Wednesday, March 31, 2010

RTW: If writing made me rich

Yep, this week's topic asks what I would do if I became megarich off my writing. Beware, my dreams are pretty simple.

1) I'd take care of the boring stuff. Paying off the rest of my student loans, putting money away for Michael's college education, put a good chunk away for retirement (or more than a good chunk, depending on just how rich I am.)

2) A new car. This is a priority. I hate our car. I don't need anything too fancy. My ideal car costs around $40,000--a Chrysler 300c. (I would also like a Bentley but I'm not sure I'd ever be alright with spending that much on a car...) Maybe I would let my boyfriend get a new car too (or a 4-wheeler or snowmobile at the very least). I would definitely pay off the one we have now, regardless.

3) A house! Okay, maybe that picture is a little fancier than what I'd want/need (although I wouldn't say no...). Probably something more like this. We definitely want a log home, and I would buy a pretty big plot of land if I had the money to. Because I would like to have a couple horses, definitely chickens. Maybe more. It would depend on the land and on the money.

4) I'd take a couple of good vacations. I really want to visit Rome again, and probably I would let my boyfriend choose somewhere he wanted to go, too.

5) Give something to my parents. They've spent a lot of money on me over the years. And to charities that matter to me and to my boyfriend.

The end.

What would you spend your money on? Wander to YA Highway and share, or just read what other people said!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Career

This week's topic is: which author's career would you most like to emulate?

This is a really hard topic for me, because I waffled around a lot when thinking about it. First, I narrowed it down by thinking, who don't I want to be?

I started with the one-hit wonders. They might come out with more books, but for now, that's exactly what they are. J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. I love Harry Potter as much as the next girl, but I don't want to be either of these authors (or others in their category--Dan Brown probably counts too) because they have such an intense uphill battle the next time they write something. I would not want to be under this immense pressure, because for many fans, nothing either author writes will ever live up to their debuts. I don't want that for myself--even if I thought it was possible.

Then I decided there's also another type of author I don't want to be: the branded superstar. James Patterson, Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, etc. These people have had long, successful careers, but I don't want a career that closes me--for the most part--into one genre. (I guess you could argue that YA is a genre, but there's a lot of room within it).

So then I thought, who do I want to be? I couldn't really settle on any one person who I was fully satisfied with wanting to emulate, but I decided to settle on Garth Nix as a rough example. He has had a long, successful career, and I feel confident when I pick out one of his books from the store that I will enjoy it. That's sort of how I would like to eventually (and ideally) be. Quietly successful, putting out books regularly but not so quickly that they all start blending into each other.

What about you? Wander to YA Highway to see what others have said, and to post your own link!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Two for Tuesday

The lovely Kate Hart started this last week, for those of us who aren't doing teaser Tuesday for one reason or another, and it seemed fun. All you have to do is post two of anything that are somehow related.

In my epic coolness, I chose: awesome castles. I like castles and ruins and other such things. I think Kate intended for these to be cooler/more exciting but I...don't care. heh.

This first one is, of course, "Dracula's castle". Its actual name is Bran Castle, and it's located in Romania. I'm not sure why this one was the one to get the label of Dracula's castle, because it's not the only one linked to the legend (and Bram Stoker probably knew nothing of any of these castles). The common theme seems to be having some relation to Vlad the Impaler, the totally disturbing dude (do I need to explain why, or does his name explain it?) who supposedly inspired the Dracula character. Vlad likely used this castle when he was doing his evil deeds in Transylvania. Hence its reputation.

The other castle is nowhere near so cool (in my opinion), but it looks cool. This castle is called Eilean Donan, and it's in Scotland. It's on a little island and connected to the mainland by a footbridge! (I find this cool. Be quiet, if you don't.) I purposely chose the creepiest looking picture I found--it's actually not creepy looking at all. Apparently it gets used in movies a lot, and according to a random website I found, you can rent it on a day-by-day basis. (Anyone want to go in on it with me?)

There you have it, my two for Tuesday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The awesomesauce award

Vee Roth is pretty awesomesauce herself, and for some reason, she decided I was worthy of this super adorable award she created. Here are her rules for passing this puppy on to others:

"Rules if You Get Sauced: (Yes, I amuse myself.) Basically: define awesome, and then name 8 people you think fit that definition. You don't have to pass the award on if you don't want to. This is really just for my own amusement.

