Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Blog Launch and CONTEST

Hey all! I'm throwing in an extra post this week to share some exciting news! There's a new blog launching tomorrow, September 1 dedicated to contemporary YA fiction! Now, that doesn't mean we don't love those paranormal creatures, it just means we're passionate about realistic fiction as well and want to share that love with YOU.

As I said, FOR THE LOVE OF CONTEMPORARY launches tomorrow, September 1, and to celebrate we're having a massive giveaway with near 20 books up for grabs! We also have exciting upcoming posts with authors such as Sarah Ockler, Swati Avasthi, Tara Kelly and more. You don't want to miss out!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Support Your Favorite Books!

There are a number of ways you, as readers, as fans, as friends of authors, can show your support. Things beyond buying books. Well, of course buying an author's book is the biggest compliment an author can get, I think. But what about spreading the word? Loving something enough you want to share it with everyone?

Some people blog about books they enjoy. Others Tweet or reccommend by word of mouth. But there might be other things you haven't thought of, places to go to show even more support.

+ GoodReads
I've yet to read a book that hasn't been added to GoodReads, either by the publisher or the author themselves. GR is a great place to find new book recs, and thus great for showing your love for a book. Add things to your personal shelves so your friends can see what you're reading, what soon-to-be-released books have caught your eye, and many other things. Rate books (based on a 5-star rating) and write a review. Be honest. (But don't be mean on books you hated. Criticsm is not the same as hate-bashing. Authors have feelings, too. If you're going to leave a poor review, why not give logical, thought-out reasons as to why you didn't enjoy it?) I can't tell you how excited I am whenever someone on my friends list add a book I think looks interesting and makes me add it to my shelves, too.

+ Reviews
This goes along with GoodReads. Read a book, like it, post about it! It doesn't even need to be a huge, in-depth response picking apart every chapter and subplot. A short paragraph about why you loved it and why you reccommend it goes a long way.

+ Facebook
Let's face it (no pun intended)...a lot of us have Facebook accounts these days, even if we don't utilize them much. If you're an author, hopefully you've set up a fanpage for yourself/your book. (Note: Fan pages are entirely different from personal pages.) You know how you add things to your list of interests/likes? This is where having a fan page for an author comes in handy. Also, you can go straight to their page and "Like" it, which in turn adds it to your wall and your interests, and helps spread work to your FB friends.

+ Twitter
Like FB, so many of us are on Twitter...and pretty damn active on it. Utilize this! I've also found a lot of authors and books (and met a lot of awesome people) via Twitter. Many people link their GoodReads account to their Twitter accounts, so whenever they finish a book and/or rate it, a Tweet is automatically generated. When I see a friend has rated something highly, I'm always going to click to find out what it is.

+ Blogs
Follow your fave authors' blogs. Comment. Comment. It's sad seeing blogs with huge followings, but so few comments! Help promote posts you find interesting. Share them around with friends. Authors should - hopefully - have fun and insightful content worthy of sharing. Also, an author blog is often a good source for getting your hands on ARCs of their most recent books!

+ Book Stores
That's right. Book stores. Have you gone into your local indy store or Barnes and Noble and found the book/author you wanted was unavailable? Did you wander back out thinking, "I'll look somewhere else/buy it online/try again later"? I did this with a book I was itching to read, and yet my local B&N never seemed to have it. Finally, on my third visit, I marched up to the register and asked them to order it, which they were happy to do. Now every time I've browsed the YA section at that B&N, I see that book on their shelves, which means other people shopping are also seeing it. If even one person buys that book because I helped get it shelved, I feel like I've accomplished something.

+ Signings
Once upon a time, authors did signings a lot. Publishers paid for book tours and sent their authors across the country. Unfortunately, such things aren't possible anymore. A large majority of authors do very few signings, and even fewer tours -- especially outside of their own states. But if you know an author who is having a signing, help spread word. (Better yet: attend if you're nearby!) For a lot of authors, especially first-timers, signings can be terrifying, nerve-wracking things. ("What if no one shows up? What if no one wants to read my book??") Say hello! Let the author know you're a fan of their blog or how much you've been looking forward to meeting them/getting a signed copy/etc.

+ Giveaways
Another great way of spreading word are hosting giveaways. Maybe you grabbed an extra copy of your favorite author's super-awesome book. Well, you want people to know about why not host a giveaway on your own blog? (Maybe invite the author to have an interview while you're add it!) Someone might be on the fence about whether they want to read this book. But if it's being given away...sure, why not! They in turn might love it so much and start spreading the love.

