Thursday, May 31, 2012

Latest Audiobook Love

For the last day of Sara McClung's May blogfest,
Thursdays Are: May I tell you about someone else?

Thanks, Sara, for hosting this fun, low pressure blogfest!

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, involves a foreign exchange student, prom night, NYC and lots of surprises.

I went into this book without reading the blurb in the back, and I'd suggest you do the same. It's such a fun ride.

And, as much as I hate to admit it since he's yet another adult writer trying his hand at YA, the writing is stand-out good. I adore a clever turn of phrase, and this one has plenty of them to savor.

Overall, great boy fiction everyone will enjoy.

What about you? Read/heard of this one? Read any other good ones lately?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May I Tell You Something(s) About Myself

For Sara McClung's May blogfest,
Tuesdays Are: May I tell you something about myself?

I haven't done much with blog awards, but today I have a timely one from Tracey Joseph where I'm supposed to answer some questions about myself.

What is your favorite song/singer?

My old-school answer for this one  is a tie between Billy Joel and Meatloaf...More specifically, Only the Good Die Young and Paradise By The Dashboard Lights. Glee has re-done both my them, so I don't feel quite so old-school...either that or the writers of Glee are as old as me:)

They've been my all-time favorite songs since college...but now that I think on the subject matter of both songs, it's no great surprise I ended up writing YA...I love the big decisions and identity struggles teens go through, especially about their love lives. 

What is your favorite dessert?

I'm more a salty snack than sweet fan, but donuts are, by far, my favorite dessert. Anything yeast and non-chocolate. Cream-filled are delish.

What ticks you off?

Drivers who don't pull over for ambulances. New Jersey (surprisingly) is filled with nice and considerate drivers, but they don't always do everything in their power to pull over for an ambulance.

Ambulances are sacred...everyone has time to pull over for a medical emergency...or at least show the respect of trying.

When you're upset what do you do?

All my upset turns into tension headaches and tight shoulders. For those I try to breathe and relax...then medicate as needed.

Which is/was your favorite pet?

I couldn't possibly pick one favorite pet.
We had an Alaskan Malamute growing up (Corky) who climbed into my car so I wouldn't go back to college without her.

Dutchess, the first pet my husband and I had together, used to flick her kitty litter out of the box in front of my husband, just to piss him off.

And our current dog, Morgan, is such a character. She knows well over thirty words (can, treat, out...all self-serving, not obedient, mind you) and barks at my husband if he falls asleep on the couch at bedtime to get him to come to bed.

Which do you prefer black or white?

I'm all about the shades of is full of shades of gray. There are very few (if any) issues that are truly black and white.

What is your biggest fear?

Needles. Hate them! My veins hate them too as they always pop/slide over when someone tries to stick a needle in them...agonizing.

What is your attitude mostly?

I'm mostly positive and thoughtful/philosophical. I believe attitude does affect outcomes and try to think about the bigger picture with every action, especially when dealing with others. This can be exhausting though, especially as I get older and understand more.

What is perfection?

 Living life to your full potential and finding ways to help others do so too.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chelsea Lately. Love her.

What about you? Any of these questions/answers ring true for you?

Friday, May 25, 2012

BEA Fever

Book Expo. Less than two weeks away!

Amidst recitals, concerts, softball tournaments, basketball games and all the other end-of-school-year craziness, I get to take a few days to be a writer, blogger and all-round book fan.

For anyone who hasn't heard of this wonderful event, it takes place in NYC, which is (luckily) only a semi-short commute away for me (i. e. Javits center is less than twenty miles away from my house, but it will take at least an hour and a half to get there).

It's a book lover's dream. So many books and ARCs, stacked in piles to take. And others to stand in line for an author's signature.

This year, thanks to my all my wonderful blog/blogger followers/friends, I get to go free as press.

Here's a taste of who's on my author signing agenda so far:

Zevin, Gabrielle - Because It Is My Blood
Cremer, Andrea - Rift
Wells, Dan - Partials
Hale, Shannon - Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
Oliver, Lauren - The Spindlers
Stiefvater, Maggie - The Raven Boys
Moulton, Courtney Allison - Wings of the Wicked
Green, John - The Fault in our Stars; The Abundance of Katherines
Johnson, Maureen - The Name of the Star
Peterfreund, Diana - For Darkness Shows the Stars
Cohn, Rachel - Beta
Dashner, James - Infinity Ring #1: A Mutiny in Time
Kagawa, Julie - The Immortal Rules
Carter, Aimee - Goddess Interrupted
Cashore, Kristin - Bitterblue

Amazing, right? And that's not even everyone. It's as close to the Oscars as the author world can least for the sheer number of book celebrities attending.