Awesomesauce: the quality of being awesome with ease, ie: just as spaghetti sauce flows easily from the jar, so does the awesome flow easily from them.

Awesome: Awesome, in this case, means one of two things (or both):
A. They make me choke on whatever I'm eating on a regular basis because they're so freaking funny.
B. They generally exude an air of cleverness, wackiness, or badassry."

...So. I thought long and hard about my eight. And here they are:

1) Lee: Because I swear she's secretly a teen. And because she's always up around the same time as me in the morning, so I have someone to talk to while all the west coasties are still curled up in their little beds. Her website also has one of the coolest looking banners I've ever seen.

2) Vee: That's right. I gave her back the award she created. I dare you to tell me I can't! She cracks me up on twitter and her blog is hilarious, and I remember her being one of our earliest participants in YA Highway's Roadtrip Wednesday. Which, let's face it, makes her pure, undiluted awesome. (Also I intentionally put Lee and Vee in a row because I like how they rhyme.)

3) Leah: Her blog is pretty stellar, but more importantly, she watches Legend of the Seeker. And tweets about it. I feel justified in my obsession with that show since I know someone else shares it!

4) Jamie: Her blog posts make me giggle, but they're helpful, too! Also, she deserves to be awesomesauced just for having blogged once about the horror that is men in skinny jeans (seriously, ew, boys. Don't do this.)

5) Michelle: There are a lot of reasons Michelle is awesome. I won't list them all, because I'm scared it will go to her head...but really. She does so many cool things! Just look at her blog, and you will see. Plus, you will also see her way too modest announcement that she's just landed a fantastic agent for her totally incredible book.

6) Kathy: This is a girl who, hardly knowing me at all, took the great brave leap and volunteered to beta my manuscript. That's right, volunteered. If that's not awesome, I don't know what is.

7) Leila: Because she always manages somehow to be both hilarious and eloquent at the same time. She's really going to have to explain to me how she does this.

8) Sage: She is a mod at AW, with the dangerous task of having to keep an eye on the ever-hormonal young adult board. And she does it really well. I also admire her perseverance, and I love how honest and straightforward her blog is.

So there you have it, my eight! Bask in your awesomeness, lovelies :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Beta love and books

I'm going to start with books. Or a book, to be more accurate.

An order from Amazon came in last Wednesday, and I finished HOURGLASS by Claudia Gray on Friday. It's the third book in a series, so obviously I'm not going to say too much. Most anything I wrote would probably contain spoilers, but I am still thinking about it so obviously this book needs to be blogged about. So a couple of spoiler-free comments:
1) I fully expected to love this book. I loved the first two, so it only makes sense that I would. But I did not expect to think it was the best of the three. I thought STARGAZER was so great that I didn't figure this one could top it, but it surprised me and made me feel things, and that was awesome.
2) I read the first two books back in June or so of last year, and since it'd been so many months, I was sort of starting to forget how awesome Balthazar was. He and Gale (THE HUNGER GAMES) are pretty much tied at the top of my what fictional character I would most like to meet in real life list. I could say more things but I don't think I need to scare anyone.

Ok that's really all I've got for non-spoilery, so moving on...

I also really appreciate and adore everyone who read/is reading SO DEAD (finally! A permanent title, thanks to Michelle and her brainstorming skills) for me. So... ladies rule!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Present tense

I've thought a lot about present tense lately. Mainly because I've been completely immersed in editing my WIP--which finally has a permanent title: SO DEAD (thanks to brainstorming from super awesome Michelle)--and it's written in present tense. I'm currently reading WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson, which is in present tense. Not to mention recent beta reads, and other books I've read since the start of the year.

But what spurred me to actually want to blog about it was keeping a loose eye on some of the entries in this month's Secret Agent contest on Miss Snark's First Victim. Just because I'm a curious stalker like that. Anyway, I noticed some comments that deemed a particular passage unlikeable for the pure fact that it was written in present tense. And it's not like it's the first time I've seen that attitude toward present tense. Honestly, I used to think I didn't like present tense, although this attitude went promptly out the window when I started actually reading things in present tense.

