Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Top 5 Books of 2011

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday takes a look back at the awesome reads of 2011 and asks for your top five books of the year.  There were so many great books this year it's hard to choose. But here are my favorites:

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth (voted Goodreads favorite book of 2011 and best YA sci fi/fantasy! )
2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (can't wait to read the sequel next month)
3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
4. Crossed by Ally Condie (my very first ARC, courtesy of mundie moms!)
5. Hereafter by Tara Hudson

For me, the exploration of dystopian society and rebellion against oppression, the adventure of a journey through space, and the haunting beauty of paranormal romance made these my top choices.  Each of these books are part of a series, which I also love.  So, what are your picks for the top 5 books of 2011?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Far Would YOU Go to get published?

YA Highway's latest Road Trip Wednesday asks how far would you go to get published.

Would you follow a trend  just because it's hot? Would you take it a step further and switch to a genre that sells better? Would you do minor revisions, or even go so far as to do major revisions?

Excellent question this week!

Not writing to trends is the advice we always come across. After all, the trend could be over by the time you finish the book and it gets to market, right? So write what you love. That's advice I intend to follow. If it's a story I just am not interested, there's no way I could write it just because it's the latest hot trend.  I know very little about steampunk, for example, and though I've tried my hand at it once in a collaborative fic, I'm not sure I'd write a novel just to follow that trend.

Same thing with switching genres. Again, while I might someday write a steampunk short story, I'm most likely not going to try to make a whole novel out of it.  And I'm not going to write historical romance, or other genres that just aren't me. I think I'll stick to writing sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian stories for the most part.  If I get a suggestion that excites me, though, I'm more than game for giving it a try.

Minor revisions? I'd be thrilled if that's all I'd need. That would be absolutely amazing, and I'm more than happy to do any revisions that will make the story stronger. Same with major revisions. If it takes the story from good to AMAZING, I'm thrilled to work hard to get it ready for publication in the knowledge that the work is the best it can possibly be.  It does take a collaborative effort, with feedback from critique partners, writer's groups, and eventually (I'm hoping) from an agent and editor, to take a story to that level.

I can't wait to read what others have to say on the topic!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best November Read

YA Highway RTW time again! This week's topic asks you to dish about the best book you read in November. For me, it was:

From Goodreads:

Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.
With such an intriguing premise, I had to read this one. If you love paranormal romance, you won't want to miss it.  The relationship between Amelia and Joshua is so sweet, and I couldn't help but root for them despite the obstacles they face--a grandmother who wants to banish unclaimed spirits like Amelia who died in the river below a bridge, a possessive and dark spirit named Eli who wants to claim her for his own and will stop at nothing to do so,  and of course the fact that she's dead.  The story was unputdownable, and I'm so looking forward to reading the sequel(s).  
What was the best book you read in November? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Your Required Reading List

This week's topic:
In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

So many books to choose from, so little time! Of course, there's no question that the classics have to be kept. But how do you choose books that will really inspire a love of reading and get students naturally using all those critical thinking skills teachers want to see?

It happened with the Harry Potter series, where avid fans spent hours and hours online discussing the plot, the characters, the relationships, their theories about what the future of the series would hold. Oh, and of course creating everything from role play stories, to fanfiction, to a new genre of music! Even if it hadn't been a truly incredible fantasy series, for that reason alone it would be wonderful to see new students introduced to the series so they can discover the magic for themselves.

I'd also include the Hunger Games trilogy.  That could lead to a great discussion about society (What makes their society dystopian? How did it become so? Is our society dystopian in its own way and what might our society be like a hundred years from now, a thousand?), the symbolism of the Mockingjay, the characters, and much more.  I discovered an anthology, The Girl Who Was On Fire, with some wonderful author essays discussing politics, the effects of the games on the tributes, and many other aspects of the trilogy. The link to the anthology also has excerpts from the essays.

Those are my top required reading picks for generating great reading discussions.  Can't wait to see what others chose!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reason for Writing

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What's your numero-uno reason for writing?

Fantastic question! I would say my number one reason for writing is the sheer fun of creating and breathing life into new characters, new worlds--and getting them into all kinds of trouble.  I also enjoy the process of working through the edits to tighten up prose, play with words, and make it all better until the writing is something I'm happy with and that others will enjoy.  I have a looooong way to go with my manuscript--short stories are much easier--but it will get there. Hopefully.

