Friday, July 29, 2011

100 Followers Braveheart-Victory Cry

Go ahead. Click play. BUT... before you do, know this:
THIS is how I feel after the blood, sweat, and tears of "building my social platform."

Okay, so I'm a bit melodramatic. Exagerative. Perhaps even a bit ridiculous. But those of you who  have clicked that one little blue button that says "Join this site" and "followed" my blog, you are those warriors that scream along with me like raving lunatics. You know it's true. You know how hard it is to get a blog going. You know how much time it takes to build it up. You know the painful glory of even the smallest glimpse of success in a writing world full of so much rejection, blood and carnage. Too dramatic again? Sorry.

I also like this clip because it is my sole victory cry. Me and my awesome writing friend Peggy kind of started this blogging adventure together a few months ago. We have been eachother's cheerleader and co-conspirator of sorts. We both hit 100 followers yesterday, and we talked about celebrating together, but didn't know how since she lives in Utah, and I live in Hell Las Vegas. (Hey, its 110 degress here right now). So this is the best I could come up with.

Now, some of you hot shots out there with 5,000 followers must be laughing you arses--that's how William Wallace pronounces it--right off. I know what you're saying: "This chick thinks the battle is over at 100 followers? She thinks she can throw her sword in the ground, throw her little Scottish hair-braid to the side, and walk off into the horizon to have a Guiness? What a novice!" Dont worry. I'm not that stupid. (Plus, I don't drink Guiness--just Diet Coke, and you can bet your arse that I had one). I'm just grateful the learning curve is over, I have a base of good friends, and I have something to be proud of. That's all. Believe me, I know how much more work there is to do. But I am happy to do it, because I have come to find out that blogging is not just a way to "build a social platform" but also to have a positive voice in the world.

So come on...(cue dramatic music)...Yeahhhhhhhhhhh!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

YA Highway

 Blog Wednesday: YA HIGHWAY

Many of you have probably already heard about or visited this site, but for those of you who haven't, you should. Especially if you like to write or read Young Adult books. Arguably, the hottest, most exciting age group by the way!

This is why I like I like it:

I like how the site is run by a group of contributors (writers--some published, some not YET) that who have a lot to say about YA literature and publishing. It is almost like an encyclopedia of knowledge--links, information, agents, conferences, writing craft, etc. Whatever stage of the writing game you're at, you can find the help you need. You just finished your first draft ever, what now? You're done with revisions, but now you need to get a social platform going--how? And after some querying rejection, need some inspiration? YA Highway has it.

I like how I can put a link to the highway on my blog and with one click of the mouse I can focus in on some good stuff. There is a TON of reading out there in the blogosphere, and sifting through it to find the real helpful stuff can be hard, not to mention time zapping. You know what I mean: you intend to check one or two blogs for five minutes, then an hour later you come up for air and wonder if you will ever get that time back. YOU WONT.

I like how the contributors are both published and yet to be published. This way we get to see their success as they go. I don't know about you, but I absolutely love to hear people announce their book deals or agent signings online. I get so stoked for them, and dream of the day it will happen to me. This is the case with contributor Kristin Halbrook. She has recently announced her two book deal, starting with her debut Will and Zoe to Harper's Childrens, through agent Suzie Townsend. I love Suzie Townsend by the way and am always glad to hear when her clients do well.

I like how it is a forum for writers and readers to share with each other. There's a lot of ways to find out what is hot in YA right now. You can go to a conference and ask agents. You can go to a bookstore and peruse the best selling racks. You can hire a personal assistant to research the matter and debrief you. Or you can go to a site like this and quickly find out what YA is buzzing about.

So Be in the "In Crowd" and join the YA Highway!

Monday, July 25, 2011

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Sooo...truth? Okay. Part of this post is a re-post--meaning that I already reviewed this book months ago. But excuse #1- only 4 people read my blog back then:). and #2- some new and exciting things have developed in regards to this book and its author Jay Asher.

