Thursday, December 31, 2009

YA Highway's epic book survey!

I'm doing this just for fun. But Kirsten Hubbard made this survey for YA Highway. If you fill it out on your own blog, be sure to post your link at YA Highway, and you can win a copy of Fire by Kristin Cashore (an awesome book!)

BOOKS

  • Most imaginative: This one is hard...I can't settle on one, because so many were imaginative in different ways.
  • Scariest: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. Obviously not in a horror movie way, but I didn't sleep much that first night after I read it.
  • Edgiest contemporary: Living Dead Girl again. By far.
  • Creepiest SF/dystopia: Hmm. I guess The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I mean, zombies are creepy.
  • Most evocative historical: I didn't read anything historical this year. Eek.
  • Best love story: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

SCENES
  • Scariest: I think I could pick a few scenes from The Hunger Games or Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins where I was terrified for the characters. Also, the end of Candor by Pam Bachorz.
  • Most disturbing: Every last line of Living Dead Girl.
  • Steamiest: There were a couple pretty good steamy makeout scenes in both Evernight and Stargazer by Claudia Gray.
  • Most exciting: My heart didn't stop pounding through the whole end of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
  • Biggest tear-jerker: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. I cried pretty good. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta was also moving.
  • Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!!) : Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins surprised me, and I didn't expect it to, so that made the surprise extra awesome.

CHARACTERS
  • Best couple: Brigan and Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore were awesome. Aislynn and Seth in Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Jonah and Taylor in Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.
  • Who you'd want as your best friend: Nya from The Shifter by Janice Hardy, or Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Both are pretty kickass, but also seem like people I could get along with.
  • Who you fell in love with: Gale from The Hunger Games. Nick from The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Balthazar from Evernight by Claudia Gray. Those are my top three.
  • Worst (best?) villain: Oscar's father in Candor by Pam Bachorz, because he was a villain of the worst sort: the kind who doesn't even realize they are one. Ray from Living Dead Girl for the same reason (and many more reasons. Just...ew.)
  • Best character twist (who you loved, then hated, or vice versa): I know there were characters I had a love/hate relationship with in books I read this year, but none are coming to me off the top of my head, so I guess this one will just be blank!
  • Best character names: Cabel, from Wake by Lisa McMann, and Fire (and Brigan) from Fire by Kristin Cashore.
  • Worst character names: Peeta. And Gale (but only after I realized Gale=Gail. This didn't connect in my brain, at first). Both from The Hunger Games. I wasn't a big fan of the name Po, either, from Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but I liked the character.
  • Favorite all-around kickass female: Katsa (Graceling) and Katniss (Hunger Games) were both pretty kickass. And Nya from The Shifter.
  • Favorite all-around kickass male: Nick (The Demon's Lexicon) and Brigan (Fire).

MISCELLANEOUS
  • Best book cover: I really love the cover of Fire by Kristin Cashore, Wake and Fade by Lisa McMann, Break by Hannah Moskowitz, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and Ironside by Holly Black. Probably more, too. It was a year of pretty cool covers.
  • Best title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
  • Most memorable voice: The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Something about it was just so distinct.
  • Most memorable first line: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. "I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves."
  • Best setting: The Forest of Hands and Teeth had a chilling/beautiful setting, with its forests.
  • Most beautiful writing: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
  • Will any of the books you've read in 2009 make your life list of Favorite Books? Yes! Several did, actually. Evernight by Claudia Gray, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Shifter by Janice Hardy, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
So there you are. A lot of books are on there multiple times, probably because I mostly tried to do everything from memory. I read some wonderful books this year, and I hope to repeat the trend in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2010 goals

It's the new year (almost). Resolution time. My resolution in 2009 was to stop biting my nails, and I kind of forgot about it until sometime around November, when I suddenly decided it was just life or death that I accomplish this.

I'm making progress, for sure, although I don't think I've quite kicked the habit. I'm aware when I do it, which is a good start, and I've been able to grow my nails out to a reasonable length a couple times.

For 2010, I think I'm going to resolve to finish kicking the habit, and also stop some of my related bad habits: chewing the skin on the side of my nails, and when all else fails, my hair (I know, ew) or sweatshirt strings.

But I have other goals, which for me is a whole separate thing. For the purpose of having them in a concrete form, here they are:

1) Using lol less (and maybe smilies too). Okay, yeah, this is a really basic sounding goal. But I don't like how often I rely on smiley faces and lols in emails, forums, twitter, etc. to relay that something is a joke, or that I find something funny or sad or happy or whatever. I should be able to express myself without emoticons and lols, so moderation would be to my benefit.

