to war
Well you're already in one
Cause it's people like you
That need to get slew
No one wants your opinion

F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause we hate what you do and we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch
F**k you (f**k you)
F**k you very very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

F**k you
F**k you
F**k you

F**k you
F**k you
F**k you 

I would put a video here for you, but I can't access youtube from this computer.  lol  So...yeah.  That's my song.  Hehe.  *hides*  Don't hate me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Very Unscientific Statistics

I am no statistician.  I'll be the first to admit that.  I *hated* statistics in college, and I'm actually really good at math.  Just not statistics.  So, I thought about doing percentages and making charts for you, but...well, no.  Just no.  Sorry.  ;)


Anyway, on to the point.

Via my Facebook page (which is personal, not for writing stuff) I posed a question to my friends:

"Facebook friends, I want answers. What makes you buy a book (or check it out from the Library)? Is it the cover? The blurb on the back? The publisher? Something totally different?  I want to know."

The #1 answer:  COVER.

Coming in a close #2:  Title.

#3 answer: Familiar author.

#4:  Blurb on the back.

and last, but not least #5:  Recommendation from a friend.

What do you think about those answers?  Do you agree with them?  I have to say, I do get a lot of books on recommendation, but if I'm browsing blindly, the cover is definitely the first thing that pulls me in.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Word Wars

Do you ever feel like you just need to clear the words out of your head? It’s like they’re taking up so much space in your brain there’s no room for anything else. Nothing you can say or do to make that overstuffed feeling go away other than write. Sit down and write it out.

Then there are those times when your head feels so empty. Feels like no thought has ever, or will ever, pass through. Void. Deplete of any type of usable information.

But no matter what phase you’re in, no matter how much you want to write, or how much you feel like you’ll never be able to again…you have no choice.

Well, a choice maybe, but it doesn’t seem like it.

In my experience, it can be equally as hard to write with a head full of words as it can with one that feels empty. In either scenario it’s hard to pull the correct words and shuffle them around on the page to make them into something coherent, or heaven forbid, even meaningful.

What usually helps me is reminding myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to be something I plan to keep and use. The whole point is just to get the words flowing, because once they’re moving, you’re flying. And when you fly, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when you spin that magic thread and make the story sing.

The way I do it? Free writing.

I sit down in front of a blank document and just write about whatever comes to mind. Whatever words pull at me first, I snatch them in and go. No preconceived ideas, no intentions.

In fact, that’s how I wrote this blog post. Pretty cool, huh?

What do you do when you’re overrun by, or missing, your words? Do you have a trick to get your flow back?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Fives -- Fictionalized

Don't have a topic to blog about on Fridays? Join us for Paper Hangover's Friday Fives

I think about this a lot, and I'm willing to bet we all do as writers.  So, without further ado...

1.) I'd like to see more kick-butt heroines.  I know that in the real world a lot of girls (young ones especially) do just let people run them over.  Hey, I've been there, I've had my slice of that pie.  But it's because I've been there that I want to see the opposite in my books.  Books, to me, are inspiring -- they make me dream bigger and wider and farther than I ever would have before.

2.) I'd love to see more fantasy, but not necessarily epic fantasy. I really love losing myself in a world with new rules and adventures.  *cough*harrypotter*cough*  My favorite fantasies are based in and around the real world, they just add something more to it.

3.)  For this one, I'll reveal a deep, dark secret -- Westerns.  I was raised around horses, on farms, with fields of peanuts and groves of pecan trees on either side.  (And Super Spawn wound up with a pecan allergy! *cries*)  But I would LOVE to see some YA Westerns on the shelves.  A little less love, a lot more action.  And I may or may not be working on one... ;)

4.)  Action, action, ACTION!  Explosions?  YES.  Hand to hand combat?  PLEASE!  Just give me something with some boy appeal!  I want that kick-butt hero(ine) to really take it to the next level -- put my butt on the edge of my seat and KEEP IT THERE!

5.) Above all, I want something different.  I know that's a tall order, but I feel like the shelves (YA shelves, that is) are overrun by apocalypse, dystopians, and paranormals.  Give me something funny, give me a new time period, give me a new experience!!  No matter what genre it sits in, I want to see something fresh.

What about you guys?  What are five things you'd like to see in fiction?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Recommendation -- Paper Towns

Paper Towns
By John Green

Paper Towns

Blurb from Goodreads: "Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.
After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew."

 Oh. Em. Gee.

John Green is a master.  The way he writes is so -- so -- I don't even have words to explain it.  That's how good he is.  I am a total fangirl.  I loved him after reading Looking for Alaska, but now... oh, goodness.  We've reached dangerous levels of fangirldom.