What's your #1 reason for writing?  I can't wait to see how everyone else answers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Your Writing Journey

This Week's Topic: 
What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

First, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to YA Highway on the 100th Road Trip Wednesday! What a great topic to celebrate this epic milestone!

So far, my writing road trip has been a two-year long, leisurely drive along scenic back roads just to take in the gorgeous sights, meet awesome people,  and visit fun, exciting new places.  It's been an amazing adventure, and I have learned so much. I started on this journey pretty much without a map except for a brief outline of what would happen in the story. Along the way I've started to see the writing world, learn what's out there, found out so much about the craft to apply to my WIP, and started thinking about the next stops on the journey.

I've been posting regularly on this blog, and have met some AMAZING people by being part of Road Trip Wednesday's blog carnival.  I became part of a writer's group, Novelty Fiction, and have a short story and a microfiction published in their monthly magazine. Another short story of mine was published online at Flash Paranormal Fiction.  I attended an online YA writers' conference, Write On Con. Rejection has also been part of the journey. A contest entry of mine wasn't chosen for the semifinalists. I submitted another short story to an anthology with a fabulous premise, but I sent it off too soon without considering whether the ending was really the right choice for the story. So, I got a lovely personalized rejection.

Now I've reached my first destination on the journey: completing the first draft of my WIP.  My next stop: Editsville.  It's been a fun place to play around in as I tighten and polish the prose. I have a lovely crit partner now.  The biggest challenge--the one I haven't really faced yet--is going to be figuring out what to cut. I've got at least 30K words to trim somehow.

When the story is in solid shape and as ready as possible,  I'll send it off to the founder of Novelty Fiction. He has very generously offered a grant that involves critique and an edit of The MirrorMasters.  If this leads to a publication offer, fantastic! If not, I'll dust myself off and keep working, then query.

I don't know where this journey will lead, but I do know this. I have found my passion. I'll keep writing and loving it, whatever happens. And one day,  I will have a novel published.

A toast to RTW, and a toast to all of us. Enjoy the journey on the way to wherever it takes us! =)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

News, Passing Along An Award, and RTW!

First, the news: After two years (at least) of writing, I have finally finished the first draft of The MirrorMasters! Now the editing begins.  There are spots that need a lot more work than others, and I'm still working on figuring out how to rid the manuscript of about 35K words, as well as common errors. Still, it's an awesome feeling, and I can't wait to see how it all shapes up in the second draft.

Now it's award time! Thank you so much to Sara at Crow River Writer for awarding my blog the Leibster Blog Award. You made my day :).

The idea of the Liebster Blog Award is to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Once the Award has been bestowed upon your blog, pay it forward and recognize five other bloggers. So, here are my five picks:

(Aaand now I realize I misspelled the name of the award when passing it along on these blogs. So sorry about that!)

Kate Bennett - check out her awesome book, Inevitable.

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday asks what your best September read was. I didn't get a whole lot of reading done this month, but I have a start on The Hunger Games. So far, I'm loving the story and can't wait to read more.

Can't wait to see what everyone else's September reads were!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cover Eye Candy

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday is all about gorgeous book covers. So, here are my all time favorites:

(Lauren Oliver gets amazing book covers, doesn't she?)

(I love the original cover for this book, too. It's absolutely beautiful. But this one is gripping.)

And there you have it. There are so many gorgeous covers out there, and I'm sure I'm neglecting more than a few.  What's your favorite cover eye candy?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Deja'vu: Common themes and Places

This week's fabulous YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday prompt asks:

What themes, setting, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find reoccurring in your work?

Ooh, great one! I think for me the common themes are rebelling against authority and finding your purpose in life.  The troubles the characters get into--or the triumphs they achieve--as a result make for powerful stories that resonate. There's just something so fun about writing them.  I also love creating settings from my own imagination rather than setting stories in an actual place I've been, and bringing in paranormal, fantasy, sci fi, or dystopian elements to the plot.

The beach is a place that keeps popping up in some of my stories. I just love tropical locations, palm trees, soft sands, and calm waters you can get out an swim in.

I can't wait to see what everyone else has chosen!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When They Were Young

This Week's Topic:
What non-YA character would you love to see star in a YA book as themselves?

