Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's YA Highway Road Trip topic:
What was the best book you read in October?

I've had another fabulous listening month. I'll tell all on Monday for my How Many Have you Read/Heard Contest.

Meanwhile, my choice for favorite this month matches last month's (DIVERGENT) in that they're both Highway contributer books:

In this modern retelling of Lysystrata, the girls  of  Hamilton  High  go  on  a  sex  strike  to  get  their  boyfriends  to  stop  fighting.

I love that this book deals so directly and broadly with the issue of sex. I know, I YA authors, we're told to avoid seeming like we're lecturing to the reader...we're also told that some agents/editors will cringe away from books that feel, in any way, like "issue" books, but  Kody  Keplinger has  pulled  it  off  again  (the  issue  minus  the  lectures)  in  an  even  more  direct  way than her first book.

Yay, Kody! I love,love, loved it!

Also, my super-agent, Suzie Townsend, is having a Query Contest next week where everybody wins. Check it out, HERE.

What about you? Favorite book this month? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Love (shameless plugs for new-found products)

I've always loved pumpkin pie, but ever since I tried my first pumpkin milkshake at a little mom and pop burger joint in Oregon I've been obsessed with pumpkin-flavored things in the fall.

For the last few years I've fulfilled my craving with pumpkin iced coffe from Dunkin Donuts (deee-lish), but this year I've found three new products that are a little easier on the pocketbook and healthier to boot:

Thomas's Bagels now has Pumpkin Bagels. (Even better than their seasonal cranberry ones.) Just don't toast them. The flavor is stronger when they're fresh.

Stash Tea has a pumpkin flavor that is wonderful.

Trader Joes has pumpkin flavored granola. Mmmm.

What about you? Any favorite fall food products?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
What's your numero-uno reason for writing

My first gut reaction to this question is: "Because I have to." This is true. I don't have much choice.

But...because I can't seem to leave it at that...(Me? With a short and to-the-point Road Trip answer?)...I dug a little further, remembering the first few pages of my first rough draft. I was doubt...knowing I wanted/needed to do this always, but I also knew something else...

I wanted to share. My ideas, my stories, and the characters I fall in love with. I wanted others to fall in love with them too. Still do.

So...maybe wanting to share is the main reason I have to write.

What about you? What is your numero-uno reason to write?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

I just found this this morning, and I'm so glad I did.

Thanks to Matthew and Alex, we get a chance to give a shout out to three of our favorite blogs. Then we go around to visit others.

First off, for any YA fans/writers, I'd like to recommend YA Confidential where teen spies and YA authors explore the teen YA perspective. Great angle and theme...informative and entertaining.

For any writer, especially those struggling with plot holes you could swim in and arcs with wacky trajectories *raises hand on that one*, I recommend Laura Pauling. She also shares some well-balanced opinions on the confusing (and changing) world of publishing and happens to be a critique partner of mine.

Finally, I'd like to mention Fairy Tales and Cappuccino. The name and tranquil picture of her personal writing corner in the heading says it all. No bells and whistles, which is part of what I like about it. Just a writer sharing her journey in a relaxed and personal way.

What about you? Any favorite blogs to share?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic: 
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

Warning sign: Full Disclosures Ahead

It all started with a strange, vivid pregnancy dream. Ever have any of those? I woke up thinking, That could be a novel. Unfortunately, motherhood being what it is, that thought only took me as far as a community college writing course.

Until three years later when I ended up in a flooded basement going through my high school things (the only stuff not in plastic totes). As I sifted through notes and programs and pieces of crepe paper from long forgotten events, I thought, This could be a novel.

Six weeks later it was.

It took another year where I revised and edited, got feedback from readers, then revised and edited again before I was ready to send out query letters. Yes, real snail-mail letters. I broke out in hives for the first and only time in my life when I did this.

A couple months later, I mailed out a hard copy of a full manuscript...yes, people used to have to do that...and in another month I had an agent.

