Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Letter to my Disgruntled Home

Dearest Home,

I hear what you’re saying. You’re not happy. I get it, and I'm sorry. Ever since I obsessively took up writing again, you slipped down the totem pole of priorities. It’s not that I don’t think you’re important. You’re awesome, and I feel horrible about the way things have piled up. But it’s been crazy lately, you know? It seems that my best is not enough, and we’re all lucky if anything gets done at all around here.
While we’re being honest with one another, I should tell you that I know all about how you and my husband sat around having drinks together while I was away, debating which one of you is most neglected by me. Nice. Oh, and I see you invited the neighborhood ants into our kitchen. I thought you were classier than that.
Look, we can’t go on this way. I don’t want any hard feelings, and I miss how we used to enjoy each other’s company. Things have changed—that’s life, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but my writing is here to stay. We’re in a busy season, especially with potty training and summer activities, but once school starts back we can spend a little more time together. I can’t promise it will be like it once was, but I truly believe it will all be worth it. You know those shiny new hardwood floors you’ve been eyeballing? Eh? That’s right. J I’m thinking of you, even if my mind is so preoccupied that I don’t show it much these days.  
I appreciate you. Did you know a lot of writers have to leave their homes to concentrate, while I write best when I’m snuggled in your shelter? See, you’re a comfort to me.
I’m glad we had this talk. Let’s just try to relax this summer. Please don’t get your basement in a twist when things are hectic. I have a wonderful feeling that it’ll all work out in the end.

Yours Truly,
Wendy

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pitch Contest with Victoria Marini

Very quick post today to inform everyone that I'm holding a pitch contest with my agent over at my own personal blog. Just because it's being held elsewhere doesn't mean all you great YAtopia followers can't know about it! You've got until tomorrow midnight GMT to enter, so hurry and go. All the rules and everything are there, and I look forward to seeing your entries. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WINNERS and NEW COVER!

I'm in a great mood today. Why, you ask? Because I have two fun-fun things to share. I know we normally don't have Wednesday posts, but I couldn't wait!

First things first, we have our lovely winners from the pitch contest for Vickie Motter. You will be getting an email with instructions, so please hang tight!


Runners Up:
Mark, Aetherstorm
Esther, Sunkist Sodas and Sexy Underwear
Michelle, The World that does not Bow
MarcyKate, Confessions of a Teenage Cyborg

And (drumroll please), our winner:
Pam, No Longer My World

When 17-year-old Kimmy is kidnapped by rebels, she finds her loyalty for the alien invaders that raised her and her love for the leader’s son tested as she realizes the perfect new world order might not be as it seems. Human girls are dying because of an alien government experiment run by her adopted father and it becomes clear Kimmy is the only one who can solve the problem. But which race will she choose to save: the aliens that rescued the Earth from destruction or what remains of the humans that caused it?

Again, for the runners up and the winner, you'll be getting an email soon.

Thank you to everyone who participated!



Second, something near and dear to my heart...Entangled's darling and talented cover artist has presented me with the most gorgeous cover for HUSHED.



He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

Love it?? I do!

Release day is December 6th, 2011, but you'll have chances to win ARCs well before then. Keep an eye on YAtopia and my personal blog for more info. Until then, you can mosey on over to GoodReads and add it. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

COFA Winner and Your Favorite Websites

Two weeks ago, I hosted a giveaway here and we have a winner! All you had to do to win the prize was leave a comment telling me what your single favorite reading/writing/book-related website/blog/forum/twitter is and I wanted to share what y'all told me with everyone. I didn't allow anyone to say YAtopia was their favorite because I wanted to give all the other websites a chance! ;-)

We had 33 entries but two of y'all couldn't bear to pick between your two favorites and one didn't mention a favorite at all. (Don't worry, you were still entered into the giveaway because I'm a softy deep down but I'm just mentioning it because it makes statistics hard!) And for the two who chose two sites, I just picked the first one you wrote!

So, of the 32 favorites, 15 of y'all said ...


