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Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Thankful Heart

In honor of the first weekly Oasis for YA meme - Thankful for Thursday - I thought I'd tell you about my mom (whom I'm immensely thankful for).  My mom is this crazy, happy-all-the-time person who makes everyone around her feel sunnier.  She has a saying: Happiness is a choice.

Now, this saying doesn't do much to improve the attitudes my six & five years olds.  But seeing as how there's a good measure of truth in her words, I figure I ought to act like I've heard the wisdom she's trying to impart on me.  And one of the best ways to be happy is to be grateful... particularly in times when it'd be just as easy to be bitter.

One of my favorite examples from her is this time she went shopping and bought diet soda and seltzer.  As she was putting the cans away in her laundry room, she dropped a can of seltzer, it hit the tile floor, burst open, and sprayed her selves and various portions of the room with seltzer.  Her reaction?  Rather than being pissed or grouching about the mess, she choose to be grateful that it wasn't the diet coke that had dropped.

I'm not sure if I have it in me to be as positive as she is -- or to find the good even in bad situations.  But I'm trying.  I'm trying not to let this publishing business get me down, and instead think that every "no" is bringing me closer to the person meant to say "yes."  I'm trying to remember that my writing friends' successes take nothing away from me and let my happiness for them be filling and genuine.  And I'm trying to be grateful for all the countless things that are right in my life and let the few that are "wrong" float away.

I'm not sure I can accomplish all of these things.  But I know if I can, more things to be grateful for will come my way.

What have you chosen to be happy about lately?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Birthday Bash!

Whoa - someone in literary land apparently decided that February 22nd was THE day to launch debut novelists.  There are six YA titles by debut novelists being released into the world today, plus a MG with a fabuloso title.  In no particular order, I introduce you to: (for this part, you must imagine music and me in a long gown like I'm reading Oscar nominees, b/c that's totally how I'm hearing it in my head right now):

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Haven by Kristi Cook
The Visconti House by Elisbeth Edgar
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Ketteridge
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
and the MG:
How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen

... and the winner is...

ALL OF THEM!  Congratulations, authors, on your debuts!

P.S. While I've included the book covers below, the title names are linked up to their Goodreads pages if you want to learn more about them.  Happy exploring!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Second Chance for Sequels

With all of the Valentine's Day goodness going on this week, I missed my regular book birthday party shout out.  Post-V-day witnessed the births of two new YA debut authors: C.A. Moulton with the much-anticipated Angelfire and Sara Bennett-Whealer with Rival.

But the two books I'm most excited about hitting the virtual shelves (since I'm a Kindle addict and all), are sequels.  I know -- I did a post not too long ago about sequels that I'd been waiting for with baited breath... and they'd let me down.  But the reviews rolling in from these two are pretty stellar, so I'm getting read to give sequels a second chance.

New this week are: Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delaney (sequel to 13 to Life, starring hunky Russian werewolves) and Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (sequel to The Body Finder).

Are any of these on your TBR lists?  Which look better to you -- the debuts or the sequels?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Worst Pick Up Lines

So, we all had a blast with the That's YAmore blogfest and got in the mood for romance.  But now the holiday is over, and I decided I'd give Beth Fred's Anti-Valentine's Day Blogfest a go (for all you V-day haters out there).

The rules are simple: post a worst date or worst Valentine's story.  If you don't have one, make one up.  Then visit at least 3 of the other blogs on the tour.  Simple, no?

I must be incredibly fortunate because I don't really have a worst date story I can recall.  I do have a couple of absolutely horrid pick-up lines I can share though.

1.  Guy comes up to me at a bar and tells me I look just like his dead ex-fiance.  (All I can think is, please God, don't let him be the reason she's dead.)

2.  Guy comes up to me at a party and literally jabs a key into my side.  "Does this turn you on?" he asks.
"What? No." I answer.
He shrugs.  "It works on some people."
Me: "It probably works on some cars too.  Loser."  Okay, so I added the loser part now, but seriously... he obviously was, right?

So what's the worst pick-up line you've ever gotten (or used!)?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Extra Romance - Music & a Review

Thank you to everyone who stopped in to read my excerpt from Beneath the Surface and left a comment.  I'm so grateful to have wonderful blogger friends who take the time to care about someone else's work.  I heart you all.

If you read the excerpt, the song that Cass sings is called "Set Down Your Glass" and it's by Snow Patrol.  The song is beautiful and romantic and I wanted to share it with all of you.

And if you want a review of a très romantique book this Valentine's Day, check out Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  How do I love this book?  Let me count the ways:

First, it's set in Paris.  Who wouldn't love to spend their senior year of high school at an American school in Paris?

