Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Contest Reminder

Just a friendly reminder, I am still giving away a $20 gift card and a $10 gift card. All you have to do to enter is leave a book recommendation here. You'll find the only rules there. You can find a list of books I've previously reviewed here and a list of books I love here (to help w/ recs that might threaten trolldom).


Monday, July 26, 2010

Chatting with Carrie

Image from Carrieharrisbooks.blogspot.com

Tell us about Bad Taste in Boys. What's it about and when will it be released?

BOYS is about a girl named Kate Grable. Kate’s super smart, and she’s volunteering as the student trainer for her high school football team. She figures the experience will look good on her college apps, and as an added bonus she gets to be close to her quarterback crush, Aaron. Then something disturbing happens. Kate finds out that the coach has given the team steroids. Except...the vials she finds don’t exactly contain steroids. Whatever’s in them is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating...zombies.

Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe. Not Aaron, not Kate’s brother, not her best friend...not even Kate...

Dum dum DUM.

Now that I’ve hopefully piqued your interest, I feel obligated to tell you that it won’t be on shelves until July 12, 2011. I’m sorry. I hate waiting too. Especially when the waiting involves hot gridiron hunks.
Who is your greatest inspiration in writing?
That’s a tough question, because I get inspiration EVERYWHERE. From people I know, authors I admire, fan mail, and so on. I don’t think it’s measurable; it’s a matter of getting that extra boost on the days when I’d rather play video games or go swimming or even clean my kitchen—anything but write.

But I hate not answering a question, so I’m going to say Richard Simmons. Because he SPARKLES. My second choice was Edward Cullen. Did you know that he sparkles too?

I guess I’m just inspired by sparkles, but isn’t everyone?

Do you specifically write YA sci-fi, or are you open to other genres as well?
I tend to gravitate toward YA fantasy/sci-fi, because I love monsters and my sense of humor hasn’t matured since I was fifteen. But I like the idea of challenging myself. Right now, I’m working on a middle grade, and I’m certainly open to other genres as well. It’s just a matter of finding time to write the blinking things!

Too many ideas, too little time.

Do you have any suggestions for unpublished writers trying to get published?
The thing that really made a difference for me was getting into a good critique group. Getting the right fit is important; you don’t want a group that’s going to make you cry all the time, but you don’t want them to blow smoke up your skirt either. Once I found a group that really challenged me, my writing went to a whole new level. And now, when I’m writing, I can often anticipate what they’re going to say and how to fix it. But not always!

Admittedly, I know a few people who have managed to make it to publication without a critique group or partner. I am almost positive that they’re mutants.

Are there any specific resources you found especially helpful as you made your way through the query process?
Well, I used the print version of CWIM, Query Tracker, and Verla Kay’s Blueboards to identify the agents I wanted to query. I also double checked Writer Beware, and I’m so glad I did because it saved me from some whopping potential mistakes. I kept track of every submission and response in an Excel spreadsheet, and I always triple proofed my queries before putting in the email address of the agent I planned to submit to.

I think the most important thing is to develop a plan of attack. There’s so much info out there, and I think a lot of writers just get so excited because THEY FINISHED THEIR BOOK! And they skip the planning part. Don’t skip it! Writing is a business. Treat it that way. While you can luck into a great deal, I don’t know many people who regretted taking the time to carefully choose their agent.

If you were forced to evacuate your home with only two possessions what would you take?
Image from Carrieharrisbooks.blogspot.com

I’d take my laptop, which contains family pictures, my manuscripts, and access to random YouTube videos to entertain my children. And I’d grab the number for my insurance agent. I think I’d need it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Linger Book 27

Hush, hush winners announced today, but not till the end! Sorry.

Stiefvater wows us again! I've seen a lot of reviews that say it was better than Shiver. It was not! But it was as good and interesting in a completely different way, the writing still lyrical.

