Friday, February 25, 2011

February Giveaway Winners

I said I'd announce winners on Friday, and I'm just making it (by one hour).

Winner of Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5) Marie Rearden


Winner of  Forget-Her-Nots Abby Stevens


As for the query critiques, I've decided that this month, at least, I'll crit everyone who asked for one, including book winners. Also, if you commented and didn't ask for a page one or query crit, but you want one then comment on this post and I'll get to yours too.

I'll be contacting folks tomorrow about queries and addresses. If you don't have an email available through your profile then please leave a comment here or email me.

Thanks, and happy February everyone! Wow, this month went faster than the shortest month usually goes for me. How about you?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This week on YA Highway's Road Trip, we're doing an interactive Q & A.  So far, I've seen some tough ones and some fun ones (I can't wait to go answer them all). I'm going for something in the middle:

What element/part of writing comes easiest and/or is most fun for you and why?

Is it: Outlining?
             Character preplanning?
             Research?
             Backstory?
             World-Building?
             Plot?
             Settings?
             Narration?
             Action?
             Dialogue?
             Character development?
             Metaphors and Similes?
             Pacing?
             Flow? 
             Revising?
             Editing?
             or anything else I might have missed...

For me, it's dialogue. Sometimes, when my characters start talking in my head, I just write it down...no actions, setting or dialogue tags...I'll put them in later...it's so much fun to just let them talk and see where it leads them or what it will reveal.

What about you? What part of writing flows best for you?

Oh, and check out my books/crit giveaway below! Open until Friday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

V-Month Giveaway-Free Books and First Page or Query Crit

In honor of Valentines month, I'm giving away a signed hardback of FORGET-HER-NOTS, where Laurel finds out she has secret flower powers.
 Forget-Her-Nots

I also have a hardback of SPIRIT BOUND, the fifth Vampire Academy book.

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, #5)
Finally, for any writers out there, I'm offering a page one or query critique...if anyone's interested in getting my two cents for free :)

To enter, leave a comment about which item or items you want. I'll announce winners on Friday.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bernard Pivot Questionaire Blogfest

Nichole Ducleroir is hosting this great blogfest (click on the button to find it) where we answer the Actor's Studio host's 10 famous questions. Here are mine:
  1. What is your favorite word? Gnarly (Not as in "dude" but in the shape of a tree)
  2. What is your least favorite word? Genitalia (Ack! Even crude slang words work better than this) 
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Creatively-writing Spiritually and Emotionally- Connection with others 
  4. What turns you off? Cruelty, in any shape or form
  5. What is your favorite curse word? I'm more into phrases- "Shit. Damn. Piss on a rock." (I also like "*uck me Freddy" from Stephen King's DREAMCATCHER)
  6. What sound or noise do you love? The voice of an audiobook when I'm doing some tedious chore.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? My alarm clock
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A play therapist
  9. What profession would you not like to do?  Work in a meat processing plant
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "You didn't waste one ounce of what I gave you."                                                                                                        

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Secret Crush Blogfest

  Amparo Ortiz at No Rest for the Lazy is hosting a fake girlfriend/boyfriend blogfest where we write a letter to our favorite author or celebrity crush. I'm doing a little of both:)


Dear Laurie Halse Anderson,

           You had me at SPEAK. Speak

You could have gone on to write other books with different and distinct characters facing new issues that would tear our hearts apart, all with the same writing voice. Other authors do it. Almost all writers do it, from what I can tell. But not you.

You wrote WINTERGIRLS. Wintergirls

In a totally different character and writing voice...an amazing voice that drew me in even though the subject matter didn't resonate as much with me as SPEAK. Not until you wrote about it, anyway.