2) Eating better. I am one of those "lucky" people who can eat just about anything and not lose my figure. I'm a wisp of a thing, and it's likely I always will be. However, thin does not necessarily equal healthy. While I'm in good condition now, certain health conditions, like high cholesterol, run in my family, and I'd rather get my eating habits in order before the time comes when I suddenly have to stop eating everything I love because my cholesterol has shot through the roof. For this year, I think my goal will mainly be portion control when it comes to snacks. No justifying my massive mound of potato chips by telling myself, "but I'm also eating this nice, healthy sandwich!" And I definitely need to eat more fruit. I love fruit, but sometimes I forget about it.

3) Exercising! I never exercise. Walking and lifting the toddler are about my only exercise activities. I don't think I need anything intense, and I'm not interested in losing weight, but exercise is just healthy.

4) Getting an agent. This is my scariest goal, because I have no idea how attainable it is. I think it's attainable, but it's one of those things where you never know. If it doesn't happen, I guess I'll know I need to write a better book in 2011!

5) Owning a book that's autographed by the author. It was a sad day when I realized I own no autographed books, let me tell you. This is a small, random, fun goal to offset some of my more challenging ones!

6) Writing one (or more) new books. I was going to make my goal two at first, or even three, because I can definitely write more than one book in a year. But I'm thinking my next WIP might be a little taxing, and I foresee several months of work going into the thing. Not to mention my unedited rough draft that still needs work, and any other things that may arise. Ideally, I definitely think I'd like to write two brand new rough drafts, at the very least, next year. Just because.

So those are the six goals I had the urge to share with the world. I hope everyone has a happy (and safe) new year!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Yeah that's really all.

Just wanted to wish the world a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for commenting!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why, hello there, new WIP

First of all, I have to direct you to Kirsten Hubbard's blog, because I received a package very similar to this, and, as you might guess, I am now in food Heaven. I lack self-control, though, so I dug in long before even thinking about taking pictures. Kristin Miller's baked goods are as delicious as they look when she blogs about them.


When you've returned from drooling, I'm going to ramble a bit about my WIPs.

I set myself up to be very busy for the next couple months or so. I'm not sure how it happened this way, but it did. I just finished a rough draft of my WIP titled (for the moment) Dead and Alive. It's so petite--53,000 words, which is a fantastic length. I surprised myself, though. Usually, I'm not nearly so succinct!

When I was nearly finished with it, I had my usual 'what will I write when I'm done with this?' panic. It wasn't dire, because it isn't like I'm not busy. But my ideas usually stay as strange little floating objects that don't really form into anything until I remind my brain that maybe it's about time it formed one into something.

It formed me a high fantasy WIP. And I think, I think, it might just be sort of kind of unique. Which is something I've always always always wanted. I love high fantasy, but it's so very hard to come up with a plot, characters, and everything else that stands out from the rest. I anticipated it being a couple of months before I was ready to write this, but that wasn't the case, because it came to me a lot more suddenly than I expected, so I'm already writing it (a little bit) now. This is what will keep me busiest, once I get going.

In the meantime, I'm editing Unthawed. Its middle section (mainly) had a little bit of a makeover a couple months ago, and then I set it aside for space and simmering. Now I'm doing the more difficult job of making it polished, and cutting out words and pieces of scenes that aren't needed. I hope to be done soon, because I really want to start querying it again! (Even though this is probably the most awkward time of the year to be querying). It wasn't horrifying before, but it's definitely going to be more ready this time.

So I'm in a fun cycle of balancing writing and editing, and it's so much fun.

This is probably all you'll hear from me about the about the high fantasy, because I fully intend to be weirdly silent about it. It's just easier that way.

I hope everyone else is having as much fun with their writing, and I hope this post didn't bore anyone to death!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas and political correctness

This has nothing to do with writing. At all.


But it isn't the holidays if I don't get on my soapbox.

I'm Christian. I celebrate Christmas. I say Merry Christmas to people, because I grew up in a tiny little town, and from kindergarten to eighth grade, everyone in my class was also Christian. Nobody's feelings were hurt if I didn't also mention the other holidays that happen this time of year.

And nobody's feelings should have been hurt, even if they weren't Christian. Christmas has become very commercialized. Atheists celebrate it too. Agnostics. Whoever feels like it! It only has religious meaning if you want it to have religious meaning. Other holidays around this time of year, Hanukkah, for example, are strictly religious.