This book is going to be made into a movie by Universal, starring none other than Selena Gomez. I am so excited about this. Not only do I love this book, but I actually love Selena Gomez. Yes, I love her on Wizards of Waverly Place, and her music. Especially the theme song she sings for Tinkerbell. :) When stuff like this happens to authors, I get so excited for them. Jay Asher gets to go to L.A. and hob-nob with the Hollywood screenwriters, actors, producers, etc. It's so fun to read about. And you can read more here by following Jay Asher's blog.

Also Jay Asher has an exciting new book called The Future of Us, that he co-wrote with Carolyn Mackler, which comes out in a few months. I am really excited about that too.

So without further ado, here is the review of 13 Reasons Why:

I first heard about this book at the LDStorymaker's Conference in Utah last year. I attended a class by super agent Laura Rennert, and she went on and on about this book that she repped and sold. I had to read it. And I did.

It's about this girl Hannah Baker who committed suicide. But not before she recorded her voice on a series of cassette tapes and left the tapes for 13 different people who she considered to have contributed to her decision to kill herself. We follow one of those people through the story on the tapes, and it is creepy.

I loved it. It's no wonder its a best-seller. It's unique, daring, dynamic. Here's what I learned:

Male authors aren't so bad! (**tongue in cheek btw**) I don't often read books by male authors. Not purposefully of course. It just so happens that most of the books I choose are written by females. But Jay Asher is so different. He comes from such a guy place. It's enlightening and insightful to read what a contemporary young kid in high school thinks like.

Internal dialogue is a great way for a reader to get in the protag's head. This is a common tool, but the way Jay Asher does it is cool. Because he is listening to tapes, and hardly ever talking to other people, he is constantly talking in his own head as if Hannah was there. You might not get what I am saying here. But go read the book and you will see what a great technique he uses.

We need big issues in YA books. Suicide! Rape! Bullying! These issues don't always get approached so heartily. Jay Asher tackles them, and really explores their consequences.

Maybe I say this too much, but setting is so important. This story takes place in a small town in California (I think). West coast anyway. There is an awesome atmosphere as he walks around his town and takes in certain landmarks listed on a map that goes with the tapes. It is a haunting journey.

And that's all I have to say about that. (Forrest Gump accent included).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creative Sense

Today I was in Court. No, not this particular court, a less shiny one. But I won. Yay! It helped that no one was there to contest or fight against my client's case, but I will count that as a victory nonetheless. :)

The court room can be a dramatic place, and I couldn't help feel inspired by its dynamic energy: stressed out litigants, cocky three piece suits, bailiffs with guns, flags at salute, and of course the family scuffle outside the court that produced no less than five officers, an ambulance and a fire truck to resolve. Wow, what an exciting morning!

This is one thing I love about writing. I find that everything around me can be more stimulating because I'm thinking about it in more creative terms. I bet musicians and painters do the same thing. It requires opening up another sense...a creative sense. Seeing the world through more perceptive eyes, internalizing it, and then expressing it in a creative way.

Dont cha think?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teach Me How To Jimmer

My little bro is going on a mission today. Actually goes into the Missionary Training Center for our church in about 2 hours! It's sad because he is my best friend and we tight. So last night we were talking about being greater than others or our own low expectations of ourselves. Then we pull into the hotel parking lot and ran into Jimmer Fredette - BYU basketball star, ESPN/NCAA College player if the year, and NBA 11th overall draft pick. Coincidence? No. I don't believe in meaningless occurrences. I believe they all mean something.

And here's what I think running into Jimmer meant: you can be a 6 foot white kid and jack up half court threes and blow everyone's minds! Other people may have had low or average expectations of him...but he didn't. Whatever we are doing...serving a full-time mission, playing ball, or writing a book...we can defy all expectations and blow everyone's minds with our success!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

First of all, I am very proud of my copy of this book, as it is the first ARC (advanced reader's copy) that I have ever personally received before. And I have the author's autograph and a little doodle of a broom inside the front cover to prove it. Thanks Tyler.