+ Libraries
Editing this post to add on, as Jolene and Wendy pointed out (and I so shamefully forgot)... Support your local libraries. Hit up your school library (high school, college, whatever!), or the public library up the street and request books you want to see. Requesting one or two titles by an author just might get those librarians to start stocking other titles by the same author later in time.

This post was inspired because lately, I've come across some really awesome books and have been startled by how little exposure they've gotten. Mostly they come from smaller pubs, or aren't typical 'mainstream' stuff. (Contemporary works and thrillers especially seem to get the backburner; paranormal still reigns supreme no matter what people say.)

I strongly encourage all of you...if there's a book you like, an author you think should be getting more attention, help make it happen. Especially if you're an author yourself. Trust me, when you get to that stage of the game, you're going to want cheerleaders to talk about you to everyone they know, too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Which Story Element is most Vital for You?

Each of us readers has something we look for in a book - an element that will make or break it for us. Other elements may not be perfect, but as long as the thing we love best is excellent, we can still warrant five out of five stars. Of course, we all love a well-rounded story, but which of these elements is most important to you?

Plot - The overall story arc. A good plot is well-paced throughout, keeps us flipping pages in anticipation, has an exciting climax (teehee), and a definite conclusion. A poorly written or convoluted plot can leave us bored, confused, and dissatisfied at the end.

Setting - The element which transports us into the story world. A strongly written setting can mold the tone of the book: dark and dreary, light and airy, dry and stark. Lack of setting details can create a drab, easily forgettable story.

Characters - The element which gives us that personal link to the story. Vivid characters will have chemistry and tension between them, making us care about them and their journey. An unrealistic or unlikeable main character can keep readers from relating to the story, as will weak relationships between the MC and secondary characters.

Writing Style - The element of voice in the piece. How an author chooses to convey a story - the style in which they write dialogue, thoughts, narrative wording, etc, can draw us in or push us away. What makes good style is, perhaps, the most arguable of the elements. Style is heavily based on personal preference, taking us back to the old Literary vs. Commercial debate.

Friday, August 26, 2011

ARCs and how to get them

ARC = Advanced Readers Copy. A copy of a book that isn't finished and still might change, but is produced to start creating a buzz and get the book's name out there in terms of reviews. Reading an ARC means you get to read a book before anyone else, which can be especially exciting if you have already heard good things about said book.
I review a lot of ARCs over at my blog and I get asked from a lot of readers how I managed to get said ARCs. My answer: hard work. It wasn't easy, and I don't want to come across like I have the most successful blog in the world, because I don't. There's still a lot for me to learn and a lot more I have left to give. But I can give advice on how to start!

- Firstly, your blog needs content. It seems like a really easy point and more like a 'duh' point too, but editors and authors are going to go over to your blog and if you're sporadically posting or you have like two posts with no comments, they're going to be less likely to spend money on sending you a book when they could give it to someone else where the review would be better received.

- Secondly, build up your followers. You might have a blog with loads of great insightful posts and reviews, but only 10 followers. When an editor/author is looking at your blog, they're going to want to see that sending a book to you will be doing them a favour too. And by that it means you help to create a buzz and get the book out there. Which you can't do without any followers to read your review. Building up followers is harder, but once you have a fair few (and I'm thinking in the 100 range), you'll be more likely to receive ARCs.

-Review other books. All the books you read? Review them. And review them properly. Don't fill your reviews with slang and bad grammar. Keep it professional. DO NOT personally attack the author in your reviews either. Feel free to mention anything you didn't like, but don't go overboard and start swearing and generally becoming a disgrace. Believe me, you won't score ARCs that way. An author isn't going to purposely want to be your next target and is definitely not going to send you a book to abuse.

- Sign up to contests giving away ARCs. One you start to review a few, even if it's only a couple, that's still a step closer to becoming the kind of blogger publishing houses like to send books to. You can sign up to book tours (Around the World tours is good for US only book tours and Good Golly Miss Holly does some great worldwide tours) which offer a lot of ARCs and the only cost to you will be postage to send the book on. Follow authors on twitter and their blog because they often hold contests where you can win a copy of their book before it releases!

- Go to book conferences. Especially places like ALA and BEA, which - if you know how
to work your way around the stands - offer lots of goodies including ARCs! This can also help you gain followers (see point two) because once you've read the ARC and it's yours, you can give it away in a contest. Contests always attract followers.

- Sign up to places like Netgalley. That is my absolute favourite place for eARCs (electronic versions) and you can get quite a few great reads there. You request books that you want and then the publishing house will either accept or reject your request based on your Netgalley profile. You'll need to include your blog link there in order to increase your chances of getting accepted. Some books have an automatic accept on them, so anyone can request and read.

