Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RTW: What do I want from Santa?

To get the full effect of this week's RTW, you should probably go ahead and read Lee's super amazing poem on the YA Highway post, but the gist of the topic is: What do you want Santa to bring you this year?

Well, I could be totally lame and say that there's nothing I need from Santa -- I already have a great fiance and child and the best friends ever -- but I can certainly come up with some material things I wouldn't say no to if Santa decided to bring them. (Shoot, I don't have a chimney! hehe.)

I've sort of wanted a Kindle for a while, and lately I've really wanted one. I'm never going to stop buying physical books, ever. But I can only own so many, and a Kindle would be great for reading books I want to read but don't want to own, and also for reading friends' mss.

I would also take any and all of the millions of books on my to-read list. What is up with all the new awesome books coming out before I can get to the old awesome books?? (But don't stop coming out, new awesome books!)

A new couch, maybe, because I haven't bought one yet for my new apartment.

A device that slaps me every time I chew on my sweatshirt strings. It is so gross and yet I CANNOT STOP.

The awesome red Wii! Obviously I'm not going to buy one because that's just stupid, but I totally think that people who already have Wiis should be able to exchange theirs for the pretty red one.

A million dollars. (What? I promise, I would spend it wisely!)

Share your own post on YA Highway, and while you're there (speaking of gifts!) check out our holiday giveaway if you haven't yet. Lots and lots and lots of prizes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I'm thankful for

Since it's Thanksgiving, it's obviously a great time to blog about some of the things/people I'm thankful for. So here goes, in no particular order and without explanation:


--The child. 
--My family. 
--My fiance.
--Amazing friends.
--YA Highway.
--My agent.
--Writing.
--Books.
--The Internet.

Hope everyone has an amazing holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

RTW: Best book of November

So ummmmm...I kind of didn't read any books in November. I could blame this on lots of things, but I'll just accept my failure as a reader and move on with it.

But, like Kate, I did some research this month, which means I read some nonfiction. (Sidenote: does the word "nonfiction" sound weird to anyone else, if you think about it for a few seconds?) A couple months ago, I bought the super awesome book, The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life. I'm not going to lie, guys. It's pretty much the best thing ever. (And hey! Amazon classifies its reading level as "young adult").

I read it through once when I first bought it, but this month I've been reading parts of it more thoroughly because I am using some prehistoric-like creatures in my WIP. I've learned all sorts of irrelevant things, too. Aren't you guys glad we don't live in the time of six-foot cockroaches? I love learning things, but I hate feeling like I'm learning things (you know what I mean, I hope).

So if you are secretly or not-so-secretly harboring a love of prehistoric creatures, I really recommend this one. (Also it has pretty illustrations.)

What was the best book YOU read this month? Visit YA Highway to share your link!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RTW: The Wildwinds Made Me Do It

This week's topic is super extra special. The first line of Kirsten Hubbard's LIKE MANDARIN (which you can win on YA Highway--have you entered yet?) is: "The winds in Washokey make people go crazy." This week's RTW prompt is to post about a time you did something completely crazy.

Well, I thought about it. I thought and I thought. I've done plenty of crazy things I'm not going to share with you all (sorry). And I've done crazy things that no one else would ever consider crazy but me. I've done things that are crazy in the middle school sort of way--deciding the bandstand at school was haunted and making a ghost club; getting lost in the woods; trying to get a creepy abandoned house unlocked late at night (it still freaks me out that we did that. That place is so scary you have no idea). Things that are crazy in an "I can't believe I stayed up that long" kind of way--driving straight from Ithaca, NY to Ashland, ME and then continuing on to Presque Isle like there wouldn't still be donuts if we waited until the next day; late night chats with friends followed by early morning classes; driving from Connecticut to Ashland overnight because it seemed like a great idea until the morning when we realized one of us was going to have to not nap and watch the baby.

But really the craziest thing I ever did? Deciding to date my fiance. The whole story isn't that interesting if you weren't there, but it's one of the most spontaneous decisions I've ever made. I barely knew him, was going back to school--seven hours from where he went to school--in a week, but those are the things that made me decide, what the hell, why not? If it didn't work out, we wouldn't have any of those awkward post-breakup run-ins. And if it did, then it was a risk worth taking. And it did work out. So there you go.

Want to share something crazy you have done? Visit YA Highway, add your link, get an extra entry to win an ARC of LIKE MANDARIN. And you don't have to be embarrassed by your crazy--you can blame it on the wildwinds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RTW: Best book of October

Sooo I didn't read all that much this month.

But I did reread THE GIVER, which I hadn't read in years. It had been just long enough that there were parts I didn't remember. As always when I reread something, I caught things I hadn't ever noticed before. When I first read this book as a younger kid, I was completely fascinated by the assigned jobs idea. Not that I wanted to have something like that implemented in my own world, but I wrote so, so many stories in middle school that revolved around ceremonies where people are assigned jobs. (The one I remember best is one where humans lived underground in what was basically an ant colony because they lived on a planet inhabited by huge giants who would squish them--like ants--if above. This was when I had been playing the game SimAnt a lot. The MC was assigned the job of aphid milker. At age 12, I wasn't too worried about how the science worked out...) But anyway, reading the book as I got older, I noticed the subtle things more. I won't say which part hit me the most intensely this time when I read it, because that would be a super spoiler, but wow. It was as good as it ever was.

I also read THE RED PYRAMID by Rick Riordan. This is the first of his books I've read--I haven't tried out the Percy Jackson series yet, though I plan to!--and it was pretty good. Completely entertaining, loved the mythology (I <3 ancient Egypt), and the characters were fun. I'll definitely read more books in this series, when they're out.

What was your favorite book this month? Visit YA Highway to share!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RTW: Who makes me less unique?

So this week's Road Trip Wednesday topic is not an easy one. At least not for me. The prompt: Who are your comp titles/authors?

Well.

There's a reason I avoided this entirely in my queries. It's not because I think I'm so insanely special and unique that no one else's book could possibly be like mine. It's not because I'm so humble that I don't think I can be compared in any way, shape or form to a published author. And it's not because I don't know how to compare books to other books. You might think I'm going somewhere with this, since I started this paragraph with "There's a reason," but you'd be wrong. Really it's just not as easy for me to objectively compare my own book to other books as it is for me to objectively compare other people's books. But I think it's good to have a general idea, so here we go:

So Dead:
Well, for the dead teenager trying to sort out her personality aspect, I think the obvious comparison for this one is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Our writing styles are very different and our plots are very different, but there are definitely some common themes.

