Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dark and Twisty October

These past couple of weeks have been brutal at work. My brain has been fried, and I'm ready for NaNo to start. I want to jump into this new WIP so I can recharge and get back to what I love: writing.

I've managed to complete almost all of my necessary-for-a-first-draft research.

I've been doing a bit of preparation--research, putting together a daily word count goal sheet, eating ungodly amounts of chocolate. And with NaNo coming up, I won't have much time for blogging (especially if work continues on this track). But you are my people! We encourage each other, we write together. I love you guys. So I won't be gone completely.

Goal-setting is for lovers.

Instead, I'll be taking a page out of Katy Upperman's book, and every few days I'll be doing a post along these lines:

Progress (word count or a general status update):
Goals as of today:
Recent Favorite NaNo-WIP Line:
Non-NaNo News:
Something Shiney (posts of fun things, other friends blog posts, etc.):

In other news, I somehow missed Tracey Neithercott's blog and YA book club. And it seems a lot of you are in it. I'm jealous. So I'm joining.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NaNo Preparation

As I finish begin my preparation for NaNo (research, research, research), blogging is falling a little low on the list. I don't have a social media Monday adventure for you. However, I do have something to help start your week off right:

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Badass Friday

Unfortunately, I don't have any book reviews for you today. I should have one next week on Something Strange and Deadly (which is awesome, by the way). In lieu of a badass book, we'll have a badass Friday!

Me being a bad ass. Piercing is fake--
though I plan to celebrate my first publishing deal with a real one. :)

First: I've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. Thank you to every single one of you for your encouragement this Wednesday. I plan to get as much research done as possible, take a stab at an outline, then write, write, write.

Second, this:

Happy Friday fellow bad asses!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

RTW: Just say NaNo

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?

Guys, I'm struggling so hard with this. I want to do NaNoWriMo. Having deadlines and word count goals really motivates me. Being able to track my progress, have cheerleaders, feel like a badass, I love it. I haven't done NaNo, but I think it would be really awesome.

Here's the thing: I don't think I can do it.

My next WIP is set in the Civil War era. I've been doing a lot of research, but I just don't think I'll be through with it by the end of the month. Here's the other problem: I think I'm going to be writing this novel between two different timelines. I have no idea how to outline that, but I won't be ready for it until I finish my research.

I'm trying. I want to be there. I'd love to have my research knocked out and my outline complete. But if I can't make it, I promise to cheer all of you on. And I promise not to feel like a failure for not being able to participate. 

Will you be participating in NaNo? How will you be going into it--completed outline, research? What's your plan?

Monday, October 15, 2012

A few thoughts on Instagram

So much social media, so little time. I feel like this, a lot. I've spent the past week up to my ears in research for my next WIP, which is set during the Civil War. Also, there's magic. I've been trying to tie these together and create a world that makes sense in my head, so maybe it will make sense on paper.

If you're like me, when you're not researching, you're writing. When you're not researching or writing, you're spending time with family. All else is time at the office or hours spent in a vegetative state on the couch watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. For everything else, if it's not fun, I'm not interested.

This is why I love Instagram. And as I posted a few weeks ago, young adults prefer it to Pinterest.

Taken with Instagram. :)

What it is: A photo-sharing social media platform for mobile phone users.

A few stats (from May also, great infographic here)
  • Acquired by Facebook for $1 BILLION dollars
  • More than 50 million users after two years
  • Each day on Facebook, 300 million Instagram photos are uploaded
  • The platform gains one user every second
  • One billion photos have been taken with the app
  • Most followed celebrities:
    • Kim Kardashian
    • Justin Beiber
    • Kendall Jenner
    • Taylor Swift

The beauty of Instagram is that it gives you the chance to create some stunning photos that share fascinating stories. And that's what we're all about right?

Plus, with the fear of using copyrighted images, we all need more photos for our blogs. You could even build a whole blog post using Instagram photos. Katy Upperman knows what I'm talking about.

So how do you do it? Here's a fun guide :)

Are you on Instagram? What do you like best? How do you use it?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bad Ass Books: Pandemonium

I don't know why, but following up last Friday's bad ass book with its sequel makes me feel really powerful or awesome or genius or something. Not exactly sure the word. Maybe a mixture of all of those? Maybe like a bad ass myself?

Enough about me! Let's talk about Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.

Summary (from her website):
Actually, I'm not giving a summary. I'm afraid it would give away the ending to Delirium, so I don't want to risk doing that to you. I'll give you a blurb instead: Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Spoilers in white!

Why I read it: I read Delirium this summer, and if you read Delirium, you have to read the sequel. The ending really doesn't leave you with any other choice.

ZOMG Yes! Egads! So much! First, I love the way this is written. Oliver switches between two different time periods--right after the end of book one and the present. We get to see how Lena grows, how she recovers from the many things she endured in book one, and then make her choices along with her.  I've been thinking about writing in a sort of before and after style, but the more I think about it, the more my head hurts. I'm so impressed with how well Oliver executes this.