This time around Isabel (Jack's sister) plays a more prominent role, and she is a very interesting character, not the "all" benevolent type you usually see in YA. But she's not a bad person either. She's just confident and gutsy. She and Cole (a new wolf with demons to battle) make a really nice contrast to Grace and Sam.

In Linger Grace finds herself deathly ill. She's fighting for her life and her parents forbid her from seeing Sam, so they're fighting to be together as well. I loved this book, but I found her parents over-reaction to Sam a bit hard to fathom as her father left her in the car to cook as a young child, and her parents had no interest in her life at all in the first book. The fact that they're still completely clueless about their daughter while hating her boyfriend makes it a bit more real, but it just seemed uncharacteristic.

Now for the other news, maglove  is the winner of hush, hush. She was unable to post her links here due to some technical problems P-52 had this week, but she sent them to me on Goodreads. Maglove please email your physical address within one week to bethfred08@gmail.com

With the struggled Grace and Sam must deal with, combined with the new story developing between Isabel and Cole, it's a very compelling book. And it's Stiefvater, so it's beautiful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Susan Says...

Today I talked with Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Life, Liberty and Pursuit about the book and writing

Tell us about Life, Liberty and Pursuit. What's it about and when will it be released?
Life, Liberty, and Pursuit is a teen love story about a college-bound girl who falls in a pool, the navy recruit who rescues her, and their struggle to choose between following their dreams and daring to love. It was released June 22nd and is available now in paperback and e-book! See the book website (www.LifeLibertyandPursuit.com) for ways to buy, as well as the book trailer, lost love letters, playlists, and other cool stuff.

Who or what is your greatest inspiration in writing?
My kids, and their perpetual love of stories, is a tremendous inspiration for me. But I truly write stories that resonate with me: powerful love stories, tales about individuals overcoming tremendous obstacles. I’ve always loved storytelling, but just recently started writing them down in earnest.

Do you specifically write YA or are you open to other genres as well? Why or why not?
I write both young adult and middle grade, and I love how those genres are wide open – you can write everything from a love story to science fiction. And I do! My background in engineering tempts me to throw military and technology elements into almost all my stories. While Life, Liberty, and Pursuit is a love story, it also takes David through boot camp and training to be a linguist in the Navy. I’m also writing a young adult paranormal story that occurs in the future, and a middle grade science fiction tale that occurs in the far, far future!

Do you have any suggestions for unpublished writers trying to get published?
Publishing is a tough business. The most important thing is to know is why you are in the writing game – is it simply because you love to write? Do you want to be a bestselling author? Do you just want to hold your book in your hands? Knowing what motivates you is important. I’ve mentioned on my blog that I wrote a Mission Statement for my writing early on, and that’s been a great help in keeping me on the right path. Once you know why you’re writing, then work hard at it. Take it seriously. Write a lot. Write some more. Get feedback. And keep trying. Perseverance is the one key ingredient you must have.

Are there any specific resources you found especially helpful as you made your way through the query process?
I blogged about my path to publication in a series called Adventures in Publishing, but basically my publisher asked me to submit to them. I did, and one thing led to another. I never actually queried, although I will start to querying for an agent soon, for my middle grade book (my publisher, Omnific Publishing, only publishes YA and adult). For writers wanting to learn more about the publishing world, I highly recommend visiting Nathan Bransford’s blog and J.A. Konrath’s blog.

If you were forced to evacuate your home with only two possessions what would you take?
Not counting my husband and kids (because they’re not possessions), I would take my mini-laptop and my two baby kittens. Possibly the cross-stitch my husband used to propose to me, if I had time. Everything else is replaceable.

Remember you can win hush, hush or a $20 gift card.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wednesday and Writing: On a Tuesday

Are we there yet?

