Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blog Wednesday: B is for Book Boys

Today I want to a highlight a new group blog that I have recently begun stalking: For The Love of Contemporary.

Many of my followers probably already know about this blog, but I want to point out a few reasons why its rocks (in bullet points:):
  • Several of my most favorite blogging buddies contribute to it: Hello Jolene and Kaylee
  • It has practical advice: Like yesterdays post was entitled "Book Boys"-and it pointed out what makes a good male lead/love interest. You don't need to write Contemporary to appreciate this info. In my opinion, all YA should have romance, even if its just a subplot. Just sayin'.
  • Real Teen Reviews. Like Real Ice Cream Milkshakes. It always helps when they are real. 
  • Hot New Releases in Contemp YA (to stay in the game).
  • Lots of Book Giveaways
Need I say more? Nay, I shalt not speak further. So check it one time! (What's up with my switch between Old English and Ebonics???)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Contemporary Suggestions?

It seems like all I have been reading/finding these days on Goodreads/bookshelves/blogs these days is dystopian and paranormal stuff. Am I crazy? (Don't answer that!)

This is not a bad thing per se, especially since I love me some Hunger Games, Matched, Possession, etc., BUT at the last conference I went to I heard all the agents say they were looking for contemporary, including my dream agent Sara Crowe. So where are they all? Is it a delay in the publishing industry and we'll see a wave of them in a year...or am I crazy? (Again, don't answer that...especially you Starbucks guy over there laughing at me! I swear there is a vibrating phone in this damn couch!)

So, hook a sister up. I am looking for some good contemporary YA to read. And I need some suggestions.

Got contemporary?

Friday, September 23, 2011

B is for Brownies, Broken Basket, and Bawling Babies

Mmmmm! Brownies. Good. Right?

No! Brownies Bad. At least they were for me yesterday when I found my three children grinding them into my brand new Costco NovaForm Bed I had hidden in my walk-in  closet to deliberately keep away from them! (It had to expand or whatever). I was so mad I think I scared the neighbors with my shreik, "Noooooooo!" It was just the last straw. After a day full of bawling children, laundry, work, and yes...a friggin' broken basket on my beautiful new bike, I was done!

I left the house. I told Mr. Humphries that I would no longer be available for remainder of the evening (maybe in not such polite terms) and went to my writing spot. I lost myself in my manuscript. In my story. In my fake world, that doesn't always seem so fake. My protag almost dying was way more bearable than the state of my household. And you know what? It was awesome. And when I came home a few hours later, I was over it. And I read my kiddos a bedtime story about a dog who wants to be a reindeer. They were over it too.

Is writing your medication, your refuge, your solace, like mine? Do you need a brownie (to eat...not to grind into expensive furniture)?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

B is for Beach Cruiser

Last week I bought a totally rad bike:

Isn't it cute?! You cant see the white bubbles painted all over it in this picture, but they are so there. It has a rhinestone encrusted cup holder for my smoothies, a heart shaped bell to warn the old ladies crossing the street I'm coming, a fat seat for my fat bottom, a large white basket for my fresh baguettes ;). and deck on the back in case I need to... move furniture or something (I don't actually know what I would use that for). Oh yeah, and white wall tires. Super cool if you didn't know.

I got it so that I could ride to Starbucks every morning and get some exercise before I sit my butt down on a plush couch for two hours and write. You know, some blood pumping to get the brain working. In essence I bought this bike for my writing. A healthier, more active style of writing. Ahem, at least that's what I told my husband when I bought it. But it is totally helping.

So that is my new schedule. 6 am, throw on some flip-flops and sunglasses, throw laptop in cute basket, ride up a considerably tall hill, and write until I have to be home around 8 to start the day (flying down that considerably tall hill is so fun).