First of all, Q's character is so fresh.  He's not a guy dying to fit in with the popular crowd, he's not concerned with looking the way everyone "expects" him to.  He's just a teenager content with being who he is for the most part -- which is OMG awesome. 

When Margo disappears, Q has to find her.  She left him clues, but they're more riddles than anything helpful.  So you go on this huge journey with Q that is so much more than a mystery.  It's a journey of self realization. 

Okay, I could talk about this book all day.  But if I did that, I'd wind up spoiling the ending for you, and I don't want to do that because it's beautiful.  And the journey to get there is beautiful. 

And the whole book is just BEAUTIFUL.  For the love of all things written, please go read this book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Smooches Galore

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.

This Week's Topic:
Compare your first kiss with your favorite characters first kiss.

Oh boy.  Who do I choose to compare with?  Hmm.  That's hard...I don't have a very good memory for little details like that in a book.  Unless it's Harry Potter which I've read so many times I've practically memorized it.  So I guess I'll go with Ron and Hermione.  They're two of the best characters, like, ever anyway.  ;)


Well, my first kiss was nothing to write home about.  Where Ron and Hermione's had years worth of build up and liking each other, but not wanting to act on it because omgwhatifhehatesme.  Mine was...sudden.  I'd just met the guy actually. lol  He kind of attacked me, and I just stood there in shock.

Wet, slobbery shock.


He was a funny guy...very dramatic.  If I remember correctly after shocking me with a kiss he dropped to one knee and asked me to date him.  lol   I'm sure I turned beet red, because if I remember correctly this was done in front of all of our friends. (And remembering it, I can't seem to stop giggling.)

R & H's first kiss was much more tender and sweet.  Mine was just the byproduct of an overzealous baseball player.  Ha.

What about yours?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest

Erinn, Alicia, Pam, Quita, and I have joined forces again, and this time we've brought you the Query Letter Blogfest!

Today is the day!  Whoever signed up will post their query letter, and then we will all jump around and critique each others.  We hope this will be an excellent learning experience for all involved.

Now, I up to this point, have not talked about the querying that I'm doing on the blog.  But, I am currently querying HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, which you may have guessed by now.  ;)  So, I'm going to share my query letter, which has been quite successful so far.

Dear [Agent name spelled correctly],

[Something very personalized, like mentioning a specific blog post where they expressed interest in high-concept YA, or fairy tales, or something of the like.]  As such, I believe you may be interested in my 53,000 word young adult fantasy, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER.

Sixteen-year-old Kate is trapped in a fairy tale, and if she doesn’t escape soon, she’ll lose all her memories. Or worse, she’ll get killed.

Kate’s brother is dying.  Unable to cope with watching him deteriorate, she makes a stupid wish to escape her life in favor of a fairy tale.  But the wish comes true.  And fairy tale land?  Well, it sucks.  Kate is forced to obey an unseen, god-like narrator, who makes Kate dress as a prissy Princess while repeating the same story over and over again -- and each time, more of Kate’s memory is lost.  Plus, venomous Prince Charming is out to kill her.  And that’s just great.

Then Kate discovers the secret to escaping this Magical Kingdom of Torture: true love’s kiss, of course.  But the narrator (who is determined to keep Kate trapped) begins to pick apart the story, removing any object, twist, or character that might come to Kate’s aid.  The crazy narrator even steals Nathan, the guy Kate thinks she’s in love with, and replaces him with Jace, a dashing rogue Kate can’t keep her eyes off of.  Now, as Kate clings to her dwindling memories and tries to forge a new path through the fairy tale, she has to choose which guy she really loves.

If Kate chooses wrong, the narrator will trap her there forever, and she’ll live Happily Never After.

HAPPILY NEVER AFTER is similar to THE WIZARD OF OZ and ELLA ENCHANTED, and I believe it may appeal to fans of both. Though the novel has been written as the first in a planned trilogy, it can also stand alone. I’m an active member of SCBWI, the Florida Writers Association, and YALitChat.

[As requested in your guidelines, the first chapter and synopsis are pasted below. ONLY INCLUDE WHAT IS EXPLICITLY REQUESTED .]  [And here I may put something like, "So that you are aware, this is a multiple submission."]  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Holly Dodson

[phone number]
[link to my blog]


[pages as requested in their guidelines]

So, what do you think?  I can't wait to read everyone's!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let's Talk Tense

And I don't mean that steady ache in your shoulders from hovering over the keyboard.  ;) 

tense illustrationTense is probably one of the first decisions you need to make when you sit down and start writing a new project.  Past or present?  This also ties right into your point of view (POV).

