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Friday, January 28, 2011

Advance Review: The Fourth Stall

I was fortunate enough to score an ARC of Chris Rylander's debut MG novel, The Fourth Stall, from HarperTeen and (Thank you both!)  Here's the skinny:

Author: Chris Rylander
Ages: 9-12
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (a division of Harper Collins)
Release Date: February 8, 2011
Pages: 320

Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.

Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

So, if you know me, you know I don't normally read anything other than YA paranormal. So you're probably asking, why a MG novel about a sixth-grade Godfather?  Well, it's simple really.  When I received this ARC, it came to me along with 3 other ARCs.  I sat down and read the first page from each one.  This is the one that jumped up and screamed: Keep Reading!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book for a number of reasons.

1.  Humor - Chris is hysterical.  Check out his website or his upcoming interview on Oasis for YA (1/31/11) if you don't believe me.  I don't know if the "target audience" will even get all the jokes, but I enjoyed humor that didn't rely on being "potty humor."  Here's one example, Mac has a petty cash box (I mean, what biz doesn't.)  He heard it called that on a show once, but he thought petty cash was too boring, so he calls it his Tom Petty cash after some old singer.  

2.  Cast of Characters - Mac and his best friend Vince are a great pair.  They are memorable, three dimensional characters who each act in ways we can understand.  Plus, they are surrounded by this amazing group of bullies, who sport names like Great White and Kitten.  And on top of that, the characters break out traditional molds.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but one example: the janitor is cool instead of a total doofus.  

3.  The Plot was Fast Paced and Engaging.  I was constantly worried about Mac and how he was going to get out of his latest predicament.  There were plenty of twists, and I'm sort of ashamed of myself to say I didn't see the final kicker at the end coming.  Apparently, I'm not smarter than a fifth grader.
All in all, I give The Fourth Stall 4 out of 4 Greeks coins - an OMG! rating.  I think the publisher describes it as Diary of a Wimpy Kids meets The Sopranos.  What's not to love about that? Be sure to check it out when it releases on February 8th!  AND stop by the Oasis on Monday for a special surprise!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Book Birthdays!!

Hey YA lovers, today marks the release of three debut author titles.  Are you ready? (All pictures and synopses are from Goodreads).

Vesper (Deviants #1) by Jeff Sampson
Emily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of

...moreEmily Webb is a geek. And she’s happy that way. Content hiding under hoodies and curling up to watch old horror flicks, she’s never been the kind of girl who sneaks out for midnight parties. And she’s definitely not the kind of girl who starts fights or flirts with other girls’ boyfriends. Until one night Emily finds herself doing exactly that . . . the same night one of her classmates—also named Emily—is found mysteriously murdered.

The thing is, Emily doesn’t know why she’s doing any of this. By day, she’s the same old boring Emily, but by night, she turns into a thrill seeker. With every nightfall, Emily gets wilder until it’s no longer just her personality that changes. Her body can do things it never could before: Emily is now strong, fast, and utterly fearless. And soon Emily realizes that she’s not just coming out of her shell . . . there’s something much bigger going on. Is she bewitched by the soul of the other, murdered Emily? Or is Emily Webb becoming something else entirely— something not human?

As Emily hunts for answers, she finds out that she’s not the only one this is happening to—some of her classmates are changing as well. Who is turning these teens into monsters—and how many people will they kill to get what they want?

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal

Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.

Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.

A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

Hidden by Thomas Mourian

When Ahmed's parents send him to a residential treatment center known as Serenity Ridge, it's with one goal: to "fix" their son, at any cost. But eleven months of abuse and overmedication leave him desperate to escape. And when the opportunity comes, Ahmed runs away to San Francisco.

There, he moves into a secret safe house shared by a group of teens. Until they become independent at eighteen, the housemates hide away from authorities, bound by rules that both protect and frustrate. Ahmed, now known as Ben, tries to adjust to a life lived in impossibly close quarters with people he barely knows, all of whom guard secrets of their own. But even if they succeed in keeping the world at bay, there's no hiding from each other or from themselves. And there's no avoiding the conflicts, crushes, loneliness, and desire that could shatter their fragile, complicated sanctuary at any moment. . .