I dont read a lot of Middle Grade books. In fact, I think the only other one I've read is the Percy Jackson series. But I met Tyler at the LTUE and the LDStorymakers Conferences, heard all the hype, and decided to change that. This book is cool for so many reasons, and here's what I learned:

I learned that humor goes a long way with me. The voice of the young protag in this book is clever and witty, especially in situations where he could be cynical and depressed. He's not popular, he has a disastrous home life, and he has obsessive compulsive behavior that doesn't make any of this any easier. But instead of being a dark kid, he is a little fighter. He fights for normalcy, happiness, and above all...answers to the strange behavior of the Janitors.

I learned that doses of mystery are an effective way to draw in a reader. I want to know the answers behind those mysteries. I want to know what those dang creatures are that only he can see. I want to know why the pink soap opened up his ability to see them. I want to know about the government secrets, and why a special agency is tracking a particularly dangerous janitor.

I learned that sidekicks are important. Spencer (the protag) has a friend named Gullible Gates (first name Daisy) who he learns to confide in and trust. Together they help eachother--like Hermoine and Harry, Spencer and Daisy. Adventures are always so much better when there is someone to share it with.

I learned that short chapters are awesome. They make me feel like I can breathe easier. Like I am getting somewhere. Like my eyes get a break every few minutes. Maybe I have the reading ability of a middle grader??

Anyway, I really liked this book. And though it had no sweeping romance that I usually dig in books, its a really cute MG pick.

Friday, July 15, 2011

B is for Boo Yeah, Harry Potter Hangover

That was one bad A Harry Potter movie! Especially at 12:15 am last night/this morning. Tis why I'm posting so late...I have a Harry Potter Hangover. I needed a few hours to recover today.

Like so many others in the blogosphere, I hereby salute and internet toast J.K. Rowling and all the amazing people associated with the franchise for making every part of the HP experience absolutely magical. A beautiful adventure.

So here are my questions:
1) Is anyone else super depressed it's over?
2) Did anyone else cry? (No, I'm not ashamed)
3) Will there ever be anything like it?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 by Larry Brooks

First off, go USA Women's soccer team today! We beat France in the semi-finals, and though some Americans have snarky things to say about the French, I love them. I lived there for 18 months and happen to adore them (and their chocolate).

So Blog Wednesday: Storyfix
I first heard about Larry Brooks, his website and books, when I was preparing to go to the 2011 LDStorymaker's Conference earlier this year. I signed up for his master class without knowing much about him. Then I attended his class. Let's just was a game changer.

My first impression of Larry Brooks was that he was a bit of a cocky cynic. He has been in the publishing industry for a long time, and some of his jokes reflected that. (Plus, he was majorly hitting on my beautiful, but married, friend Jaimie). BUT aside from all that, what he had to say in his master class was awe...some.  And here's what I learned:

I learned that writing a well structured story is a SCIENCE. No, I dont only believe in science like Escalito from Nacho Libre. Creativity is also crucial. But the importance of learning the physics of story structure is now apparent to me. My friend Kimberly Krey has a great post about this from yesterday: No Longer A Panster. Which is to say, not writing by the seat of your pants. But actually plotting out your book before you start. So that revisions aren't such H.E.double lollipops.

I learned about how studying screenplays, especially ones that really work, will help move your story to an unforgettable place. I like this method because I love movies. I have taken a better look at some of my favorite ones and tried to apply the effective strategies.

I learned the difference between THEME and CONCEPT. (BTW these are my notes...not his. I might say things differently).
Theme-is how your story relates to real life. Like: "Love is worth risking everything for." It is usually relates to the interior conflict of the protag.
Concept- is your big story idea. Like: "H.S. hearthrob is actually a sensitive vampire." It has to be big, fresh, compelling, original. And it usually relates to the exterior conflict of the protag. Her life is on the line.
Once I understood this difference, it helped me create a better story as a whole in my current ms. I actually left my previous ms. in the dust, and decided to start a new one from scratch with all that I learned in  mind.

I learned that the HOOK, the INCITING INCIDENT, the FIRST PLOT POINT, the SECOND-FOURTH PLOT POINTS, the CLIMAX, etc. all need attention. And honestly, I think implementing each one of these time-tested story structuring tools has helped me get to another level of the writing craft.

