Monday, October 31, 2011


I want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween. Thanks for being a part of YAtopia. We appreciate all the comments, visits, and followers.

What are your plans for the night?

I shall be taking two little girl vampires out to sour the neighborhood for candy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writing Surprises

Have you ever sort of surprised yourself while writing?  I don't mean an unexpected twist in the plot, necessarily, but there are definitely those kinds of surprises along the way.  One major surprise for me was the insipriation to write something supernatural/paranormal AT ALL!  I was always a contemporary reader and writer.  I loved chick lit - stories about real life situations that managed to show the humor in all our downfalls and blunders.  My whole life I tended to write funny stories, emotional stories, and dramatic girl stories, but they were always realistic.  Until my idea for Sweet Evil came along. 

Writing supernatural elements was extremely difficult for me, and it still is. I'll go back during revisions and find all the places where I need to expand on the abilities of my main character.  I just forget.  It's still surprising to me that I'm in this genre, and while I'm enjoying it far more than expected, I do hope to write a contemp someday.

Is there anything about your writing journey which has come as a surprise to you? Anything you've steered toward or away from unexpectedly?

Hugs, Wendy  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A reader's journey with the publishing industry

My journey as a reader started with my parents, as is the case with a lot of people. More specifically, it started with my Dad. He used to gather my sister and I up onto the bed, pull out this book we loved that was filled with fables and folklore and read to us while we listened in ore. That's when I fell in love with the written word.

My favourite story he used to read to me was Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. I loved the ending, how the rabbit managed to outsmart the fox. "Please don't throw me in the briar patch."

Then as I got older I craved more. In primary school (middle grade) I would get a list of books from the book fair and buy whatever I could. One that stuck in my mind is FIFTH GRADE CAN REALLY KILL YOU. It's also when I started reading ghost stories and good old Twistaplots. But I was finding them ultimately unsatisfying, so I started on books for teens (there was no 'YA' at that stage). I remember on called THE TEN CUPCAKE ROMANCE that was about a girl who swears off boys, but dates one for research for a book she's writing. But it still wasn't filling the void.

I moved onto Stephen King (oh the sleepless nights over IT), Virgina Andrews and a bunch of trashy novels from the adult section. I still would try the stories for teens, but they were very short and not always satisfying. At about fifteen I became obsessed with David Eddings and fell in love with one of his characters Sparhawk. High fantasy, such as The Keltiad series, consumed me.

Unfortunately then I left home and went to uni, which meant I was poor and away from my mother's large high fantasy and horror collection. My reading consisted of text books. Luckily in my second year of university I switched courses and got to read short stories and plays as part of my study. But my reading habits had been lost. But my writing habits started. I wrote short stories and play. I wouldn't share them, until I met my first Alpha reader "She-who-must-not-be-named" (she's very shy). She loved my writing and encouraged me to do more.

But I read for my own son, like my father read to me. And when he got old enough to start reading on his own, I started reading his books too. Goosebumps, Deltra Quest and then, Harry Potter. My love of books was reborn. And I noticed something else too. The quality of books that my son was getting to read was far higher then anything that I had gotten when I was his age. The publishing industry had matured to produce engaging adventures that could be loved by all ages. I had tried penning a middle grade book, but it didn't work (it still sits on my computer hoping to become a YA novel eventually).

I keep reading with my son, and my daydreams started running wild. This is when my first YA novel idea hit me. I had no idea it was a YA novel as I hadn't read any and my son was still reading MG books.

I wanted to start reading more as I knew it would help make me a better writer. The first YA I read was the Twilight series, then The Host. I was hooked on YA and paranormal then. My book collection rapidly expanded, being filled with YA titles and adult authors such as Charlaine Harris.

Sometimes I wish that I had the range and depth of books to read as a teenager as the current teens do now. But I still wouldn't swap Sparhawk for the world.

So - what are your favourite childhood books? How have books impacted on your life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ooo, eerie

When I first started writing--as in, seriously writing with the intent of completing a book--I had a number of failed attempts. Likely because I was attempting fantasy and, frankly, I'm really effing lazy and couldn't be bothered with all the world-building involved. I grew up reading primarily fantasy (HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE by Diana Wynne Jones, and the ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES by Patricia C. Wrede, for instance) so I couldn't understand why I wasn't able to write in the genre I was familiar with as a kid.

My second thought was that I'd love to write horror. Except I find it very hard to place into words things I think are frightening. This might be partly to do with the fact books aren't really don't frighten me in the way movies do, likely because I'm such a visual person. There are exceptions (though I'm drawing a blank while trying to think of one, uh).