"This fresh and original novel defies easy labels. It's knowing yet vulnerable, observant yet naive--a wholly unique and compelling read." --Rachel Cohn, New York Times bestselling author

And it might not be her debut publication, but you won't want to miss Karen Mahoney's The Iron Witch -- also out today.

FREAK. That’s what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna’s own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Advanced Review: Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Woot - this is the first book I've completed for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge!

I'm going to start with a disclaimer here.  I am not most author's ideal candidate to be reviewing this book.  Here's why -- the cover and the whole mermaid thing threw me off.  Not that the flap copy isn't an accurate description, because it is.  But if you go into this book thinking it's going to have elements of a traditional paranormal (you know... action, adventure, romance) you, like me, will be sorely mistaken.
Reading level: Young Adult

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Release date: July 4, 2011
  • Provided by: the publisher via Netgalley

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?
The first book in a trilogy, Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

See, had I been paying attention, would have appreciated that this was a full-fledged coming of age story set against a paranormal backdrop and NOT a paranormal novel with some coming of age elements.  Yeah, maybe I'm stressing that too much.  But I think it's important for people to get what they expect, otherwise, you wind up disappointed.  And were I a coming of age story reader, I probably would have gone nutso for this book.

The writing in this book is amazing.  It's vivid, descriptive, and a whole bunch of other wonderful adjectives.  Here's an example from page 87: The ocean was stained green and golden, laced with writhing threads of light, and Luce realized it was the first time she'd swum through sunlit water. It's writing like that which makes the rest of us aspiring authors feel unworthy.  Coupled with a completely original coming of age backdrop, this book has a lot going for it.

But, as you've guessed by now, it wasn't really my speed.  This has more to do with personal taste than any fault of the book.  The only substantive thing I would've liked better is for the book to have been written in first person instead of close third.  We as readers come to know Luce so well that when you put the book down and then pick it back up, the third person is jarring.  Maybe I'm just in love with the first person POV right now, but it got to me a couple of times.  (Oh, and the ending?? I kept clicking my Kindle to go to the next page, convinced that it couldn't be over yet. I had to get a little more closure than that, didn't I? But alas, such is the way of the trilogy in today's market.)

That being said, if this is the kind of story you enjoy, you will most likely connect with Luce.  She is instantly likable, she is repeatedly tested and broken, and yet she still struggles to be a better person/mermaid through it all.  There is a subtle, buoying message for the younger teens to whom this book is directed: no matter how cruel the world (even your supposed friends and family) seem to be, there is always a way to make things better. Life is worth living and each of us has something to contribute, even if it is simply our humanity.
Bottom line, I give Lost Voices three Greek coins -- a URA* rating. It's not one that die-hard, action-packed paranormal romance lovers will be fawning over, but it is extraordinarily well written and beautiful.  

To pre-order your copy, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  

Flashback Friday: Snow Days

I never had a snow day as a teen.  Or ever, actually.  See, I'm a Floridian.  Born and raised.  But as I look at photos of snow blanketing the rest of the US, I can't help but feel like I missed out a little.  Sure, my high school closed for hurricanes, but that's just not the same.

Hurricane days either were spent boarded up inside pitch-blackened houses, or taking up or pulling down said boards over your windows.  If you lost power, it got hot pretty quickly. And then you had no TV or internet either.  Yeah, those days were the pits.  I know this... still, I'm convinced that a snow day is totally better.

In my mind, snow days are this utopia of stay-at-home goodness that involve frosty noses and hot cocoa.  Never mind the reality that it's probably too cold to be outside and too frozen to get to your friends to hang out.  You've got heat, power, a roaring fire.  It's got to be great!

So will someone please dish to me?  Was I deprived?  If I had a 17 year old MC stuck home on a snow day, what would she be doing?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Know Wonderful?

Art found in DeviantArt
Today, I wanted to sing the praises of the uber-awesome Georgia McBride and her fabulous YALitChat.  Have you joined yet?  Because if you haven't, you don't know wonderful!

YALitChat was the most significant starting-point for me on my writer's journey.  Sure, I joined SCBWI and attended conferences.  There, I got good advice and met some folks.  But it was expensive. And I've only kept in touch with one of my contacts.

That's not the case with YALitChat! The group originally started as a Wednesday night twitter chat (#yalitchat) and has grown into its own forum.  Of course, the chats still happen on Wednesday nights (9 pm EST) and you can always count on agents, editors and published authors to drop in an answer questions about the weekly topic.  If you haven't taken advantage of this learning opportunity, you're missing out.