If you ask me, that's pretty awesome. Because that means so many of you are reading a lot and I truly believe that the most important thing a writer can do is read. Also? That means I'll have that many more Goodreads friends, right? Add me!

We had four people mention an author's site as their favorite. With four different sites. They are:
I was surprised to see only two agent blogs on the list, but I do agree with both choices whole-heartedly:
Four people mentioned a total of three websites with the aim of helping writers in one way or another:
Two group author blogs made the list:
The YA book fansite Mundie Moms received a mention, as did the Harry Potter Secrets Twitter account. Also, my favorite chain bookstore's website was mentioned by a girl who loves to shop: Barnes and Noble. Another commenter mentioned EARphoria, a site that reviews audio books and last, but certainly not least, we have A Round of Words in 80 Days, which seems to be a less insane version of NaNoWriMo.

Of all the sites mentioned, I hadn't heard of seven of them so I've certainly found some new sites to check out and I hope you all have too!

Now, what everyone has been waiting for... the winner of the signed City of Fallen Angels Giveaway!! I used Random.org to pick the winner who just so happens to be....


Georgia Summers!

I will email the winner but I also want to publicly apologize because there may be a slight delay in her receiving the book because I had a major misadventure this past weekend and, in the mad rush, I forgot to pick up the book from my storage unit so I'll have to get a friend to go get it and send it!


Also, Chanelle has extended the pitch contest on her blog with agent Victoria Marini until Friday, so go check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Surprise!

In most circumstances, I'm not real good on the whole surprise thing. I'm the one begging my husband to open gifts early at Christmas. I try looking through the wrapping paper. It's silly and ridiculous, I know, but I can't help it.

When he doesn't give in to me I end up being grateful because it is kind of fun to get surprised every once in a while.

This is a different kind of surprise though. Today I'm talking about getting surprised by a book. You see *ducks head out from around corner* I'm not a big dystopian fan. *hides again. No yelling. Steps back out* usually it's just not my thing. I don't know what it is about them, but it's just not my genre of choice.

That being said, I did love Hunger Games. Took me forever to read them because I am also stubborn. Once I did I was SOOOO happy. Even thought "Hey, maybe I like these books" picked up a couple more dystopian and nope. Still wasn't my thing.

Then this new book came out. You might have heard of it--DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. It sounded pretty cool, but nope! I don't like dystopian so I didn't want to read it. Everyone raved and stubborn old me still stood my ground. Then a friend of mine who has similar book taste told me I had to read it. "NO! I don't like dystopian!" I told her. To which she replied, "Trust me".

Reluctantly I did and OMG!!! So much love for this book. Went to the gym twice over the weekend, just to escape my kiddos and hubby so I could read on the elliptical. Now THAT is saying something because the gym is not my favorite place to go.

I read until my little eyes stung, devouring every word. Devouring FOUR. OMG, watch out other book boys because Four had bumped a few of you out of your spots on my favorite list. LOL. And Tris is an incredible character. She's strong without being too strong. Vulnerable without being too vulnerable. She's real.

Awesome, awesome book. I can't wait for the next one in the series. This is the kind of surprise I like.

What was the last book that surprised you in a good way? A book you didn't think you'd like, but ended up loving?

And Veronica Roth, you rock.

Me? Not so much. Never judge a book before I read it. It's my new motto.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Me and My "Girly" Books

So, the other week I was reading Elizabeth Miles' upcoming YA debut, Fury, and was asked by a classmate if it was "one of those girly books". I simply said no and continued reading. Despite my rather casual response,  I actually get really irritated when people say things like that to me. So what if the book I'm reading is "girly"? So what if I like "girly" books? And what even constitutes as a "girly" book?

It's no secret that most of today's YA paranormal romances are geared specifically toward teen girls. As a result, people associate those books with, well, girls. And I think that's where the "problem" lies. Why do we draw certain connections between things and why do they matter to us? I know marketing certain books for a certain audience helps, but I also feel like it alienates readers, too.