Let's start with a basic look at each, the way I see them.  (Which is not to say it's correct, it's just how I imagine it in my own little world over here.)

Past tense is telling a story that already happened, a recounting of events.  So, your narrator's position is later down the line, they already know how the story ends, and what is going to happen next.

Present tense is telling a story as it happens.  Nobody knows more than the character who's head you're in at that very moment.  Your narrator knows the past, but has no idea what's to come.

So, the first thing you have to decide is how immediate your story is.  To pull off a present tense story effectively there seems to be a fine line between being fast enough paced to keep your audience engaged, and being so fast paced that you exhaust them.

On the other side of the coin, with past tense it gives you  a little more distance between the story and the audience, so (to me) it gives you more room for a faster pace and a more intense story (Like a thriller or horror story.  I could not imagine reading a horror story in first person, present tense.  That would just be too intense for me.).

I've written in both, and they both have their challenges.  With HAPPILY NEVER AFTER I really found my stride in present tense.  I don't know if that will carry forward with my next project or yet, I can't seem to decide.  ;)  But I think it's definitely something to decide on a project to project basis anyway. 

What about you all?  Have you written in both tenses, or do you prefer one over the other?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Fives - The grass is greener...

Well, it's time for another prompt from my Paper Hangover peeps.  Every week we give a prompt for you to post on your blog.  Then link up in the Paper Hangover post so we can all visit and see what you have to say!

This is really fun to think about!

photoFirst, I think I'd trade with Hermione Granger.  I wouldn't want to be Harry because, let's face it, his life kinda sucks.  I mean, he's got Voldy chasing after him, no parents, the WORST guardians ever...the grass doesn't look so green there.  lol  But as Hermione I think I'd get the ultimate HPWorld experience.  Complete with loads of books and excellent magical skills.  WIN.

Second, since we're only talking for a day, I'd pick someone like Elizabeth Bennett.  I mean, I wouldn't want to live without our modern creature comforts for long, but I'd LOVE to experience that time frame.

(This is harder than I thought!  lol)

Third, maybe I'd go for someone like Buttercup from THE PRINCESS BRIDE.  Because it's
pretty much my all time favorite story ever.  Ever.  And I'd love to hear Westley say, "As you wish."  *swoon*

Fourth, I think I'd opt for a little more daring experience.  Maybe I'd go for being someone like Katsa from GRACELING.  Beating up on Po would certainly be a stress reducer, I think.  ;)

Fifth, I'd have to reserve for an experience like no other.  A book that was a favorite of mine as a teen... Morgaine from THE MISTS OF AVALON.  All the myth and legend that surrounds that time period absolutely enthralls me.  I can't get enough of it, so I'd have to choose to visit it for a day.  :)

What about you all?  What characters would you trade places with for a day? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Recommendation - Radiance

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday.  I wound up being out and about all day -- still trying to resolve car issues, so I didn't know what the Road Trip was.  Until about 20 minutes ago that is.  ;)

By Alyson Noel

Radiance (Riley Bloom, #1)

Blurb from Goodreads: "Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley . . ."

This is a MG book I picked up on a whim when I stopped in the book store to waste some time one day.  I liked the cover, but the pages...oh, the pages.  They have those ragged edges that are so deliciously gorgeous I can't stand not to own any book I see that has them.  *ehm*  Seriously.  I bought this book for the ragged edged paper.  So sue me.

Turns out though, I really enjoyed the story too.  I read it in just a few short hours.  It's fast paced and entertaining, without being too fast.  I also really like Riley's voice.  She's snarky and sarcastic, but not overly so...she's still likable.  Which is important.

The story itself is quite simple, but the concept keeps you thinking even after you put it down.

A very well written book with entertaining characters and events.  I especially like that this book for younger teens tackles an issue like death.  And Noel does it with the utmost care for her audience.  Excellent.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Well, my week got a jump start on the crazy side.  And it's probably not going to slow down any...I've just got a feeling. 

 But that's okay.  Because of crazy events yesterday I got to spend the whole day with Super Spawn.  We had a great time once we conquered buying new tires.  We went car shopping.  :)  No big purchase yet, but he votes for the red one.  Of course.  lol

Anyway, today is my post over at Paper Hangover, so make sure you go check it out.

As for the rest of the week -- well, it's sure to be a race to the finish at the office.  But you can expect Road Trip Wednesday, a new book recommendation on Thursday (a MG novel this week), and another Friday Five prompt from Paper Hangover!