Second, the main love interest (Etienne St. Claire), despite being American, was raised for a time in England so he has a dreamy British accent.  *swoon*  He'd be even more perfect if he didn't already have a girl friend. (Yeah, you see the problem.)

Third, this book will remind you of the angst, flutters and all the million other tingly emotions that came the first time you fell in love.  For a YA novel, it was surprisingly long - which is wonderful.  We get to experience all the false starts & near misses that can transpire over the course of an entire school year.

Fourth, it's probably the first book written in the present tense that I've loved.  It wasn't distracting, but instead was the perfect way to project Anna's voice.

Fifth, the characters are so subtly flawed and imperfect that it makes them perfect.  Anna is a neat freak and timid.  She's afraid to explore Paris on her own even though it's teaming with her beloved movie theaters (she wants to be a professional movie critic someday).  And Etienne is "short" and bites his nails.  And yet they're both beautiful and compliment each other on every level.

Can you tell I loved this book?  If you haven't heard enough yet, here's the Goodreads description:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?
In short, this book takes home a highly-coveted HFAC rating - that's 5 out of 4 Greek coins! Go hence and get ye a copy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

That's YAmore Blogfest Entry

Thanks for stopping by!  I'm nervous about this one.  Other than sharing the summary and first five pages, Nikki and I haven't publicly shared anything in Beneath the Surface . *gulp*

This is a scene I wrote (and of course, Nikki edited) after attending a concert with my husband.  I wanted these emotions for Wren so badly after that night that I just had to write this scene into the story.  Here, we find Wren and Chase (the two main characters) on a spontaneous date.  They've decided to drop into the restaurant where Chase's sister, Cass, is performing.  The place is packed with tourists, making the summer night in Michigan unseasonably balmy.

After Cass went back to tuning, Chase and I ordered some warm apple pie a la mode and waited. We angled our chairs to face the stage, Chase scooting in close beside me and stretching his arm across my back. The room already felt sticky without his added body heat, but I didn’t mind. I leaned my head onto his shoulder while Cass turned the microphone on.

“Good evening everyone.” The room hushed as all eyes turned to Cass. She seemed to radiate under the inspection of so much admiration. “It’s good to see so many folks in for the boat show. I’d like to get the evening started with a song for my brother and his lovely girlfriend.” Chase tightened his arm around me and leaned in to kiss my temple. “This one’s called ‘Set Down Your Glass.’” 

Her fingers plucked at the strings, releasing soft cords like a lullaby. I could’ve sunk into weightlessness there in Chase’s arms, buoyed only by music and his touch. As we sat there blanketed in her song, even with a thin sheen of sweat sticking my bangs against my forehead, I felt truly beautiful ... knew I was the most beautiful person in the room, not because it was true, but because Chase thought it was. I didn’t have to look at him to know he saw me, admired me, and just wanted to be with me.

Cass’s voice tangled inside my head, like she truly sang only for us. And in that moment, I was complete.

I'd love to know what you think!  And don't forget to check out the other entries in the Oasis for YA That's YAmore blogfest and share the love.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Flashback Wednesday: High School Valentines

Since I'm participating in Oasis for YA's "That's YAmore Blogfest" on Friday, I'm posting my flashback today.  And boy, the memory that came back to me today has got me asking, "what were we thinking?!?!"

I was in the French Club (er, can we say dork?) and every year, we had our big annual fundraiser at Valentines.  For $2 (I think) we'd pre-sell carnations.  You wrote your message on a slip of paper, which we then tied to either a pink, red or white carnation.  You didn't get to choose the color, sorry.  Then, on Valentine's Day, we'd deliver all the carnations to the recpients' 2nd period class.

Sounds good in theory and it was a big money maker.  But as if Valentine's Day isn't already frought with insecurty, we just added to it.  The carnations turned into a popularity contest.  I'm not even kidding when I say that the popular girls had enough flowers to look like they'd just won a beauty pageant or were about to walk down the aisle. In retrospect, it's obvious that the fundraiser became a way that all the kids with money could make each other look extra special.

Couple that with the anticipation of sitting in your 2nd period class wondering if your friends sent you anything this year and whether you looked foolish for hoping too much that your name would actually be called.  (My boy friend at the time was in college during my junior and senior years, so I knew I wasn't getting anything from him.)  The flowers were an outward sign of either (a) how many friends you had or (b) how much your current flame was in luv.

Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty sure getting even just a flower or two was enough to totally make my day.  But for all those kids who got nothing, the day had to suck pretty hard.  Fundraisers just shouldn't be cruel like that, should they? I mean, seriously, does high school need to be any more angsty than it already is?  Or are these moments of humilation and surprise just a part of the whole high school rite of passage?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Anna and the French Kiss

If you're like me and haven't had a chance to pick up Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss, hopefully this teaser will leave you racing to get your copy.  I started reading Sunday night (Super Bowl, schmooper bowl) and could hardly put it down.  Here are 2 sentences from my current page:

The lights of Paris are yellow and green and orange.  The warm air swirls with the chatter of people in the streets and the clink of wineglasses in the restaurants.