- Sign up to Simon and Shuster's Galley Grab. They send out a monthly newsletter with a link to books coming out soon and their electronic ARC download. Again, you will have to be accepted first. But if you've followed the above steps, by this time you hopefully will be.

- Politely email publishers and authors and request ARCs that way. Please, please, please be polite and dignified. If you don't receive an answer, wait a few months and try again. Chances are these people are probably pretty busy and you're not the only one to request an ARC. Usually, publishers will prefer to send to those in their country - cut down on shipping costs. But I have a few publishers who don't mind sending internationally because we've built up a relationship already.

That's mainly it for now. I hope this was helpful in the case anyone wanted to know. Good luck on your ARC hunt!

Chanelle xx

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diversity in YA Lit

First, I want to make a little announcement. Last time I posted, I mentioned that my sister and I were trying out for the YA Rebels. Well, guess what?

We're the new Saturday Rebel(s)! All the Rebels are posting intro videos up this week so check them out and you can see ours on Saturday! I wrote a post about all the new rebels, but my web host's server crashed last week and hasn't come back up, so you can see the Google cached version (without pictures) here if you wish.

Now on to my regularly scheduled post...

My post today was inspired by this post by Zoe Marriott (who, by the way, I met through YA Rebels auditions!) as well as the posts over the past week(ish) by YAtopians Kelley, Leigh, and Sharon. It seems we're inadvertently tackling "issues" in YA lit this week!

Zoe's post is basically encouraging (especially) white, straight, able-bodied writers to add more true (non-stereotypical non-token) diversity to their characters. I didn't even fully realize until I read this post that I'm 20k words into a novel where my FMC is 4th generation Chinese-American, my MMC is a Ugandan who has been in the US a few years, and one of my antagonists is a Japanese woman pretending to be the German Ambassador's daughter (don't ask; just trust me on this one for now). BTW, to avoid confusion, both of my MCs and most of my characters are also weredragons. There's also diversity in the types of dragons that definitely causes tension between the different groups. I mean, check out how different these two dragons are:

There are even "differently-abled" people as supporting characters all over the place. The reason why that specific phrase is used and in quotes is they're differently-abled compared to the other dragons, not necessarily compared to human conventions. There is one woman who suffered a brain injury that prevents her from fully changing back to a human and she has dragon scales covering some of her human body. Another character is in terrible shape - missing both legs, terribly scarred face, and other dragon-specific injuries.

FMC: Katherine "Kitty" Lung
My point is, I didn't really set out to create this "diversity." It's simply a result of the different dragon mythologies I wanted to blend to create my world AND the fact that these dragons are constantly facing dangerous situations with a high probability of severe injuries. And I've learned over the years that I'm apparently more accustomed to living in "multicultural" settings than most people expect a blue-eyed girl born in Missouri to be, thanks to my life as a military brat.

MMC: Bulisani "Sani" Mathe

I'm comfortable with all these different cultures, it seems natural to me - especially in a country as diverse as the US. But I do still worry about getting something wrong. I'm doing tremendous amounts of research on cultures, but I fear that I'll make one mistake and be accused of being "ignorant" or "insensitive." (I may somehow be the former, but I'm definitely not the latter.) My FMC is 4th generation American - but is she too Americanized? Too Chinese? My MMC is Christian, like 80% of Ugandans but will I be accused of trying to make him more relatable by mentioning his religion?

These are all real, valid fears I have and I know it's a risk. But for me, for this story, it's a risk I'm willing to take. I know I'll have to find a publisher to take those risks with me too - and with all the talk of whitewashing covers the past few years, I'm worried.

So what do y'all think about diversity in YA Lit? I'd really love to have a conversation about it in the comments.

UPDATE: I just realized I didn't discuss diversity in terms of sexual orientation, but that is something to think about too.

Monday, August 22, 2011


So sorry I'm late today! Had a busy weekend and spaced my post!

I've always been a name person. I love picking names for the characters in my books. While talking names with DJ the other day, I realized something else about myself--I tend to stick to certain letters as well. It took me sitting down and thinking of all my character names to see that I really need to pay more attention to what I'm doing. LOL. I'm not going to tell you ALL the names, just the ones that start with the same letter. These are in finished books and partial WIPs. Oh and they're all main characters too.

For girls I have:
Abby, Arianna, Annabel, Tori, Camryn, Aspen, Tate

Tegan, Tanner, Caleb, Travis, Cody, Carter

And that's only what I can think of off the top of my head. I have other partial books as well. Apparently I like A's, C's, and T's. LOL

Do your names tend to start with the same letter? Is there any other quirks or patterns you've noticed about your writing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


awesome wolf hat given to me
by some equally awesome friends

Hey, all! As most of you are (hopefully) aware, my debut YA novel, Hunted, was released on the 9th and I had my launch signing on the 11th. There were about 150 people there and a good chunk of them I didn't know. :-) The store also ran out of books, so that was exciting, but sad, haha. I'll be posting a post about the event on my own blog soon.