So, readers of YATopia, do you think of books as "girly" or "boyish" books? What do you think of this labeling system?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Winners are grinners!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the Elevator Pitch Contest with Bree Ogden. We have the winners!

Full manuscript request winner:

Name: MarcyKate Connolly
Email: marcykate@gmail.com
MS Name: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG
MS Word Count: 71K
Genre: YA science fiction
Blog: http://marcykate.com/?p=2518
Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/MarcyKate/status/88829361179996160

In my YA Sci-fi manuscript, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CYBORG, getting into a car accident is the second to last thing Maggie Lyons expected on prom night. The last thing she expected? Finding out she's part machine. Even worse, her parents had everything to do with it. She runs away from home, sure the worst that could happen to her is ending up as some doctor's lab rat. But when she meets the others like her, she finds out there's a lot more to be afraid of than winding up under a microscope.

Runners Up (sumbit first 50 pages):

Name: Pam Vickers
Email: pjv2001 at att dot net
MS Name: No Longer My World
MS Word Count: 60,000
Genre: YA speculative thriller
Promotion link (blog, FB post or tweet link):
http://twitter.com/Pam_Vickers/status/89089075377750017
Elevator pitch:
When an Earth girl raised by alien invaders falls in love with the leader’s son, her loyalties are tested as human girls start dying due to an alien government experiment.

&

Name: Heidi Sinnett
Email: heidi.sinnett@gmail.com
MS Name: ECHO CITY
MS Word Count: 98,000 words
Genre: YA speculative fiction
Promotion Link: http://twitter.com/#!/heidi253/status/90775399956615169
Elevator pitch:
In my young adult, speculative fiction manuscript, fourteen-year-old Scarlett Wood has a serious germ phobia. So when she's drafted by the United American government into their pandemic flu research study at Echo City, she's positive it's a mistake. But when she's forced to participate, she and the rest of the recruits soon realize this is no mere research project. After several draftees die under brutal circumstances, Scarlett forms a desperate plan to escape Echo City, before she becomes another statistic.

The winners have already been contacted. Hopefully this leads to representation! Good luck.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RWA Giveaway Winner!!

And the winner of my signed ARC of Carrier of the Mark, by me, ARC of Cold Kiss, by the lovely Amy Garvey, and the copy of The Body Finder, by fabulous Kimberly Derting is...

HIKABLACK

Congratulation Hika! I'll be in touch to get your address.

Thank you everyone for entering.  You know I'd love to give you lashings of marvelousness with a big dollop of whipped cream, topped off with a gigantic juicy cherry, but alas, I cannot.

Talk soon, guys.

Leigh

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unreliable narrators

Last week, I had the joy of reading the most amazing book, BROTHER/SISTER by Sean Olin. It was twisted, dark, eerie and utterly amazing in every way. I can't say too much about what made it the most amazing without spoiling it, but I hope those of you who have read it will know precisely what I mean.

This book got me thinking a lot about something I personally haven't seen often: unreliable narrators. When we're viewing the world of a book through a close third person or a first person point of view, we automatically rely on our narrator/point of view to be telling us things...well, accurately. Sights, smells, events. We assume what we're told is truth.

BROTHER/SISTER switches back and forth between two first person POVs: Will and his sister, Asheley. (Yes, spelled just like that.) As the story progresses and events are recounted as though the siblings are each telling their story to someone, you gradually began to notice things. Little things. Little inconsistencies between Will's story and Asheley's. There are points where these inconsistencies make you pause and wonder, Okay, wait, what did happen? This is part of why I found this book so glorious, and it's only because of the bouncing back-and-forth POV that we're able to locate these inconsistencies and try to figure them out.

This is a tactic that should be employed very carefully. If I were reading, say, a story told from the point of view of a pathelogical liar, it would be harder to take in. What is truth? What is a fabrication of her brain? While this would be a fascinating story, I would find it hard to relate to the narrator because how do I know these events for which I'm sympathetic for her are real and not a figment of her imagination?

