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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

Talk about a Teaser Tuesday... try looking at all the mouth-watering debuts hitting the shelves in 2011.  I feel squirmy all over just waiting to get my hot little hands on some of these reads.
The 2011 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by The Story Siren.  Her goal: encourage you to read at least 12 YA or MG novels by debut authors during 2011.  That's only 1 per month -- shouldn't be too much to ask!  (Full details on her blog.)  She has a wonderful list which provides titles by release month, and I've got quite a little list built for myself after just spending a few minutes scrolling through.  Some of the titles I can't wait to read:

Hourglass - Myra McIntyre
Warped - Maurissa Guibord
Timeless - Alexandra Monir
A Touch Mortal - Leah Clifford
Darkness Becomes Her - Kelly Keaton
The Fourth Stall - Chris Rylander (I already have the ARC, but will have to wait until 2011 to read it)
Wither - Lauren DeStefanos
Angelfire - Courtney Allison Moulton
Blood Magic - Tessa Gratton
Starcrossed - Josephine Angeline
Divergent - Veronica Roth
Die for Me - Amy Plum

Can you tell my tastes run to paranormal?  There's 12 right there.  And I'm sure I'll be lulled in by even more beautiful covers and tantalizing reviews.  If you'd like to take part in the challenge - and support debut authors - head over to The Story Siren to sign up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  This is my first time playing.

And yeah... so I'm showing up REALLY late to the party.  But I just read this review of Darkest Mercy over at Good Choice Reading and it reminded me how FREAKING MUCH I wanted to read this book.  Like, I loved all the other books and now Dee says this is the best of them all.  It's so not fair!  I want an ARC.

Can anyone help me out??? No?  Oh, okay.  Happy Thanksgiving anyway.  :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Two Mid-Point Book Reviews

I blogged over at the Oasis today about how I feel like I've got too many irons in the fire right now.  Part of the problem is that I feel pressure to read two books that I had the good fortune to receive (for FREE) from the publishers via

My goal was to read Draw the Dark by Halloween.  And then I wanted to read Tyger, Tyger by its release day last week.  Both self-imposed due dates have come and gone & I truly feel awful about it.  So, to free myself of the pressure of reading these books just so I can post a review -- I'm posting a mid-point review.

First - Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

     Seventeen-year-old Christian is a loner at school--which is what tends to happen when you live in a small town with a hidden history, your parents have disappeared, you hear voices in your head from "the sideways place," and you can draw people to death. Sometimes Christian's drawings are taken over by the thoughts of those around him, and when he draws their deepest fears, they die. But now something new is happening: Christian is falling into the life of an eight-year-old boy who lived during the 1940s when Winter, Wis., was home to German WWII prisoners who performed labor in town. The boy witnessed an atrocious crime, and Christian gets caught up in the mystery he uncovers. Though the story is at times hard to follow, as Christian moves in and out of his life and tries to understand his connection to the mysterious "sideways place" that plays a pivotal role in the story's climax, Bick builds the gripping supernatural/historical mystery to a satisfying conclusion that demonstrates the evils of the present can be just as terrifying as those of the past. Ages 12-18. (Oct.) --Publishers Weekly, October 4, 2010

Let me just say that I am loving Christian's voice.  He feel like an authentic teenage boy narrator.  The story is fast-paced, interesting and believable despite the impossibility of the situation.  It's got this overall creepy feel where you know Christian hasn't really done anything wrong, but he's going to keep getting blamed until some really horrible truth comes to light.  If it weren't for the fact that I can only get this book on my desktop computer, I surely would've finished it by now.  Despite not getting to the ending, I'm going to go ahead and recommend this book!

Next - Tyger, Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

     Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.     Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

The story is very well-written and the pacing is good. I've got this one on my Kindle, which works in its favor.  But the story has sort of lost me for two reasons that have nothing to do with the author and everything to do with my own personal tastes.  First, the story starts off with Tea working with (and loving) chimps.  Call me crazy, but I don't like monkeys.  At all.  So I was put off immediately despite great writing.  Second, Irish folklore isn't necessarily my cup of tea.  Not that I couldn't handle it in small doses, but this book is heavy on the legends.  Irish-lovers will surely delight in this book, which is a classic paranormal romance, complete with a cocky hot guy and lots of things that go bump in the night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Birthday - Your Present WINNER picked - surprise - the number 1.  Congratulations to Marian, who asked to win a copy of Julie Kagawa's The Iron Queen.

Since I don't have access to any ARCs, I'll just have to pre-order the book for you, Marian.  But I understand your interest in the series.  The Iron King is sitting on my Kindle right now and I can't wait to get to it.  I hope you enjoy your book when it comes and I thank everyone who entered & all those who joined as new followers.  Welcome!