Yes we are! I am finally the owner of a REALLY ROUGH completed manuscript, 116,306 words or 416 pages. Of course, 10% of this will be removed in editing/re-writing. But I have a complete story from the beginning of a crazy messed up situation till then end where it all plays out, after 4 months! I'm so excited. Don't get me wrong, I fully expect to have three or four re-writes and I'm hoping with all my being I can have a polished product by the winter conference. But all the same, I finished a 416 page manuscript. This is only my second attempt at a full length manuscript. The writing is much better than the first time around and the length has doubled. While it isn't a victory in print yet, it's a victory of sorts.

Thanks again to everyone who has helped with this. And now to answer why I'm doing Wednesday and Writing on a Tuesday night. Well, that's simple. I couldn't resist this post and I have something extra special for tomorrow. Hope to see you there

Quick reminders: You can win Hush, Hush or a $20 gift card.

Burnt by a Book

I feeling behind on P-52 as we're well into the second half of the years and I've only covered 26 books. I pre-ordered Linger eons ago, but it hasn't arrived. I ordered a couple from the library, but they are in the same status. So desperate for a book to plow ahead I made a run to Book People (a local bookstore) for a quick fix. I came up with the Prophecy of the Sisters and had great intentions of reviewing it as I've wanted to read it for a while.

Don't get me wrong, if a fantasy book is able to engross me I will read it with an open mind. But it's not my genre of choice. So when this book starts out talking about the Hoarders, I have no idea where it's going. The outside cover says The Prophecy of the Sisters and the inside title page says Chosen. Also Ted Dekker's name appears all over the first couple of chapters, not Michelle Zink's.

Befuddled, I wonder what the deal is. I'm trying to figure out why I haven't seen the names of the sisters once in the first three chapters. I flip through the pages trying to make sense of this mess and finally find a blank page. On the other side of it there is a full page of text, the first with Michelle Zink's name. I realize the first five chapers have been replaced with the first five chapters of a Lost book. Yes, I am the proud owner of a misprint.

I feel precluded by some cosmic order from reading either book now. After all, it was fate that I pick up the copy that was neither one nor the other. If I were the author, I would be angry because my reader got burnt. But I'm not the author so my debacle is only should I return the book or try to get both authors to autograph it and give it away in a blogpost or sell it on ebay? You tell me. I have no clue. I've never seen this before.

Please remember I'm still giving away a hardback copy of hush, hush which you can enter to win here and a $20 gift card which you can enter to win here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

hush, hush Give Away/Celebration

After several hours of trouble shooting and a very patient engineer to follow the coding (Emil) I finally managed to manually add the follower button that everyone else has by default. Yeigh! People can now follow me.

In celebration of this occasion and because I find myself the owner of an extra hardback copy of hush, hush, I am giving away a hardback copy of hush, hush. This contest will work like this:
Follow me: 1pt
Post a link to this contest on any social network of your choice: 1pt
Leave an interesting comment on this post: 1pt
Post the $20 gift card contest on any social network: 3pt
And in your comment, please leave me the number of points you have earned. Also, if you claim points for posting on a social network please paste a link to the posting in the comments. Do so by Friday, please.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Note of Thanks

The manuscript is coming along, and things are really starting to look up for me. (I don't mean to imply that there is any interest in it. No one other than my critique partner has ever seen it and it will be A WHILE before they will). But things just seem so much more optimistic now and I have a lot of people to thank for that. I thought today I would take the time to do it.

First of all, I sent an email asking how to find an agent to Kami Garcia, author of Beautiful Creatures not really expecting a reply. I also emailed Robin Mellom, author of Ditched, with that question and a few others. They both took the time to respond to me. It was from them I learned about SCBWI, (a wonderful resource, if you don't know about it, check it out). Thanks to both of you, as I've been a member of this organization less than a month, met some great people and found opportunities I didn't know about.