Unthawed:
Because it has both post-apocalyptic and dystopian aspects, I'm going to compare it to Shade's Children by Garth Nix. So, I could/should probably choose something more popular and more current, but the obvious choice if I'm going to be popular and current is The Hunger Games and that's a little too popular. The thing about Shade's Children is that it has the really obvious bad guys who are, without question, the enemy, but it also creates an environment where the person you think is helping you might actually not be. I have that same kind of chaotic "can't trust anyone" vibe going on in Unthawed (all 8k of it so far, at least...) I will definitely not pretend I think I'm as awesome as Garth Nix, though.


So now that I've expended all my energy on two measly little comparisons, what are yours? Visit YA Highway to share!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RTW: Favorite first lines

This week's Road Trip Wednesday topic is: A novel's opening is like a pick up line. If it's good, you might take it home. If it's bad... well. You know. What are your favorite first lines? How do your own WIPs start?


Let's start with mine, because I only have one--other WIPs are too drafty and will likely change. The first line of SO DEAD is: "Being dead is awesome."

Some of my book favorite first lines? It's hard to say because sometimes a book is freaking awesome but its first line...not so much. Or vice versa. But here are some good ones, and these are books that ended up being as great as their first lines--no sense leading people astray with kickass first lines that led to mediocre books!

THREE DAYS TO DEAD by Kelly Meding: "I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born."
Yeah it certainly catches your interest, doesn't it? Dead? Born? What is going on with this character??

FEED by M. T. Anderson: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."

SHADE'S CHILDREN* by Garth Nix: "A razor blade gave me freedom from the Dorms."

ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine: "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."

THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy: "Stealing eggs is a whole lot harder than stealing the whole chicken."

I could go on, but that's probably enough. I like each of those lines for a different reason. I think the main thing, though, is that they establish voice, and tell me that something interesting is going on. And when I read books, I want them to be interesting, you know?

What are some of your favorite first lines? Join us at YA Highway and share!

*Why haven't more of you read this book?????

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

RTW: Desert Island

This week's road trip Wednesday topic is: You're packing for a month on a deserted island. What, as a reader and writer, must be in your backpack?


Well, if I'm packing for this trip in advance, obviously this deserted island is going to be somewhat prepared for me. So I'm going to pretend that my country-girl knowledge of how to not die while walking around in the woods will translate into knowing how to build a good fire (hey--I would be better at it than some of the people on Survivor!) and shelter and finding food. So I won't need to pack anything for that. Except maybe a few cigarette lighters, because they hardly take up any space, and while I'm figuring out how to effectively get my fire lit the natural way, it might be smart to have a backup plan. 

I would also pack sunscreen. Because let's face it. I do not have the complexion for a desert island, and I hate being sunburned. 

And then, I would pack a zillion notebooks. And pens. And also a giant plastic bag to store them in if it rains. Or, maybe wiser, I would use a waterproof suitcase (they make those, don't they?) I write by hand a lot anyway, so this would be no problem. But a month with nothing to do really except write or read? We're talking about a lot of notebooks, here. And a lot of pens. And maybe a couple of pencils, in case all my pens die. 

Of course, I can't write ALL the time. My brain would explode from overwork. So I would bring a selection of my favorite books: His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman; HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins; THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy; FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta; SHADE'S CHILDREN by Garth Nix; and more if I had room. 

What would you bring? Stop by YA Highway and let us know!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Queries, jealousy, and the internet is the internet.

I feel like this is one of those blog posts that I should preface by saying: this all is just my opinion. Although I hope everyone who reads my blog knows that, actually, everything on this blog is just my opinion. It is my blog, after all!

And if you're thinking, "those things in the title of this post don't seem like they quite go together," you're right. I wanted to blog about three separate things, but none really warrant their own, individual post, I don't think. So here are my thoughts on three random, unrelated subjects.

Queries. Or more specifically, agents and interns tweeting about queries. There's been some quiet uproar (ha--is that an oxymoron?) on twitter this week about certain querying hashtags, and Kathleen Ortiz wrote a brilliant blog post touching on the difference between agents and interns tweeting about queries. I'm not going to throw in my own opinion on that particular facet because I am so unqualified to, but anyway. It's a good post. But here is my opinion, in general, on the query-related tweeting as someone who used to be in the querying trenches.


Querying sucks sometimes. The highs are really high, the lows are really low. I enjoy general posts by agents or interns or whoever on things like: querying trends, generalized reasons why they rejected something, general advice based on mistakes they've seen a lot of lately, and other similar topics. Statistics, like "I received x amount of queries, this many in this genre, this many in this genre, asked for y amount of partials and z amount of fulls" are also way interesting to me. 


But I am so turned off by too-detailed specifics and also by teasing about someone's query or pages. I would have absolutely died inside if I'd seen myself tweeted about while I was querying. Because while yeah, the slush pile is, I'm sure, filled with a lot of scary stuff and letters by people who did zero research, there are also many people who did do their research and are trying so hard and putting this piece of themselves out there (in a private email, might I add) only to be publicly ridiculed. It's just not cool, and honestly, my opinion of someone can totally diminish if they are nasty and unkind toward queriers. Queriers may not be signed by anyone yet, and they may not be published, but that doesn't make them inferior human beings. I would imagine it's easy, when someone is seeing hundreds of queries a day, to forget that these are people sending the letters, with faces, lives, feelings, etc. But it's kind of important to remember. And I definitely think that the majority of the internet writing community, agents, interns and authors alike, are respectful toward each other, but not always. Unfortunately.


Jealousy. The ugly green beast. It attacks at the worst of times. Like when you're trying so hard to be happy for someone, but dammit, you want what they have! And with writing, there are lots of opportunities to be jealous. You're querying. They got an agent. You got an agent, but they got an agent faster! You've been on sub forever, and they got a book deal like *that*. You got a book deal, but they got a HUGE book deal. Your cover came out terrible, you wish you had theirs. They just posted pictures of the delicious baked goods they made, and you are OUT OF $%#$ING FLOUR! 


I'm not sure that it's humanly possible to not be jealous. Ever. Of anything. But you can, and should, contain it. For me personally, there is no rhyme or reason to what makes me jealous. Sometimes everyone else around me is--or seems--jealous of something, and I'm floating away in "I'm so happy for this person that nothing else matters" land. Other times, I get a seething jealousy over something ridiculous, like, say, cookies. I think I'm naturally not a super jealous person, but it still gets me sometimes. However. You can't let it rule you. It is absolutely miserable to be around a person who is so perpetually envious that they are always unhappy. I like to reason through my jealousy, when I can tell I'm getting to an unattractive point of jealousness. Like, okay, she has cookies and I don't. Should this affect our friendship? If she stole the cookies from me, yes. This is an unforgivable crime. Otherwise, no. It should not. And if I want cookies, what am I doing to get some for myself? If I'm not even getting off my lazy butt to cook some, then how jealous can I really be, because obviously I don't want them that badly. If I'm missing an ingredient or just don't have the time that day, then maybe I should make a plan to bake cookies a different day. Problem solved. I know it's a simple example, but it works for lots of things, really, it does.