What is your writing schedule like? Do you do any quirky things before writing to get you in the mood? Light candles, listen to Enya? ;)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Monday: Possession by Elana Johnson

Admission #1: I bought this book the first week it came out (several months ago), and read the first few chapters right away...before I lent it to a friend on vacation who didn't have anything else to read. I was concurrently reading Divergent so I reluctantly said "whatev." Well, you know how things go with lending books. Sometimes it takes a minute to get it back. I finally got it back last week. And dove right back in.

Admission #2: I have pretty much been stalking Elana Johnson via her blog for over a year now, and I heart everything that comes out of her bacon loving mouth. (Why do I sound so creepy sometimes?)

Admission #3: I loved Possession. And here's why: (in bullet points)
  • Spunk. Elana's got spunk and her protag Vi has more spunk. She is not afraid to break the rules, fight back, scrap for freedom. In a world where even thoughts are controlled, Vi dares to think for herself! Gasp. None of us can relate, right? I sure can. I grew up in a situation where girls were expected to behave a certain way, and accomplish certain goals, by a certain age. I sort of did it my own way, and that's why I was rooting for Vi.
  • Romantic/sexual tension. I hesitate to use the word "sexual" cuz it wasn't at all over the line. I just mean, there is a boy and a girl and another boy (no, not menage a trois gutter brains...just a good ol' fashioned love triangle). Bad boy Jag or good-ish boy Zenn. I am not a facebooker, but I hear there is a Jag vs. Zenn contest on Elana's facebook page you might want to check out.
  • The world building. I love dystopian literature for the fact that it takes the "what if" to the max. Elana has created a scary picture of a very possible future where the government knows all. With access to each mind, and the ability to control and manipulate thoughts, the leaders rule with tyranny. Plus hubbercrafts, technological clothing, robot attorneys...its like Back to the Future meets Lady Gaga meets iRobot. In a good way. (I'm pretty sure Elana pitched it better than that!)
So read it! But you probably already have, because Elana's a marketing genius. And the cover is so pretty!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blog Wednesday: B is for Besties

 Chances are you know Erin Summerill. She is hard to miss--not because she's large and in charge cuz' she's not, but because she is super outgoing, incredibly kind, beautifully Hawaiian, amazingly talented and every other adverbial description:) Basically, she shines as bright as the sun, and she is the photographer for a ton of the conferences, including LDStorymakers.

I met her when I attended my first Storymaker's Conference in 2010. I went with a friend of mine from Vegas and we knew nothing and no one. We found a random table to sit at, and somewhat nervously began chatting amongst ourselves. When I heard someone raise her rather loud voice in my direction, "Oy, you girls! What you write?" I did that thing where you swivel your head trying to find the person behind you she must be talking to. But nope, she was talking to us. Back then I didn't even know what to call what I was writing. I didn't know the lingo. She worked with me while I widdled my story down to the basics so she could school me on the fact that my manuscript was considered "YA Paranormal Romance."

From that moment on, from across the table in a crowded room, she became one of my writing besties. In fact, she might win that top spot because she has introduced me to almost all of my other writing besties that have changed my world. She is a good person to know, she only has a million friends. And I delude myself into thinking I am her bestie too!

Check her out at her Writerly-ish Blog and her Photography Blog.

What about you guys? Have you met someone at a conference that helped you get to the next level of your writing?

Monday, September 12, 2011

B is for Bad

What do you mean by bad you ask?

Bad as in good?

Bad as in bad?

Or Bad as in Bad-A?

No, no, and no. I mean bad as in:
I can't read it anymore!

Recently I started reading a book that has been talked about quite a bit lately in the blogosphere, and has done pretty well in sales. I am not going to tell you what it is, because this blog is not meant for book bashing (even if they start with B). All butterflies and bunny rabbits around here! But I will say many people have loved it and given it favorable reviews. I wasn't one of those people. This is where I got irritated and stopped reading:
  1. After the excitement of the first few chapters wore off, things really slowed down to back story that wasn't even interesting. Sure it told me more about the protag and her family, even the world she comes from, but I don't care if it doesn't move the plot forward. 
  2. When the writing style changed. Almost like the first few chapters had been heavily critiqued by someone else and then the author was left to her own devices for the rest. 
  3. When I noticed too many repetitive pet words. I know I am guilty of this crime, believe me. But that's what critique partners are for, and editors!
  4. When I started noticing all the times I pulled my eyes from the page trying to find something more interesting to do.
Suffice it to say I was glad it was a library book.