Lots of good stuff in store.  Do you guys ever have these weeks where you wonder how you'll ever manage to keep up?  My guess is yes... ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest

Erinn, Alicia Pam, Quita, and I are joining forces again, and this time we're bringing you the Query Letter Blogfest!

On April 19th, whoever signs up will post their query letter.  Then, we all jump around and critique each others.  The five of us thought it would be an excellent learning experience for all involved. 

Already agented?  You could post the query that landed the request from your agent as an example!  This is just about helping each other put our best feet forward.

You can sign up over on Alicia's blog.

Here are a few good articles on writing queries, if you need a jumpstart:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Five -- Hangover Style

So, my awesome buddies over at Paper Hangover and I have decided to try something new on Fridays.  (Because, guys, flash fiction is hard!)

We decided to give Friday Five a try, and see how everyone likes it.

The idea?  Paper Hangover gives a Friday Five prompt, we respond on our blogs.  Link up over on PH and hop around to see what everyone says.  Cool, right?

In which I address myself in second person.  This should be entertaining.

  1. Writing is the hardest, craziest, and most exhausting thing you will ever do.  It's also incredibly rewarding.
  2. Dude, those ENC1101, 1102 (and whatever the other numbers were) professors were WRONG.  USE THE OXFORD COMMA!!  Serial commas FTW!
  3. This is going to take a very long time, so go ahead and practice using your patience.
  4. That first book you write?  Yeah, it's gonna suck.  But that's okay, the second one will be much better.
  5. Before you pick up that pen, go read 5 books in your genre.  Now.  I'm serious.

Hehe.  What about you?  What five things would you tell yourself?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Recommendation - Haunting Emma

Well, you get another twofer this week!  Aren't you excited?  You should be.  You get two books that go together today.  DECEPTION and BETRAYAL from Lee Nichols's Haunting Emma trilogy.

Deception (Haunting Emma, #1)DECEPTION
Blurb from Goodreads: "When Emma Vaile's parents leave on mysterious business trip, it gives her the perfect excuse to be a rebellious teen. Throw some parties, get a tattoo (or maybe just a piercing), and enjoy the first few weeks of her junior year. Then her best friend stops talking to her, the cops crash her party, and Emma finds herself in the hands of a new guardian—her college-age "knight in J.Crew armor," Bennett Stern—and on a plane to his museum-like mansion in New England. After enrolling at Thatcher Academy, Emma settles in by making friends with the popular legacy crowd. But she can't shake the strange visions that are haunting her. She has memories of Thatcher she can't explain, as if she's returning home to a place she's never been. Emma doesn't trust anyone anymore—except maybe Bennett. But he's about to reveal a ghostly secret to Emma. One that will explain the visions . . . and make Emma fear for her life."


Betrayal (Haunting Emma, #2)
Blurb from Goodreads: "Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive—one a snarky teen boy, the other a British scholar—Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good. As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor."

These books are SO GOOD.  I was hooked from the very first page with both of them.  They are keep you up all night, scared to turn the light off, OMG I HAVE TO FINISH THIS NOW good.

Oh yeah.  That good.

Emma is a likable character.  Easy to relate to, easy to understand why she does the things she does.  Oh, and she sees ghosts.  Yeah, that's pretty freaky.  And cool.  But mostly freaky.  Some of the ghosts are good.  Then there are the shadows...the bad guys.  They are SCARY.  I had to read these books as fast as I could because they gave me nightmares.  For real.  lol  The wraiths may be the scariest of all.  Though, no.  Neos is the scariest.  *shudder*

Then there's Bennett.  *swoon*  You'll love Bennett.  ;)
This is definitely a series you should pick up.  You won't regret it. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

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. Then we hop from blog to blog and get everybody's take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
Assuming we make it through the 2012  apocalypse, what do you imagine the publishing world will look like 100  years from now? 

In a hundred years, I think publishing will still exist even if not exactly like it does now.

A lot can change in 100 years.  I mean, look at 1900 vs 2000.  Mmmkay, see what I mean?  In my opinion, books will still exist, but probably in a different form.  If the evolution of music through the years teaches us anything, I think it has showed us the power of electronic media.

First came the ipods, then came the ebooks. 

I think our electronic media will continue to move forward.  We'll be using more technology for a richer experience.  Maybe books will become holographic...words with pictures, so you can see exactly what the author intended.

Or maybe the publishing model will move to a more animated form.  Maybe they'll even be whole experiences 100 years into the future.  Maybe you won't read a book, but instead you'll walk inside a book and experience the story first hand.

Step Into a Good Book Rug

That would be totally cool unless you wound up somewhere full of, ya know, zombies.

What do you think?  Where do you see publishing going in the next 100 years?