And, depending on the length of lines, I'll be bringing most of these books, plus others, back here to my blog to give away. Yay!!!

What about you? Heard of BEA? Ever been? Any on this list you're particularly excited for me to get?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday- Which Faction Are You?

      This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:

What Faction Are You?
In honor of our Bookmobile Book of the Month, Veronica Roth's INSURGENT, we want to know which of the five factions in the DIVERGENT series would you choose? Here's a great breakdown of the five factions, and if you're on the fence, you can even take the quiz for a hint!

My first reaction to this question was, Aren't we all Divergent?

So, here they are, from least to most important in me:

Dauntless Not at all. Needles petrify me. I rarely walk alone at night. I practically had to read a manual before feeling brave enough to use the NYC subway the first time. The only adventurous thing I've done is live in five states in less than fifteen years, and that was at the bidding and with the security of my husband's job behind us.

Candor My dad always said, "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." Generally, I do value this belief over candor, though as I get older, the candor comes out more, especially as a parent and a critique partner. It won't always make things better to stay quiet or just say nice things.

Abnegation  I try to be selfless in ways that are beyond my comfort zone, but most of the time I fall into the normal range, having no problem giving up my food, coat, whatever to my family members but not as often to a stranger. I donate, recycle, have taught and done social work as a profession, but all without giving up much of what makes my life comfortable...In fact, being in a giving profession and now a mom is what makes me comfortable and fulfilled, so that's not really selfless.

Erudite I love learning. I listen to 2-4 nonfiction books a month and watch lots of History and Discovery channel with my family. I'm not much for keeping up my math skills (other than helping with homework and doing the occasional Sudoku puzzle), but most of the other subject areas are covered on a regular basis in my life. I love being a lifelong student of the world.

Amity Peace and understanding above all. This I believe with every fiber of my being (though I'm not 100% perfect at acting on it).

And Amity strengthens all the other factions in me:

-Most of the learning I do is about human behavior, psychology, anthropology and sociology.
-I focus on conflict management as a giving professional and parent.
-I'm willing to be candid if it leads to greater understanding.
-Finally, I'd like to believe I'd even be dauntless when it comes to defending peace and civil rights.

What about you? What roles do the different factions play in your life? Which one would you chose if you had to?

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Inoculation Theory (used in writing fiction) and My Guest Post

First off, go check out my Guest Post on Laura Pauling's Murder/Mystery blog series.

Next, For Sara McClung's May blogfest,
Mondays Are: May I tell you something about writing?

 Last Monday, I posted about using character motivation and world-building to justify the plot decisions you want to make as the author. This increases believability, decreases plot holes and use of coincidence and can add depth to your characters and setting also.

Still, sometimes you can't see any way around want the character to make an irrational decision, or act a little out of character, or you want/need to have just one too many coincidences.

A way I've used to increase believability during these situations is based on the Inoculation Theory in persuasive speaking (proof my incomplete speech/theatre minor in college wasn't a complete waste:).

According to wonderful Wikipedia, the inoculation theory was developed by social psychologist, William J. McGuire.

The idea (used in persuasive speaking, marketing and politics) is that you inoculate listeners against counterarguments by bringing them up before they think about or hear about them.

As a writer, I use this idea to plug up potential plot holes, increase the believability of coincidence and let my characters make the occasional irrational choice. You can use another character bringing up the problem/counterargument or have the POV character think out the inconsistency.

For a real-fiction-life example, I want my protag in Cheater Beaters (Becca), to meet up with, by accident, a guy (Riley) in the library, the school basement, and a coffee shop where he works...too coincidental? Maybe. 

But, as a shot at making it work, I'm going to have the two characters joke about stalking each other. Then, the guy will say that he's in all his usual places, so it must be her stalking him.

See, now I've given a reason for the coincidence (or at least brought it up and made a joke of it), hopefully before the reader has a chance to feel like the situation is too unbelievable.

What about you? Ever used this strategy before or seen it used effectively?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday- The Book Remembers When

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
What book brings back memories?

This one stumped me for a bit. One of the best things about books, for me anyway, is that they exist outside my everyday life. Things in books can remind me of real life feelings and events, but I don't have many books embedded in those events.