I would love to see a prequel to the Darkangel Trilogy that focuses on the White Witch. A young, innocent girl who gazes up at Oceanus (Earth) from her home on the moon and just wants to go there. A mother who won't tell her the truth, that the moon was nothing but a playground for the Ancients who came from Earth and later abandoned them--only to destroy themselves and their world. 

It would be amazing to read the story of how as a teen, these secrets and lies fueled her hunger to get to Oceanus. To watch her descent into madness and her self-destruction as she turns to evil to fulfill her dream. To hurt with her, to cheer her on, to hope that someone could save her before it's too late...

What adult MC would you love to see star in their own YA novel?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Announcement and Awards!

The Announcement

It's September, and on the Novelty Fiction group blog, it's time for our second monthly microfiction contest! Check it out and participate. Just create a story in 100 words or less, using the five words in this month's writing prompt.  Last month, there was an honorarium and publication offer for the winner, as well as for each entrant, so it's an exciting opportunity. Have fun, and good luck!

The Awards

A huge thank you to Aimee Renee, who nominated me for two wonderful awards: the Versatile Blogger Award and the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.  I'm just blown away by the honor, and the awards are so cute :).

Here are the rules for accepting the awards:

1) Thank and link to the person who nominates you.
2) Share seven random facts about yourself.
3) Pass the award to five more blogger friends.
4) Contact and congratulate the blogs nominated.

So, here are seven random facts about me:

1) I can't grow my fingernails long because they peel and break.
2) I'm not political at all. Yet a bit of politics somehow ended up in The MirrorMasters. No idea how that happened!
3) I'm an only child. And always wanted a sibling.
4) Big Brother is my guilty TV pleasure. I'm watching it as I write this.
5) I'm not sure what my Hogwarts house would be, but I can't wait for the official sorting on Pottermore next month to find out! If there were an equivalent of Divergent, that's what I'd be.
6) Desserts are my weakness. I have such a sweet tooth!
7) I have been married for three years. Time has flown by...

And the awards will be passed along to...

1) Stephanie Allen at My Personal Fairytale
2) Lisa Fee at Tall Tales
3) Peggy Eddleman at Will Write for Cookies
4) Peaches Ledwidge at Conceive Writing
5) HowLynn Martin at HowLynn Time

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best August Read

It's time for another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday! This week's topic is the best August read. This month, I'm yet again listening to Divergent at the moment (still absolutely love, love, love this book) , and I'm finally about to start Abithica by Susan Goldsmith. It was fun to participate in her recent Q & A about the book on Goodreads, and her book sounds amazing!

From the summary:

"She’s found the love of a lifetime, but there’s a catch: the body she inhabits belongs to another. 

How much change can one soul endure? It would help if she knew what she was or even how such a thing was possible. The one thing she does know is that God has a sense of humor where she’s concerned. Why else would He continue to place her in one host body after another without warning or a clear memory of previous switches? Abithica’s responsibility is to repair her host’s lives while they take a back seat. To ensure her survival and protection, she vows never to get attached, but this latest switch is different from the start. Abithica breaks all her own rules, and is left with a choice. What will happen if she refuses to leave her host’s body? "

What are your favorite reads for August?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Use Your Senses

This Week's Topic:
The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.

This is a fun question! 

I think most of my story is focused on sight, describing what people see, the glances between them, etc.

There are definitely opportunities to capitalize on the sense of touch: the soft, warm fur of Leah's family dog, the oppressive and deadly heat of an office fire, the icy cold water of a river that flows through the jungle on her homeworld Jantyr.

I'm realizing I do have a lot of places where I could include scent-- the scent of delicious foods wafting from the pavilion at the beach, coconut-scented suntan lotion, the smell of salty air, Brian's clean-smelling cologne,  the fresh scent of the air on an unspoiled world.

For taste, I've included different meals and can describe their flavors. Oh, and I can't forget the awesome fruit smoothies that Leah and her friends enjoy at the local hangout, The Wharf.

I'm realizing now that I do have a lot of sound included in The MirrorMasters - screams, cheering and clapping, the humming melody of crystals, the singing of the desert sands. 

I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else does for this week's awesome YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

And the award goes to...