When I say (or type) Merry Christmas, I don't mean, "Have a great holiday season, but only if you're Christian, because otherwise I hate you". I mean, "I hope you have a wonderful holiday season." I gratefully accept any well wishes this time of year. Even if I don't celebrate the holiday, I appreciate that someone wants me to have a good one. December, to me, is a month of family and closeness, not hostility and anal retentiveness.

I really think it takes political correctness to a whole new realm of ridiculousness to get upset over being wished a Merry Christmas. So if you are someone who does, breathe, take a step back, ask yourself why it's so offensive. And know that whoever said it to you probably wasn't trying to convert you, they were just trying to be kind.

And so ends my regular holiday ranting. I hope everyone has a wonderful season, no matter what they celebrate, or even if they celebrate nothing at all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments, everyone!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life on the edge

I was thinking about 'edgy', as is maybe obvious from the title of this post. I'm just so unsure what to do with this concept, and frankly, I'm a little bit over the word. See, there are some things that I've read and I think, okay, I understand why this would be labeled 'edgy'. Living Dead Girl comes immediately to mind.


But beyond something so obviously 'edgy', I just. don't. get. it.

I'm going to explain why, using my WIPs to help me. * (That would be Dead and Alive, as I'm tentatively calling my WIP, even though I'm not sure it'll stick--better than untitled, though--and Unthawed, because Ignited is in that weird, "new adult" zone.)

So, Unthawed is so very not edgy. They don't really swear, no one has sex or does drugs or drinks or anything like that. None of the things that tend to win books that little "edgy" label, by my best judgement. But it is so violent. Pretty much everyone my MC knows gets killed in the first/second chapter, brutally. And then there's more death and violence after that. But apparently that's fine? That's not horrifying, not potentially scarring? At least, not compared to...

Dead and Alive has sex and swearing and I guess overall the whole concept is a little unpleasant, what with my MC having been killed before it starts. I'm not sure whether or not this would be labeled edgy. Because as this post makes very clear, I'm no expert on the subject. But it's definitely way closer than Unthawed.

But the thing is, swearing isn't anything a teen wouldn't hear every single day at school, if not at home. The sex, well, it's not like teens don't know that other teens are doing it, even if they're not. It's not like my characters are S&Ming it or something. It's not edgy, in my mind. And those things I just said are exactly why I hate hate hate when every book with one little swear is suddenly edgy, or why characters are suddenly so amazingly teen when they start in with their pot smoking and their drunken escapades.

If I were thinking about 'edge' in terms of the real world, not literature, violence (even if that violence is an animal/mutant mutilating a human) would be SO FAR above things like normal sex between two people (teens or adults) and above casual drug use or alcohol drinking (alcoholism and drug addiction are different--those for me fall into the 'I see why this might be labeled edgy' category.) Swearing isn't even on my edge radar at all.

So the use of this term 'edgy' baffles me and I kind of want it to go away. Or not go away, but be more limited! Isn't there a middle ground between clean and gentle happy place writing and edgy? Can't something be more suitable for those in the upper YA range without being 'edgy'? Why does sex=omg the shock and horror? Am I wrong for thinking enough YA has these elements now that it's silly to think of them as some sort of special category?

Feel free to agree with me, disagree with me, explain to me what big picture element I am missing in my confusion.


*Note: I am definitely not trying to label the edginess of my WIPs, because I'm honestly not particularly concerned with whether or not they are. It's just easier to use examples.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My YA decade

For some reason, it randomly hit me this morning (that's this morning as I'm writing this, on Tuesday the eighth) that this was an insane decade of change in my life.


In 2000, I graduated eighth grade, and I was fourteen (well, fifteen by the end of 2000). I remember thinking that was just the coolest thing ever, being the class of 2000, even if it was only middle school.