The internet is the internet. I have formed some of my best friendships on the internet, so I am not belittling it at all. But it's the internet. You're not hearing a person's tone of voice, not seeing their accompanying gestures as they communicate. When they're IMing you, they might also be fighting off an attack from a vicious toddler or cleaning up dog puke. Maybe that thing they tweeted sounded totally hilarious in their head, but without inflection, it comes out flat. And, although our internet community might feel so small when we're in it, it's actually massive. And sometimes people belong to more than one little internet niche, which makes it even more massive. So that passive-aggressive tweet that feels it's casting a giant spotlight over you may actually not be about you at all. It's important to remember how vast the internet is and how many people it revolves around before you ever let it ruin your day. I know I forget how huge it is all the time, personally. (Although I suppose, if you're someone who thinks EVERY tweet/blog post/forum post is about you, either it is and you've got some issues you should work on, or it isn't, and you've maybe got some different issues to work on...)


So that was long. And maybe boring, but I hope not. And maybe nonsensical, but I hope not that either. Just some things that were in my brain and wanted to come out, and did!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RTW: September's best book

I didn't read a whole lot of books this month. Time sort of got away from me, I guess! But I did read one particularly awesome book this month, and that was BLUE FIRE by Janice Hardy. I reviewed it on YA Highway just last week, so I won't repeat myself, but I've been excited for this book since last October when I read THE SHIFTER, so I'm very, very glad it didn't disappoint. Of course, now I'm impatiently awaiting the third, but that's a good thing!

What was the best book you read this month? Visit YA Highway to share your link and see what others said!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RTW: Historical Era

This week's Roadtrip Wednesday question is: If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

I really like history. You could set me in many, many different time periods and I'd be happy--as long as I got out before I got killed by the plague or a spear or something. But I have a few particular favorites:

Prehistoric Times

I don't know that this will shock anyone. They had the coolest animals back then. Some of them predated humans, but there were still cool ones when humans were around, too. Everything was so different back then. Everything was giant and dangerous and wild. And we really know so little about it compared to all the other time periods.


Medieval England

I know the plagues should turn me off, but this is a wicked fascinating time too. People were so...feral. They did crazy things like bleeding each other out to get rid of the demons causing illnesses, and they had the most insane, horrifying torture devices (actually there were horrifying torture devices all over medieval Europe and beyond). Even royalty were dirty and unsanitary. And what must it have been like to be a peasant? You weren't going to live that long, and you were going to work very hard and life all around was kind of uncool. It'd be interesting to see what it was like to be one of those grungy people living in that dirty world. Also, I have kind of a thing for castles--dungeons, in particular, and also hidden passageways of any sort.


Ancient Rome
I took this picture--please excuse my amateur photography skills
I have been obsessed with Rome for a long while, too. I don't know what to say about it really, it's just mind-blowing. They did horrible things to people too, I mean, gladiator fights? But I am pretty sure if I lived back then, I would be one of those psychotic people who swoons over the gladiators who win a lot. It's just somewhere I would have loved to see at the height of its glory.


Herculaneum

Right when Mount Vesuvius erupted. I would actually like to go a bit before the eruption, because no thanks to being made into an obsidian sculpture, but I would also like to go just slightly after, and see what it all looked like. Everything was buried under the lava, and I mean, holy crap! What must it have looked like, when the lava first cooled? So scary. And I wonder if there were signs a few days in advance that some people noticed and others passed off as nothing. I would also accept Pompeii as a location to visit, but when I was in middle school, we read a book about Herculaneum that was facts and pictures of preserved stuff, interspersed with this fictionalized story of right before it happened (thanks Mom, best fifth grade teacher ever!) And obviously I found it fascinating, if I still remember it.


Colonial New England
For real you guys, this picture of (part of) my parents' barn came up when I googled it!
Because I live here. Because it'd be way cool to go back to the late 1700s/early 1800s and stay in my own house, back when it was a B&B. It would also be way cool to see places like Salem, MA (during the witch trials--as long as I didn't get burned at the stake or drowned or anything) or Boston in its early days, or Plymouth when settlers first arrived. Everything from the 1600s to the 1800s is very interesting to me.

Those are, by no means, the only historical times that interest me, but (other than colonial New England which is basically just self indulgent) those are the times I'd want to write books set in, so that's where I'd go. How about you? Where would you go for the sake of research? 

Visit YA Highway and let us know!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Goals

In less than a week, I will be turning twenty-five. A quarter century. (I know, doesn't it sound scary when you say it that way?) I'm actually feeling pretty zen about this, which might surprise you if you saw how I reacted to turning twenty.

Since sometime in my early twenties, I've had three main before-thirty life goals: get married, have a baby, and have a house. More recently, I added selling a book to that list, because, why not be optimistic? Now, I have the baby, I'm getting married in March, and we'll see about the rest.

I hadn't thought too hard about this until lovely fellow YA Highwayer Lee Bross said something about making a five year plan on twitter. And they I thought, a five year plan? What a perfect time to do that. So I sat down, and I made one.

I like having goals because without having something to work towards, I tend to be a little all over the place. So now, I'm going into age twenty-five with new goals, one of them being not to worry so much about my age anymore.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

RTW: DUFF kits!

In honor of the release of THE DUFF by our very beloved Kody Keplinger, we're packing our DUFF kits for this week's road trip.

What are DUFF kits?

"...comforting little collections that you can use on a relaxing night either alone or with friends. Things that are purely comfortable and fun and require zero pressure to be the prettiest in the room or the smartest or the funniest."
How do you make one? Put together:

1. Your favorite (very caloric!!!) drink
2. Your most comfy and old shoes

3. Movies featuring your favorite male actor
4. Your favorite junk food
5. Your most comfortable piece of clothing
(^I stole the above explanation of this week's RTW from Kate.)

So here is mine!

1) Chocolate milk. It's not just for twelve year olds.

2) My oldest shoes are pretty much the opposite of comfy. I'm not that into shoes in general, but I like giant fuzzy socks!

3) Pirates of the Caribbean for the deliciousness that is Johnny Depp, or The Princess Bride (Bonus! Love interest named Westley!)


4) Uh oh. I have to have a favorite junk food? I keep fluctuating between cheese curls and popcorn (with lots of butter--I don't do this the healthy way) and plain potato chips and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. OH and brownies with the ice cream. I could make all of those things into one big snack, right?

5) My pajama pants (which I may or may not be wearing right now...) and one of my many tank tops.


What would you put in your DUFF kit? Let us know at YA Highway!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

RTW: Best book of August (spoiler free!)

This month, I'm kind of cheating, and I'm going to do three books.