What are some of your pet peeves when reading a book? What makes you put it down and not pick it back up?

Friday, September 9, 2011

B is for Breakthrough

Yesterday I found out one of my critique partners has seriously broken through. Because at this point she is going to remain anonymous, I get to tell her amazing story without ruffling any premature feathers.

Like the island above (or Pier city or whatever it is), she was in a storm. She had spent years on her manuscript. She even went to England for research and to really delve into the landscape of her story. She crit partnered the H of it, revised, queried, went through tempests to perfect it...and duhn, duhn, duhn...nothing happened. Sure she got a lot of requests, from some great agents. Some of these agents wanted her to make changes she didn't want to make, and so the manuscript sat forlornly for quite more than a fortnight (have you guessed her genre yet?).

She wrote another book. And got published by a smaller, but exceptional regional press, and she was happy. But there was always her true love sitting, waiting, wishing. After almost giving up on it entirely she decided to submit it to her regional press to see what they thought. One thing has turned into another. Talk has turned to an advance, and as of yesterday she has landed a dream agent. One who knows her stuff and is talking BIG.

So, the moral of the story. Never give up on your baby! Even if you have to shelve it for awhile. Now I am not saying to never give up on your first book, or your second, because some of those deserve retirement. Mine for example is just too bad, and I never felt great about it. But if you have spent years on something that you truly feel strongly about, don't give up on it. But most importantly, don't ever give up on yourself.

So congratulations my dear friend Anonymous. You are a break through inspiration! Enjoy that sun shining down on you.

Any of you have a break through story?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Monday: Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

I have five things to say about this book:

1) I am super stoked about this book because I won it through a contest over at Literary Rambles. When it came in the mail from Regal Literary my heart pounded a little faster. My second ARC ever! And when I tore open the envelope and saw the real live beautiful cover, I held it over my nerdy book loving heart to calm it. (I should delete sounds weird!)

2) The synopsis of this book is so intriguing: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. When he tries the first pair, he is instantly transported to a hidden island where he is presented with a special quest: to travel to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom and rescue a people in need. Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.

3) The writing is fabulous. Who wouldn't want to read a book with beautiful words like "haberdasher," "swashbuckling," "thievery." Honestly, it was like being swept into Neverland, or something like it. This book has the feel of a classic. Artistic, articulate, magical, colorful, meaningful...are just some of the words that come flowing into my stream of consciousness when I think about this book. (I thoughtful of me:)

4) I started reading it to my six year old daughter, whose attention span I thought might be ready since this book is Middle Grade, but I lost her after just a few pages when Peter Nimble is a baby, gets his eyes pecked out by ravens, and crawls under a pub to drink a mother cat's milk. See I thought that was interesting. 

5) Jonathan Auxier is an awesome writer name, dontcha think? So French and elegant. I'm jealous of cool writerly names. Were they born to be writers?

Friday, September 2, 2011

B is for Back Breaking

 There is a reason for the radio silence...errr, blog silence. I MOVED. Enough said, right? And my back feels like it's broken...but it will regenerate, right?

But now that we are almost all settled in, and there are only a few boxes left to unpack, I have been able to enjoy some of the good parts of all this work. A new house! With a fabulous view!

I never much fancied the Las Vegas lights. Perhaps because I was born and raised beneath them, I have grown accustom to their increasing intensity. But now that I have moved further outside of the city, up on the hillside of Black Mountain, I can see them better. This is my actual view from my computer where I now sit. My new writing space aint so bad, eh?

Now if I could just get all my books unpacked and my new bookshelf painted...I can get back to writing! Happy Holiday Weekend y'all.

What does your writing space look like?