Monday, January 31, 2011

My January "Reads"

I listened to fourteen books this month, including 6 adult fiction/nonfiction and 8 YA/MG.

Here are the YA/MG:

Dead BeautifulMatchedPrismOnly the Good Spy YoungThe Misfits
Across the UniverseThe Beasts of Clawstone CastlePretty Monsters: Stories

My favorite nonfiction this month:

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century It seemed a little American-centric, but this was an interesting book on past and future geo-politics. The author is also convinced that war is inevitable for humans, forever. I disagree, hoping we'll manage to be less predictable than that...someday, anyway.

A lot of fodder for fiction here, especially for sci-fi and dystopian writers.

What about you? Any favorite reads this month?

Friday, January 28, 2011

99th Page Blogfest

Page99Test Alicia, Erinn, Holly, Pam, and Quita are hosting a 99th page blogfest. The idea is that the 99th page can tell you whether or not a book is worth reading.

This was an interesting exercise, reading the 99th page of all of my stories. I wonder if this test has something to do with plot structure, if it's about a possible sagging middle or if it tests the number of pleasurable hits (word play, banter, etc.) a writer makes per page.

Anyway, I picked the one from my novel, SOCIAL DISORDER, because it seemed to stand best on it's own.

            I stopped at the restroom on the way, taking off my shoes to enjoy the cool floor on my feet. A quick evaluation in the mirror said that my wrap-around red dress would still look fine for the picture. The rest of me, on the other hand. I looked flushed and mussed, but happy. Very happy.
            Back outside the restroom, I leaned my wrist on Nick’s shoulder while I slipped one shoe back on, but then he grabbed the other shoe out of my hand and backed away from me.
            “Nick.” I hobbled toward him. “You’re not looking very hot to me right now.”
He held the shoe up so I had to jump to try and reach it. I landed against him. “You, meanwhile, have never looked hotter.” He swung me around, ending with a crash-down kiss.
“There you are.” A familiar shrill voice cut through the hallway.
Nick and I turned our heads to see Clarissa and Mitch standing at the corner by the bathrooms.
We all stared at each other for a freeze-frame moment.
Mitch recovered first. “I was heading to the bathroom,” he said to Clarissa.
“Good,” she said, her voice, as usual, aimed straight at me. “I need to go too.” She put her hand through Mitch’s arm and walked, dignified, to the ladies’ room, but the clacking of her strappy heels ruined the effect. Mitch took the last few steps into the men’s room without looking back.
Then I could breath again.
Nick still held me. “Is Mitch the reason Clarissa has it out for you?” he whispered.
“Allison thinks so.” He handed me my other shoe, and I leaned on him to put it on. Then we headed toward the pictures in our own version of a dignified manner.

What do you think? Do you want to keep reading?

Come join the fun (Alicia's link above includes the sign up list).  And check out They're doing this same thing there on a regular basis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's YA Highway Road Trip topic:
If you could live in the storyworld of one book, what would it be? (any genre!)

Just one? I can never seem to pick just one with these kinds of questions.

Like, for the past, I'd love to be a vampire who's lived for over a thousand years (feeding only on murdering creeps) in Anne Rice's, Vampire Chronicles...imagine all the books you could read and places you could see.

Complete Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief)
As for present-day stuff, I'd pick Boy Meets Boy, a high school world where everyone is accepted for who they are.
Boy Meets Boy
In fantasyland (assuming my last choice doesn't already count in this category), who wouldn't want to be a student at Hogwarts?
Harry Potter Boxed Set (Harry Potter, #1-6)

And as for the future, give me my own copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide, and I'd be ready for whatever the zany universe has to offer...As my dad always said about getting to travel into space: "In a heartbeat." I agree, Dad, in a heartbeat.
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1-5)

 What about you? Which bookworld would you choose?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Latest Audiobook Love

Across The Universe -Beth Revis

Across the Universe I was so looking forward to this one, and it did not disappoint.

Imagine being cryogenically  frozen for a 250 year trip to a new world, only you're unfrozen fifty years too early, without your parents. And there's no way to refreeze you or unfreeze them.

This premise, along with interesting thoughts about how they're going to explain this to the grandkids someday, make the book worth reading, but there's so much more to it than that.

Strangely enough, though, I'm going to explain a few things it isn't:

For you squeamish types (I'm in this boat): It's not ever as intense as the first chapter where Amy and her parents are being frozen.

For any non-murder-mystery fans (I'm in this boat too): The mystery element is there but not as strong (thankfully, in my opinion) as the summaries make it seem.