Most of us can only hope to be John Wayne writers,See full size image with new stories and characters with each book/movie, but deep down still writing/acting as ourselves. You are a Johnny Depp writer, transforming yourself for every book/role. I stand in awe...a total author-envy crush here...but not a real, real crush like I have on Johnny Depp ;)
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Sincerely,
Jennifer Hoffine

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already Blogfest

Christina Lee and Stina Lindenblatt are hosting a Just Kiss Already blogfest. A kissing scene in 250 words or less. 
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_48Og1UVSEc0/TUDxzLGT-HI/AAAAAAAABH0/_e3gA7ROBB0/s1600/Just-Kiss-Already-Blogfest.jpg
     
I've decided to share the first kiss I ever wrote, which also happens to be the long-awaited first kiss of high-school sophomore, Emily Wilkins, in Frog Kisses and Fairytale Misses:

            As we made it to the car, Brad took the keys from me and put them in his pocket. He leaned on the car then pulled me over to stand in front of him. A minivan beside us offered some privacy. Still, I searched the parking lot for unwanted company. Brad whispered as if fate might hear, “We’re alone.”
            “At last,” I said. Angles of light came down around us. Even in the shadows I could see when his easy smile became the look that had taunted me since the fair. He wanted me. A guy I liked wanted to kiss me.
            I half-expected some calamity to befall us as his head came down toward mine. After a few tentative kisses, he bent forward and deepened the kiss. By the time our tongues met I was nothing but shot nerve endings and raging hormones.
            He stopped and a dreamy, “Wow,” escaped my lips.    
            His face hovered close to mine. “So, was it worth the wait?”
            I smiled. “You have no idea.”  
 
What do you think? Did your first kiss go so well, or would you rewrite it if you could?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Short Story- A Cupid's Carol

For Hearts Day, I'm participating in Christina Lee's Just Kiss Already blogfest. But Road Trip Wednesday got me in such a festive mood yesterday that I've decided to indulge myself more than you by sharing my Valentine's version of A Christmas Carol. Bear with me...it's not quite flash fiction, but it is only around 1500 words.   