So, I'm going to stretch the definition of "book" a little and use a short story, a short story in verse even.

See, my junior year of high school we had to pick a poem from a list and recite it in class. Memorized. Most were only a half page long, but there were a few long ones you could get bonus points for, and I picked one of those. The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

You probably know it even if you don't know you know it:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, 

and, probably Poe's most famous line:

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

You can read the whole thing HERE if you want. I'd forgotten how long it was. I can't believe I memorized all that (to tell the truth, I remember floundering some toward the end).

Anytime I think about this poem or see it mentioned, tons of memories come back. I remember the time of year (fall), the guy I was dating at the time (Brian), the teacher I had (Mr. McIntyre) all floods back and puts me right back there, like what normally happens only with a song.

What about You? What book or piece of fiction brings back memories for you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Only Plot Rule I Always Try To Follow

For Sara McClung's May blogfest,
Mondays Are: May I tell you something about writing?

As I've mentioned before, I'm a total pantster. Writing outlines and reading books about plotting both put me to sleep. Unfortunately, I need live in the story with my characters before I can figure out what might happen next.

The only plot rule I always try to follow is this:

Anything can happen in my story as long as a character, the situation, or the fictional world wants/needs it to happen more than I (the author) want it to happen. 

East peasey...right? If only...

Always considering WHY a plot choice happens helps me avoid plot holes and using too much coincidence. It increases believability, and helps keep the marionette strings I'm pulling as the author from showing.

This simple/not-so-simple rule can also add depth to characters and/or the setting when you search for/add the motivations for their actions...the ones you want them to take.

It's not always easy. When this rule gets tough to follow, I fall back on a plot strategy based on the Inoculation Theory in Persuasive Speaking...but I'll talk about that next Monday.

What about you? What's the most important plot rule you follow?

Friday, May 11, 2012

MAY I Share Something Funny/Publisher Update

For Sara McClung's May blogfest, 

 Fridays are: May I share something funny?

This week, I was reminded of a family dog I had growing up named Suzie. She looked something like this (only not so well groomed):

She liked to chase cars...luckily, we lived on a rural county road, so she didn't have many chances to chase.

My dad, a farm boy to the bone, declared that if the first hit didn't kill her it would cure her.

My aunt was more philosophical. She said, imagine it from the dog's point of view. The cars come, she barks at them and chases them until they disappear...she's defending her territory, and it works every time.

Suzie did get hit eventually...nothing serious...and she never chased cars again.

As a publisher update, Coliloquy's books are now also available for download on NOOK, Kindle Fire and Android devises. 

What about you? Ever had a dog who liked to chase cars?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday- You Can Never Have Too Many Books

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:

What's your favorite use for a book besides reading it?


My answer for this is probably the most common one:

I'm not just a book reader, I'm a book collector.

This started young. I can still remember the sight of my first books on the bookshelf my dad made me. The Little House collection, all in order. A few Nancy Drews. My children's Bible and a pocket New Testament of my dad's from when he was young. And a copy of Born Free (a non-fiction story about some lions) that my grandpa had given me.

I never even read Born Free, or all of the Little House series for that matter, but I still own and treasure them today.

Through the years, my collection grew and got displayed in different manners. That bookshelf my dad made for me is now in an upstairs closet of our Cape Cod, hidden from view (so, sorry, no pics). In fact, moving from a rather spacious home in the Midwest to a much more expensive tiny home in New Jersey has meant stuffing most of my immense collection in totes, in closets and under beds.

They are about one fourth sentimental favorites, one fourth picture books, one fourth writing/research books and one fourth rainyday/TBR fiction books. 

I've learned to donate some along the my younger years, I kept everything, so I'm not a complete hoarder anymore, but deep down I still believe you can never have too many books.

What about you? Book collector or reader only?   


Monday, May 7, 2012


I'm going to do my May I Tell You About Someone Else post a little early this week...because it's my writer friend and critique partner's release day. YAY!!! And she's got some fun things planned:

In celebration of the official release of A Spy Like Me, Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. Woot! Woot!

Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!

Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen....Just to name a few!

And here's why she's celebrating!

Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.

After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.

Head on over to Laura’s blog for the start of the Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. You won’t want to miss this sizzling series as we head into summer. Stock up on some great thrilling reads! If you dare…

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Many Have You Read/Heard Contest (my April listens)

I'm participating in Sara McClung's great May blogfest with different prompts every day.