The first is a predictable choice, and I'm sure MOCKINGJAY will be getting tons of RTW love this month (how could it not?!) I don't really know what to say about it, aside from this: while there were things I disliked and things I wish could have been handled differently, I found it a satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogies I've ever read.





Awesome book #2: ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton. It was really cool to read this book in ARC form. And Will easily joins my list of absolute favorite love interests. (And this is not a long list!)





Awesome book #3: HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins. I won an ARC of this book in November, and I have now read it four times, the most recent of which was on my flight back from LA at the beginning of August. This book manages to be effing hilarious while also having a kickass plot. The fact that I've read it four times should tell you something.


So what was your favorite book that you read in August? Visit YA Highway to share!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My blogging fail...

I have blogged very little this month, and I feel bad about that. Not because the world is on the edge of their seats waiting for my next post (I'm not Hyperbole and a Half, after all), but because I like to blog regularly.

Moving and revising--plus regular life activities--are taking most of my energy right now, but I expect to be blogging more regularly again in September.

BUT I did post a review of ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton on YA Highway today, and I guest blogged for Adventures in Children's Publishing yesterday (and very much appreciated them asking me! I've never guest blogged before). So I haven't been totally MIA.

And I hope to also be a better blog commenter again in September too. Hold me to it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

RTW: What does your character hide in their underwear drawer?

...or other secret location.

We borrowed this prompt from Carolyn Mackler's presentation on creating characters, which several of us attended at LA SCBWI, and loved!

This was harder than I thought it would be, to be honest. Some of my characters are just not that into hiding things, others have nothing they need to hide. But here we go:

From SO DEAD:
-Olivia: I'm sure if I dug deeper I could think of something else, but the first thing that comes to mind is the letter she hides in her diary (in the story).
-Grayson: Anything he felt he needed to hide, he would destroy or throw out. Having a secret item hidden somewhere in his room would make him too uncomfortable.
-Olivia's brother, Taylor: His room is so messy that his mom avoids it whenever possible, but I think he would probably hide things like condoms and boy magazines in his underwear drawer, just in case (and maybe an issue of Cosmo he bought to try and learn more about girls...)

From UNTHAWED:
-Emma: Doesn't have many possessions to hide, or really any privacy at all. But she does hide poison inside a mattress.
-Dusty: A book he stole. Haven't figured out exactly where he'd hide it, though (again, lack of privacy in this world) but he's resourceful. He'd find somewhere.

What about you? What would your characters hide in their underwear drawers? Visit YA Highway to link your post and read others!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Revisions and Kitchen Nightmares

I know this sounds random, but I swear it isn't. And I also know that I've kind of blogged about this topic before, but not with such an awesome analogy.

This morning, my fiancé and I watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, and as I watched some of these people who clearly knew they needed help (otherwise, why did they try to be on the show?) refuse to see the problems Gordon Ramsey pointed out to them, I thought, this reminds me of something. What was that something? Revisions.


The restaurant owners know they are struggling. They come on the show on the brink of having to shut down. There are few (or no) customers. Usually the reason for this is pretty obvious. Their food tastes like regurgitated cat food. Their kitchen is effing disgusting. They are unable to communicate properly with each other and get food out in a timely manner. etc. Watching it, even knowing nothing about how to run a restaurant, usually these things are glaringly obvious to me right from the start. And they are very obvious to Gordon Ramsey, who is experienced and knowledgeable enough to be in a position to give these people excellent advice. Some of them are dying for it, are eager to take his advice and improve their restaurants.

And yet.

Almost always, someone doesn't want to listen. The chef refuses to believe his food isn't The Best Food Ever. The owner refuses to accept that they don't need 147 items on their menu. Or pretends they just cleaned the walk-in fridge last week, despite the rotting food inside it. And as an outside observer, it's so hard to understand why. You think they're just being arrogant or stupid or both. At least, I always have.

And then today I thought about it.

Truthfully, I tend to take suggestions from betas (and my lovely agent!) pretty well. Sometimes there are suggestions I decide not to take, and sometimes suggestions feel overwhelming at first, but I can't remember the last time I got truly pouty over a suggestion. Most serious writers are like this, I think. We are the people who get advice from Gordon Ramsey our agents/editors/betas and do the best we can to keep our restaurants from failing make our mss sparkly perfection. Some of us have trouble accepting the truth at first and call Gordon Ramsey horrible names gripe about how much work we have ahead of us (privately, I hope). I think this is fairly normal. Sorting through all the advice for what we can and cannot use is sometimes quite a feat.

But then, others of us diva out entirely and tell Gordon Ramsey he is an idiot and we are perfect before slamming out of our restaurant *forever* passive-aggressively attack agents/editors/betas/human-kind via twitter, forums, or other public venues while refusing to take any advice because our manuscript is perfect and everyone Just Doesn't Get It. These last people are the ones who keep shows like Kitchen Nightmares on the air. Some of you feel bad for them (I usually do, unless they're an epic douche), some of you just roll your eyes at them, all of you are oh so glad you don't work with them.

So I guess what I learned this morning was that criticism pops up everywhere in life, and that learning how to use it is valuable whether you own a restaurant or write a book. Or maybe I already knew this. But until today, I had never so clearly seen the parallel. We writers aren't so unique in our struggles after all! Which is kind of a nice thought.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RTW: Best book of July

As we do each month, this week's topic is: what was the best book I read in July. I read a lot in July. And good books, too. So picking The Best was pretty hard. But as you can assume from the giant picture on the left, I decided on THREE DAYS TO DEAD by Kelly Meding. It's not YA! I feel like I'm cheating on my genre, but I don't feel too guilty.

I've been interested in this book for a while. It's pretty, and the author is an AWer. I like to keep AWers' titles in mind when I'm book shopping, because let's face it: AWers are cool (at least, most of them).

The main reason this book won out as best book I read this month is that I took it with me on vacation and ignored everyone while I got enthralled. The characters are awesome, the writing is smooth, the plot is layered and interesting. I had no idea what was going to happen in the end and how/if the MC would manage to overcome the whole only allowed to live for three more days thing.

There was a lot of world-building to be done in this book; a multitude of paranormal creatures, people with abilities, explaining how this works while (most) humans have no idea. Yet it was woven in really well, with very few exceptions, and despite the fact that her world and creatures were very unique, I didn't have any trouble remembering the details that I learned.

So all in all, it was gripping, gritty, and just plain good.

What was your favorite book this month? Visit YA Highway to see what others said, and to link your own post!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Destination: Los Angeles!

On Thursday, I am off to LA for the SCBWI conference. And I'm excited! Admittedly, more about meeting the awesome people, but still. I will learn things. It will be fun. Many a picture will be taken.