Now that the book is out, though, the issue at hand is how to keep the interest going. It's easier, I think, to get people's attention about a book prior to the release because it's new and shiny, but afterwards, people tend to focus on/get excited about newer, non-released books. I have a few interviews planned and I'm going to try and get back to a regular posting schedule over at my own site, so I hope those items will help keep my name out there. Anybody have tips for post-release buzz?

However, I'm glad I can take a break from pre-release promotion. I've been filling my time by plotting new ideas, discovering new music, trying/failing to write new songs, and reading. I'm also taking this time to become a better writer, to feel more confident in the words I type and the worlds I create. Even though I have a published book, I'm still a newb at all of this and am eager to continue growing and learning. But at the same time I'm enjoying just relaxing and not having to focus on Hunted anymore. I'm excited to see what is in store for me next. Are you? :-)

Question of the Day: Why do you write?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

That's dope - or maybe it's not?

Wow, it's been so long since I've done a regular post with all the competitions we've had here. But a huge thank you to all the agents and followers who participated. At the bottom of the post you'll find the winners of the John Cusick Micro Synopsis.

Today I want to talk about something that could be a bit more controversial - drugs. More specifically recreational drugs in YA novels where it is not issues based.

For me I have mixed views. On one hand I understand how impressionable young readers can be, and feel that writers have a responsibility not to lightly insert sex, swearing or drug use into YA novels. On the other hand I believe that writers also should, where possible, portray things realistically. And drugs are out there, and some teens use them.

And then, I'm also a mother and I would love it if my kids never touched drugs.

So I'm looking for you opinion - are scenes with recreational drug use okay in YA novels that are not issues based?

So, you can take the poll, but I'd love you to also leave some qualifying comments.

Is it okay to have drug use in a non-issues YA book?
No, writers have an obligation to society not to promote drug use.
No, not in YA. But in adult fiction it's okay.
No, but in issues-based YA it's okay
Yes, some teens do drugs.
Yes, if it's not glorified and is realistic.
Yes free polls

Now Drumroll... and the message from Mr. John Cusick himself:

This was a tough one! There were some really fabulous ideas, and the final five were very close.
GAME SHOW by Pam Vickers

30 Page Synops:
STORM CHASERS by Andrea Leech
Untitled Time-Travel Y.A. by Melanie Stanford
I thought these two deserved Honorable Mention:
WORMHOLE by Scott Springer
RIGID STEPPES by Tamara Heiner

Contestants are welcome to query John via the S©ott Treimel NY  agency's online submission form.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Profanity (Yikes! I mean cursing) in YA

Firstly, Ugh! I just hate that word ‘profanity’ it has a horrible ring to it.  It offends me just to type it here.  It conjures up images of old ladies with corkscrew permed, blue rinsed hair, banging on about how society is wronging the youth of today.
But I encountered the use of this word in a review regarding a few minor curse words used in my book, Carrier of the Mark.  Now I’m not talking the F bomb here, I’m talking the occasional (and I hope I don’t offend anyone reading this blog with these words, I personally don’t find them offensive, so apologies in advance to those of you who do) ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘shite’, and the one that really got up this reviewers nose, ‘god damn’.
In my view, there is a fine line we YA authors thread.  It is our job to write a true representation of YA’s in the world we live in.  In Carrier I'm representing real Irish people, who speak with Irish accents and Irish slang.  People might not like that fact that cursing is part of our lives, but it is, and there is no getting away from it. 
The reviewer loved Carrier and gave it a glowing review saying it was the best book she'd reviewed since she started reviewing, but she had issues with the ‘cussing’ so downgraded her review from a 5 star review to a 3 star review because of one use of ‘god damn’ and several uses of ‘shite’ .  Now I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this reviewer is a really nice girl with very strong religious beliefs, which I respect her for. 
So here’s the question I put to you.  Do you believe that books should be penalized for use of elements that you don’t agree with even though the accurately portray the world you're writing about, should reviewers take a broader view?  Or, do you think YA books should be kept clean of any use of cursing and cushion the YA reader from the realities that some might find a little harsh?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Please give us your insight, as this is a topic I’m fascinated by.
Have yourselves a good one!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not triangles, but threesomes?

Today I bring with me a slightly odd, perhaps controversial subject, and I would love for all our readers to weigh in on this.