Maggie Stiefvater, author of Books of Faerie, and The Wolves of Mercy Falls, (which you can find here) had some really great posts on revision (links in the blog from two days ago). Her posts gave me some really great insights to things I'd never thought of. They have me questioning my writing more and looking for ways to improve it, a must if one is to prevail. She also hosts a critique partner match up on her fan site, where I met Jessie Harrell, who introduced me to http://yalitchat.ning.com/ another great resource. Yalitchat has been invaluable to me. The support group is encouraging but there are so many people to ask questions of and they're all willing to answer. Thanks to both of you.

In fact, I met my critique partner, Angela, on YALitchat. She's great. She tears my writing a part and she is there to pick of the pieces when I'm ready to beat myself in the head with a baseball bat because my writing is in pieces. (That's not really a critique partner's job), so special thanks to Angela.

My thanks to Carrie Harris who has agreed to do an interview on my blog. Thanks to anyone reading this, and all of you who participated in my contest.

And last, but not least, thank you to Emil Fred. (No link, he doesn't blog). The person who endures all of my 2 A.M. temper tantrums because the words aren't right or the scene isn't coming together. The person who tells me to keep going when I'm ready to give up and the person who forces me to take a break when it's time to quit but my stubbornness won't allow me to do the logical thing. I love you Emil!

I'm less than a scene away from having what I think will be a completed manuscript, though I will have to piece it together. One month ago, this wasn't the situation. And even if I had finished I didn't know what to do with it, or where to start! I'm going to the Winter Conference now. I'm not sure how it will turn out, but if it doesn't prove successful this year, it will be important for my future success, something I no longer look at as a lingering possibility but a reality within grasp. It wouldn't be without the help I've received.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sea Change Book 26

Aimee Friedman's Sea Change was absolutely amazing! To put this in perspective, I read a review on a blog about a teen age girl, a mysterious guy and sea lore. This book was set in Indonesia, and I was interested in reading something about somewhere else. I went out to buy it and purchased the wrong book, a book set off the coast of Georgia!

Well, I need to review 52 books this year, and I already paid for it. I decided to read it. The author gives detailed descriptions of everything, something that can sometimes bother me. And I did find the first chapter cumbersome for this reason. But by the end of the first chapter the book had really started to take off. I liked the protagonist and several of the characters really. The initial attraction and romance were authentic to the say the least. This story really came to life for me.

But it was more than that. I hadn't written in years, and when I watched Twilight it was a "Beth" message. Stephanie Meyer's writing style does have some large flaws, but that book spoke to me in such a way that I sat down and wrote a full length manuscript in the course of six weeks. Because of this, I've read the whole series about once a month since I watched the movie, (especially when I have writer's block). As you can imagine, I'm now sick of said series. Stiefvater's Shiver spoke to me in much the same way, but it's hard to re-read because in all of its poetic beauty, it has a slow pace. The reason I found Sea Change to be absolutely endearing is because it's one of "those" books. I don't know if it was a "Beth" message or just the way the words were arranged on the page, or perhaps, the way the story came off the page, but it left me wanting to write. In fact, I was working on a scene I'd been having trouble with and rather than being blocked the problem became, I need to write. I can't put the book down long enough to write.

Just my thoughts, but check it out for yourself.

FYI: The Neverending Bookshelf is hosting a book extravaganza give away!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday and Writing: People Smarter Than Me

As on this beautiful Wed. I find myself still the proud owner of an incomplete manuscript, I have decided to make this entry more useful and blog resources for writers.

So Natalie has some good writing advice on her blog in the side column there is a list of links for resources and a lists of posts she's done on writing advice. Maggie Stiefvater has some good posts on revision here and here and here.

And if you still need resources, I attended a workshop this weekend and the instructor left us with this
booklist: Writing Down the Bones, On Writing, On Writing Well, and Making Shapely Fiction.

Someone commented on my contest post that they would like to know the last book I really loved. I've read a lot of good books this year. It's hard to pick just one. I'm going to tell you a few that I really loved and why as I think the why might be more helpful with recommendations that threaten trolldom.

The Twilight Saga, because if I weren't married I'd beat Isabella Swan up and steal her man! Seriously, though the romance is really strong (although I would probably do this).