I hope I see anyone who reads this who will be there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RTW: My Best Posts

I know I haven't been a very good blogger the past couple weeks. I'll be better after July (I hope). Anyway, this week's RTW topic is: give us a link to the best blog post you've ever written
Now, I don't actually know which one is my "best". And I'll admit, I didn't search through every one I've ever written, but I picked three that got a lot of comments--which can sometimes be as good as (or better than) posts themselves:

~
~
~
Evidently, the posts I like best are the ones where I get on my soapbox. And by the way, I still think the one on beauty is probably the best post I've ever done, and not just me--fellow YA Highwayer Kristin Otts started the idea and it spread around the internet for a few days, which was amazing. Alright, so those are mine, what about yours? Visit YA Highway to link and see others' greatest posts!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

RTW: My ideal writing desk

Obviously this post calls for lots and lots of pictures, because that's more fun. And we're assuming, of course, that I've suddenly started growing money--I paid no attention to cost in my lustful desk and desk supply wishes.

First things first: the desk
From Staples

And a comfy and awesome chair, something of this sort:
From Office Max
A badass and also cool looking computer:
From Alienware
And then of course some boring things, like: a really good printer, notebooks, pens, etc. 
And a super cool desk supply organizer:
From Staples

And a cool lamp:
From metaefficient.com and Amazon.com
There ends my bloggerly fun for today. I spared you pictures of the exact notebooks and pens I wanted in my ideal world, and maybe that's for the best...

Visit YA Highway to see what my cobloggers and others said on the subject, and to link to your own post!



Sunday, July 4, 2010

I hate [insert genre here]

We all see it sometimes. In forums, on blogs, on twitter. Sweeping generalizations, often backed up with fake statistics, like "90% of all YA is the exact same, and [insert insult here]."

This actually makes me really sad. Okay, so you're not into paranormal romance (this genre seems to be the one that takes the hardest hit, because of--I'm assuming--a couple famous examples with passive MCs). That's fine. But be respectful to all the people who write amazing, gorgeous, unique paranormal romances. Or whatever your hated genre of choice is. Just because you don't enjoy it doesn't mean it's all bad.

In fact, I'd wager that if you think all YA is the same/terrible/clichéd, you are probably not reading enough YA. Because yeah. I've read some things that made me wonder what publishers were thinking. But I've also read some things that were so good I wanted to read them again and again and again. My copies of THE GOLDEN COMPASS and several others have been read so many times they're falling apart. I actually had to get a second copy of THE GOLDEN COMPASS so I wouldn't abuse my poor first copy anymore. There are so many books out there. So many amazing books. Making decisions about entire genres based on one or a few books is just...painful to watch.

There's a difference between personally disliking a genre and deciding that every book in that genre sucks, and forcing this opinion on everyone in sight. Every time I see something like this, I feel like I've been poisoned a little. Maybe that sounds like an exaggeration, but that's honestly what it feels like to me. Every writer in whatever genre is being disrespected all at once, whether they deserve it or not.

So I guess I don't know what the point of this post is, except to say, I wish I could one day venture out into the online world and witness a little less bitterness, and a lot more love.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

RTW: Best book of June

I'm really liking that we have this monthly consistent topic. It's making me be sure not to neglect reading! This month, the best book I read by FAR was FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta. It's not just one of my favorite books of the month, but one of my favorites ever. Before I say more, here is its synopsis, courtesy of Barnes and Noble's website:

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

So. I am madly in love with fantasy, especially of the high and epic sort. And there are nowhere near enough of these in YA, in my opinion. This book had some minor problems, of course, as do all books. But it was so good overall that I don't even care. I loved--LOVED--that she kept with the awesomeness of the genre while also carving out her own little spot. I didn't feel like I was reading a book I'd already read. I didn't know what would happen when I turned the next page. And I was never bored. I think it could appeal to people who aren't as into this genre, too. The language felt legitimate for another world, while still maintaining readability.

I sent this one on its merry way to the lovely Amanda, but I will definitely buy a copy at some point, because I know I'm going to want to read it again.

What was the best book YOU read this month? Visit YA Highway to share, or to see what others said!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RTW: FML

This week's topic should be pretty hilarious: if your favorite literary characters used fmylife.com, what would they say? I can't guarantee mine will be hilarious, but I can guarantee that some of them are. I tried not to be spoilery. And not all of these are my ~favorite~ characters (particularly the ones at the bottom).

My favorite literary characters would be separated into people with actual problems:

"I really hope I don't die or get black lung in this coal mine before someone manages to overthrow the government. FML." --Gale* (Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

"When I left my crazy mom with the neighbor and went on a little romp through other worlds, I'm not sure I thought it through. Now I have this daemon I'm going to have to pretend is a pet, and there's that dude I kind of accidentally killed, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get sent to foster care. FML." --Will (His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman)

"Everyone in this world is dead except children. And me. FML." --Shade (Shade's Children by Garth Nix)

People whose problems are a little more standard, but you can still empathize with:

"I have to massage my stepsister's smelly feet, because if someone gives me an order, I have to listen. FML." --Ella (Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine)

"My boyfriend is going on about all his conquests again. And how misunderstood he is. If I have to listen to any more, I might stab out my eardrums. FML." --Ginny (Harry Potter by JK Rowling)

"I am the only good character in this series. Why do I appear on so. few. pages?? FML." --Murtagh** (Eragon by Christopher Paolini)

And the ones with problems so lame you want to laugh at them. Or slap them. Or something:

"Too many boys like me. And my boyfriend won't make me a vampire unless I marry him. I'm fine with an eternity as an undead creature, but MARRIAGE? FML." --Bella (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)

"No one understands me. FML." --Harry*** (Harry Potter by JK Rowling)


Visit YA Highway to see what others have said, and to post your own link!


*I had a way better one for Gale, but opted for not spoiling Catching Fire for those of you crazies who haven't read it yet.
**What? You think I've read three books of that series for Eragon? No, I've read them for the brief Murtagh appearances FOR SURE.
***I do adore the books, but I like to tease poor Harry.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Respect and betas

Because I'm apparently feeling inflammatory today. This has been sort of festering. It's not because of anything that happened to me personally, either, so don't take this post as some kind of...rant at someone who I feel has 'wronged' me or something. Being a beta reader has been good to me. And I think I've blogged something in this vein before, but I don't think it can be said enough.

But I have a fear that sometimes as writers, we can be a little egotistical. We have to be, to an extent. If we don't feel that what we've written is good, it may as well go in the drawer because no one else will like it, either. But the problem arises when our ego gets in the way of being able to take criticism. Every beta you have has something valuable to say. Every. Single. One. It doesn't matter who they are. Were they more critical than all your others? That doesn't mean they're wrong. Maybe it means they're just an intense beta. Some people are more intense at critiquing than others. Even if you feel like they didn't enjoy your ms, or didn't get your characters, that doesn't mean their feedback isn't valuable.