We've all seen the Love Triangle done to death in YA. Boy1 loves Girl, Girl loves Boy1. Boy2 loves Girl, Girl loves Boy2 and has to choose between them. (I don't even think I've read a book where it's been two girls after the same guy and he has to choose. Am I looking at the wrong books?) In all honesty, I find myself shying away from books when I know beforehand they have a love triangle because, to me, it's always so obvious from the start who she's going to end up with.


What do you think about threesomes?

I'm talking about three people who all feel strongly for one another and are in a relationship together. Alternatively, I guess it would be one central person who is with two people at once, although the two aren't necessarily interested in eachother.

Obviously, this kind of situation would have a whole slew of tensions and problems beyond those of a regular one-on-one relationship. The three involved would need to be a tight-knit, emotionally inseperable trio. They're the threesome who you just can't imagine pairing two of them together because what happens to that third person? (I guess they're the Riku/Sora/Kairi's of the YA world, for any of my fellow gamers out there.)

Or maybe this threesome gives it a try, and all hell breaks loose and they realize, "This was a terrible idea!"

We're seeing popular YA books trickle onto the shelves dealing with issues like polygamy and the like, so obviously this kind of thing isn't unheard of. Weigh in, everyone! What do you think? Would you secretly (or not so secretly) root for your love triangle to hook up?

Yes? No? Maybe?
No, absolutely not. I like my couples to be just couples.
Maybe, if it were done right.
Only if all three were involved with each other so no one is ever left out.
Once in awhile would be okay, but don't make it a trend.
Yes, please!
I like my love triangles just how they are, thanks. free polls

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Mini-Me" MCs?

I was recently asked how much my book's main character, Anna, is like me. I was embarrassed to realize how many similarities there are between us, especially physically. Being my first book, and having no idea the story would some day be published, I just went with what was comfortable and known. We're not exactly the same, obviously since I have no supernatural parentage (darn!), but we do have a few things in common (straight-blonde hair, shortish stature, small-chest, kind of shy, and emotional with a handful of anxious quirks).  I, however, do not share Anna's love for running, or her self-control.
In that same interview I was asked if any of my characters were based on people I know. The answer was an easy "no," although in retrospect, Anna's best friend, Jay, is a lot like my brother. These names mean nothing to you guys who haven't read the book, so I apologize for the name dropping. And speaking of names, I have a little confession to make. When I was brainstorming for secondary character names, I looked to my own loathsome ex-boyfriends to name the jerks in my book. (At least they turned out to be good for something, teeheehee.)
*ahem*  Anyhow, moving on now. So...
How much are your main characters like you? And how much are your secondary characters like other people you know? Is it something you consciously do (or don't do)?

PS, I tried to find a picture for this post, but it seems like all that kept popping up were naughty pics of mini-me from the Austin Powers movie. Ew.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who's Laughing Now?

This post is inspired by the uber talented Jessie J's song 'Who's Laughing Now?' And the reasoning? Because I think a lot of us can relate to it. Here's the music video if you're interested, but if not, just scroll down and I'll summarise.

In this song, Jessie J talks about how hard school was for her, and how much negativity she got when she aspired to be a singer. And now look at her. Of course, because she's made it, people are coming out of the wood works and pretending to be her best friend, claiming a stake in her fame, trying to piggybank off her talent.

Of course, realistically, not all of us are going to be JK Rowling rich and famous, but this still applies. For example, while we have the supportive family members and friends, there's always someone who tries to 'nicely' remind you that it's a hard world to succeed out there and that you have to be very lucky. We read it in blog posts everyday. You have to be lucky. Talent is only part of it. I know I have received raised eyebrows and looks of concern and pity when I say I want to be an author. The look that says "oh honey, that's a lovely dream, but don't quit your day job." There's even some people who say it! But you know what? It makes me more determined and when I am published, I can sing this song and think that while people excuse their disbelief for concern, I know really it was negativity.

And you know what we do with negativity? We demolish it with positivity. There's one thing blog posts often fail to talk about. And that's the need to believe in yourself. Because if you believe and you're determined, it will happen eventually.


How about you guys? Received any negativity when you tried to tell someone about your dream?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blogging Platforms

I know most of you either have blogs or are considering starting one in the future, so I just wanted to talk a little bit about blogging software. I'm also thinking about switching my personal blog so maybe writing it down will help me work it out :-)

I've taught classes for local writers groups on social media, including blogging, and consult with local writers interested in building up an online presence. Blogging always seems to be the thing most writers don't even know where to start with - and choosing a software is where to start.

1) Tumblr
I like to think of Tumblr as a more informal type of blog and I explain it as something halfway between blogging and Twitter. I have one of mine where I mainly post pictures, quotes and links that are inspirational to me - but may not be writing/book related. It seems like most writers I know use it in a similar way.