As of 7:53 a.m., EST, I will officially be
Pretty much a big nothing for me -- but maybe something for you.  Enter my birthday contest by 7:53 p.m., EST, for your chance to win a book of your choice. 'Cause, ya know, I'm cool like that.  That, and I LOVE all of you.  Thanks for stopping by my little blog and leaving your rays of sunshine.  What more could a gal want for her birthday??

Bonus contest entry if you can figure out this code:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Tips: Do Something Unusual

Don't forget to enter my Happy (Early) Birthday to Me Contest - Ends Tomorrow (11/17)
My own little character got me thinking again today. What is it about our favorite MCs that we love so much? Why do we ride along with them, as emotionally invested in their lives as they are? I have a few theories (leaving aside the obvious: he's a gorgeous piece of man-flesh and I'd read on just so I don't have to stop drooling anytime soon).

1. They're Unique and Quirky. But in a good way.  Could you root for Miss Popularity who never had anything bad happen to her?  Hell no.  As readers, we can often relate to characters who share our own insecurities or quirks or shortcomings.  Or better yet - a character who has even "stronger" quirks than we do.  We can like the spunky girl who draws all over her hands in marker and wears funky necklaces without caring what anyone else thinks, right?

Like my little Scooby Doo wanna-be, I love looking at a character in a book and seeing something unexpected there.  Some fun, little surprise that makes the MC completely distinct from any MC who's come before.

2.  They Don't Do What You Expect.  This is along the same lines as being unique, but it's more action driven. For example, you could have a quirky, mask-wearing MC, but who always followed the rules and got along with everyone.  See the difference?

Sometimes characters infuriate me so much because just when I want them to either (a) kiss and make up or (b) say "to hell with you" and move on... they do the opposite. And I'm left pulling out my hair, wondering how they could possibly make that choice.  And I turn the page.  Aha.  See, there's the key.  Why would I bother reading on if the MC makes all the sensible choices?  The ones that don't leave me second-guessing?  There'd be no point because I could see the ending coming from a mile away.  But when you have characters who act outside of our expectations (without being out of character, of course), that's the good stuff.

What makes you get invested with the MCs in the books you read?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Contest x3

Happy Friday! Thought I'd spread a little pre-weekend cheer by telling you about some cool contests - including a new one here.  'Cause, what could be better than free stuff!

1. Happy (Early) Birthday to Me Contest. It's my birthday, but I'm giving you the gift.  I'm only a few followers away from 100. If I can get to 100 BEFORE my birthday next Wednesday (the 17th), I'll give away a book of the randomly-selected winner's choice. Just leave a comment with your e-mail address and telling me what new YA book you'd like to win & you're entered. (Open internationally; book cost must not exceed $20.)  Obviously - it's in your best interests to spread the word about the contest so 8 more people join the blog.  :)
2. Give Thanks, Give Books Contest at Oasis for YA. All you have to do to be entered to win some fab prizes (like a signed copy of Paranormalcy or an iTunes gift card), is commit to donating a book or books to charity this month. You can get up to 10 entries for each book donated. Let's share the love of reading with those less fortunate.

3.  YALitChat First Pages Contest. If you're not already a member of YALitChat, you can join and become a Tier I member for free!  Tier I members all have access to the First Pages group, where you can get and give critiques on the all-important first five pages of your manuscript.  Sometime between now and next Friday, I'll be popping in and selecting one lucky critique-giver to win a copy of Malinda Lo's Huntress.
So what are you waiting for?  Start entering!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Co-Authoring & Editing: Two Heads are Better than One

I know Nikki and I have been telling you about how great the co-authoring process can be & sharing our steps for the process.  And at this very minute, you might be co-NaNo-ing for all I know.  But if you're not...

SERIOUSLY -  what are you waiting for?

I must admit that I'm a little in throes of editing a book that I'm finding myself more and more enamored with, but entrenching ourselves in edits hasn't been the least bit painful.  In fact, it's gotten to the point where I don't want to stop reading my own book.  How often does that happen?

AND HERE'S WHY (I think) -- I only wrote half of it.  And sometimes I can't even tell which parts I wrote and which parts Nikki wrote.  (I mean sure, if I think about it hard enough I can figure it out, but it all seems so fresh & new as I'm going over it again.)  Editing is FUN!  You hear me? FUN!!
 The other part that has been so awesome is seeing the plot twists in the story that work so well and knowing with unwavering certainty that I wouldn't have thought them up myself.  We've both left our mark on the story and it feels great.

Ok - I'm done gushing now.  Thanks for dropping by! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo Contest

Alright, I am NOT Nanowri-ing.  Nikki and I are busy Nanoed-ing (editing, in case that abbreviation snuck by you).  But for those of you who are, YALitChat just announced a contest that puts the awesome in awesomesauce.