Obviously you can't take every piece of advice. Some of it's conflicting, some of it just isn't going to work. But discounting an entire critique? The idea of it makes my stomach hurt. Beta reading takes time. A lot of time. This person (or these people) invested themselves in trying to help you. Whether their criticism is hard to swallow or not, everyone deserves the respect of their opinions being considered fairly.

I don't know how that will come off being read by others. And probably the majority of people who read this blog do love and respect their betas. But like I said, this issue has been festering in my mind, and I couldn't not blog about it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for reading, everyone! Your comments are great :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Contests and things

There are a whole hell of a lot of contests happening at the moment. So...I'm going to link a few (there are many MANY more than these, but I am lazy and didn't want to hunt for them all.)

First, YA Highway's BEA ARC giveaway is still happening. You have until Sunday the 20th to enter, and there are some seriously kick ass ARCs up for grabs.

Sumayyah is having a contest on her blog and I really want to win this one because the prizes are so cool and unique.

Jill Wheeler is having a 100 followers appreciation contest, also with really great prizes that I am salivating over (literally--there's chocolate.)

And Jenn Wood is celebrating having 50 followers with a book giveaway of her own, and I haven't read any of these books yet, so obviously I want them!

I promise to blog about something interesting this week. I have a few topics floating around in my head, just have to sit down and work on one.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RTW: How do I know when...

...a project will work out, and when it won't.

To be completely honest, there's a point at which I sort of make my projects work out. It goes something like this:

Step one: Kaitlin has a sparkily idea.
Step two: Sparkily idea blossoms into sparkily premise.
Step three: Kaitlin attempts to turn premise into actual story.
Step four: Kaitlin starts writing.
Step five: Kaitlin gets hopelessly stuck somewhere between 10 and 10,000 words, and has to step away from ms for a few weeks (or sometimes months) to figure out what is wrong.
Step six: Kaitlin figures out the problem. Creates an outline (usually), and continues writing.

Ever since I started writing seriously, if I don't stall out on step two, I don't stall out at all. I stubbornly think through that crazy little idea until it works. It may not closely--or at all--resemble what I started with, but it will work. I will make it.

Because if I haven't gotten blocked up on step two, then the idea feels viable to me, and I get invested. If I can't turn the sparkily idea from step one into a premise in step two, then it wasn't that sparkily to begin with, and I toss it away, never to think of it again.

How about you? To see how other people know when to give up on a project, or to link your own blog, visit YA Highway! Not to mention that we have a giveaway going on at the moment, where you can win some kick ass ARCs straight from BEA, including THE DUFF by YA Highway's own Kody Keplinger, and the much buzzed about MATCHED by Ally Condie. And those are not the only good ones, oh no they are not. So get your little behinds over there and enter. And participate in our Road Trip Wednesday, while you're at it, of course.

Monday, June 7, 2010

It was hard...and then it wasn't.

My current WIP is high fantasy, as probably most all of you know by now, since I've mentioned it plenty before. High fantasy/epic fantasy was my first love...or maybe my second love, since I guess I have to admit that my first love was books with animal MCs (Redwall series, hello!) or horse books (I may or may not own books 1-18 in the Thoroughbred series). So, of course, it was thrilling when I got the vague idea for this WIP. But also scary, because while it may not be the most popular genre right now in YA, it's no small corner of the market. LORD OF THE RINGS fans are die hard. Do I really need to give more examples? (Should I admit that I've only read THE HOBBIT? Please, no one stone me for that.) It's a genre with so many tropes attached to it, that it's hard to have an idea that doesn't step on any toes.

Or at least, I thought it was.

I spent a really long time--probably too long--agonizing over how to make sure my WIP stood out from all the others, while still sticking to what makes the genre great. I rewrote the first five hundred words about seven times before I got a beginning that stuck, because I couldn't make myself settle onto exactly what I wanted to happen. Until finally I gave my setting a really hard look, decided on something that felt for sure unique, and went with it. The rest fell into place, and I stopped worrying as much. I reminded myself that it was a first draft, and who cared if it wasn't as unique as it needed to be? I could refresh myself on the genre later, and fix any issues.

Then a week or so ago, FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK arrived in my mailbox, and I was dying of excitement to read it, but was also afraid to. What if my WIP sounded similar? What if some of the plot points were outright the same?

Well, of course, I started reading anyway, because who could resist that beautiful cover and that beautiful epic fantasyness and Melina Marchetta's beautiful writing? And it wasn't scary. Any similarities were superficial (like how Finnikin & co are doing a lot of journeying, as are my characters). Nothing to be afraid of at all! Not to mention that FINNIKIN, in turn, stands out in the genre itself. Nothing about that book is tired.

Now I know it's just one book. But it reaffirmed my belief that no matter what your genre, no matter how 'done' something is, you can always find your spot. Maybe my WIP will turn out amazing, maybe it will fall flat on its face. But I feel confident, at least, that it is its own. It's good to remember that no matter how many books there are, there will always be room for more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The day the outline died

I'm pretty much a die hard outliner. Usually. I like to give myself some vague points to work off from the start, and then once I get 10,000 words or so into the WIP, I sit my butt down and make a super thorough, point by point outline. Sometimes it changes, but at least I have it, and I know what the hell I'm doing.

But not this time. This WIP refuses to be outlined. I tried several times, sort of like how I tried writing the first 500 words several times, and failed spectacularly. The first 500 words finally worked out, but I gave up on outlining. I have a little list of Brilliant Plot Points I've thought of that belong later on, so that I don't forget them, but no outline. And it's actually working. It's sort of eerie. I'm probably jinxing it by writing this post. But there's so much happening in this WIP that I'm finding it easier to just go with it.

Is there a point to this? I thought there was, but maybe not. I guess I just wanted to point out that sometimes, mixing things up works. Fun as it may be, writing isn't always easy, and sometimes your tried and true methods fail you. Branching out of your comfort zone is scary sometimes, but it's not impossible, and it can really help get you over that block.

At least, it did for me!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

RTW: Best book of the May

Okay, I was a bad bad book reader again in May. In my defense, I did write tons. It's a thin defense, I know. I'll work on it. So,while I did reread Catching Fire near the start of the month, I think giving it my best book of the month post is kind of cheating (it's just unfair to other books. It's not their fault they can't live up to the wonder that is this series) so I'm going to pretend I read it in April. And in that case, the best book I read this month is a completely random, really old book: Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. I used to love this book, according to my mom (I remember reading it in sixth grade or so, but didn't remember anything else about it). She brought a copy of it to me the last time she visited, and I read it a couple weeks ago. The summary, from Karen Cushman's site:

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man—any rich man, no matter how awful.
But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call—by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all. Unfortunately, he is also the richest.
Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father? Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!