For any hesitant non-sci-fi fans (I'm not in this boat): It isn't intense sci-fi. There are no aliens with unpronounceable names or intergalactic conflicts to keep track of. It reads very much (to me) like a dystopian novel set on a spaceship...and that's not a bad thing. I love dytopian and sci-fi, but if you're not sure about sci-fi, you should still give this one a try.

If you like this, you might also like:
Uglies Feed Matched The Hunger Games The Maze Runner Fahrenheit 451 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Libraries are important

Okay, so I'll admit that when I first heard about extreme budget cuts to libraries my first thought was for my defense, they were threatening to eliminate inter-library loans, and I'd already listened to most of the YA audiobooks at my branch.

So, booksellers running a "save the libraries" campaign also has a selfish tinge to it. After all, budget cuts mean less books bought by libraries. Still, I'd like to think that their second thoughts (like my own) were for communities at large.

From a practical standpoint, the large number of unemployed people here in the U.S need free access to the internet and computers to find the maximum number of employment opportunities available in their area.

From a broader standpoint, libraries provide an ideological service to communities through the free flow of information. Freedom of speech and the press isn't worth much if the only information on current events most people have available to them is TV news. Multiple medias and perspectives need to be provided to the community at large, and the library does this.

What do you think? Why are libraries important to you?

And check out the Fight for Libraries Campaign over at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's YA Highway Road Trip: Write a blurb of your favorite book or your own work.


Lorina comes from a perfect world. No hunger or abuse, crime, war or depression. Optimized individual potential and only positive emotional connections. That's her world. Her planet.

Now she's come to Earth to help. Only her seventeen-year trip might have been a waste. The aura-reading skills that made her valuable on her world are minimal at best here. And attempts to combine her sketchy aura sight with a sketchier understanding of human interactions have led to trouble. Trouble that could get her noticed by intergalactic powers that don't want Lorina's world interfering with ours, for better or for worse.

But those intergalactic powers are missing something big. Another planet trying to use the Earth's own questionable political decisions to bring it down. And Lorina, with her minimal aura sight, might be the only one who can see it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's your process Blogfest

Shallee at Life, the Universe and Writing is hosting a great blogfest where each of us shares our writing process.

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I'm a pantster. I like to joke that the only thing writing an outline does is tell me one way things aren't going to end.

Okay, so I'll admit it's a little chaotic and not the most efficient way to write. I've written hundreds of pages that never made it into the final drafts of my books. I've had to backtrack here and there when I've gone off course, and many times I'm too in the thick of things to see the problems until I'm in revisions. Still, I wouldn't trade my method for anything else.

Here is why: My best plot ideas come from getting to know my characters and living their story with them. And, for me, the only way to do this is to write them into scenes and see what happens.

Now,  I (as a self-proclaimed pantster) have been accused by die-hard outliners of outlining in my head. *Gasp* I will admit that I usually am thinking a few scenes ahead in my mind. And I usually do have some vague idea of a few things that will happen and where/how things will end.

And there are three things I do that could be of practical use to other writers:

Research- research, research. Great plot ideas can come from info, theories and real-life accounts of people who do and/or have gone though things your characters do or are going through.

Scene Lists- I usually write these about three quarters into a book when various plot lines are starting to converge, I need to accomplish many things at once, and/or the timing is crucial. They are simple. The scene/event, who is there, and what needs to happen. No more than a line or two of notebook paper per scene.

Writing a Future Scene- Scenes in the book often come to me out of order. I will write those scenes then sort of use them as a trajectory to head for. Revisions are often plot elements come up and/or the characters have changed some by the time I make it to that scene, but it still helps move things along for me.

What about you? Pantster or Planner? What methods do you use?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Debut Author Challange/My Unofficial Audiobook Challenge

Yay! I signed up for this great challenge at Story Siren again this year, and I will make it to twelve debut books this time.

As a final report from last year...I only got six in, but I didn't sign up until July.

I squeezed in two more official ones (total of six) before the end of the year:

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1) and The Replacement

Then I got in two unofficial ones in January (unofficial total of eight)

Matched (Matched #1)  and Dead Beautiful

I got MATCHED from Audible, but the other three were audiobooks my library system purchased toward the end of the year.

I'm getting my most-wanted debut books through Audible this year (already started ACROSS THE UNIVERSE), but if you want to get some debut audiobooks through the library, I'd suggest searching for the top-selling and/or critically acclaimed ones in your library catalog a couple months after they come out (to make up for the library lag time). And you could consider requesting the purchase of a few of them. I can do that in person in the children's part of my library.

What about you? Anyone else doing the Debut Author Challenge? 