A Cupid’s Carol

I held the phone against my ear with my shoulder so I could talk and type at the same time.  
“Bethany. Are you still there?”
“Yeah, Todd.” My neck killed me already. How did we get by before headsets? I’d thrown mine against the wall earlier that week, so I only had myself to blame.
“It’s Valentines, Bethy. Remember, our annual meeting of Singles United Against Valentines.”
“I know. SUAV, right?”
“I made plans,” Todd said.
 I looked over the last line of gibberish then pounded the backspace key. “I can’t tonight, Todd. I’m on major deadline.” I typed again. “This weekend? I could use a Twinkie, Bacardi and action-movie vedge-fest.”
“Come over late tonight?”
I tried to read the next line of gibberish. “I can’t.”
“Well. Then I can’t either.”
I sat up at the coldness in his tone. “Can’t what?”
“Wait for you.” Then he hung up.
My best friend had hung up on me. Could this week get any worse?
“Miss Lathrop?” My assistant’s voice shot out of the intercom. “Could I go home now?”
I hit the speaker button. “Home? You can’t go home. I need you tonight.”
“But Miss Lathrop. It’s Valentine’s Day. My husband—”
“I don’t care if it’s the Second Coming. The Lansing proposal due tomorrow at three.”
“But Miss Lathrop. I’ve been here since eight.”
I thought of the long-stem roses delivered to her desk and imagined smashing all the petals with my bare hands. Not that I had anything against her husband or the flowers, just the holiday. I breathed in deep, calling up my calm manager voice. “Claire. You’re the one who wanted to go on salary with the hope of a promotion.”
“I know, but—”
“Well, salary means we work according to deadlines. Not clocks. Or holidays.”
My office door opened, and a man with a body almost as round as his head walked in. No. He sort of floated in a way that seemed detached from the stark surroundings—like a mediocre CGI effect. Odd.
“Claire. Who is this—” Crackling came through. I let go and pressed the speaker button again. Only crackling.
“Can I help you.?” I sat but didn’t lean back. I needed to appear professional. The man wore a suit. He could be some big wig I’d never met.
“I’m Que Pidello.” He reached a rounded hand over the desk, and I shook it. Pleasant warmth spread though me. I relaxed into my seat after he let go. As if on command.
Que angled a chair to face me. He sat with surprising ease for his short stature and large girth.
He’s mirroring me, I thought, sitting forward to break the spell. You couldn’t con a PR person. “Can I help you?”
“Beth.” He met my eyes. “Bethy.”  
Only Todd called me Bethy. “I’m Bethany here at work. Or Miss Lathrop.”
“Of course. But Beth to those who knew you growing up, and Bethy to Todd.”
Despite his reassuring smile, a few tendrils of panic hit me. I jabbed at the speaker button again. Crackling. Then the security button. Only crackle. I stood, motioning toward the door. “I’m sorry, Mr.—”
“Que.” He dragged that out. “Pidello” Then he swung into his last name as if putting the two words together.
“Listen, Mr. Pidello.” I switched to my manger voice. “I don’t have time for personal matters tonight, so if you could please make an appointment.”   
He shook his head, making soft, “Tsk, tsk,” sounds. “Sorry Beth. I’m not going anywhere. We have unfinished business.”
Unfinished business? I perused my desk with its imminent-avalanche of papers. He had no idea about unfinished business.
Que laced his fingers over his girth. “I tried. You wanted college. You wanted all the wrong guys. Then you wanted your career.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Ah Beth.” He turned his head to contemplate some unknown spot on the floor. His hair stood out silver at his temples and he’d combed it straight back so it tapered like a wing. “You’ve been my one failure. I’ve always followed the rules, but you dodged me every time.”
My manager voice disappeared, replaced by barely restrained fury. “What. Are you talking about?”
“I have to retire now. You’re my last open case. My longest open case ever.” 
I half stood again. “I think you should leave.”
He motioned with both palms for me to sit, and for some inexplicable reason I did. “I have the lowest divorce rate of any cupid. Only point two percent,” he said, returning his hands to his belly.
“Cupid?”
“These young upstarts.” Que went on. “We’ve added so many novices, with the population boom and all. They’ll shoot at anything, thinking a little attraction is all you need to build the rest. They don’t take the time to get to know their targets.”
I tried to formulate a response.
He waved his hand. “Never mind all that. I’ve tried to change things, but no one will listen. It’s time for me to get out. Abandon the sinking ship, if you will.” He patted his stomach. “So, for the first time in my illustrious five-hundred year career I’m going to break the rules.”
My computer monitor flickered. Two kids ran through a park. Fifth graders. Todd and me. I touched the screen. “How?”
“Just watch,” he said in a pleasant command I couldn’t ignore.
We sat under a tree—popping heads off daisies to see how far they could fly. One fell on my shoulder, and Todd brushed it off. We stopped for a moment, staring at each other.
“This is where it happens” Que stood beside me, his stubby fingers leaning on the desk. I hadn’t heard him move.
On screen, I could see Que, almost invisible, floating behind a tree. “I got the first shot off fine.”  
An arrow flew into Todd’s shoulder. The next arrow flew so fast I didn’t even see Que reload.
“But I missed the second,” he said as my fifth-grade self lean against the tree, causing the arrow to zoom right past me.
“Oh,” I said, feeling the lost moment like a tangible thing.
 The next scene flashed. Senior prom. Todd and I had gone as each other’s pity dates. Dancing with our friends. Such freedom. The kind of confidence only the insular world of adolescence can give, or take away just as easily.
“Here,” Que said. The music slowed, and I could see Que beside a pillar. Todd closed the distance between us. I stood with an out-of-breath smile and a question in my eyes. Then Rod Hartly came between us, and the arrow, intended for me, slammed into the back of his arm.
“It took me a year to get rid of that guy.”
“I know. I had to shoot five other girls. Then countless guys for the girls to get over him.” Que shook his head. “Such a waste of arrows.”
“So your misfiring causes all heartbreak?”
“No. We rarely miss. Most of the time it’s either some newer cupid who’s too quick on the draw, or humans who think it’s love when it’s not.”
At his words different images flashed. My exes. Only not my exes. Each time—from my punk phase in college to sitting in my tight skirt in the bathroom at work—showed me on the phone with Todd, crying out my heartbreak.
I ached with each image. Not for me, but for Todd. 
Que patted my shoulder. “It’s not your fault. It’s mine.”
The images faded into another full-screen view. Todd, at his apartment, blowing out candles on a dinner table set for two. “Is this now? Is this tonight?”
Que nodded, his worldly-wise smile in place.
“So he planned to tell me? Tonight?”
Que continued to nod.
“I have to call him. To apologize. To—” I hurt so much for Todd. I hadn’t stopped to think, how did I feel about him?
“Maybe this will help.” Images flashed. Two weddings where Todd and I stood up for but not with each other. A divorce for me. A kid for him. Another wedding for me. Then our three kids playing together.
“Don’t.” I splayed both hands on the screen. “No more. Especially the kids.” I squeezed my eyes shut, unable to deny their innocent potential. “Is there a chance we could get together, after we have our families?”
“No.” Que’s voice gentled. “Once Todd marries, he’ll stay married for life. That has nothing to do with my arrows. It’s just the way he is.”
“So he’ll get over me?”
“No.” Que’s voice gentled even more. “As long as you’re in his life the arrow will still be there. Dulled and hidden, but there.”
My eyes stung with tears. “Please say it doesn’t have to be this way. Please say it’s not too late.”
Que touched me, light as a breeze, as he faded. “Go to him,” he whispered. “Just look at him. And for all that is holy on Heaven and Earth. This time, stand still.”