Shiver, because of the lyrical writing. (Though, I find myself annoyed that my pre-ordered sequel doesn't seem to have been mailed yet).

Beautiful Creatures, because the story is really compelling. The magical elements are strong and very well woven into the story.

The Hunger Games because a lot of the atrocious things that happen in Panem can be found in our society and we tend to overlook them. And Peeta is such a sweetheart.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Technical Issues Resolved/Book Lists

So I find myself posting twice today, because I'm blocked. I'm down to two or three scenes of gaps to fill in and then I can start stringing together the scenes I've written at random to make a complete draft. Though, I did some reading yesterday and found I have about a billion inconsistancies and repitition to take care of, because I started writing at random.

I cannot force the two scenes out of my head. It's driving me crazy, making me a nervous wreck. I'm doing what any sane person would, avoiding it.

I'm aware there were some technical issues recently that prevented people from commenting on my blog. They have been resolved. If you would like to comment please do. Since you can comment now, you can also enter the contest, sorry for any inconvenience yesterday.

And as promised a book list of books I've covered on this blog:
Beautiful Creatures
The Queen and I
Morganville Vampires
The Secret Circle
The Vampire Diaries
The Secret Year (I found this book grossly inappropirate for a YA audience and will not be considering other books by this author).
Hush, Hush
The Host
The Iron King
The Hunger Games
indie girl
Eyes Like Stars
Dear John
Princess of the Midnight Ball
Wicked Lovely

Please do not recommend other books in a series of which one has been reviwed. I have already purchased Sea Changed and Donut Days, so you can avoid these as well.

Princess of the Midnight Ball Book 25/Contest

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is a twist on the timeless fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Honestly, I call it a twist but I don't remember noticing any major differences in George's story and the original. More than a twist, it's really The Twelve Dancing Princesses embellished. The characters are more developed than they are in the fairytale, (since fairytales are so brief the characters are often just a name and a stereotype). But she adds a lot to the story making it more realistic and I think more enjoyable. For instance, the young soldier who saves the girls does it because he's in love with one of them and is trying to protect her. And he does actually know her. After the war ended, he took a job as a gardener at the palace. I like that he knows the girl because so often in fairtytales the story is "You're hot so I'm madly in love with you." This had a much better foundation, mix in some politics and witch hunting bishops and you have yourself a believable fairtytale. It's true the magic is never really explained, but fore me it doesn't need to be. Sometimes things happen that we can't understand or explain, and I'm okay with that. In fact, it's the beautiful part of life.

What I didn't like about it? It came off a YA shelf and it's middle grade. It also had a slow start. But other than that it was a good book. And if I were a younger person I would have loved it.

Now back to the contest, I forgot to mention a very important detail. Provided you follow the rules, you may submit as many entries as your heart desires.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Win $20 Barnes and Noble Gift Card


Okay so I find my TBR coming to an end! While I'm ecstatic that I've been able to read most of the books on my list, I realize that I have quite a few left to review to complete project 52. I'm asking for your help.

Leave a book recommendation in 150 words or less as a comment somewhere on my blog, and really sell your choice. I will choose the one that screams, "Beth, if you don't read me you will grow a pruple afro and turn into a troll!" The reccommender will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card. I will take a second choice that screams, "Beth, I will eventually cause you to grow purple hair and turn into a troll." This reviewer will receive a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.  I will also do a full review on each book, so make sure your reccomendation doesn't exceed 150 words.

I heart authors. If you have a book out, feel free to reccomend it. No shame in that!

Do not exceed 150 words.
Do not recommend a book that has been reviewed on project 52.
Do not recommend books in a series which I have reviewed one of.
Contest is open until Aug. 1st at 5pm central standard time. I will post the winners names on my blog and they will have one week to email me their address. I will then mail the gift cards.
Do not recommend Twilight.--I know, I know. I've never reviwed and I love it as much as you. Team Edward! But really, I'm looking for new books. (The Second Life of Bree Tanner is still Twilight).