It doesn't easily allow for comments or deeper interaction than liking or reblogging a post and is really not suited well to longer text-only posts. Tumblr is a little different from all the other blogging platforms and I think it's probably not the best solution for a traditional author blog. But it does have its place.

2) LiveJournal
I used to have a LiveJournal way back in the college days (but I still read a few blogs on LJ) so forgive me if my experience is a little out of date. LJ seems to have all the utility most bloggers would need, but it's not even on my list of contenders and I never recommend it to people I consult with about building a blog.

Blogs on LJ always seem to be less visually-pleasing than those on other platforms, kinda rough around the edges with less options for customization. They also make subscribing to comments difficult and every time I'm on an LJ page there's some kind of pop-up ad that I have to view for so many seconds before I can do anything else. Some features are available only to paid members. Also the "community" aspect of it sometimes reminds me of high school - with cliques and feuds and all kinds of drama.

WordPress is the most customizable of the most popular blog platforms and you can do more with it than any of the others - if you know how. And that's the major disadvantage: it's more difficult to learn and less intuitive if you're not very technologically inclined.

This is where my personal blog is currently at and I'm thinking about switching. I just feel like the interface is clunky and less intuitive than Blogger and I'm not a person who needs the features. I know a lot of people swear by WordPress, but it's getting to where I dread writing posts and making changes to my site. I also hate how you have to confirm comment subscriptions by getting a link emailed to you and clicking on it. That's obnoxious.

4) Blogger
Blogger is probably the platform I see most often used for writer's blogs (We use it - obviously - for YAtopia and for Sift Book Reviews). It's a balance of features and usability, with a pretty intuitive interface. It's not quite as customizable as WordPress though. This is the platform I'm considering changing my blog to.

Blogger is also run by Google, so it integrates well if you already use other Google services. A lot of people say you can't customize your URL, but that's untrue - it's actually very easy to use your own URL. My major gripe with Blogger is the inability to nest comments where a reply appears underneath the original comment. A lot of people don't like the fact that since Google hosts your blog, they can delete it if they think you are spammy or violating their terms.

Of course there are other less popular ones I didn't mention like TypePad, Movable Type, Expression Engine, Drupal, and Mambo. So what do y'all think? Do you have a blog and, if you do, which platform do you use? How do you like it?

Also, I wanted to mention that my sister and I are auditioning to join the YA Rebels, so I'd really appreciate if you watched our audition video below and like/comment (if you do indeed like it)! We introduce ourselves and talk about the five most obvious query mistakes authors make. Also, check out our competition!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Less is more?

Wow... totally late today. Sorry about that. I spent the day in Hollywood with my BFF yesterday and totally forgot to get my post together last night.

Okay, today I want to talk about learning something new about yourself when it comes to writing. See, I'm not an overly-descriptive writer. I don't go into a ton of detail. Even when I'm reading and there are sections packed full with explaining every, little thing, I start to browse read because it loses my attention. I'm definitely not saying one way is better than the other, it's just my preference when it comes to writing. Other people can pull it off much better than I can.

So yeah, I've always known this about myself, but when I finished up my first round of revision on my book and sent it to one of the members of my Trio of Awesomeness, Jolene (other members include Kelley York and Wendy Higgins), I learned something about myself.

The situations where I tend to overly explain things are always big, huge emotional scenes. The big emotional fight scene? Yep, gave way too much. Explained too much. The make up scene? I think I decided to see how many ways I could say the same thing and explain every, single emotion like they weren't obvious. LOL.

So, that's what I've learned about myself lately.

Have you learned something new about yourself and your writing?

If not, if you're a reader or a writer, do you prefer books that that go with less is more or do you like more detail?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Odds and Ends of Hunted

Hi, everyone! Can you believe HUNTED comes out next Tuesday? I can't. I'm extremely excited, nervous, terrified, and excited. :-)

Today I'm going to talk about some random things pertaining to the book. I finished the first draft on June 25th 2010, or somewhere around then. It's almost unbelievable it's only been a little over a year since that first draft. As you may know, I don't write listening to music because I get a bit distracted, but I did have an editing playlist. I've had one blogger fall in love with the songs, so hopefully you'll like them too :-).