For the most part, unreliable narrators would take me out of a story. I have to trust that whoever's eyes I'm witnessing the story through are telling me the truth. Or else...what is the point?

But in the case of BROTHER/SISTER, it truly does make the entire book what it is. Every little unreliable thing out of their mouths is intentional.

What say you, YAtopians? Ever read a book where the narrator wasn't always truthful? Had a skewed way of seeing things? Anyone else read this uh-may-zing book and want to squeel about it with me?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Agent Contest with Vickie Motter

It's on! You can pitch agent Vickie Motter with Andrea Hurst & Associates Literary Management. And there's only 50 spots available.

Well known for her Navigating the Slush Pile blog, Vickie Motter is actively building her client list and you've got the opportunity deliver win her over with a three-line-pitch.

Want a tip on what Vickie is looking for in this competition? Then read an interview with her here blog

So here are the rules:

1) Be a follower of the blog.

2) Blog about this contest and include a link with your entry. If you don't have a blog, you may tweet or make a facebook status. But we prefer blog.

3) Post your THREE-LINE-PITCH as per Vickie's interview

4) Manuscripts that you submit must be completed and ready for querying.

5) Manuscripts should be any genre of YA or Adult Paranormal/Urban Fantasy (sorry peoples, but no MG for this competition).

6) This contest will end midnight on the 20th July, or beforehand if 50 entries are reached.

7) Winners to be announced (along with prizes) on 27th July.

Entrants must submit the following details:

Name:
Email:
MS Name:
MS Word Count:
Genre:
Promotion link (blog, FB post or tweet link)
Pitch:

Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(Way more than) 500 followers giveaway!

The Giveaway is now closed to entries! I'll post the winner on my post on Tuesday. Thanks for entering!

My sister got married on Friday and I had to do A LOT of work last week (it was a DIY reception) and I have to be out of my apartment by Wednesday so I'm moving my stuff into storage because I don't yet know where I'm going to live after this!

My beautiful baby sister with her new husband.

So...  I hope y'all forgive me for sort of phoning this post in today... but I know you will because I'm doing a giveaway!! I mentioned in the comments of my last post that I would be doing a giveaway once we reached 500 followers and (once again) we blew that goal out of the water!

First I want to say thank you to all of our lovely followers who read our blog and are joining us on this journey towards publication! We really do appreciate you reading and we <3 <3 <3 all the comments y'all leave for us!

I'm sure you want to know... what can you win? A SIGNED copy of City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare! 

 
How to enter? Since I'm so busy, I'm going to make this easy on both of us.
  1. First, since this is a celebration of our followers you must be a follower to enter. 
  2. Second, all you must do is leave a comment on this post by midnight EST on Sunday July 24th, telling me what your single most favorite (Yes, you must narrow it down to ONE!) writing/reading/book-related website/blog/forum/twitter is! (Besides, YAtopia, of course! ;)) Include a link to the site.
  3. Don't forget to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win!
  4. Winners will be chosen by random.org

Also, remember you still have two more days to enter our Elevator Pitch Contest with the fabulous Bree Ogden from Martin Literary Management!

Monday, July 11, 2011

What are YOU looking for?

There are millions of blogs out there. So many that it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think the goal for all those who blog is to have people actually READ the blog... because, well... that's the whole point in it, right? It's not fun to sit around and talk to yourself.

Having followers is awesome. It's fun to look at the sidebar and wonder if that many people are taking the time to read what you write. I follow a ton of blogs myself and I read a lot too. Sadly, I don't comment as much as I read. I don't know why I don't. It's something I need to make myself do more often. I know how cool it feels when people have something to say about my posts so I can only assume it's the same for others.

I love to talk. I love to give my opinion and enjoy hearing how others my differ or be the same. So that's a goal of mine. To TALK to more people on their blogs. Let them know how their words affected me.

What I'm curious about is what YOU'RE looking for in a blog? What makes you continue to come BACK to a blog once you start following them? What do you wish people would to that might make you come back? I'm also curious what gets you talking? How often you comment and if you ever return to see if anyone replied to something you said?