This next part is all spoilers. If you haven't read the first book, don't read it. If you have, read at your own risk. The romance in this book is so rich. It feels more real and more raw than Lena's budding love with Alex in book one. There is need. There is hunger. In Delirium, it really felt like Alex had all the cards. Not so here. I think both Lena and Julian are on an equal playing ground even though Julian fears the Deliria. I hated that Alex was gone, but I loved what was growing between these characters. I loved that Lena found it within herself to love again.

On to my next point, which happens to be the BIGGEST POSSIBLE SPOILER EVER. Don't say I didn't warn you. The ending of this book! Oh. My. Word. Here I am all happy that Lena and Julian hit it off, that Lena saved the day, that we could all be happy. In the back of my mind I'm thinking--where could we possibly go for the third book? What's the conflict? Lena and her mom? Will we see more? I guess that could drive a book.

THEN ALEX SHOWS UP. I think I actually screamed. Oliver is crazy and amazing all at the same time. She kills Lena's first love, but oh wait no! And when Lena finally heals from it SHE BRINGS HIM BACK. 

Meh Even though I was impressed with how Lauren Oliver weaved the past and present, at times it killed me. I wanted to keep reading the present, and she pulled me away from it. She did a great job building suspense that way. I kept reading. I had to. But part of me was mad at her for it--the way only a reader can be. Otherwise, this book was glorious.

Overall, Pandemonium is absolutely, one hundred percent, bad ass. It will make you swoon. It will make you scream. It will make you cry. And you'll love every second of it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Next Big Thing

A lot of you guys have been doing these posts (Katy Upperman, Jaime Morrow, Rebecca Behrens), and I finally decided to cave in and do one myself. What fun is having writing friends if we do share what we're writing?

What is the working title of your book?

A Tear Between Worlds

Where did the idea come from?

Vic (the main character) just showed up in my head one day--a picture of her. I had to find out who she was. I had to learn her story, and I knew it had to do with dragons.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA Contemporary Fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Honestly, I don't know. I know one singer/songwriter who really looks like my main character, but she's grown up since this photo.
This is Michelle Branch for those of you who don't know.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I'm still working on that. Here are a couple of sentences:

For the teens in Riverton Hills, the future is set in stone. Turn eighteen, drop out of school, become a missionary. Or a cultist, as Victoria Sage likes to call them.  Vic was raised in Riverton Hills, but she wasn’t born there. That meant she couldn’t be saved.

With both her boyfriend and best friend lost to the church, Vic was done. On her eighteenth birthday, she planned to leave home for good.

That all changes when her parents tell her the religion is a cover for a secret society of dragon hunters. At first, Vic laughs, but when she sees the enemy for herself, she realizes leaving Riverton Hills isn’t an option. Darkness is coming, and Vic can help stop it. She can finally belong—just as soon as she can let go of seventeen years of hatred, distrust, and pain.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My hope is to find an agent who loves this story as much as I do. I haven't given much thought to self-publishing yet. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Three and a half weeks. This story idea came to me like a whirlwind. Vic showed up in my head while I was revising a different WIP. I couldn't shake her, so I started to write. Draft one came out at 30,000 words. Final draft: 72,000.

May we see an intro?

Here's the first page:

Chloe’s eyes were guarded and dark with secrets. She sat across from me, staring into her coffee and checking her phone and looking over my shoulder, but she wouldn’t look at me. Her once bright smile had faded, and her dimples were gone. Everything I’d feared had come true. Chloe had let them change her.

“What did they do to you?” I asked.

“They showed me the truth,” she said.

Chloe turned eighteen yesterday. Like everyone from Riverton Hills, she was taken out of school and inducted as a member of The Riverton Mission. But unlike the others, Chloe had promised she wouldn’t let it happen. She didn’t believe the religion’s lies any more than I did. Yet here she was, another one of their pawns.

And a week from tomorrow it would be my turn.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I basically listened to the song "Comes and Goes" by Greg Laswell on repeat. So many of the types of people he talks about in the song relate to the characters in my story. I especially loved the idea of "the experts at the fall."

What else about this book might pique your readers interests?

There are some really great friendships and of course romance.

I'm not tagging anyone for this, but if you do it, please let me know!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RTW: Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What do you hope to be writing in one year? Three? Five?

While I do have some specific story ideas in mind (like writing the next book in my series...here's to hoping I can get an agent and sell book one!), I don't know that that really does this question justice. I mean sure I want to be writing stories. Young adult. Contemporary fantasy. Fantasy. Maybe a little horror. You get the gist.

But what I really want is to write true stories. I don't mean based-on-a-true-story. I mean stories with characters that are real. Characters who have hopes and fears and dreams. The ones that curl up in your heart and your head and never really go away. You know the type.

I want to be writing stories that push me further and further as a writer. That make me face my own fears and pain and brokenness. I want to write the kind of stories that rip my readers open and let all of their emotions spill out over the floor--in the best of ways.

If I'm writing this stories, then even if I'm not where I want to be with my publishing goals and dreams in one year, three, five, it won't matter. 