(When I was younger, this wasn't so much the case. I remember reading THE LANCASTER WITCH by Carol H. Behrman, and THE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS by Betty Ren Wright, both of which scared the hell out of me. I can't remember now why, but I'd be curious to reread those books all these years later and see if I can figure it out.)

(This thing? Also scares the crap out of me. It's the breathing. Every time Wife and I get to this part of the game with the Iron Maidens and Regenerators, I have to give the controller to her.)

My point being, every genre is so unique in its own right, and every genre requires a certain knack for an author to pull off what they want their readers to feel. In regards to horror, I personally think it's a difficult genre to get right.

I think this is because fear can be so subjective. Not everyone is afraid of what's under the bed, while others aren't afraid of the slasher sneaking into their house in the middle of the night. I'm no horror-writing expert, since my works tend to lean toward thriller-esque, but some suggestions I can toss out there as a reader:

1. Don't be afraid of bad endings. Especially in horror, happy endings aren't necessary. In fact, I grow bored with authors I know will always deliver me a happy ending even in this genre. How am I supposed to be afraid and suspenseful if I know there's no real chance of things ending poorly? (My favorite horror endings are the ones that appear to be hopeful, until the last page/few seconds. Think Dawn of the Dead.)

2. During suspenseful scenes, cut the purple prose and long sentences. These are emotionally-heavy scenes. Make us feel that. Stay away from describing anything that doesn't build on the suspense. Use all your senses: smell, sight, hearing, touch. When people are afraid, their senses become hyper-aware because they're trying to sense danger.

3. Don't over-explain. One nitpick I have about so many of the Americanization of foreign horrors movies is America's need to explain everything. Why do we need the back story and plotted out details of everything's motive? Why can't something be evil for the sake of being evil? There's nothing wrong with leaving the 'why' and 'how' to reader speculation. Again, fear of the unknown.

4. It's all about atmosphere. Weather and setting are important in horror. I remember watching Pulse and thinking that the movie was perfect because of the dark, gritty nature of every scene. It was dreary and depressing, which fit with the mood of the story.

5. Study what makes you scared. Pick out your favorite horror books and movies, and study them. I recommend this for everything (especially fight scenes, which I talked about ages ago). Pick out what exactly it is that scares you in a particular scene and try to put it into words, as practice for your own writing.

Maybe we have some horror pros out there reading who can offer advice, too, and what helps them when writing something scary. For the rest of you, what are you guys afraid of?

For me, it's stories of Shadow people, and zombies. I have zombie nightmares a lot.

Happy Halloween, y'all. ;)

And if you haven't already, there are only 7 more days to sign up for the I LOVE DARK YA blogfest. It's a low-commitment fest, so come join us and help spread the word!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tips for Post-Release Authors

Everything about having your book released is crazy--whether you're editing, waiting for your cover, organizing blog tours, or refreshing your GoodReads page. You might think that once your book comes out, everything will smooth out.

Well, it doesn't. Not quite. Encouraging, right? :-)

Fear not, fellow authors, for I have some tips to help keep you focused post-release! Huzzah!


1. Read a few reviews if you want, but then stop once you've read enough. I made the mistake of checking GoodReads the day of my signing and stumbled across a low star-rating and a negative review. Not fun.

               1.5. Don't Google Your Name + Book Title + Review.

2. Stay on top of mailing things out. Many authors, myself included, run contests/giveaways leading up to the Big Day. In my case, though, I got behind in mailing prizes out, which I feel incredibly bad about. But with everything going on (aka launch party), I simply got swamped and then a week later, school started. Awesome.

3. Don't think about all the things you want to change in your book. I actually haven't read Hunted since it came out besides the prologue, which I use for readings, because I don't want to see all the sentences I could've written better or the dialogue I could've made smoother. It's hard not to see the inevitable flaws, but instead of thinking about those, think about how proud you are of yourself and how awesomesauce it is that you're a published author. It's much more fun than beating yourself up about the little things.

4. Keep writing. And, most importantly, don't worry about what will be published next. Just write and have fun.

5. Enjoy life. You managed to get a book published, now try something new while working on your next project. New experiences = new material for stories. New experiences = fun.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What to include in YA novels?

Simple answer to that: EVERYTHING!!

I've seen a lot of questions around the internet recently on new writers, or even people new to YA, asking what is deemed acceptable to write about in YA.

So in simple terms, if it happens to teens, you can write about it.