"November" by Chase Coy
"If the Moon Fell Down" by Chase Coy (ft. Colbie Caillat)

"Black Coffee" by Breanne Duren

"Static Waves" by Andrew Belle (ft. Katie Herzig)

"Unarmed" by Mariah McManus
"The Way You Pick Me Up" by Mariah McManus
"Sleep" (live version) by Imogen Heap
"Pitter Pat" by Erin McCarley

"Sort of" by Ingrid Michaelson

"My Love" by Sia (this one was on repeat towards the end, haha)
 And guess what? I have something in common with JANE AUSTEN!! On her 235th birthday, December 16th, 2010, I was offered my contract with Pendrell. Isn't that cool? Who out there is an Austen fan?

There was really only one major change to the story from the "final" draft to the finished product, and that's the ending. Originally, there was an epilogue told through the perspective of the hunter and it left the story wide open for a sequel. After much thought, I got rid of the epilogue and rewrote the ending, making it longer and less open. I really love the new ending, though, so that's good, haha. Maybe I'll post the epilogue someday.

Some of you may know that Hunted is told through two points of view: Lily's and Alex's. I didn't intend for it to be this way when I first started, mainly because I didn't want to draw comparisons/complaints about it being similar to Shiver. But then I wrote a chapter from Alex's POV as an exercise and realized his side had to be told. Since Lily's side was supposed to be the only one given, readers will see a lot of me in her, if that makes sense. I think it's easier to write when a character shares your traits because you can describe them better than something you don't have experience with.

Well, that's all, folks! :-) I hope you enjoyed reading this and I'll leave you with an excerpt recently seen on the YA Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy and happy weekend!

           The sirens grew louder and caught the wolves’ attention. For an instant, I saw a flicker of panic in their eyes. One of them tore off into the woods, but the other remained on top of me. It snarled and clawed at my face and clothes before leaping toward the woods. Wincing, I turned my head and watched the wolf escape. But it was no longer a wolf.
            It was a man.                                             
           He raised his brows and flashed me a wicked, arrogant smile before turning to disappear into the woods.
            The police got there too late, too late to see the impossible truth I had learned. Unable to get words off my tongue to answer their questions, I led them into the house and upstairs to the bedroom.
            Blood was everywhere. On the walls, on the floor, on my hands. None of it was mine, though. Just Julia’s, the woman I loved more than anything and the woman I failed to protect. But never did I imagine I would have to protect her from such monsters as those that had burst through our front door that night.
            While the police took photographs and murmured amongst themselves, I escaped back downstairs and sat on the front steps. A crack of thunder echoed through the night as a summer storm began. Droplets of rain fell from the sky and I couldn’t distinguish the rain from my tears. But when a chorus of howls rang over the noise of the rain, my sadness turned to anger and determination.
            The next day, I bought a gun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Huge Micro Synopsis Contest with agent John Cusick

 A Micro Synopsis competition is no small feat - it's HUGE! And a real test of a writer's ability to use economy of words.

So YA agent John Cusick from S©ott Treimel NY (can check out his tweets here and an interview with him here), wants you to woo him with not a one page synopsis, but a THREE SENTENCE synopsis that covers the set-up, story and ending (you don't have to give away a twist/ending - but a taste of it to spark interest).

Example to help you get your head around the concept of a micro synopsis without spoilers (I'm not entering the competition, but I am querying this MS, which John has already seen anyway):

Eighteen-year-old heart transplant recipient Mishca Richardson is plagued by terrible nightmares after her operation and a burning desire to find her birth parents, something that has never bothered her before. She ignores her dreams, as well as the new found speed and strength that have come with her new heart, and tries to focus on love with fellow adoptee Ryder. But when she meets her university lecture, Collin Reed, and falls in love with him the moment she sees him, it begins a chain of events that will lead her to the truth about her past and her new heart.
You also need to include (post your entries in the comments):

Your name
Your email
Promo link (blog post preferred, but if you don't blog you can tweet it or pop it on FB/Google+)
Age Group (open to MG, 8 - 12, & YA, 13 - 18, only)
Word Count

The manuscript must be complete and ready for querying. John is open to nearly any genre, but says High Fantasy (dragons, dwarfs and elves) and Vampires are a hard sell at the moment, so you probably won't get a request if you enter a MS in one of those areas.

There's no limit on the number of entries (yes you can enter multiple times if you have more than one MS), but you MUST be a follower of the blog.

The all important prizes! The winner will get a full MS request and two runners up will get a request for the first 30 pages of their MS.

Remember this is NOT a pitch contest, so don't just condense your query. The contest will be open until midnight 11 August. So start shrinking your synopsis!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tuesday Twaddle - Vlogs!

I hate cameras and tend to run in the opposite direction when one is pointed at me, but in a world ruled by visual media, they are becoming harder and harder to avoid.  When I first set out on my publishing journey, I tried my hand at vlogging, and it was fun.  But the problem was they were just so darn time consuming to put together.