Now, My Unofficial Audiobook Challenge:
Any audio-newbies willing to try an audiobook this year? I don't have the bells and whistles and widgets ability to make it an official challenge, but if you try an audiobook because of my site then let me know and I'll send you a book or some other prize.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

YA Highway's road trip topic this week: 
What is your favorite line from your WIP (or from a book you read recently)?

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE came out yesterday (already ordered it on Audible). I'm so excited to see YA venture into Sci-fi (and not just because my WIP, an idea I've put off writing for years, is Sci-fi).

I grew up watching Star Wars, Battle Star Galactica (the original) and even Buck Rogers in the Twenty-fifth Century...boy, does that date me. But I didn't truly fall in love with Sci-fi until high school when I read Kurt Vonnegut. There I found out that Sci-fi doesn't have to be just a different setting for an action adventure. It can be a way to give us new perspectives on ourselves.

So, I have an alien protag named Lorina, and she has two perspectives to share here...I wish they could stand on their own, but it is sci-fi, so some world-building is required ;)

First, after the principal has said that he hopes he doesn't see her in his office again: 

"I considered it a strange measure of his success as a principal to never have to see a student again, but I nodded my agreement..."

And next, when she enters her Earth dwelling with its peeling wallpaper missing edging:

"Here, they made houses out of things that wore out and drank from throw-away bottles that lasted forever."

Any other Sci-fi fans out there? Why do you like the genre?

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Resolutions Giveaway Winners...and my writer's resolutions

New Year's Reading Resolutions So, I used an old-fashioned randomizer (slips of paper in a cup) to pick the winners of my giveaway.

For ETERNAL ONES:  The Eternal Ones (Eternal Ones, #1) Lydia K

For INTERTWINED:  Intertwined (Intertwined, #1) Karla Nell

For PERFECT CHEMISTRY: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1) Alicia Gregoire

And for FLIGHT: Flight Kate

Thanks everyone for participating. I still have plenty of books left from Book Expo last year, so keep in touch for another giveaway...let's say, the beginning of next month.

In fact, I'll make a monthly giveaway one of my Writer's New Year's Resolutions. Along with:

-Make it to 500 Followers
-Foster and maintain my crit partners (sorry I've been MIA lately guys!)
-Finish my WIP and another book
-And, of course...Get Published!!!

What about you? Any writer's or regular resolutions to share?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Resolutions GIVEAWAY and Road Trip Wednesday

FREE BOOKS!!! What a great way to start the New Year! And check out all the other (over one hundred) giveaways on Reading Angel's New Year's Resolutions Giveaway.

Right here, I've got SIGNED hardbacks of Kirsten Miller's THE ETERNAL ONES and Gena Showalter's INTERTWINED:

The Eternal Ones (Eternal Ones, #1)  Intertwined (Intertwined, #1)
A paperback of PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles:

Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry, #1)
AND an Unabridged Audiobook of FLIGHT by Sherman Alexie:    Flight   

To enter, comment on which book (or books) you'd like and why. And please leave your email if it's not accessible through your bio.

Now, YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday topic this week is a choice. "5 Best Books of 2010" and/or "Sum Up Your 2010 in a Book Title."

I'm going for the second short and easy one. It's the thing I've found myself saying to friends and family all year when they ask me how I'm doing (the kind of friends and family you answer that question truthfully to, anyway).

The book title for my 2010:


Yep, that was me...working hard but moving slow...If only I had the glutes to show for it. Here's hoping I can leave that title behind with the old year.  

Don't forget to comment on which book(s) you want!

Monday, January 3, 2011

December "Reads"

If you're here from Reading Angel's New Year's Resolutions Giveaway, I plan to post mine on Wednesday. But go check out all the other giveaways...over one hundred bloggers participating this week. I haven't finalized my prizes yet, but I have a copy of THE ETERNAL ONES, INTERTWINED, PERFECT CHEMISTRY and and audiobook of Sherman Alexie's FLIGHT on my desk right now eager to be mailed out.

New Year's Reading Resolutions
So...Happy New Year Everyone!

I know, It's January. 2011. I shouldn't be looking back...or I should be looking back on the whole year. Instead, I'm just posting my December Audiobooks.

I had twelve total...pretty good since I was traveling for the holidays one week and read more than listened to books then.

Here are my YA/MG books:

The Star of KazanHush, HushNewes from the DeadRadianceI Am Number FourNightshadeThe Replacement

I also read five adult books. My favorite nonfiction this month was:

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures This collection of interesting stories isn't my favorite by Malcolm Gladwell, but I still enjoyed it. If you're not into random, ponderable topics, I'd recommend trying TIPPING POINT and/or BLINK first.