Thank you so much to Aimee Renee  for this wonderful award! I'm so honored, and excited to spread around the blog love :)

The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

So, as I pass along this award, here are my top 5 picks:

The Write Time - Dean has an amazing blog on writing from a time management angle. 
Cindy Thomas - A fellow aspiring YA author who has an awesome blog!
My Personal Fairytale - Stephanie has also put together an lovely, amazing blog
Crossing the Helix- Gorgeous blog put together by fellow YA writer RC Lewis
Angelic Muse - for an awesome, fun blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Best July Read!

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in July?

I have to say, most of my reading lately was done in May and June.  But this month, I did listen to the audiobook for the second--or maybe third--time of Beth Revis' Across the Universe. It's an amazing story of a girl who chooses to be cryogenically frozen along with her parents so that she can go with them on a mission to inhabit another earthlike world. When she's awakened fifty years early, she finds herself trapped on a ship where things aren't as they seem--and someone is trying to kill the other frozens.

Check out the gorgeous cover:

Can't wait to see what everyone else chose for their best July read!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


(This is a short story originally written for a time travel contest, edited to add a little bit more today for Michelle's Greenwoman blog and her First Sunday Short Fiction.  It's set in the world of The MirrorMasters, with a scene not shown in the novel. Enjoy!)

I’m running through the woods as fast as my legs can carry me. My heart pounds frantically in my chest, and my lungs are already screaming for air. Undergrowth tears at my dress and wrecks my boots. A branch tugs the bun from my hair, making it spill down my back in long golden waves. The hair framing my face is shorter, damp and sweaty with the heat, and it clings to my skin. Tears stream down my face, blurring my vision. I choke back a sob. I have to be quiet, or they’ll find me. They’ve already killed my sister. If they find me, they’ll kill me, too.

Along with the sound of crunching twigs and leaves beneath my feet, I hear footsteps behind me.  I spare a quick glance backward and catch sight of the boy my age--sixteen, or perhaps seventeen--who couldn’t stop his father from killing Lisa. He’s found me!

“Stay back!” I shout. But he doesn’t.

“Wait! We never meant...”

I don’t care what they meant. Lisa is dead, and nothing can bring her back. Desperately, I search the overgrowth along the path for a way through, a place to hide, but there’s nothing.  Finally I can’t run anymore. A wave of dizziness overwhelms me, and I know that I will faint. I cling to a tree for support, and only then do I see that I am at the edge of a cliff. I catch a glimpse of the sunlight sparkling on the ocean below. I will fall into that water and join my sister. At least I will be with her again, I think before the darkness takes me.

“Janice, wake up!”

My eyes flutter open, and I’m looking into the boy’s ice blue eyes. He saved me? He’s set me down on a bed in a building I recognize. It used to be the parsonage for my church. Any grogginess I felt upon awakening doesn’t last long because my fury chases it away, leaving my mind clear. I spring to my feet, glaring at them both.

The father watches me closely, on alert to keep me from escaping again. “We need your help.”

“Help? After everything you’ve done?”

“For that, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am. When your sister struggled with me, the weapon discharged and struck her.”

The boy crosses his arms and scowls. “I told you we shouldn’t have brought it, Dad! Leah warned us what would happen.” As he looks at me, his expression softens. Yet lines of worry still remain around his eyes. "You look so much like her."

“Brian, we had no choice. We couldn’t take the risk that something would prevent her from coming with us.” The man shifts his gaze to me, piercing me with an intensity that takes my breath away. Whatever they’ve done, they both appear aggrieved, as though they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Perhaps they do.

I narrow my gaze at them, crossing my arms. “Coming with you where?”

“To the future,” Brian answers, “and to another world.”

“That’s not possible.” I run toward the door, away from this madness. Unfortunately, the father is quicker than I am and blocks my escape.

Brian grabs me by the shoulders and fixes me with a piercing gaze. “We need you! A descendant of yours unleashed disasters that will tear my planet apart. Her sister Leah is the only one who can activate the device that can stop it. But if it doesn’t work, we need to evacuate everyone offworld. We need every available MirrorMaster, and we don’t have enough in my time. You are a MirrorMaster, with the ability to use mirrors to travel to other places and times. You can save lives by helping the evacuation effort.”

A thrill of hope rises within me. "You mean, I could save Lisa right now, before we go?"