Happy Hearts Day!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

 

YA Highway's ROAD TRIP WEDNESDAY TOPIC: favorite literary couples. you know -- the ones you like apart, but LOVE together!

First and always: Pride and Prejudice ...I just love smart girls and the reformed bad boys they learn to love.

The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) ...and a cynic with a misunderstood bad boy.



So Yesterday ...Then there's a cool magnet with the just plain cool...a good combo.

Losing Faith And no slightly rebellious girl should underestimate the appeal of a shy guy.

Then there's two academics uncovering a historical
literary romance...what's not to love.
Possession 

Finally, I head back to the strong-willed heroine and her bad boy with a heart of gold...

Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely, #1) Ah, romance...I love, love, love it!

What About you? Who are your favorite couples?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Short Stories Anyone?

Pretty Monsters: Stories First off, I want to say, I'm so impressed with PRETTY MONSTERS. Not only the author's stories, but the fact she got them published. Most of us read the advice that there's no market for YA short stories. There are some compilation books out there like ZOMBIES VS UNICORNS, but those books are for heavy hitter authors. Kelly Link got a whole book of them, and all her own. Sure, the paranormal slant helps and she has had a few books published...still, I'm impressed.

Now, the main point of this post is to share how much I love short stories.

It started for me back in junior high with Ray Bradbury.
R Is for Rocket  
Did anyone else have to read THE VELDT? And A SOUND OF THUNDER? Cripes, how I loved those. And I sought out more.

Like Poe Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe And Vonnegut Breakfast of Champions
Then Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
And O. Henry  Works of O. Henry. (100+ Works). Including The Ransom of Red Chief, The Cop and the Anthem, The Gift of the Magi, A Retrieved Reformation, After Twenty ... & more.

As you might have guessed by my choices, I prefer a zinger...Twilight Zone style. It doesn't have to be a happy ending, but I want a twist or two along the way that adds perspective to the whole thing. I'll read slice-of-life stuff, but I prefer a clear point to my short stories.

What about you? What kinds or whose short stories do you like to read or write?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday


YA Highway's topic this week: 
It's Groundhog Day! Pretend you're Bill Murray in the 1993 movie-- 
what book would you read over & over forever?

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I'm going to risk the wrath of movie/TV/book lovers everywhere and admit that I'm not much of a re-watcher or a re-reader. I do enjoy M*A*S*H reruns, and have re-watched and reread a lot of Jane Austen. 

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But if I truly had to be stuck in Bill Murray's Groundhog Day world with only one book then I'd go the practical route and  pick Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's DreamSee full size image 

It's  magical, has a happy ending, and with Shakespeare, there's always endless layers of prose to decipher. 





What about you? What book would you like to keep repeating?