There's a lot of controversial topics out there. Teenage pregnancy, sex scenes, swearing, abuse, kidnap, drinking, drugs, smoking! It happens, so it can happen in your book too.

Of course, there will be editors and agents who have preferences. But if you feel that your book needs for your characters to have sex, or to get into a relationship with an older person then write it. Write what the book needs, not what you feel the market needs. And when you decide that you want to find an agent and get it published, look for the agents you know represent topics like yours. Research into books and find out who the agent was.

Trust me, there really isn't much you can't put in YA. There's even YA erotica that's on the up and up. Don't be afraid to write your story. Seriously, don't. Just write what you want to write, read up on the books that'll be your competition, that'll be in your genre and have fun!

And to finish this post, here are a list of books I personally know of that deal with the topics above:

Living Dead Girl - Elizabeth Scott
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
Hate List - Jennifer Brown
Stolen - Lucy Christopher
Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles
Forget You - Jennifer Echols
The Duff - Kody Keplinger
Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers
Forbidden - Tabithua Samuza

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guest post by Mandy Hubbard

Hi Everyone!
Wow! So many amazing pitches. Y’all worked hard! (I grew up on a farm, so I’m allowed to say Y’all.)
Anyway, I wanted to drop in and announce the winners, but before I do, please note that there were SO many really good ones that it was hard to choose just one. If I did not select your pitch, please do still consider querying me via my normal submission guidelines. I would be happy to consider your work that way if you are not the winner. Many times projects just sound more intriguing in a full length query where you have the luxury of a few more sentences.
Also, sometimes I do pass on projects, not because the pitch isn’t good, but because it would conflict with something on my list—for instance, I already represent an Angels/Demons book. I can’t take another one on, so if that was in your pitch, I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t choose it as a winner.
In any case, these were my “top pitches”
Jen Corkill’s pitch: 17 year old Amelia Holloway prepares for her debut in Victorian society while a vampire killer with aspirations prepares for her, whether she's willing or not
Comments: I have never even requested a vampire manuscript. But I LOVE the Victorian Era, so it caught my eye. 
Heather Smith’s pitch: Fourteen-year-old Sarah Whitman has never wanted the life or marriage her parents have planned for her, wanting instead to be a sea captain in 18th century Hansa. When her parents are murdered, Sarah becomes a captive aboard the most dangerous pirate ship of the decade and must escape before her captain kills her when she becomes a woman on her sixteenth birthday.
Comments: I am a *HUGE* fan of THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, and this sounds like it could have some overlap with that book.
Ryan Kereke’s pitch: A failed ballerina joins the circus and falls for a knife-thrower with a troubled past.
Comments: It was one of the shortest pitches in the competition, but it packs some punch. Plus, I secretly wish I was a ballerina. So there’s that. 
Linsey Miller’s pitch: Adalmund Port will do anything to save her country—she’s gone to war, been an assassin, and sacrificed her arm for the princess. Now, her country needs her to work with a masked and misguided revolutionary in a neighboring country to stop a war, but at this point she’d rather take another arrow to the arm if it meant he’d stop talking.
Comments: Man, those last four words totally got me! It’s so dark and serious, and then that bit of humor at the end cemented it for me. Plus, there’s something insanely interesting about the idea that she’d sacrificed her arm for the princess. A one-armed MC? Intriguing!
Joy Given’s Pitch: Seventeen-year-old April Somerfield is a shy, self-loathing misfit who would blend in with the wallpaper, if only the wallpaper were a little less attractive. When she discovers the family curse that made her who she is, April must decide if becoming beautiful on the outside is worth giving up the truly beautiful person she would otherwise become.
Comments: Again, the humorous snark here “If only the wallpaper were a little less attractive” really got me. Then with the curse and internal conflict, you sealed the deal. Really well done. 
Gillian Speace’s pitch: Ten-year-old Gideon, one of eight rambunctious siblings, describes the funny-yet-spooky events that unfold when a mysterious Ninth Child shows up, claiming to be part of the family. Gideon quickly realizes that the Ninth Child is determined to be included--even if that means taking someone's place.
Comments: There’s something super psychologically creepy about that last line. I totally want to read this. 
So, who is the official winner? It’s so hard to choose, but I’m going to go with Linsey Miller’s pitch—I am really hoping that unexpected humor shines through! Linsey, please send your full manuscript to:, with a full-length pitch pasted into the first page of the document.
For the other “top pitches” I am still very eager to see more of your work—please do send your full-length query with the customary 5 pages pasted in so that I can further consider your material.

And of course, to everyone, please do query me, even if I did not select your pitch!