Brian's expression crumples. He shakes his head slowly. "I'm so sorry, but whatever happens can't be changed. Even if you go back, you can't save someone who has already died, no matter what you try to change things."

Stunned and devastated, I don’t resist when Brian leads me to a cheval mirror in the corner of the room and places a palm to the glass. I gasp when the image ripples and shows a desert city that looks like it had been devastated by a tornado, a frozen land that once held palm trees, and finally a crystal castle high above a shimmering golden sea. I see a blond girl in a glass coffin in a mirrored room, then what appears to be a conference room of sorts. On the wall, there’s a portrait of a girl who looks like me standing with a handsome blond king.

“How far in the future are we going?” I ask, knowing now that I can’t refuse this.

“Over a hundred years. Now, focus on that room and make the glass disappear.”

I look into his eyes and see he’s telling the truth about everything. “All right.” When I try it, I’m shocked to find that it actually works. He guides me through the mirror. I have no idea what awaits me on this world, in this time, but it will be an adventure. I only wish that of all the lives I will save, Lisa’s could be one of them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing & Publishing Mistakes. What's Yours?

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday question:

What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?

Awesome question!  I'm not at the point of querying yet, though I have been working on the query to get a head start. My goal is to get everything for The MirrorMasters ready for submission by next February or March.  I've had some success so far in publishing, with a short story published online at Flash Paranormal Fiction, one being considered for an anthology, and another for a different anthology in the works. So I have no funny stories to tell yet. I'll share them when I do!

The writing? I've made lots of mistakes there. I am guilty of the dreaded infodump first chapter. I had a two-paragraph introduction to set the scene and was told that some of it used passive voice. That introduction is gone now, but it would be nice to edit and somehow find a way to work it back in. I had too many dialogue tags. There are pesky adverbs to prune from the ms, as you can tell by even a quick scan of my MirrorMasters excerpt.  In an earlier draft of that first chapter, I was once guilty of way too many exclamation points.  For all I know, there could be a thousand other mistakes littered throughout the manuscript. Once that first draft is done, I'll revise until the prose shines and is free of major--and hopefully minor--mistakes.

Thank goodness for the opportunity to find a critique partner when the time is right!

At least with practice, you learn and get better, right? I've hopefully come a long, long way since I started this journey.

I can't wait to read everyone else's writing, publishing, and querying stories!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words....

...or a whole novel. Today's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday writing prompt asks:

Share some images that inspire your WIP(s).

These images from Avatar gave a bit of inspiration to The MirrorMasters. I'd always envisioned Leah's homeworld as being a moon of a large ringed gas giant planet, and I love the first image as a visual of how it might look to have a large planet loom so prominently in the night sky. The second one is an image of the bioluminescent jungle that inspired my imagination in creating the jungle area of her homeworld, Jantyr.

Can't wait to see the images everyone chose!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Priorities, Priorities...

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday Topic:
The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?

This is a great one, and it really makes you think hard about priorities. As long as my husband and I and the kitty got out safe, everything else is gravy. What would I take?

1. Bible
2. Laptop
3. Purse.
4  A favorite outfit or two
5  Kindle

Can't wait to hear what everyone else chose!

In other news, I've been working this past week on creating the query letter for The MirrorMasters. It's been fun, challenging, confusing and stressful all at the same time.  At least I have tons of time to get it ready. Hopefully I've made a good start on it.

Oh, and I have a cool announcement. My short story, "Unfinished," will be published tomorrow on Samantha Mabry's site, Flash Paranormal Fiction!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Elevator Pitch: Hook 'Em Quickly!

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday blog carnival writing prompt is a fun and challenging one.

You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!

Coming up with a hook isn't easy. It's a challenge to convey in a sentence or two who the main character is, what they want and what the stakes are, and who or what stands in their way. Last Thursday, we had a hook workshop on Agent Query Connect's weekly chat, so this gives me a place to show off my shiny new hook for The MirrorMasters. Let me know what you think!

Fifteen-year-old Leah Ellis discovers that she is actually from another planet. Now she has a mission to save her homeworld--if the traitors responsible for unleashing the apocalypse don’t destroy her first. 