All smooth driving, you think? Wrong. Six months later, I only had a close call with Simon And Schuster and a new novel my agent didn't like to show for it. Goodbye first agent.

It took me two more books to get my next and current wonderful agent, Suzie Townsend. By this time, I feel like I've been driving a well-worn vehicle past its limits. I'm so ready to crest the hill and cross the finish line. Get a publishing contract. A few months later we even have an auction set up with three publishers.

They all fall through.

We try a second round of submissions and a round with a second book. We have one revision request but, still, nothing comes through.

Where does that put me now? Working on a monster WIP that's taking far longer than any of my other books to finish. I'm not completely stalled, but sometimes I have to get out and push the car to keep it moving.

Now my agent has submitted my work to an e-publisher. I haven't decided if this route is right for me yet. Is this a fork in the road or something that can eventually lead to my original destination?

I don't know yet. All I know is that no matter how long the road is or how many bumps, potholes, detours, or dead ends I encounter, I'm on it for the long haul.
Congrats YA Highway on 100 Road Trips! And thanks! I so enjoy joining you each week! 

What about you? What would your writing journey road sign say?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Debut Author Challenge #7 (Possession) and ARC Winners

First off, the winners of my How Many Have You Read/Heard Contest are: Meredith, Carol, Rebecca and Alison. Thanks everyone for participating. I will be sending emails to winners later today.

Now, for my Debut Author #7.

This author is a testament to the power of social networking. Because of my connection to her online, I Read, Read her book.

Yes, you heard/read me right. Me, the audiobook addict, does read, read sometimes, though my precious reading time is usually devoted to research for my WIP and the occasional market comparison fiction book.

Nevertheless, I did read this one, and it was well worth the time!

POSSESSION, by Elana Johnson

First off, the voice is amazing. The writing is sparse (which I love). The reader's understanding of this Dystopian world is peeled away like layers of an onion over the course of the book, and you are left, know more. 

So, if you haven't read this one yet, do. The audiobook addict herself says it's worth sitting down, putting everything else aside, and read, reading :)

What about you? Read this one yet? Any other debut authors to recommend?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
 What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

First off, for us team Gale folks who knew he never had a chance with Katniss...I think he deserves his own story and a girl who will appreciate him...Any takers for the role?

 Two Will Graysons? Who cares? This book is all about Tiny. I've never loved any side character as much as Tiny Cooper...I'd read volumes of books staring him.

Now, they only appear in the epilogue of this book, but I want to read a whole new series with Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione's kids.

Hello J.K. Rowling!!!! Are you listening????

What about you? Any ideas?

Monday, October 3, 2011

How Many Have You Read/Heard Contest (My September Listens)

This month, I have these ARCs to give away:

To win, let me know which of my September listens you've read (or listened to). You get one entry each.

As I mentioned before, I had a fabulous listening month.

Plague Dystopian set in a destroyed NYC.

Abuse, religion, redemption, freedom. As usual, Eleen Hopkins deals with it all, and so well.

Final battles are fought and truths are revealed.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating...I loved this as much as Hunger Games and Uglies.

The devil on one shoulder/angel on the other story has never been this fun...or sexy.

An amazing, funny, brilliant romp through the insane world of gender roles and the pop culture that propagates the madness.

 This set of short stories by an amazing group of YA writers may not settle the question of which is better, zombies or unicorns, but readers will enjoy the fruits of their debate.


This second book of the High Fantasy series is as good as the first.

Read any? Let me know which ones. I'll announce winners on Friday. 

International entries welcome.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Banned Books Week

Phew! I almost missed it! Banned Books Week ends tonight.

To celebrate I'm going to bludgeon-ly paraphrase a quote from BEAUTY QUEENS, by Libba Bray. (A book that is definitely making my list of all-time favorites).

"Except for the towns that managed to ban TALE OF TWO CITIES because the author's name sounded suspiciously pornographic"

Sorry, Libba Bray, for butchering that one (I can't find it on the audiobook), but I hope the message is still there!

Parents, monitor what books your children read, but please leave other people's children out of it.