What about you? What do you hope to be writing?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quality vs. Quanity: Or why mass following on Twitter may not be the best strategy

As promised, today's post is about Twitter. And since it's a week late, I've had a little bit of extra time to think through it. But before we get into Twitter, let's talk about friends.

I've always been pretty good at making friends. But the trick is keeping them, finding the ones that stick forever. When I look back at the biggest friend-making events of my life (high school, college, work), I realize I have a handful of friends who were, at the very core of everything, real. Those are the people who are still in my immediate circle of friends.

With these friends joys and heartaches are never solitary endeavors. We're not afraid to cry or laugh or sing or dance together. We share recipes, stories, style ideas. We talk like friends, because that's what we are.

Also, real friends = the best memories

Now think about Twitter. What is it? It's a form of social media. Social media. It's not some platform for you to use only to push out messages about yourself, your blog, your book. It's a place to engage. To make friends.

I see so many writers with thousands and tens of thousands of followers. But then I look at how many people they're following, and nine times out of ten it's more. Why is that a problem? Because there's just no way to engage that many people on Twitter. And unless you're Lady Gaga or Beyonce or Maureen Johnson (yes I just put her up there with those pop stars), they probably aren't paying all that much attention to your Tweets.

I'll say it again:  They probably aren't paying all that much attention to your Tweets. And if you're trying to use Twitter to build a platform, to show agents: Hey! All these people will read my book! Think again. If you aren't engaging them, if you aren't building relationships, or if you aren't one of the most hilarious people on Twitter, it's not going to work.

So is it bad to do a search for writers and connect with them? Is it bad to follow people back if they follow you first? No. But that's only an initial step in connecting. I don't automatically follow people who follow me. It's the people who include me in Tweets, who try to start a conversation, that I want to connect with. And I do the same to them. Those are people I want to support. Those are people who will support me.

Are you on Twitter? If so, leave your handle in the comments! I always want to support my blog followers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bad Ass Books: Delirium

I realize this review is a little late to the party, but if your TBR pile is anything like mine, then you're probably finishing books well over a year after they come out. I mentioned reading a lot of books this summer, and Delirium was one of them.

Summary (from Lauren Oliver's website):

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Spoilers are in white. Highlight to read.

Why I read it: There's an interesting story behind this one. Earlier this year, I won a contest on Meredith Barnes's (Soho Teen) blog, which culminated in a query letter and first 30 pages critique. I had entered when I thought my manuscript was ready to query. I won after my critique partner suggested a rewrite. Ouch (but a really, really good idea). Meredith got to read the first 30 pages of my re-write in progress. She asked me about comp titles, and (of course) I listed some highly unattainable authors. She thought Vic (my protag) sounded a lot like Lena and recommended I read Delirium. I bought it, and a few weeks later, I read it.

ZOMG Yes! My biggest ZOMG yes about this book was its focus on Lena's relationship with Hannah. Yes, there's a romance. There's obviously a romance--it's a dystopian set in a world where there's a cure for love. But Lena's relationship with her best friend really shapes her, affects her choices, and in many ways enables her romance to bloom.

Also, the best thing about this book is the twist. HUGE SPOILER AHEAD (You've been warned. If you highlight, I take no responsibility for ruining this book for you). The fact that Lauren Oliver had the audacity to kill Alex at the end of the book, to build up this love story and then force Lena to fight for love for the rest of the series after Alex is gone shocked me--in that heart-sinks-into-your-stomach-but-gives-you-hope-for-the-character kind of way.

Meh: I was wrong about where this book takes place. It says Portland. So I assumed Portland, Oregon. It wasn't until I read book two that I realized we were in Portland, Maine. This really threw me.

Overall? I liked this book a lot. Unfortunately, I read it right after Insurgent, so I was still on a Tris high and wasn't able to love Lena as much as I'd like. But Pandemonium (review to come) totally brought me back in.

Badass? Yes, if only for Oliver's sheer audacity (which it's not only for, but still).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

RTW: Autumn falling

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the contributors over at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. Then readers answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: How does your writing (place, time, inspiration, etc.) change with the seasons?

For me, fall is a time for ideas, outlines, first drafts. Last year this hit me late summer, but I had to take a break for a month or two and jumped right back in during November. I think about death a lot during autumn--but not in the morbid, dark sort of way (although I'd love to write a horror novel some day). It's more that I think about how everything dies, how there is rebirth. What this means to me, for me, to the world.

Fall is full of contemplation.

And then there's the pumpkins and the pies and the hot drinks on cold nights. The leggings and sweaters and the reminder that the world sleeps. Fall is my month of inspiration. 

Right now I'm outlining the second book in a planned series so that I have those notes ready before I go on submission. But then it will be time for something new.

I'm excited about what this fall will bring.

Monday, October 1, 2012

This Monday

Hello friends!

Despite what my exclamation mark suggests, I'm feeling a bit under the weather today. While I had a post about Twitter planned, you'll have to settle for this picture of my Chiweenie. I should be back on board Wednesday for RTW or some other writing-related post.

Until then, have a great week!