Here's the elevator pitch of one of my favorite books: A popular, self-centered teen dies in a car crash one cold February night after leaving a party. Now she relives her last day seven times, giving her seven chances to set her life right, and maybe save another's life in the process.

So, leave your guesses in the comments! I can't wait to see what everyone else has come up with this week :)

Friday, June 10, 2011


"We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
-from the Dauntless Manifesto

The end of Dauntless week in Debra Driza's Divergent Faction of the Week Challenge is here! Time to report on the results.  I managed to wear at least one black item of clothing on most days. To even better look the part, I got a tattoo.

Ok, it was a temporary one. But it was cute. I felt Dauntless displaying the band encircling my wrist, with a heart at the center. To me, it was a reminder of selfless love that often drives bravery.

I tried to be a little more assertive this week. I didn't take any major risks or manage anything really daring. I didn't have an occasion to really stand up for someone else who needed it, or finish any projects to fearlessly send out on submission. So, all in all, no great strides were made this week. But it was fun!

As a writer I intend to be Dauntless, whatever rejections or roadblocks get in the way. As writers, we are dauntless. We keep going no matter what,  keep sending out our work, and brave the waters of agent scrutiny and public critique.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are you a Plotter or Pantser? Tell us your Writing Approach!

It's another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday!

This Week's Topic:
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Do you like to make a detailed plan before you start a project? Or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go along?

A great question! When I was younger, I never used to plan out my stories or use an outline. I was totally a pantser. Now, though,  I've found an outline really has helped me get through the story to where it is now--four chapters away from a complete first draft of my debut novel.  My approach has been really flexible. The ideas jotted down in my outline can change or evolve, and sometimes as I write, the story veers off where it initially was intended to go. New characters emerged that I hadn't planned for. Some discoveries and revelations happened earlier than I'd planned (note to self--when writing ahead because an idea for a future scene inspires you, the situation as it is when you write it initially may not end up being exactly the same by the time you write up to that scene).

So, you could say I'm both a plotter and a pantser.  I think it does help to be able to plot and brainstorm, using a flexible outline. It's a great way to start off a new project, and it can help to do additional work when you reach a place where you're stuck. Or when you're just not quite sure what really needs to happen in a chapter. It's helped me get going again by providing a guide and direction.

What's your Writing approach? Are you a plotter or a pantser?  If you write a blog post about it, leave a link here so we can all check out everyone's responses!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Erudite Week: Yes, learning is fun!

"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."
-Rowena Ravenclaw

So, we've come to the end of another Divergent Faction Challenge week. I'd have to say that this week went well. I made sure to wear at least something blue, as is the Erudite custom, even if that blue was only in a bracelet.

At work, I completed a data analysis in preparation for an important meeting, which served me in good stead when reporting on the results. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained in looking at trends and changes over time.

On Thursday,  I participated in the weekly Agent Query Connect chat, especially since I had suggested the topic of self-editing.  It was a topic I was keen to learn more about. Sometime in the next couple months, hopefully, a first draft of The MirrorMasters will be complete, and it'll be time to start on the first round of edits to get the manuscript ready for critique. After the chat, they've posted some useful links and resources on their site for anyone who wants to research more on editing.  It was a great, fun learning experience, and very timely.

Oh, and on Friday, I went to a book signing--my first one--to check out the experience and find out  more about what this part of the writing job is like. I got to meet Kate Bennett, author of Inevitable, a YA book with supernatural elements and a fantastic premise.  It was great to have the opportunity to chat with her briefly, and she gave me her card and signed the book for me. Look for a review here later!

So, all in all, it was a fun and productive week of learning.  I can't wait to hear how everyone else fared during Erudite week!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Amazing Giveaway!

In honor of YA Highway's second anniversary, the lovely ladies of this awesome group blog are holding a giveaway to celebrate.  Here's what they say about the prizes:


1. SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi and SMALL TOWN SINNERS by Melissa Walker

2. THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney and THE PREDICTEDS by Christine Seifert

3. THE IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney and WINTER TOWN by Stephen Emond

4. FRACTURE by Megan Miranda and THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa

5. THE APOTHECARY by Maile Meloy and AFTER OBSESSION by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

6. THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater and AU REVOIR CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber

7. THE SHATTERING by Karen Healey and a signed copy of SHUT OUT by our own Kody Keplinger

Our international prize:

A signed copy of CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS by Cassandra Clare and an accompanying rune necklace.