What I saw, though, that interested me was this questioning as to why a person 'needs' to write something in present tense. I've seen this question come up on Absolute Write, too. And it's a strange question, to me, for writers to be asking. Like asking why it 'needs' to be in past tense, or first person, or third person. It is what it is. But just for the sake of it, here is why I decided to write in present tense:

I actually started this WIP in past tense. I really never envisioned myself being able to write present tense very well. Figured I would just confuse the hell out of myself. The first chapter was in past tense, but something just wasn't quite right. So I thought, what the hell, I may as well try it, and switched over, and it just...worked.

With present tense, there's sort of an immediacy that the story really needed. I'm not saying you can't create an immediacy with past tense, because you can. But present tense is Happening Right Now, and sometimes a story is just meant to be told that way.

So I guess my hope is that people will consider the merits of a particular style, even if they, personally, aren't into it. Not just because I wrote a present tense story and want people to like it (which, obviously, I do) but because if you write off present tense as a whole, you are missing a TON of amazing stories.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RTW: Favorite reading/writing sites

This topic is a little tricky because there are a lot lot lot of sites/blogs I find useful/awesome for one reason or another, but here are some particular faves:

Goodreads. This counts, right? It's pretty much pure awesome. I mean, I get to see what other people are reading, and say, "oh yeah! I wanted to read that!" and then put it on my to-read list, and it's just so handy. I'm not the best at keeping up with it all the time, but it's really fun, and I love seeing other people's reviews and such, too.

Absolute Write. Admittedly I've become more of a lurker than a poster, but seriously. I don't think there's a writing related question you can't find the answer to on this forum. There's even a thread about whether you slouch or sit up straight when you write. I'm telling you. Everything.

Melissa Marr's blog. She answers questions about her books, writing, whatever people ask. And it's both interesting and informative.

Kristin Nelson's blog. This was the very first agent blog I ever stumbled across. She covers a wealth of topics, and she doesn't mince words.

Janice Hardy's blog. She blogs so often and it is always interesting and helpful. And sometimes makes me laugh.

The Rejectionist. Purely for the entertainment value. Hilarious.

What are your favorite sites? Share your links at YA Highway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Others' success doesn't equal your failure

Alright, so yeah. I know it's Tuesday and everyone else will be blogging their lovely teasers, but not me today!

YA is thriving right now. I think everyone pretty much knows that, but in case you need proof, there's the fact that Harper Teen was willing to give a seven figure advance to a debut YA trilogy. Things like this should be an awesome thing, for those of us who love reading--and writing--YA.

But sometimes, I think we forget that because someone else got something--be it an agent, a book deal, or even a crazy scary huge advance--it doesn't mean we won't get it too. You can't waste all your time seething at others for being successful. It doesn't benefit you. That hate doesn't make your book better (in fact, it's quite possible it makes it worse...) Does it really make you feel better to make snarky comments about what a book you haven't read will 'probably' be like, based solely on your opinion that all popular books suck? It shouldn't. Because they don't.

If you feel you deserve it as much--or more--than whoever has it, then prove it. Work hard. Write an amazing book. Won't successes of your own feel better than moaning about the successes of others?

This blog post is probably crossing into a territory where it sounds like a rant, but it's not, actually. More like tough love.

Be excited, because each success only helps YA thrive more. And isn't that really in all of our best interests?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Blog awards

It's easier to keep track of them if I don't lazily forget I received blog awards until months later, so...

The sunshine award came to me from three different places: Madeline-Rose, Kathy Bradey, and Kody Keplinger. These lovely ladies are little rays of sunshine themselves!

The rules of this award:
1. Put the logo within your post or on your sidebar.
2. Share the love and pass the award to 12 other bloggers.
3. Link the nominees inside of your post.
4. Comment on the nominees' blogs to let them know you've just given them props. :)
5. Give a shout-out to the person who nominated, and post a link to his/her blog as well.

The whole awarding it to twelve other bloggers thing is just so not happening. I just don't like awarding that many all at once. So I'm going to take off the ten and do two...
1) Medeia Sharif because her blog actually is bright and happy looking.
2) Veronique Pettingill because look at that blog! It's freaking gorgeous and I feel like I should hire her if I ever make a website.