Also, two CONTESTS you don't want to miss out on. The first, just scroll down the page a post or two and you're going to see an awesome opportunity to pitch to an agent! Come on. Scroll. You know you want to :)

Second, I'm having a contest on my blog HERE. It's super easy to enter and you get the chance to win a book of YOUR choice.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love Story: My Theme Song for YA PNR

As many of you know, I'm not only a writer of novels, but a writer of songs. Most of you probably know me from my song that HarperTeen is using as the official song for Lauren Oliver's novel, Delirium, or my song inspired by Sea by Heidi R. Kling.

Anyway, I thought I'd debut a "new" (new to you, ancient to me) song here on YATopia and get my music to a different range of readers. Here's a little ditty I wrote/sang/played called "Love Story" and I hope you like it! The lyrics were inspired by Stephenie Meyer's New Moon, but then I realized they pretty much sum up most YA paranormal romance novels, haha.

Happy listening!

video

Speaking of music, don't forget to check out my Delirium giveaway! HERE

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Elevator Pitch competition with agent Bree Ogden from Martin Literary Management

It's competition time!!! For those of you ready to query you have the opportunity to pitch the fantastic Bree Ogden from Martin Literary Management. To get an insight into Bree as an agent check out her blog This Literary Life and to find out more about Elevator Pitches check out her guest post from last week.

One lucky winner will be asked to submit their full MS to Bree and two lucky runners-up will get to submit their first 50 pages.

(If you want to query her personally, here's Bree’s wish list:
A strong Sci-fi MG/YA
A Dexter-ish type YA black comedy
A manuscript written in the era of Mad Men with panache and style
YA nonfiction
Speculative fiction grounded in reality
*She's no longer looking to represent YA paranormal or fantasy. Unless it blows her out of the water!)

For this contest Bree accept pitches for ANY children's/middle grade/YA/graphic novel genres.

So here are the rules:

1) Be a follower of the blog.

2) Blog about this contest and include a link with your entry. If you don't have a blog, you may tweet or make a facebook status. But we prefer blog.

3) Post an ELEVATOR PITCH  as per Bree's interview

4) Manuscripts that you submit must be completed and ready for querying.

5) Manuscripts should be children's, MG, or YA (any genre therein).

6) This contest will end midnight on the 13th July.

7) Winners to be announced (along with prizes) on 20th July.

Entrants must submit the following details:

Name:
Email:
MS Name:
MS Word Count:
Genre:
Promotion link (blog, FB post or tweet link)
Elevator pitch:

Good luck everyone. Hope you make it to the top floor!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Twaddle - RWA and GIVEAWAY

Kimberly, Me, & Amy
My Tuesday Twaddle this week is a catch up on what I've been up to.  Indeed, my own blog is a catch up too, but I've been so busy over the past week I just have to get it out there.  You probably know I was in New York for the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. I've been doing book signings and attending parties and perusing New York.
I met some amazing authors, including Kimberly Derting, Sophie Jordan, Amy Garvey, and Tera Lynn Childs.  We partied the night away at the Avon cocktail party at the Boat House in Central Park, sipping cocktails and having a good old fashioned girlie giggle.
The next day I was signing ARCs of Carrier of the Mark at the Avon signing.  It was such a highly charged estrogen charged experience! Indeed, there were enough romance writers in one spot to get the most stone cold nonromantic hearts all a flutter.  My signing table was just across from Meg Cabot, which was super cool, and I managed to snag some copies of her books.  In fact, I snagged lots of books, gorgeous books… lucky me!  And lucky you too, you see, that's where you come in.  I'm giving away RWA stuff today.  I've an ARC of Amy Garvey's Cold Kiss (An amazing read) and a copy Kimberly Derting's, The Body Finder... and I might even chuck in an ARC of Carrier of the Mark! You likey??
To win, all you need to do is be a follower of the Yatopia blog, leave a comment below with your contact information, and tweet this competition, or Facebook it if you don't have Twitter. And if you have neither Twitter or Facebook send me some good Karma and we'll call it even. Ooh and I'd love if you check out my blog too, I LOVE new followers. So get entering and good luck!
Competition is open until my next Tuesday Twaddle in two weeks.  I'll announce the winner on my post. Winner will be picked by my tried and tested Twitter Method *patent pending* And unfortunately due to the number of books in the giveaway and the cost of postage, it's only open to the US, sorry guys.  Giveaways on my blog are always open international so keep posted (There will be a giveaway in the next few days!! It's going to be a doozy!).
Leigh