Pretty awesome! The deadline to enter is midnight EST on June 10th, so get on over there fast!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Candor Week: No Bluntness Here

It's the end of week 3 of Debra Driza's Divergent Faction Challenge. Time to report on how the week went.

Speaking my mind doesn't always come easily or naturally to me. It can sometimes take a bit of prompting and nudging to get me to do it so that people aren't left wondering what I really think. I am getting better about it, but I can't say that I made any great strides this week. Candor definitely wouldn't be a faction I'd choose.  I wouldn't want to be as blunt or tactless as Candor can be, nor would I want to deal with it from others on a daily basis.

I think this week proved I'm not meant to be a Candor. 

When chatting with others turned to gossip, I didn't speak out against it. I didn't want to say it in a way that might put others off, or come off as a goody-goody or something. Instead, I simply smiled and listened to the conversation, being part of the group without joining in the gossip myself. 

Yeah, my Amity was showing. 

A Candor would have had no qualms about joining in and honestly sharing their viewpoint--and would have said it right to the face of whoever was being discussed, too. A Dauntless would have spoken up to say what they thought, or defend the one in question, or challenge the others to say it in front of that person.  Or something like that.

At least I looked the part of Candor and wore black and white most of this week! Who knew I had so many clothes with white, black, or both to create Candor style for a whole week? I noticed it seemed to be a popular color combination this week...or maybe that was just because I was paying attention. So, how did your week go? I can't wait to see how everyone else's Candor Week went.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Inspirational People

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."

-Pamela Vaull Starr

This week's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday topic is: who in your life has most inspired your writing. For me, there have been many people. Most of all my mom, who encouraged me to do the things I'm passionate about. My grandparents, who inspire me to achieve. The many authors like Meredith Pierce and Christopher Pike who captured my imagination with amazing tales. My role playing friends over the years, and all the ones who have given me feedback and encouragement--you guys included!-- since I have begun this journey toward writing my debut novel. And I can't forget my muse, who kept nudging me over the years to do this. She must have thrown an amazing celebration when I finally listened :).

I thank you all and wish you happy writing!

Who has inspired your writing? I'd love to hear about it, and can't wait to see what everyone else has to say on the topic.  If you write a post about it on your blog, leave the link here so we can check it out!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Divergent Faction of the Week Challenge, Week 2: Home In Amity

Out of all the five factions, Amity the peaceful would probably be where I would feel most at home. Actually, that's the faction I got when I took the Divergent Aptitude Test on Facebook. Of course, I'd want to be Divergent---but Amity would be my faction of choice.

Abnegation would be a close second choice, but I might not feel any more at home there than Tris did. Would I live my life not feeling good enough, selfless enough?  Sure, Dauntless is cool. Really cool. But not the life for me. I wouldn't want to jump off moving trains, or train in combat, or jump down 7 stories into a net. And risk being factionless if I couldn't keep up? No thank you! The fear landscape part of training sounds really intriguing, though.  I wouldn't mind Erudite--except for the rotten, evil criminal mastermind. Some vocal members of that faction are known for just complaining....and complaining...and complaining that Abnegation has the leadership power and nobody else does. That would get really old, really fast.  Not to mention, uncomfortable.  And finally, Candor.  The kind of brutal, blunt honesty that could be more hurtful than helpful would again be really uncomfortable to live with day in and day out.

For the Amity challenge this week--and I really love these weekly challenges and am sorry to have missed the Abnegation one--I wore yellow. It's not my color, really, but I do have one yellow shirt that I wore, and I have a yellow raincoat. It's been a really rainy week here this week! I drank apple juice.  I sang (actually acapella at a coffeehouse on Saturday, which was way more nervewracking than singing with my band). And I didn't just sing last weekend; I sang with the songs on the radio this week like I usually do. Oh, and I was generally friendly, peaceful and understanding. We had a training this week at work in team building, and it was fun to get to know the others at my table. We had to come up with a team name, which was the Spice Divas (combining Spice Girls and Divas)  and worked together well to get through the fun teamwork challenges.