Here are the details:

1st Prize gets you a Kindle (can you say OMG?!?  I love, love, love my Kindle.)
2nd Prize a 20 page Critique by Industry Editor or Agent
3rd Prize  a bookpack of Rampant by Diana Peterfreund plus 2 books from Harper 
Contest details. If you want to enter the contest we’d be excited to have you.  The winner meets their 50K goal or has the highest count of all contestants. As well as posting a snippet of writing daily (25 words of your writing for the day) and the word count for the day that you post. The winner would have posted at least 10 times during the month of November their word count and snippet for that day. Please provide your screen name and buddy all of the contestants.
So here is the steps to enter:
-          Be a member of Yalitchat
-          Join Contest Forum
-          Post Introduction to include (nanowrimo login name, title of nanowork, current words completed, 5 sentence synopsis of book you are writing)
-          Post Daily or weekly (word count, 25 word snippet of what your wrote during the recent session)
-          Winner is the highest recorded word count from all contestants (be warned, you may be asked to present draft to prove word count.)
Click this link to go to the official YALitChat page.  And good luck!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Give Thanks, Give Books

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Oasis for YA is running a month-long effort to get books into the hands of those less fortunate.  Stop by the Oasis by clicking the icon on my sidebar or the link above.
It's not just a nice thing to do, but you could win fabulous prizes as well.  What are you waiting for???

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Writing is Like Being a Kid on Halloween

See these kids?
They're mine.  One obvious little girl and one...
little girl.  That's my Sami.  She's fun, adventurous and LOVES doing anything boyish.  There was no Spidergirl costume for this kid. No way.  Spiderman all the way, baby.

Her choice of costume got me thinking about the similar choices we make as writers. When we step into a main character's POV, we can make them anyone. We ourselves can be anyone.  It's even more transformative than reading, isn't it?  We're creating lives, personalities, quirks, hopes, dreams, fears -- everything!

And so we have to be very careful that the MC "costume" we step into is a good fit.  I'm not talking about writing characters are are mini-mes.  I'm talking about characters you can relate to and successfully breathe life into even if they aren't similar to you at all.

By way of analogy, if I'd made Sami be spidergirl, she still would've been a character, but there wouldn't have been any flair to her.  It would've been second best.  And as authors, we've got to avoid second best at all costs.

There are so many missed opportunities in life.  So many things I'd do over again; things I would've said differently; ways I would have been stronger if given a second chance.  Let your characters do that for you.  Let them be the superhero you wished you could be.  *  Or let them be the monster you never unleashed. 

Just whatever you do, create a character that is transformitive.  Life's too short -- and full of too many interesting people -- to write uninspired characters. Do your characters give you life as much as you give it to them?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting Ready to Query?

If you're getting ready to start sending out some agent queries, check out my post today at Oasis for YA.  I give some nuts and bolts of getting ready to query.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get Out the Vote

Taking a cue from Deborah Schubert, I wanted to quickly remind you to exercise your RIGHT to vote.  It's a privilege scores of brave men & women have died to protect.  I know sometimes it seems like you're only getting to pick "the best of the worst."  But if you don't do it ... someone else will!  And do you trust them to pick better than you?

If you live in Florida and haven't made up your mind yet: Alex Sink & Deborah Gianolis are the strong leadership we need (not to mention strong women whom I admire).  And now I'm done. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Going All Joshua Radin Fan-Girl

For a month, I've been sitting on tickets for The Script at House of Blues in Orlando.  Not because I love The Script (though they are pretty awesome), but because Joshua Radin was opening for him.  And I LOVE JOSHUA RADIN. Not love like in a I'd-have-his-babies-kind-of-way.  But love as in he's my absolute favorite artist.
(Ugh - this is a totally horrible picture of me btw. So frustrating!)
So you can imagine how excited I was when, at the close of his set, he announced that he was going upstairs to meet people and sign autographs. OMG!! While waiting in the unmoving line, I bought his new CD, tore off the plastic wrap and shoved it in my pocket.  (Had to be ready without littering, right?)

The funny thing about the line was how young the other fan girls seemed to be in comparison to me.  Like, they were wearing Class of 2013 t-shirts.  Holy crap.  Talk about feeling old. But when I finally got up to meet Joshua, he asked for my name and personalized my CD (with an XO, I might add), which my hubby says he did not do for the cute, "little" girls in line in front of us.  *awwww*

I also told myself that if I ever met someone famous, I wouldn't be a babbling idiot. Or tell them that I'm their biggest fan.  So I told him that he's the one I listen to the most when I'm writing.  That seemed honest and not too stalkerish.  He seemed to appreciate the compliment (or was a decent actor).
Anyway, I have to give my hubby props for, as he put it, taking my picture with another guy.  Love you, babe!  And on the way home, he indulged me and listened to me play more Joshua Radin from my iPhone as I explained how the songs related to my books.  Isn't he just the best?

Bonus: Here's Joshua's new song, Streetlight, which is awesome.

How about you: Have you ever gone fan girl?  Who did you or would you most want to meet?