It's very entertaining. The MC is fourteen (and this is historical fiction; medieval times), and the book is written in the form of her diary. She's spunky and hilarious. It's just a quick, fun read. Amazon says it's YA, in my super (un)professional opinion, it's more like upper MG, but is definitely worth reading if you like voicey things and historical fiction.

Visit YA Highway to see what my lovely co-bloggers read this month, and to link your own! Also, our anniversary giveaway is still going on, if you haven't entered it yet. The prizes are kick. ass.

And while I'm posting, because I'm too lazy to give it a post of its own, and because obviously posting it on twitter and facebook weren't enough: I got engaged this weekend! At the spot in that lovely photo above (I wish I could take credit, but the boy took that picture.) It's in the forest behind my parents' house in New Hampshire, where a sawmill was built (Brandon was standing on the sawmill's foundation for this picture, so it's not in the photo) in the 1700s, by the same ancestor who then built my house in 1790. And there's your random Kaitlin's family history lesson for the day. Good job picking the spot to do it, boyfriend...errr, fiancé.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

As if one wasn't cool enough...

By now I think most anyone who reads this blog knows about YA Highway's amazing epic super awesome anniversary giveaway. If not: we have three days worth of giveaways this week. From ARCs to some of our favorite recent releases to agent and writer critiques to random other awesomeness. Visit, if you haven't. (Day two is open internationally, even!!)

And, like I said in the title, as if one wasn't cool enough, THREE of YA Highway's members are also doing giveaways on their own personal blogs. So go visit Michelle, Kristin, and Kirsten for even more chances to win prizes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two for Tuesday

So this two for Tuesday, a meme created by Kate Hart. I wasn't going to do it this week, but now I'm going to. It's: how my afternoon sucked, and then how it got better again.

1) how it sucked: I decided to go to the library, for the first time since I've moved here. There are lots of reasons I've procrastinated it, the main one being that I was turned off that it doesn't have an actual parking lot, just on-street, metered parking (25 cents for fifteen minutes!) But today I decided I really wanted to go. So I went. And their on-street parking? There's not much of it. And it was all filled. I won't rage on about the frightening journey I had to go on to get back home (because of course there was no easy place to turn around, either), but suffice it to say, it's 85+ degrees out today, and my car doesn't have AC. I brought water for Michael, but didn't think of it for myself. We also stopped at B&N on the way home, because I wanted to buy a book to make myself feel better, but their YA section is kind of lacking. Actually, there were TONS of good hardcovers, but I can't justify spending $17.99 on a hardcover just because I'm sad the library didn't work out today. So after taking Michael around the kids section for his own amusement, I poutily returned home.

2) how it got better: when I got home, there was a happy little package sticking out of my mailbox: Finnikin of the Rock, sent to me by Michelle (and she sent chocolate, too!) So now I'll have something to read, and I feel a little bit less pouty about the library. (Still mad, just the sting is out now).

...and on an unrelated note: drop by YA Highway this week, because we're having an anniversary celebration, and it, of course, includes kickass prizes. Prizes start tomorrow, the celebration starts today!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

RTW: tattoos!

I'm going to be both serious and very not serious in this topic. You'll have to guess which is which. I hope it's obvious (it better be obvious). This week's topic is: What tattoo would you get to celebrate your book's success or to represent a favorite book?


This is, of course, assuming you would get a tattoo. But even if you wouldn't, pretend! I am a fan of tattoos. I only have one for now, but once you get that one, there's a constant undercurrent of wanting more. So I could easily see myself getting a book-related tattoo if I were to get to that exciting point where I had one actually getting published. And before I start, my deep philosophical thoughts on tattoos: you should, of course, give it a lot of thought before you etch something permanently on your body, but sometimes the meaning of a tattoo is simply that it has no meaning at all. Your body is your canvas, not anyone else's, so all that matters is that you love it (and won't be embarrassed by it when you're old.)

So here I go, with what I would get if one of my three most recent WIPs made it to debut status:


Unthawed. I would, of course, have to get a mammoth. But not just some pretty design I found on the internet. Only my own beauteous drawing skills will do. As pictured. (If you click on the image, I think you can view it in its full size where you can actually see it. I had to hand draw because on the computer was going badly, and it's in pencil so my camera struggled--hence also the strange coloring that makes it look like parchment or something.) Because mammoths, well, they're just cool. Even if they have very little to do with the story (okay, nothing to do with the story except a brief appearance at the beginning. They are still awesome.) And somewhere subtle, of course. Like...across my entire upper back.


So Dead. Since the book involves the Afterlife, what with my dead-returned-to-life MC and all, I would have to get some kind of badass Afterlife depiction tattoo for this one. Yes, I know the Afterlife as I describe it in the book looks nothing like that picture (which is related to, or directly from some version of Dante's Inferno). But it's so cool. (Or maybe I just really can't think of anything at all I could get that goes well with this book specifically.)



New WIP. I found this one easier than the other two. Because there actually are tattoos in it, so it makes it easy to figure out what I would get to represent it. One of the love interests (that's right, I'm love triangling it in this one) has tattoos written in a fictional language (fictional as in I made it up, not fictional within the book's world) up his spine. The way I picture the language looking is closest to Arabic of anything else that actually exists. So I could get phrases written in Arabic up my back. (I can hear my boyfriend's brain exploding from miles away at the idea of me getting a tattoo that big.)


In all actuality, despite how much I seriously do love the Arabic tattoo idea, I would most likely get a tattoo in celebration of, but not actually related to, my books. I think 'because I have a book coming out' is as good a reason as any to get a tattoo. The next one I want for real is something along the lines of this cross. (Without dragons, though. But I do like the way they're twisted around it, so I think I would add something else to replace them.) 


So that's it for me. What would you get? Visit YA Highway to see what others have said, and to add your own link!   

Monday, May 17, 2010

Awards x2 and blog contest

First: Kathy Bradey is having her first ever blog contest. Go on over there and enter it. Or, you know, don't, so I have more chance of winning her prize. (Just kidding. Go enter!)


And I got one more blog award, so here it is:

This award is from Medeia Sharif. Her blog is awesome, and you should visit, if you haven't.

I'm going to pass it to Kristin Otts, because a) I like her, and b) she wrote the most amazing post about body image and accepting yourself, and inspired others to do the same. That's worth a blog award, I'd say!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blog awards

I've gotten three blog awards this week, so I figured I'd better post them & pass them along before I forget about them!


This first one is the "Creative Writer" blog award. It comes to me from Michelle Schusterman, who, in case you didn't know it, is kick ass. I'm supposed to come up with six lies and one truth about myself without telling you which are which. This is actually harder than I thought. Sorry they're kind of lame.
1) I'm slightly allergic to pollen.
2) My favorite flavor of jelly/jam is grape.
3) I'm scared of house centipedes.
4) The first thing I ever decided I wanted to be when I grew up was a veterinarian.
5) I have owned three dogs.
6) My sister is two years younger than me.
7) I used to sleepwalk as a child.
And I'm passing this award on to Rebecca Rogers and Blue Lipstick Samurai (you get called by your blog name when you keep your real one anonymous! hehe), because I bet they can come up with some fun, creative lies.