So, there's my Amity week. Can't wait to read what everyone else did for this week's Amity challenge! I'm leaving my link here on the blog that inspired the challenge. Check it out and see what everyone else is doing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celebrate Successes

Celebrate successes  seems to be a theme in my day today. I had a training in team building at work--which was totally fun and full of great activities--and one of the final stages in team building involved celebrating successes along the way.  It gives encouragement and motivation to keep going and to reach for even greater successes. It's so important to recognize even the smaller gains along the way as well as to celebrate reaching the larger goals.

It's so appropriate, then, that today's YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday prompt would be how we each celebrate reaching our writing goals, both small and large.  After I finish each chapter, I usually celebrate by sharing the accomplishment, either here, on my website, or on facebook.  I also mark it on my google calendar to display it on my website. It's great to be able to look back and see my progress! I also treat myself to more time watching TV or reading a new book. I've even treated myself to ice cream at Coldstone Creamery once or twice. When I finally finish a first draft, I'll probably celebrate with my husband by going out to dinner and a movie or something.  If and when I get an agent, and/or if and when The MirrorMasters is actually accepted for publication, the celebration would have to be something awesome, like a weekend roadtrip.

I recently wrote about some of my other writing goals, such as participating in writing contests and submitting short stories for publication. I'd also love to be part of a group blog.  When I reach those goals, I'll definitely be celebrating those steps along the way as I develop my writing career.  Maybe I'll branch out to other cool ways to reward myself--bubblebath and other bath and body products, a new pair of shoes, or a new book for my Kindle.

How do you celebrate those milestones along the way? I'd love to hear your ideas. If you blog about it,  leave a link to your post here so we can all check out what you've shared!

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Unexpected Award!

Thank you so much to A.M. Supinger at the Inner Owlet and Stephanie Diaz  for this wonderful award! What a lovely surprise :).  Per  the terms of accepting this award, I'm going to share seven things about myself and pass this award along to five newly discovered bloggers.  So, here we go!

7 Tidbits About Me:
1.  I was an avid role play writer.
2.  Going on cruises is my favorite way to travel. You just can't beat the dining, entertainment, activities, sightseeing in different ports of call...
3.  I experienced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time this spring. Rode the Forbidden Journey, had a butterbeer, shopped, and ate at the Three Broomsticks--what an amazing time!
4.  When going somewhere new, I'm much better with verbal/written directions than with a map.
5.  Drawing is not one of my talents, though I wish it were.
6.  I'm an only child and always wanted a brother or sister.
7.  I'm pretty good at memorizing lyrics.

The 5 Awesome Bloggers I award the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1.  Elena Solodow at You're Write. Except when you're Rong.
2.  Katharine Owens at The Insect Collector
3.  Tracey Neithercott at Words on Paper
4.  Alison Miller at Left Brained by Day; Write Brained-All the Time
5.  Kris N' Kels at Take My Hand...And Follow Me

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh, Celebrity, Lend Me Your Voice!

It’s time for another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday! This week’s prompt asks: if you got to choose a celebrity narrator for your work in progress or your favorite novel, who would it be and why? The inspiration for the prompt came from the news tidbit that Cassandra Clare's CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS was partly read by Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl.  Awesome for her, having an audiobook! I have a special place in my heart for writers who started out writing fanfiction--especially Harry Potter. I still love writing fanfiction and role play but don’t make as much time for it as I used to.  My writing time basically gets devoted to The MirrorMasters and the occasional short story.

Audiobooks are a wonderful format for experiencing a story. Sure, I love to read, but I do have a bit of a commute to and from work. With no CD player, I tend to use my IPOD all the time in the car and absolutely love having a great new audiobook to listen to.  I just finished listening to the audiobook of Divergent, and it was amazing! The narrator really captured the voice of the main character, Tris, and did a great job making the story feel vibrant and real. That’s what a great narrator does.  

If I could, I would choose Soirse Ronan to narrate The MirrorMasters. I think she’d do a fantastic job capturing the feel of the story and portraying Leah’s voice.  Listening to her in the movie of The Lovely Bones, especially the parts with her voiceover narration, I thought she’d be a perfect narrator as well as an incredibly talented actress. She’d have done great narrating the audiobook of The Lovely Bones.

So, what celebrity would you pick to narrate your work in progress or your favorite book? If you write a blog post of your own about it, feel free to leave a link here so we can check it out!