Then I spent the next four years in that angsty, amazing, devastating, beautiful time known as high school. Instant messaging programs were only just starting to get popular (or maybe they started to get popular a couple years before that, but they hit their stride when I was in high school) and we discovered new ways to torture each other, like printing out AIM conversations meant only for our eyes and showing them to others, or talking to someone while at a friend's house, pretending to be that friend while they watch, giggling. We had epic fights over boys and who was better friends with who and who betrayed who and other things that seem so ridiculous in hindsight. I had boyfriends and lost boyfriends and had to decide how I felt about drinking, drugs, and having sex (all of which I decided to save for college, in the end--except drugs, which I opted not to try at all. In a non-judgmental way. It just wasn't my thing.) I thought my breakups were the most heartbreaking of all time, and no one could possibly understand how hard it was. I went to prom, I had a blissful senior year (at least, the second half). I parted ways with a boyfriend in my last ever technical breakup, and it was kind of beautiful, in retrospect. Everything then seemed so dramatic, so huge, and now when I think back, the things I thought were so horrifying tend to hide in the back of my memory, and all I can remember clearly are the amazing times I had.

And then I went to college, where I made good decisions and bad decisions and luckily no really, really bad decisions. I joined a sorority and I went to fraternity parties and I grew into myself. It was a time of seeing my potential rather than my flaws (especially in how I looked). I met amazing people who will be my friends until always, and I met my boyfriend who will hopefully also be around until always.

And then I had a baby and got a dog and an apartment and started my life as an adult.

Which means, this decade pretty much encompassed my entire transition into adulthood, because high school was that first big change for me (tiny kindergarten-eighth grade school, where I already knew half my class before I even arrived at age five! The 90's were quite a comfort zone, despite all the changes that go on in the tween years). It's kind of amazing to think about how insanely much I've changed over the past ten years. I don't think I'll ever do so much growing in one decade again. I mean really, from nervous freshman in high school who was scared she would go to the wrong classroom to Mom. That's pretty full circle.

For the next decade, now that I don't have to worry about growing myself anymore--much, I'm going to have to get started on some of my life goals (minus the one major already achieved one--having a child!)

I know this post wasn't really very writing related, but with 2009 about to end, I had to do it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RTW: A quick and fun questionnaire

So this week, I'm answering three questions that SEEM simple and easy to answer, but they are so not.


Question one: What are the best three books you've read this year?
Okay, this question would almost be easier if it were what one book. So, my three best. Eeeeeek. It's hard to choose between...five books (or technically seven, but I'm a cheater.) I'll try to narrow it down.
1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I read this in May (or June?) and was dying by the time Catching Fire (which totally counts as the same book) came out at the start of September. It is just. so. good.
2) The Shifter by Janice Hardy. I expected to like this book, but I didn't expect to adore it as much as I did. It is awesome. The world building, the characters, the plot, it was all great.
3) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I think Kirsten makes everyone she knows read this book--and with good reason! It's amazing, and so very beautiful.
(I also really really loved The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan and Evernight and its sequel, Stargazer, by Claudia Gray...there, I cheated. And there are tons of other books too that could almost make this list, but I won't cheat THAT much.)

Question Two: If you could meet one author living or dead, who would it be?
Well, there are tons of living authors I'd love to meet, but I'd like to be optimistic and say I could still meet them one day! So...I think I'd like to pick someone whose writing is so well known now, but who probably never realized they'd be so very everlasting (because even if you're cocky, how could you ever guess?) Shakespeare comes to mind, but he'd probably be boring to talk to. I kind of think Mark Twain might actually be an interesting person. I think I would go with him.

Question Three: What book are you most looking forward to in 2010?
This one is hard too. It splits three ways (I KNOW the question says one. I can't do it. So in order of when in 2010 they'll be released...)
1) Hourglass by Claudia Gray--the third book of her Evernight series. Since I couldn't put down the first two, I've been looking forward to this next one for MONTHS.
2) The third Hunger Games book, because how could I possibly not be looking forward to it?! I will probably be dying for it by the time the thing comes out.
3) The Duff by Kody Keplinger. Because it's awesome and I can't wait to read it in its shiny, published version.

If you haven't yet entered the amazing giveaway on YA Highway, you definitely will want to visit today, because we've added a mini giveaway. Even if you win the mini giveaway, you aren't disqualified from the big one, so enter enter enter if you haven't!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments, everyone!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Free books!

At YA Highway. A giveaway in celebration of our wonderful followers!

It's a pretty insanely awesome prize package, so...GO.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RTW: Where I admit my literary crushes

Warning: this is not going to be nearly so profound as I wish it would be. My rational side thinks my literary crushes should be very different than who I actually choose. And if my boyfriend reads this—I still love you most.

I sort of liked the way Leila did this, so I’m going to shamelessly copy her and do section one: authors I want to be and section two: characters I would want to be with if they were real.

Section one: aka where I become scarily fangirlish.

