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.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
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?
Thursday, November 25, 2010
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:
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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
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
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
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?
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:
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.
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
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
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?
Friday, October 1, 2010
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
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
|For real you guys, this picture of (part of) my parents' barn came up when I googled it!|
Friday, September 10, 2010
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
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(^I stole the above explanation of this week's RTW from Kate.)
4. Your favorite junk food
5. Your most comfortable piece of clothing
So here is mine!
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!
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?
What would you put in your DUFF kit? Let us know at YA Highway!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
This month, I'm kind of cheating, and I'm going to do three books.
So what was your favorite book that you read in August? Visit YA Highway to share!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
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
...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...)
-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
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.
But then, others of us diva out entirely and
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
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
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
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
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.
|From metaefficient.com and Amazon.com|
Sunday, July 4, 2010
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
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
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
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
Thanks for reading, everyone! Your comments are great :)
Monday, June 14, 2010
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
...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
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
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
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.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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
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
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?
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
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!)
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I've gotten three blog awards this week, so I figured I'd better post them & pass them along before I forget about them!
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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:
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Thanks for the comments everyone!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
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!