Thanks so much,
Mandy Hubbard

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giveaway over at Chanelle's Blog!

So it's not really a contest more than a giveaway, and it's super easy to join in. All you have to do is be a follower? Simple, right? And I think most of you are anyway. And there are THREE chances to win a book of your choosing. Any book you've wanted but couldn't justify buying? Or just haven't gotten around to buying yet.

Deadline is the 22nd, so don't delay, JOIN TODAY!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Writer's Doubt - Free Hugs

Is anyone else out there feeling a bit "ick" lately? Have the rejections, reviews, writer's block, insecurities, and eternal waiting gotten you down? Well, you're not alone. Being a writer, contracted or not, has its down times. Too often we doubt ours skills and our stories. It's hard to know when to scrap an idea and start over, or when to stick with it until it works. There's no exact recipe for success. It's a subjective game, and we have to go by what feels right and what doesn't.

To the outside world we appear mental. I definitely feel like they're right at times. That's why it's so important to lean on our writer friends. Only other writers and artists can truly understand the doubt that goes along with the creative mind, and trying to make a living from it.

Man Hug *pat, pat*

One-Sided Hug
So, today, I offer the only thing I can. Words and hugs. Cyber hugs, but hugs all the same. Let's not beat ourselves up. Let's lift one another up. Because we're not alone. Thanks for your support!

Hugs, Wendy

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vampires are rising from the dead...again - reviving paranormal

For a long time now I've been hearing - NO VAMPIRE STORIES, which was killing me. I LOVE vampire stories AND I have my own concept twist on vampire and werewolf relationships that I want to write some day. But after Twilight the market got saturated and agents were saying vampire stories are too hard to sell.

But when I saw Holly Black announce on Twitter that she had signed a deal for a vampire novel my response was a fist pump worthy "YES!" (read about it here). Holly Black is one of my favourite authors and for someone with her credibility being prepared to write about bloodsuckers means there's hope that a few more new novels dedicated to the sexist of the undead will emerge.

But while I love vampires, I know more creatures are needed to ensure the genre has a pulse on the bookshelves. I've researched a lot of mythology and there are some great creatures that I would love to see feature more prominently in books: 

  1. Gargoyles: Oh how I love Goliath from the The Gargoyles cartoon series. I've actually included a gargoyle in one of my works in progress. They are strong and tough, yet extremely vulnerable at the same time.
  2. Centaurs: They are manly and a horse! Plus they have a natural aloofness that just makes you want to get inside their heads. Strong and silent and intriguing.
  3. Imps: I want to see the mischief, the fun, not just the dark side of the fae world.
  4. Pegasus: Yes unicorns rock, but the winged mythical horses could add a whole new dimension to travel for a MC.
So that's my top four under represented creatures. What creatures would you like to read about?

NOTE: For those of you hanging out for the results of the pitch contest with Mandy Hubbard, please note she is working her way through the HUGE number of entries. Once Mandy has decided the ones she wants to see, she will have a guest blog post to announce them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

DJ's Advice for Aspiring Authors

One thing I've noticed about the writing community is that we're all happy to share our advice and insight on the publishing world. I have learned so much thanks to other authors and I wouldn't trade any of their knowledge or advice for anything. (Well, I might trade it for a chance to meet Stephenie Meyer...) So, I would like to share my own words of wisdom with all of you and I hope you add your two cents in the comments. :-)

1. Write because you love it. Sure, I wanted to be published, but most of all I wanted to write about creatures of the night and awesome kissing scenes. Writing shouldn't be about money or movie deals or becoming the next JK Rowling. It should be about your passion for creating art out of words.

2. Be open to other publishing routes. I'm with Pendrell Publishing, a smaller house based in California and I love working with them. Hunted couldn't have found a better home. I know some people are determined to be published by one of the Big Five (is it five? I can't remember, haha), and while this is a great aspiration, there are other options. Don't be too hellbent on one destination, because you might miss out on something great.

3. Write, write, write, and write some more. Even if a story will never see the light of day because its awfulness will sparkle in the sun and blind people, just keep writing. This is how you learn and grow.

4. Read, read, read, and read some more. :-) Study how your favorite author develops their characters, how they make the setting believable, how they show and not tell.

5. Live life to its fullest. The world has so much to offer and you'll become a better writer and person by going out and doing fun, strange, and exciting things. The more experiences you gain, the more you'll be able to put into your characters. Plus, no one really wants to spend their whole life in front of a computer writing. :-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Carrier of the Mark is OUT NOW!

Oh precious blog followers...