But more than just chats, the forum is simply amazing.  There are a ton of different groups you can join where you get almost instantaneous support from other authors.  It's like having a built-in critique group.  For example, all members can join the First Pages Group (which I'm partial to, since I moderate it).  There, you can post the first five pages of your WIP and get unbiased feedback from multiple points of view on those critical introductory pages.

Once you're ready for Tier II membership (at the low annual cost of $30), you have access to MANY more groups.  Synopsis Repair Shop, Query Kick Around, Agent Insider, Crit Seekers, Craft Masters, and Expert Resources, just to name a few.

And one of the coolest benefits known to man is a group called Agent Mailbox.  Get this -- you post your polished query and first 250 words, and Georgia personally passes on her recommended picks to the agents who've agreed to participate.  So far, there are 10 - yes, TEN -- agents who trust Georgia's judgment enough to give her recommendations preferntial treatment (including Michelle Wolfson, Mark McVeigh, Diedre Knight, Natalie Fisher and lauren MacLeod).  When I submitted Destined, I got partial requests from three agents (only five participated at the time), one of whom still remembers me and has invited me to resubmit to her again.  I'd say you can't buy that can kind of privilege, but you can...

I don't get anything from plugging YALitChat.  None of the $30 membership fees flow to me.  In fact, it's a non-profit organization and the dues go back into maintaining the site and doing other cool things... like offering scholarships to writing workshops for Tier II members.  Really, the purpose of this post is to let everyone know how totally, amazingly COOL this place is.  I know of no other forum that offers so much for so little.

So what are you waiting for?  Check it out & join now.  You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


First, I'd like to thank everyone who entered the Dreaming of Books Giveaway for a copy of Huntress.  Over 100 people entered and the winner is Katpash! (She's been notified by e-mail.)  If you joined the blog while entering, thank you so much!  I promise there will be more giveaways in the future.

And now, I'd like to thank Ezmerelda for making me a winner too.  She nominated The Daily Harrell for The Stylish Blogger Award.  I'm so flattered!  Thank you.
And now, here are the rules that go along with accepting the award:
The rules are that you 1) Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award 2) Share 7 things about yourself  3) Award 15 or so, recently discovered great bloggers 4) Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

#1 - Done.  You can visit Ezmerelda's blog by following her link above.

#2 - 7 things about me:
     *  I was always the youngest in my classes, so I still think of myself as being pretty young (although I'm not anymore)
     *  I love scrapbooking and being creative
     *  I always wished I could dance and sing - unfortunately, I am horrible at both
     *  I'm the only one in my family with high blood pressure - I'm also the only one with two kids (who are only 13 months apart in age). Coincidence?
     *  I don't like exercise. Or dieting. Laying around with a book and some chocolate is more my speed.
     *  I listen to either The Pulse (channel 12) or The Coffeehouse (channel 30) on Sirius, literally all day long. I can't stand silence when I'm working.
     *  I'm lucky to have two best friends -- my husband and my mom.  They're both awesome!

#3&4 - Pass the award on to 15 or so recently discovered great bloggers.  Well, since I found some new folks as part of the giveaway hop, I definitely have some new blogs to tell you about (but, in full disclosure, I'm not going for a full 15).  Consider checking these out:

     *  Heather Howland's Darkness Bleeds Hope - she's an acquiring editor at a small press and an agented author who offers insights and loads of good stuff on her blog
     *  Matthew Rush's Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment - informative & inspiring posts for aspiring authors (like himself)
     *  Brenna Braaten's Writing and Reading - because she offers good advice on both for lovers of YA
     *  Shannon Whitney Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe - another aspiring author offering insights, reviews and contests
     *  K.M. Weiland's Word Play - an author who enjoys mentoring others and helping everyone who's on the road to publication
     *  C. A. Marshall's Self-Titled Blog - she's a YA author, an editor, and an agent intern. She talks about it all on her blog.
     *  Jennifer Daiker's Unedited - another aspiring author and prolific blogger with a super-cool header

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dreaming of Books Give-Away Hop

Welcome to this three-day long contest, hosted by Martha's Bookshelf and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.  The contest will run until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 17th.  I will select 1 winner on the 18th using  Open to residents of the US or Canada only. To enter, simply leave your name and e-mail address in the comments. (If you don't leave your e-mail address, I won't be able to contact you and you'll be disqualified.  I promise I won't be spamming anyone.)