 Thursdays are: May I tell you something about someone else?

Well, today I'm going to tell you about someone else's books...many books...all my great YA listens last month.

I'll also be giving away someone else's books/ARCs...again, many of them. 

You can enter to win any or all of them, but let me know which of my April listens you've read/heard and you can have extra entries.

The books/ARCs (Goodreads links included) are:

Annexed- Sharon Dogar
The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3)- Cinda Williams Chima
Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn't have)- Sarah Mlyowski 
Guardian of the Gate (Prophecy of the Sisters, book II)- Michelle Zink
The Forgotten Locket (finale of Hourglass Door trilogy) Lisa Mangum
In Darkness- Nick Lake 

My April listens:

One major screwup, including the killing of a lawn gnome, lands Alex in community service at an old folk's home. What he learns there will transform more than just his life.

Sequel to Carter Finally Gets It, this book should be called (IMO) Carter Really Gets It This Time.

Another sequel (to Rot and Ruin). A dangerous zombie world where the zombies aren't your worst enemy...not even close.

I already blogged about this one HERE.

It's Anne Frank's story from Peter's point of view.

Just mild-mannered teenagers, living a double life.

This is my surprise favorite of the month...I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh wait, this one was a surprise favorite too...for different reasons.

I blogged about it HERE.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone author, Laini Taylor, wrote this.

Three supernatural stories, all revolving around a single kiss.

A Canadian set thriller about two street kids trying to find their way out of/into trouble.

I blogged more about this one HERE.

A virus is killing off a community and may be spreading farther.

If you liked the Life as We Knew It series, you should like this one too. The tone felt similar to me.

A historical Veronica Mars, set in NYC during World War II.

Loved it, especially all the enjoyable.

What about you? Read any of these? Want to?

Let me know which books/ARCs you want to win and how many of my April listens you've read/heard (for extra entries).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday- YA IRL?

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
What IRL people can you talk to about YA?

You mean there are people in my non-cyber life who might enjoy YA? It doesn't just exist at my library and online?
Ha! It's not really that bad, though no one I've met offline is as crazed as I am on the subject.
I have a few fellow-mom friends who read YA. We discuss things and they ask for my recommendations. I've been especially proud of turning a few Hunger Games fans into Divergent fans too.
The best part is yet to come. I'm transitioning from elementary to middle school mom. I've already been able to talk MG with my child and some of her friends. Many have read the Percy Jackson series, and now many have also read the Hunger Games.
Too bad the day may come when my child says I'm too uncool to talk YA with her and her friends, and would I please stop:( 
"But I write it too," I'll say, and my daughter will act like she doesn't know me. 
What About You? Who in your life loves YA?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

MAY I tell you a few things?

First off, Happy May day!

Sara McClung has come up with this great Blogfest idea for May that's way less daunting than the A-Z April Challenge (which I did last year, but not this year, though I still enjoyed many of the posts).

It's: Blog Me Maybe, with a different "May I..." prompt every weekday.

Not that you have to post every day (that's the less daunting part).

Tuesdays are: May I tell you something about myself?

To start, I'll tell you that I drew a little blank on where to go with this post...I like prompts, but this one was still a little too broad.

Then all these S words started rolling around in my head: Silly, Sad, Sublime and Surprising, so I decided to roll with them and tell you something of each.

Something Silly: Because of my years as a preschool teacher, I LOVE sensory things. Bubbles, homemade playdough or slime, and my personal favorite, cornstarch and water...I wish I didn't feel like I needed a teacher or mom reason to play with these things.

Something Sad: I lost both my dad and my mom by the time I was thirty-seven. I'm sad for their shortened lives, for their sake, but I'm constantly shaken by how big a hole they left in my life and how much I still miss them. There is no easy time to become an orphan.

Something Sublime: The times of the year (like now) when you don't need the heat or air conditioner on. First, it appeals to my frugal nature (lower energy bills). It also appeals to my Goldilocks nature...not too hot, not too cold...that's what I need. Plus, I love the smell of a fresh breeze and snuggling under the covers with the window open as I sleep.

Something Surprising: Even as an English major, I only remember writing three short fiction stories. All as an undergraduate. And they all sucked. I only remember even halfway enjoying the writing of one. So, no one was more surprised than me when I wrote my first novel in my mid-thirties, in less than six weeks. I didn't even know how to punctuate dialogue at the time.

What about you? Anything Silly, Sad, Sublime or Surprising to share?