The second one is the Happy 101 award, which I've received before, but I'm posting it anyway. Because it's pretty and has cupcakes on it. I'm not going to pass it on, though. (It's MY blog, I make the decisions!) This one comes from Kathy Bradey, who is awesome and somehow manages to keep up with how everyone's doing, despite being on the opposite side of the world from most of us!






And the third one is the A is for Awesome award, from Rebecca Rogers. She and her blog both rock, and if you haven't visited, you should!
This one, I'm passing along to Amanda Hannah and Kathy Bradey, because...well, the award is kind of self explanatory. They are awesome.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Friday Five of obnoxious childhood writing phases

So I know this is really not the point of the whole Friday Five thing but it makes it more fun (also my list could get really long if I don't give myself some sort of limitation).

I was writing away happily in my notebook the other night when I randomly started reminiscing about the strange writing phases I went through as a child, when I did things I thought made me Really Really Cool. So for your entertainment, here is a random sampling of the ones I remember best. And one note: none of my childhood writing was done on a computer, unless it was for school. I have piles and piles of notebooks to prove this. Yes, I still have (almost) all of them.

1) The doing strange things with letters phase. This is when I crossed my Zs in the middle. Wrote my As about six different ways. Decided it looked cool to write everything in capitals, or everything in lower case. Wrote in minuscule handwriting so I could fit as many words on a line as possible. Wrote in giant handwriting and made each letter take up two lines rather than one. Dotted my Is with hearts or circles. Used semi-colons wherever possible because I thought it made me look really grown up. Spelled my name 'K8lin' (seriously some of my longtime friends still write my name this way. I wrote it on EVERYTHING. Even homework, in 7th&8th grade. My teachers were very indulgent. Maybe because I was a good student.)

2) The end-of-line splitting phase. I hope to God at least some of you know what I mean by this. I mean when you're writing, and you have a multi-syllable word coming up toward the end of a line and the enormous thing is just not going to fit, so you can either move the whole word to the next line, or con-
serve space by splitting it with a dash. But I didn't follow the rules for this, oh no. I did it wherever possible. I mean seriously I would write words like t-
his. It confused even me, but I thought I was being the epitome of cool because I was fitti-
ng as many words as possible onto one line.

3) The rainbow phase. When I wrote in marker. And not only that, but I wrote using my entire package of markers. I'd do one color for a couple pages, then switch. Then switch again. You know what happens when you do this? You end up with a page that has dark blue on one side, and yellow on the other (I really did use yellow) and you can't read the yellow very easily because you can see the dark blue through the other side.

4) The elaborate cast of characters phase. So for this one, I went upstairs to get my notebook (labeled on the front "The Longest Story I've Ever Written!!!!!!!!" and all those exclamation marks have circles rather than dots at the bottom) which I knew had a character list in the front of it. There are about thirty character names listed, and then below that, it says "See green attitude ntebk for a complete character listing etc. (pg 41)" ...um, yes, I did write page numbers on all my notebooks, too. So I found the "green attitude" notebook. Two things about what I found there terrified me. a) my character list is two and a half pages long. b) my handwriting was as good then as it is now. At the end of the character list, there's a circled "68" so I'm going to trust twelve-year-old Kaitlin and assume there are sixty-eight characters. Oh dear God. Also, I'm feeling really brave, which is why you'll find a picture of the first page of the character list, even though I'm so embarrassed by it that I think I might actually be blushing. (Also featured: the rainbow phase, and crossed Zs). I am fully aware, by the way, that the ages of my cattle are very strange. What can I say? The genetically engineered kangaroos did it.

5) The let's describe gory things in way too much detail phase. I went through this phase several times. But when I was younger, I thought it made me pretty badass to have limbs being chopped off or people living in squalor (I liked to write really historically inaccurate historical fiction set in medieval times when I wasn't writing about cows) and describing it all for pages and pages so whoever read it would be truly, thoroughly disgusted. Even though I didn't like letting people read my not-for-school fiction. But I imagined it.

This was an embarrassingly fun way to finish off my week, and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

RTW: whose tweets would I follow?

So this week's topic is kind of cool (and random). Which literary characters I would follow on twitter. This is trickier than it sounds! I immediately wanted to just pick all my favorite love interests (hello, Gale, Balthazar, and Brigan!) but I don't actually think any of them would tweet entertainingly. So after some serious thought, here's who I would most likely follow on twitter:


*Regina, from SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers. Because she would be snarkily hilarious.
*Nick, from THE DEMON'S LEXICON by Sarah Rees Brennan. Partly because at least one of my favorites from my hot guys list has to make it. But also because I'm sure if he were actually convinced to tweet, he would tweet sarcastic, inappropriate things.
*Fred and/or George, from HARRY POTTER by J.K. Rowling. Do I have to explain?
*Luna Lovegood, also from HARRY POTTER. Because she's so strange. I would love to hear her advice on how to protect myself from all the imaginary things she thinks are real. (What if some of those things ARE real??)
*Sophie, from HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins. I laughed out loud about a million times while reading the book, so I can only imagine.

Who would YOU follow on twitter? Hop on over to YA Highway, where you can share and see what others said!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quickly, because this is important

I wanted to link to the Do the Write Thing for Nashville blog. They're auctioning off some super awesome stuff. And it's for a great cause!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RTW: Pictures

This week's topic is pretty fun. Photos that inspire your WIP. To be completely honest, I generally tend to find images after I write something, because I prefer to find an image that matches the vision in my head rather than the other way around, but I have my little collection saved on my computer from my BFF, google images.

Unthawed
To sum it up roughly: YA speculative fiction set in a future ice age. Maybe the best setting I will ever have in a WIP. We've got some ice formations, some mammoths (so, they were only featured in one brief scene. Whatever!) and an ice tunnel.







So Dead
Really hard (for me) to find pictures for. It's not setting heavy, and I don't like to try to find pictures of my characters. I did find one picture that satisfied me, though.


New WIP
It has a title, but I'm only 95% set on it, so it's just WIP for now. Googling images actually helped me with this one because it has so many settings. Mainly forests and cliffs. I just picked a few faves, because I may or may not have about thirty related pictures on my computer...




Okay, so I would have to really stretch to relate that last one to my WIP (it's technically a treehouse!) but it's so amazing I am including it anyway. It looks better bigger, and you can see it here.

Visit YA Highway to see my co-bloggers' inspiring pictures, and to share your own!