What will you win if you enter?  How about an ARC of Malinda Lo's Huntress.  
Here's the description:

Coming in April 2011 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.
To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Taninli, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

Thanks for playing!  I hope you come back often to participate in the discussions and fun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

DARKEST MERCY by Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
ONE SENTENCE REVIEW: If this book was a person, I would totally make out with it.
I mean, what's not to love?  This book is like the literary equivalent of a renaissance man.  It's well-written, it ties up all sorts of loose ends, it comes to a very satisfying conclusion without sticking a bow on top, and it's full of surprises. Combine a rugged street fighter with an British prince and this is novel you get. *I know, right? Totally drool-worthy*

For those of you who aren't quite sure why I'm gushing yet, here is the back jacket copy. (And if you haven't read the preceding four books in the Wicked Lovely series, this isn't gonna make a bit of sense.)

“Send the messengers for the faery courts. This is the end.”
The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.

Aislinn tends the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the faery courts, and in the final conflict, some will win…and some will lose everything.

Publisher: Harper (I did receive this ARC via the publisher via YALitChat)
Release Date: March 11, 2011

As much as I'd like to, I am not going to post any spoilers.  But I will give you some hints.  Remember that predictions post I did a few days ago before I started reading?  Of the five predictions that I made, only one actually happened.  (Yeah, I scored a 20% on my predictions test; guess I fail out of psychic school.) Now all you've got to do if figure out which one I was right about.  :)

Here's what I will tell you though:

*  Although I've become a huge fan of first person voice, there are so many view points here that the book could only work in third.  And even though we "head hop" between all the characters and courts, it's not distracting. It just WORKS in this wonderfully awesome way.

*  There's only one court that does not play a role in "the end" -- for the rest of the courts, you get to see how their fates play out.  Whether Keenan and Ash can be happy for the good of the Summer Court.  Whether Donia will let Keenan's summer into her winter world again.  Whether Seth can truly separate from his new "mother" in the High Court.  And what happens when the Dark Court suddenly isn't the only counter-balance to the High Court.  There are power struggles, plot twists and crazy, wonderful threads I never saw coming.

*  The more I read, the more I loved it.  I wished the series never had to come to an end (because I do adore the characters), but I can't imagine a better conclusion than the one Marr delivers.  In the last chapter, Marr manages to bring her story back full circle, alluding back to Wicked Lovely on many levels, and it's so artful that I wanted to applaud.

If you haven't started in on the series, let me just tell you: Marr puts the urban in urban fantasy.  If you like your street fights dirty, don't mind a lip piercing or two, love being immersed in an almost parallel world, and enjoy some sizzling YA romance, these books are right up your alley.

Overall, I give the novel an OMG! rating and the uber-high 4.5 Greek coins rating.  It's so close to being a 5, but then you'd never believe me that the HFAC rating is "almost unobtainable."  Bottom line?  You might as well pre-order a copy, 'cause you're gonna want this one!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So, I had a new dream-inspired tale pop into my head and I think the concept could really be a winner.  But there are some problems -- one of them pretty major.  I'm not ready to go from writing this:

to this:

That's right.  My idea (which I couldn't stop contemplating on the way to work and finally had to write out a synopsis for), is middle grade.  I don't write middle grade.  I certainly don't read middle grade.  ACK!!  There's not even romance in middle grade.  And yet this idea could only appeal to a middle grade audience.

So what do I do?  Just walk away?  Leave it on the back burner until maybe the right time comes along?  I just don't know...

What do you do when inspiration strikes for something that's totally outside of your comfort zone?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Crystal Ball Meets Darkest Mercy

SQUEE!  I have an ARC of Darkest Mercy sitting on my bedside table, and I can't wait to dive into it.  If you've been following Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, this is the must-read conclusion.  Here's the cover copy:

"Send the messengers for the faery courts. This is the end.”

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.

Aislinn tends the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the faery courts, and in the final conflict, some will win…and some will lose everything.

The exhilarating conclusion to Melissa Marr’s New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

This has me so intrigued, that I decided to make some predictions before I start reading.  A NOTE OF WARNING:  I am the world's worst at predicting endings and plot twists, so at the end of the book, I expect to come back and have to break that crystal ball.