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Given that the weather here in sunny California reached a blistering 107 F today, I decided my post would be about weather and certain writer ticks.

Good writers know how to use subtle scenic details to their advantage. Colors, scents, temperatures. Chances are, you won't see a horror story set in sprawling, vibrant green grassy fields full of flowers and chirping birds. Nor are you going to read a feel-good scene set in a grimy, roach-infested motel. (Yes, yes. Exceptions to everything, though, right?)

Maybe it's the type of books I enjoy writing, but I've come to notice a lot of my stories are set during the winter. Cold temperatures, lots of snow and/or rain, where the world is frigid and washed out. I'm not sure if this is just a subconscious tick of mine because I loathe summer and the heat, or if it simply fits into the mood of the type of stories I write.

I've also noticed some of my favorite books in terms of concepts/settings are also defined by weather. Such as Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER series, which definitely revolves around winter. In fact, the weather and setting in her books is almost a character unto itself.

So I chalk it mostly up to my own preferences and ticks. Much like people who have a tendancy of overusing specific words, phrases or mental imagery, right? Things we probably don't notice until we're reading back over our work and going, "Oh, huh... I did that a lot." Though in this case, I'm not referring to over-partialness to words.

(I overuse elipses, though, for what it's worth. They just look so...nice...!)



(Also, even as I'm writing this and thinking, "I need to write something set in the middle of summer," my brain is rebelling at the idea. "Ew! Hot and sticky heat, gross, gross!" Sigh.)

Anyone notice particular ticks about your settings? Do you prefer one type of weather over another? Do you find any of your characters sharing common traits?


ALSO...we've reached the beautiful 500 follower mark!! Look forward to something coming up for that milestone, guys.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Fiction Showdown: Commercial vs. Literary

So, what is the difference between Commercial Fiction and Literary Fiction, anyway? And which is better? Feel free to chime in with additional distinctions and your own opinion on the latter question.

Commercial Fiction is what sells in the majority of the fiction market. It’s “popular”—your basic escapism reading. Commercial books are driven by plot and characters, with the purpose of entertainment. They tend to be fast-moving stories in which the reader can relate to the main character and imagine being in their situation. Commercial Fiction often touches the reader’s heart and leaves them with a sense of satisfaction at the end, even happiness.


Literary Fiction is driven by the writing itself, with the purpose of provoking thought. The craft of writing, and beauty of the words are the star. There tend to be more flowery descriptions and elevated language use. Lovers of Literary Fiction appreciate the focus on gritty, hard truths about life. This type of writing delves into the reader, forcing them to question the world around them. The realism of Literary Fiction leaves readers with a sense of depth and exploration.



Which is better? There’s no answer to that. You can snub one or the other, and stick your nose up all you want, but it boils down to personal preference. I urge everyone to try both with an open mind. Because, truly, I think we all need a little of both in our lives. I read and write mostly Commercial stuff, but I’ve been through several Literary book phases, and those stories have stuck with me. I feel intelligent and contemplative when I finish something Literary and realize I “got it”! But I feel sexy, humored, and joyful at a happy ending in a piece of Commercial Fiction.

Friends, I beg you not to shred books online for being one or the other. They are different for a reason. You may think Literary Fiction is a dead bore, or Commercial Fiction is mindless smut, but the world needs both. Life is about diversity and choice, is it not? We have to read and write what’s on our hearts. Don’t feel bad about your preference and please don’t put others down for theirs.


Read. Enjoy. Group hug!  J  ~Wendy