I learned a LOT more too, but that's enough for now. You should check Storyfix' sho'.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

I actually read this book awhile ago, right when it came out last year. There was a lot of hype surrounding its deal (big-time agent and selling price), comparisons to other great dystopians (Hunger Games and The Giver), and general excitement for the author Ally Condie (by all accounts a sweet girl from Utah who deserved the success).

I jumped on the bandwagon and went right out and bought it at B&N the week of its release. And here's what I learned:

I learned that I really adore the use of poetry in fiction. Condie used the Dylan Thomas’ classic poem, “Do Not Go Gentle," as a source of insight and inspiration for the protag Cassia. In a world where poetry is essentially banned, this secret poem she holds hidden, creates a powerful strength to her. And for the reader, a clever theme that keeps us connected to the protag's struggle for freedom.

I learned about tone. Every book has a tone: light and fluffy, deep and literary, comic and snarky, etc. This book's tone is sinister and creepy to me. Condie created a seemingly "perfect" world, where everyone is given exactly what is needed. No extreme luxuries, no extreme pain. A society where the officials "take care" of everyone, which is code for "controlling" everyone. Underneath the happy first scenes where Cassia learns of her new life and being "matched" with her best friend, there is an unsettling feeling that its not true happiness. A feeling of sadness and concern that anyone would have the power to control another's whole life.

I learned that questioning big ideas is a great tool to get the reader involved and invested in the story. In this case: how much control should the government have? How much freedom should the general population have? Can there ever be a "perfect" balance of the two? Though this is a dystopian, an unfamiliar world that we discover as we go, so much feels familiar. Our society grapples with these big ideas every day, and will continue to do so. This book feels like a love story for most of the time, which I love, but it also feels like a philosophical treatise. Its a fun read..but a deep read too. And I really like that.

Condie's second book in her trilogy, CROSSED, will be released November 2011. I can't wait.

Friday, July 8, 2011

B is for Blogging Buddies

If you can't tell, this is a picture of one wall climber reaching out to help another climber. One person has the rope, climbing equipment, hooks, and gloves...and is slightly above the other. Then there is just an arm.

At the moment, in this new blogosphere I have jumped into, I feel like I am just the arm. Reaching out for someone who knows how to help. That's how life works sometimes.

We all go through learning cycles. I played tennis my whole life, so now I can teach others how to do it. I went to law school and took the bar, so now I can offer advice to law students and bar takers on how to do it successfully. I've practiced law in the Estate Planning/Probate field for the last 5 years, so now I can advise my clients on how to prepare legally for the future. But blogging!

That's why I so appreciate all the kind bloggers out there who offer such great words of inspiration, education and daily insight on how to do it well. One example pops to my mind at the moment. Yesterday, Kierston White (author of Paranormalcy and soon to be released Supernaturally) made a simple little post about her crit partner Natalie Whipple. Natalie had big news: receiving her big bad book contract in the mail. And Kierston was happy for her. Genuinely happy to spread the good news. I love that about the writers blog world. We all need support--a hand to reach out and help us up.

No matter where we are in our journeys, we can always reach out and help those around us. I thank all you who keep reaching out to help me up. Merci to all my Blogging are Beautiful.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Elana Johnson's Fabulous Blog

Elana's Blog

So I met Elana Johnson over a year ago at the 2010 LDStorymaker's Conference. And I started following her blog back then, but after I took one of her querying classes at the 2011 LDStorymaker's Conference, I started really following her blog. And I don't mean I finally clicked on the icon that says "Follow"...I mean I started to read every post and every link and every bit of advice she has to offer. Which is a lot. Many of you probably already know this because she has a gaggle of followers. I can't say enough about her blog, but here's the most important things I learned:

I learned that it pays to be honest. Elana doesn't hold anything back. She is brave. She doesn't hide how many rejections she received in the querying process. Doesn't mince words about how hard it is to be published or how long it really took. And she certainly doesn't sugar coat the emotional roller coaster it is to be an author.  She tells you straight, and she tells you true. And in abundance. Her site is a wealth of knowledge for any aspiring or already published writer.