Here are my predictions:

*  The sisters from the High Court and Dark Court destroy each other

*  The Shadow Court ends up dominate

*As much as I want Aislinn to pick Keenan (and not just for the good of the Summer Court, but because he's so swoon-worthy), I think she stays with Seth.

*  The Summer and High Courts form an uneasy alliance as Keenan assumes rule of the High Court

*  Keenan and Donia can't make it work because their summer and winter natures are too strong

What are your predictions?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sometimes I Feel Less Crazy

This whole writing & submission process is enough to make me question my sanity sometimes. I mean, did I seriously spend years learning how to write paranormal romance for teenagers? Only to be met with rejections so far? REALLY???

And then I see things like this. And I realize, I'm ambitious. Determined. Perhaps chasing my dreams.

But this guy is crazy!
(In case you can't read the window stickers, they proclaim that the Rapture will be on May 21st and the end of the world will be on October 21, 2011. YOU'VE NOW BEEN WARNED.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Tips: The "Magic" to Crafting Your Synopsis

Nikki and I have been working on our synopsis for Beneath the Surface, which made me think I'd share some synopsis pointers with you.  Unfortunately, it's not easy & there's no magic formula...
Image Snatched from Deviant Art

In essence, the synopsis is nothing more than a very short summary of your entire novel.  But you want it to be nearly as engaging as your novel, not a boring recitation of facts.

Starting with the basics -- although the length will vary from agent to agent, your synopsis should typically be two to three pages long.  (To get to this length, hit only the major plot points and avoid flowery language.)

If your synopsis is one page, you can single space it with breaks between paragraphs.  If longer than that, it should be double-spaced.

Stick with Times New Roman, 12 point font and 1 margins.

You last name/book title appears in the upper left hand corner (Harrell/Destined); the page number goes in the upper right hand corner (this info should be contained in the page header).

Capitalize each name the first time (but only the first time) that you use it.

Now more for the craft --  You should hit the beginning, conflict (action, reaction, decision), plot twists and the ending.  Do not leave your reader hanging at the end with a what will happen? sort of question.

The beginning should include your main character's name and age as well as a hook (much like in your query).  If where and when details are important, be sure to include them early on as well.

You want the reader to related to your main character right away, just as in your novel.  You should use the same "voice" as in your novel (e.g., humorous, snarky, literary), but the synopsis should always be in third person present tense, even if your novel is in first and/or past tense.

You will not, however, want to (or have room to), introduce every character in the novel. Include only those who directly and significantly impact the main character.  In the synopsis, sub-plots tend to fall away in favor of the overarching plot line.

Like your novel, the synopsis needs to flow together.  Your paragraphs should not be a series of first this happens, then this happens, sort of descriptions.  You do want to work in chronological order, though.

Don't forget relationships.  Be sure to show some of the blossoming romance or impending conflict between characters, as well as the personal growth of your main character.

Your synopsis is also where an agent or editor can tell if your novel is well-plotted, so pacing is also important to keep in mind in the synopsis.  If you can't make 2 pages entertaining, how can you make us care through an entire book?

I heard one author explain that the synopsis is typically like looking at your novel with a 1000-foot view.  But every now and then you can zoom in with a line of dialog or a little detail that will really suck the reader in.

I'm sure this list isn't exhaustive and there are as many ways to write a great synopsis as there are to write a great novel.  Have I forgotten anything major?  Any little tricks you'd like to share for crafting a kick-butt synopsis?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kicking Off 2011

Here are some blog-related YA things I'm really looking forward to in 2011.

1.  Oasis for YA is hosting its first ever blogfest - That's YAmore.
We're inviting YA authors to post 250 words of their smoldering, swoon-worthy scenes.  What better way to get yourself in the mood for Valentine's Day?

2.  I'll be participating in the Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  12 books by debut authors in 12 months.  Now that it's 2011, I can get started.  Woot!!

3.  In just a few weeks, I'll be giving away an ARC as part of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop.  You'll have to stay tuned to see which ARC it'll be -- and to enter to win.
Hope you'll stick around and join me this year.  Nikki and I are planning on submitting Beneath the Surface soon, so we'll be sure to keep you updated on any and all news!  Happy New Year!