Guess what is officially in stores as of Tuesday???

That's right.


You guys have to go get it. Seriously. It's made of win. Check out my own review of it here and it's Goodreads page here.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go get it!

Oh and when you read it, come back here and let us know what you think :D

Monday, October 3, 2011

Finding Your Passion

I read THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER last week. Let me just say the book is made of awesome. I don't remember the last time I read a book this good. I loved it so much, I told a bunch of my friends about it. I plead the book's case and three people ended up buying it, devouring it, and loving it. I was fielding text messages, Tweets, and FB messages, a lot of which consisted of "OMG!" LOL. It was awesome. So much fun to talk about a book we all loved so much.

Then Saturday rolled around. I ended up in a couple hours long Tweet-fest on books with a couple different friends there. We were sharing some of our favorite adult series with each other, favorite characters, and which books were our favs. It was so fun to see which book they would mention. Which characters we all loved. Which boys made us swoon. I ended up with a list of new books to buy too.

Sunday was a writing day for me. I'm super close to finishing my WIP and when I get close, I get in the zone. I become obsessive about my book and don't want to walk away from it at all until it's done. I wrote for three hours at Starbucks. Came home and wrote in between all my household chores too. I was GIDDY over what I'd written. Even more in love with my characters. And PROUD. It's not finished and will need work, but I'm proud of the story I created. I couldn't stop thinking about it.

It's then I realized how very lucky I am. I know what my passion is. Books. And it's incredible because there are so many ways I can be passionate about them: reading, writing, talking about them. What an awesome, awesome thing it is to know what you love. To feel such a fire for something and to be able to DO it. I know what I love and I'm able to spend a whole Sunday LIVING it. I'm able to talk for hours about how different books affect me.

Amazing, how much words on a page can change your life. How you can live and breathe them and share them with the world. I'm so very lucky.

What is YOUR passion? If it's books, are you like me were you become obsessive about talking about them? Are stories and characters a kind of high for you? And because I love talking books, what's the last book you read that you just HAD to talk about?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Winners of Wendy's Giveaway!

And the proud new owners of two dystopians are...

Zoey Talbon - Blood Red Road

A.J. - Delirium

Congratulations!!!  :)  I put all the names in a cup and my five-year-old daughter drew.  She thought it was super fun.  I'll be in contact soon.


As for our topic about scary books for this haunting season, a couple of you mentioned The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.  Oh, my.  Kelley Vitollo began it this week, and pretty much cyber-tackled me to make me read it.  I just finished it last night, and I'm still reeling from it.  Spooky? Yes. Suspenseful? Yes. Sexy? Incredibly.  It's been a while since a book gripped my attention so thoroughly. I usually hate when first books leave off on a cliffhanger.  It makes me not want to continue onto the sequel. But this ending, even with unanswered questions, left me strangely satisfied and squealing for the second book.  If you're searching for something that will make you hear creepy noises during the night, look no further. Read it!!!
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest Signups!


Meet your hosts: Kelley York, Heather McCorkle, Christa Desir, and E.R. King.

We are so excited to be hosting this month-long blogfest in November for lovers of dark YA books. The rules are fairly simple. You only need to post on Wednesday of each week. We ask that you try to participate in each week’s activity, but you don’t have to if it doesn’t work for your schedule.


1. Put the I LOVE DARK YA badge on your sidebar or at the top of each of the posts you do for the fest. Make sure you link it back to the YAtopia linky sign-up.
2. Visit blogs of your hosts and other participants if you can. Interact. Make some friends. It’ll be more fun!
3. Your blog post needs to be up on Wednesday. You can post early if you want, but people will be hopping on Wednesdays.

The themes for this blogfest:

November 2nd:
Blog about your favorite dark YA book(s).

November 9th:
Write a 500-word or less flash fiction piece inspired by this picture—

November 16th:
Music and Movie Fun—Take a dark YA book and build a soundtrack for it or cast characters for a movie version.

November 23rd:
#YASAVES—Blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

November 30th:
Waiting on Wednesday—What dark YA book are you most looking forward to?

On the final day of the blogfest, your hosts will each being doing a giveaway on their blogs. Any of the I LOVE DARK YA blogfest participants may enter. Sign-ups will remain open for the entire month of October. Thanks for joining in the fun!

Note: If you'd like to help spread the word for the blogfest, please link to this post! The signup form won't be available anywhere else.

EDIT: Sorry, guys. The old linky list went screwy on me. I had to make a new one and manually move all the entries. Keep entering, we still have a few days to go!!