First and foremost, I have a small obsession with things written by Garth Nix. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I just love his writing. I’m pretty sure Shade’s Children was the first dystopian I ever read, and it’s still my favorite (or maybe it’s tied with The Hunger Games.) It’s so different and so interesting. That’s what I like about his writing. It’s just interesting. And it makes me feel inspired.

I’m also in awe of Suzanne Collins for her world building. And JK Rowling for the same reason. Thinking about all the work and backstory and world building that went into Harry Potter makes me a little dizzy, actually. I don’t care if you were one of the few people who weren’t a fan of this series, you’ve got to respect her for that. And hell, I think I have to throw Philip Pullman in here too. The His Dark Materials trilogy was nothing if not complicated.

I have kind of a new envy of Melina Marchetta for her amazing, beautiful descriptions. She makes it seem so much easier than it is.

Section two: aka the fun section.

The first crush I ever remember having on a character was Will from the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. This has changed over the years—Will is twelve, and while I first read that book when I was thirteen or maybe fourteen, I’m now double his age. I still love him, but differently! I also had (um, have) quite a thing for Lord Astriel, because he’s pretty badass. I mean, he wants to do something and he does it. Creating a giant connection between worlds? No problem. Trying to kill God? Sounds easy enough.

And I can’t leave out Harry Potter—not the character, but the series. There are just so many better options to crush on than poor little Harry. For me, Sirius Black is #1, with Fred Weasley in second. Sirius, because, well, YUM. He survived (and escaped!!) Azkaban, and he was the one on the good side that I thought was most likely to do something that might be considered “bad” if he had to. I don’t know why that’s an attractive trait to me. But it is. Fred, I’m not actually sure why I find him so attractive. And even more curiously, why it is absolutely certain in my mind that I like Fred and care nothing whatsoever about George, his identical twin. There’s just something. I also kind of want to be Ginny (book Ginny—movie Ginny is so blah). People seem to love her or hate her, but I liked how she grew into herself as the series progressed, and she was a pretty strong person, by the end. When Harry went into his little emo we have to break up so I can save the world and you won’t be hurt moment, she didn’t break down about it, she just accepted it stoically. I thought that was awesome. Although if I were her, I would’ve said, “No thanks, Harry, I’m leaving you for Malfoy.” Oh which reminds me I also kind of love Draco Malfoy.

I think the rest of my literary loves come from more recent stuff. Not that Harry Potter isn’t recent, but in the scheme of things. I really liked Prince Brigan from Fire by Kristin Cashore. He was a great love interest, because he was all soldiery and awesome, but he was also very sweet sometimes. Seth, from Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Seth doesn’t fit my usual likes, because he’s actually more sweet than he is anything else. Sometimes that’s nice. I think I mainly liked that when Aislynn told him about being able to see faeries and all of that, he didn’t freak out and try to flee, he said, “okay, what do we do about it?” It was obvious he cared about her a lot, but he also thought about what he wanted. Especially in Fragile Eternity (the third book) I thought he got even better. Murtagh, from Eragon by Christopher Paolini is also awesome. He’s the only reason I’ve stuck with that series, even though obviously Christopher Paolini doesn’t love him the same way because Murtagh has not had nearly enough scenes since the first book. NOT EVEN CLOSE. I just thought Murtagh was one of the most flawed and well developed characters. Actually, no. He was the best developed by far. He has the most interesting past, the most interesting personality, and the most reasonable behavior.

My three biggest crushes at the moment, in no specific order: Nick, from The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. He is insanely awesome. He literally does not understand how to feel things like love. I know, an attractive trait, right? But he is so dangerous and straightforward and he’s kind of perfect, in a twisted way. Balthazar from Evernight by Claudia Gray. I’m aware he’s not the love interest of the book. This only makes him better, because it means he’s free for me. If I’m going to be going after a vampire, I’m going to do it right. I wouldn’t want one who was constantly emoing out, I’d want one who could actually protect me from danger. I like that even though Balthazar might’ve wished he had never been made a vampire, he accepted it, made the best of it. He does things right and he makes mistakes, but he’s the kind of vampire that makes vampires actually sexy. And Gale, from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’m pretty sure Kristin wants to strangle me every time I say this, because of how few and far between his scenes and lines are. But he is just…awesome. Every time he does have a scene, he’s doing something great. He does things for Katniss that he thinks she needs rather than what she wants. He’s brave and strong, and he is just great.

That’s probably about good enough. And long enough. Visit YA Highway to see what everyone else said!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for commenting, everyone!