I learned it pays to be generous. She is always promoting other authors and talking positively about them. When I attended her querying class we were supposed to send in our query beforehand for her to critique.  For some reason mine didn't come through the email waves and so she didn't have it to critique. She actually followed up with me after the conference to make sure that she provided my critique. That is really thoughtful. And amazing considering her book POSSESSION was about to be released only a few weeks later and she was undoubtedly uber busy. Thanks for that Elana.

I learned that social networking is really important. I failed to take her social media class at the LDStorymaker's conference, but that doesn't mean I didn't steal notes from others who did. It is not only important, it is crucial in some cases to 1) get an agent 2) get a publisher and 3) get books sold. Elana has put on a clinic of how to do it.

I learned about many books that I want to read, now have read, and appreciate, including POSSESSION (Elana's book). I will have a separate post on the book (maybe next week) but let's just say it was fascinating.

Lastly, I learned that Elana loves bacon! Say what? It's true. And although I can't get down with that personally, I think it's awesome she is so quirky. Who am I to judge? I think I might need to go see a hypnotist to get off my Diet Cokey!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th and Divergent by Veronica Roth

Today's Monday. And Mondays I do books. But I would be remiss (is that how you spell it?) if I didn't wish everyone a happy 4th of July. So Happy Independence Day America.

This is where I spent my day. And this is where I am watching the fireworks right now as I type this post! Not bad eh?

So Veronica Roth. I must thank my sweet Kenzie-coo once again for another great book swap. I gave her Matched and she gave me Divergent. So thanks Kenz. But it is funny about that swap because both books remind me of the other in some ways. They are both dystopians, set in a supposedly "ideal" world. And they are both great reads. And this is what I learned:

I learned that I love kick-A protagonists. This one is named Beatrice...well, she used to call herself that, now she goes by Tris. And she is strong, and courageous, and surprisingly capable of violence. She sort of reminds me of Katniss from the Hunger Games. She is brave and dauntless. Actually, that is the faction she chooses for herself: Dauntless. This book is set in a futuristic dystopian Chicago, after chaos has corrupted the American way. Everyone has to choose one of four factions. It is way interesting. Anyway, Tris is a great character, and has the guts to follow her heart.

I learned that I don't especially love the use of vegetables as adjectives describing people's physical characteristics. Like celery colored eyes or carrot colored hair. I just can't dig it. But I also learned that despite small put offs like that, and other style issues, the plot carries this book. I was always interested in why Tris was different, ("Divergent") and how she was going to change her world.

I learned that non-gratuitous violence makes me sit up in my seat. I like action, fight scenes, and the bravery shown in combat situations. Tris has to learn how to fight, and so do the other kids she is training with, and some crazy fights go down. Even some slightly perturbing, violent acts. And rather than put me off, they make my heart race and turn pages without breathing. I love it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

B is for Belatedly Beautiful

The Real Rapunzel

I have an excuse for my belatedness...Disneyland! Yesterday, two dreams came true when Kid #2 and Cousin #1 got to meet the Real Rapunzel in the flesh. No worries that we had to wait an hour and half in the blazing sun. It was worth the wait. And it was beautiful--just look at the way the girl's eyes are all lit up. So here's what I learned:

I learned that its okay to look up to people. Back in the day I used to idolize the Disney princesses too. And I wont lie that when Belle waved at me from her perch on the parade float that I didn't feel special for a second. We all have to have heros, people to look up to, someone we want to be  more like. I really look up to authors like Elana Johnson, Janette Rallsion, Ally Condie, Allyson Noel, and others who have found success, even in the face of adversity or challenge.

I learned that inspiration can come from all sorts of unexpected places. For example, I am trying to make some major decisions in my life right now, and it seems like there are all sorts of answers and hints all over the place. For example, California Adventures has an amazing new water show, and Pochahontas sings about making the safe choice is risking never knowing. Just one line made me feel like making braver choices in life.

I learned that vacation is good. And I want to do it full-time!