This is the happy 101 award, from Medeia Sharif. I am a fan of this award, because with it, I'm supposed to share things that make me happy. Good way to start out a Friday!
1) My family--baby, boyfriend, parents, sister, and extended.
2) My meese! They always brighten my day.
3) My dog. Hell, all dogs.
4) The smell of fresh rain.
5) Writing.
6) Reading--and books in general.
7) Beating my boyfriend at Mario Kart (just kidding...kind of).
8) Baked goods. Especially cake.
9) Forests.
10) Farm animals.
11) Good news. And it doesn't even have to be my good news.

That's probably enough. Even though there are obviously billions more things that make me happy than those! So I'm going to be consistent and give this to two people as well:
1) Amanda Hannah because she is my smiley little ray of awesomeness, and she lets me stroke her characters without getting (too) creeped out.
2) Corrine Jackson because her blog is wicked cool and she's super hilarious.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RTW: Procrastination

In non-procrastinator form, I'm actually writing this post a week in advance.

But normally, I am all about the procrastination. It's one of my best, and most practiced, skills. In college, I used to write essays and study for exams at the last possible moment. The last semester I was there, a friend and I made a habit of writing our papers for a class we had together the day they were due, and walking up to turn them in at five (that particular teacher always cancelled class the day a paper was due. It's like she knew exactly how college students' minds work.) We'd check in with each other every hour (or sometimes half hour) and if we were making good progress, we'd reward ourselves with a snack or an episode of Friends or something.

Now, most of my procrastination is done using the internet. It's actually kind of scary how much time can just slip past while I fiddle around on twitter, Facebook, gmail, blogs and Absolute Write. People just have so much to say, and I love reading it all.

Hours can also be wasted on Wikipedia. I mean, you look up a fact about one species of dinosaur, and suddenly you're skipping around to pages about eighty-six other species of dinosaurs, and then oh but what about mammoths and then wait--how big is an elephant compared to a mammoth? Have to wiki that. (sidenote: I like that spell check doesn't underline 'wiki'.) And it just spirals out of control.

And, of course, I'm one of the millions who've been sucked into Farmville and a couple other Zynga games on Facebook. Gotta harvest those crops, can't let them whither!

My boyfriend and I just got a Nintendo Wii a couple weeks ago, which has been a total wish fulfillment experience. I never had any gaming console when I was a kid, but my cousins did. I didn't get to play all that much, and I was always envious because it looked so fun. It was, of course, necessary for us to buy the N64 version of Mario Kart from their little Wii points store thing, so between that, Wii Sports Resort, and Super Mario, yeah, there's some distraction.

I also get completely sidetracked from life if I'm reading a book I'm really into. Be it beta reading or an actual published book. Just a couple weeks ago, I beta read something that I could not. stop reading. and neglected my poor boyfriend entirely for a couple days.

Those are all things that distract me from writing or doing household chores, but writing can also be a form of procrastination in itself. Dishes need to be done? But nooo, I'm only, like, two pages away from finishing this chapter! And if I don't write it while the baby is napping, I'll never get it done. (This is one of many excuses to procrastinate dish washing, my least favorite task.)

So those are some of my forms of procrastination. How about you? How do you procrastinate?

Don't forget to stop by YA Highway to link your post and read what everyone else has to say!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss, and cover love for Kirsten

So first of all, how can I not blog about Dr. Seuss's birthday? I loved his books as a kid, I love reading them now to my kid. My boyfriend has a small obsession with Horton Hears a Who (he made me buy the movie!) All in all, we're a Dr. Seuss loving family. As all families should be! I learned some good life lessons from those books!

Fellow YA Highway blogger Kate Hart posted a way better homage than I ever could, so go there now! (I totally want that purse...)

Second, and just as importantly, Kirsten Hubbard got to share something truly awesome with the world yesterday: the cover of her March 2011 debut, Like Mandarin. And it's gorgeous! This book has a happy little place in my heart, because Kirsten was the first of my writerly friends to get her book deal, and I can't wait until I can walk into my local bookstore and see this amazing cover--containing an even more amazing book--on shelves.

See you all tomorrow for Roadtrip Wednesday!