Two minutes of vlogging fun = four hours of screaming at windows movie maker, thirty outtakes, one hour in hair and makeup, and about thirty minutes of fighting with yourself trying to convince yourself not to post it to YouTube. *sigh*

So you see, it's really not that easy.  That said, it really is a fun way to connect with your audience.  And when you see an author in a vlog, more often than not your surprised by how they look, sound, and act, because it shows a completely different side to the one they present on Twitter or Facebook. 

Yatopia have been blogging a while know, and I wonder do you really know the crazies behind blog.
So here's the bit that's going to make my fellow Yatopia bloggers squirm and be suddenly hit by the urge to pelt me with rotten tomatoes, but I was thinking it might be fun to do a Vlog fortnight, one where we do a short vlog instead of our usual posts.

So what do you think Yatopians? Would you like to see us vlogging?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  I'm not saying we will be vlogging, I'll probably be still wedged into the stocks covered in tomato juice for the next few weeks anyway, but would it be something that you'd like to see us do?

Let us know!

Talk soon my lovelies.


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Sway of E-Readers

When e-readers first started making a big impact, I was skeptical. I was of the opinion that a book in print is ten times better. I love the look of them, the feel of them. I think covers look so stunning in person.

But, I was also having a hard time keeping up on all the 'new stuff.' Most of the books I was reading were a year old or more because I had to wait until they were released in paperback. Paying almost $20 for a hardcover book? Not possible more than once every other month or so. My wallet was really hurting.

Ultimately, the price difference is what made me decide I wanted an e-reader. After doing my research, the Barnes and Noble NOOK Color is what I chose. I've had my NOOK for a few months now, and have discovered a few other things that I greatly like about e-books.

1. Shopping From Home
I'm pressed for time. Between a demanding job, a family, and sharing a car with my wife who also has an extremely demanding job, we don't have time to make weekly (or even biweekly) trips to the book store just to browse around. From the comfort of my home, when I have a few moments to spare, I can browse around online and pick up a book that looks interesting.

2. Free Samples
I know. "Why not go into a book store and read from the actual book," right? Again, this goes back to time as well as my own personal comfort levels. While I would love to spend hours in a bookstore, browsing around and reading the first 30 pages of every book that catches my eye, it simply isn't logical for me. I can load up on a slew of free samples, and read through them in the rare instances I get throughout my work day that I can take a break. Chances are, if I'm not still thinking about that book when I get home, it isn't one that really caught my attention and made me want to read.

3. More Space!
Between Wife and I, we have a lot of books. And I mean, a lot of books. Two full five-shelf book cases, nine or ten boxes in the garage, and others stuffed in various places. We've reached the point where it really is ridiculous and we don't have limitless amounts of space to store everything. My NOOK solves this problem.

4. Picky, Picky
Despite my attempts at not doing so, sometimes I end up reading three or four books at once. I might be really into Book A, then happen to flip through Book B and get wrapped up into it. I might occasionally slip over to Book C if my mood calls for it. Having all three books on-hand at any given time is far more convenient than shoving three paperbacks into my purse.

5. Reading More Often
I'm not sure what it is, but since purchasing my NOOK I've done a LOT more reading. Maybe it's the ease of having my page bookmarked and only a button press away. Maybe it's that even if Wife is sleeping, I can read for 30 minutes before bed without disturbing her by having a light on. Whatever the case may be, I'm discovering that I'm now reading a book or two a week as opposed to one a month.

6. Lending
NOOKs have this handy feature called Lend-Me. (I'm sure Kindles and other e-readers have similar functions.) Of course, I can lend my physical books to friends...but only if I a.) trust them to return my books and b.) see them in person. The Lend-Me feature (which sadly isn't available on all books, but a lot of them) for those who don't know, works like this: Friend sees a book of mine they want to read and puts in a request. I approve the request. The book is removed from my NOOK for 14 days and placed onto theirs so they can read it. At the end of 14 days, it vanishes on their reader, and voila! It is back on mine. Handy feature to have, especially when most of your friends live several hours or states away.

I'm not trying to convince everyone to rush out and buy e-readers. I truly don't believe they'll ever be something 'for everyone.' However, I do think e-readers will become the future for a lot of types of books. (Non-fiction and textbooks, especially, but that's a post for another day.) I would definitely encourage anyone who hasn't to give it a try. You might be like me and surprise yourself.

What say you, YAtopians? For e-readers? Against them? Were you adamantly anti-e-reader that eventually changed your ways?

ALSO...I hope everyone knows that our very own DJ begins his Blog Tour on Wednesday in preparation for the release of HUNTED! You all should definitely check out his stops, and be ready to pick up a copy of HUNTED.