I'm swooning already!  For more details on the novel and where to buy your copy, head over to Stephanie's website.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  To play along yourself, simply:
•Grab your current read

•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Viva La Romance!

I've been busy helping my daughter's make their class Valentines, which has me in the spirit of red & pink, hearts & cupids. It has me dreaming of dinner overlooking the Eiffel tower and long walks down the beach.  If you're like me and ready to shed the winter doldrums in favor of some sizzling romance, I invite you to join in Oasis for YA's "That's YAmore Blogfest" -- starting this Friday!

Bloggers/authors benefit by participating because new readers will find their site.  Readers benefit because they'll find up-and-coming authors to follow before they get famous (exciting!).  Here's how it works:

Starting the Friday before Valentine's Day (that's February 11th), we invite you to post 250 romantic, swoon-worthy words from your YA WIP.  Then check out the entries from some of the other participants.  (Just be sure you have a fan and/or a cold glass of water on hand.)  We know your Valentine will appreciate you getting yourself in a romantic state of mind...

To sign up, follow these easy-peasy directions:

1.  Enter your blog name in the Mr. Linky (on the Oasis for YA blogfest page - link here)
2.  Get your post ready now and set the posting date to 12:01 AM on Feb. 11th (that way you won't forget)
3.  Please don't post any erotica or pornography - this is YA!!

25 bloggers have already signed up -- you're next!  (And if you don't have a WIP piece you're ready to share... please spread the love on Twitter, Facebook and/or your blog. Feel free to grab our badge.)  Thanks!!  We look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pay it Forward...

Nikki and I have decided to participate in Shelli (@srjohannes)'s Pay It Forward contest. She'll be recommending the winning entry to her very own agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin of the Trident Media Group. How flippin' awesome of her is that???

How can you get in on the goodness?

Three things: (1) Be one of Shelli's followers on her blog and twitter - you should totally being doing this already anyway.  (2) Submit a pitch, no longer than 4 lines, either as a blog post or on Facebook notes if you don't have a blog. (3) In the blog post or note, you must Pay It Forward by recognizing someone who's helped you along your writing journey. But make sure you get it in by TODAY before 5pm EST. You must then leave your pitch and other info as a comment on Shelli's POST.

There are so many people I could give a shout-out to for helping me in this journey (including, Nikki herself!)  But Nikki and I have choosen to recognize the mega-awesome Georgia McBride of YALitChat fame for her unending generosity of time and spirit and for helping us see where our novel truly began.  Thank you, Georgia!  BTW - if you're not following her and don't yet belong to, what are you waiting for??
And without further ado, our four-line pitch for Beneath the Surface is:
When Chase Regas nearly plows seventeen-year old Wren Lassiter over in his speedboat off the shore of Lake Huron, Wren quickly realizes that a busted shoulder is the least of her worries. Chase reveals that not only are he and Wren soulmates from a past life, they're also descendants of Cetus, an ancient Greek sea monster who cursed his children to avenge his death. Now, Chase has only two weeks to murder the right stranger or, as a male offspring, he’ll change into a sea serpent himself. Determined to free her long-lost love and end the centuries-old curse, Wren joins him in the hunt, only to find way more than she expected Beneath the Surface.

At What Point do You Call it Quits?

And NO! - I'm not talking about writing.  Actually, I'm talking about reading.
My daughters and I love the Skippyjon Jones books.  We could (and often, do) read them every night.
When that little cat yells "Holy Frijoles!" and thrusts his sword into the Great Bumblebeeto Bandito, that's just good stuff.

But what do you do about the book - which you're reading for pleasure - that you're not sure you can stand to finish?  This isn't your homework.  This is what you're reading to relax.  Only the writing is rubbing you the wrong way.  You can't get invested in the characters.  And there's this concept that you wanted to love SO FREAKIN' BAD, and you're not.

Do you tough it out and hope to see in it what an agent and editor obviously saw?  Or do you chalk it up to life's-too-short-to-read-bad-fiction and move on to the next pile in your TBR list?  I just can't make up my mind what to do...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Book Birthday

I had so much fun last week celebrating the book birthdays of debut YA novelists, that I thought I'd continue sharing the love this week too.  Be on the look out for these outstanding titles from debut novelists, that are making their way into the world today!

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night. Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell.

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harrison
Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.
And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough….

Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Lisa Tawn Bergren’s new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn’t have to fear a vampire’s bite but must still fight for her life.
In Book One, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties.
Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds… until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves in the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.