I prefer YA. I have a special place in my heart for YA paranormal romances. But genre doesn't matter, as previously mentioned only books threatening trolldom will be chosen.

I spent enough time in small town, U.S.A. to know that not everyone can benefit from a Barnes and Noble gift card, sad but true. Should you win and find yourself in a town with no Barnes and Noble, mention this in your email and I'll be glad to send you a Hastings card in the amount you won.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Okay, so I seriously need to procrastinate. But for some reason none of my fav blogs have been updated. What is up with the blogosphere today? Anyway, so I've eaten entirely too much today. And after my last round of chocolate, I'm somewhat feeling up to writing again--maybe.

When I started writing scenes at random I made a list of scenes that were needed to complete the book. Every time I cross one off I add two more. At this point I'm 338 pages into it and still can't see an end in sight. Geez.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Which I Needlessly Chatter

Thank you for visiting my needless chatter session. You see I wrote some pages that were kind of blah. I thought I might cut them out later, but hey, they were there for now. I continued writing until I got the crux of it all--the dramatic final scene--no, I am not that close to finished. I'm just writing out of order because my poor re-fried brain can no longer think in a straight line.

So I open the document to finish said dramatic final scene. I re-read the last line to get myself in the mode and what do I realize? It sucks. Not just the last line the whole scene--and you know what this is what the whole book works towards so if the scene sucks that pretty much means the whole book sucks. I hate myself and I want to die!!!!

But not really though! I will finish said mediocre book. Then i will press DELETE! !!!!! I will start over keeping only the characters name and one day ten years from now I might have something worth reading! Ahhhh! but as my finger tips fly speedily over these keys, as i rant my self-hatred I already feel better. SO maybe, I can suck it up and write a better last scene and redeem the book.

*breathes in* *Breathes out* I'm closing my eyes and listening to Stephy chant "angel arms, angel arms" in my head. My crazy college roommate and the meditation exercises necessary for a peaceful co-existence follow. Thanks for the angel arms Stephy. I'm okay now.


Wednesday and Writing: Are we there yet?

Well, I started the scenes at random and it's moving this manuscript along, slowly but surely. I've been so busy with the day job recently that I haven't had time for anything else, but it's getting there.

It's still frustrating though, because I made a list of scenes I thought I still needed to get to the end (including the end). I counted them and had a number to start working towards. I didn't realize there were still holes to fill and so the list doubled. But geez, I'm well above 300 pages and still don't see an end in sight.

I just have to remind myself you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Eventually, I will see the end, and then the revision can start. Are we there yet? In answer, no but we will be some day and that's why we work today. I'd love to stay and chat (with the two people who actually read this) but I have scenes to complete so ttyl! ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eyes Like Stars Book 24

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev had an absolutely captivating premise. A parentless teen ager with no idea of who her parents were or what her history was growing up in a magical theater, forced to become a heroine when threatened with the possibility of losing the only home she had ever known. I was sold at the magical theater but thrown in a few fairy friends and Shakespearian protagonists and, of course, I bought the book. A decision I can't say I regret, but one I'm not as ecstatic about as I was before reading it.

There is a lot going on in this book: the search for Bertie's (the main character's) background, the search for a kidnapped friend, Bertie's goal of gaining permission to stay in the theater and last but certainly not least the quest to save the theater. Each of these scenes are described beautifully--too beautifully to the point that actions get lost in descriptions and flourishing language gives way to no transitions. One scene turns to another with no reason or rhyme and the reader is left to try to make the leap. Many times you're just lost with no hope of coherency. It's a mess--often times a beautiful mess, but a jumbled mess all the same.

There are also many characters in this book, most of which have previously existed in plays. Bertie is the only original character. With the premise of the book and the situation the author uses them in, I have no problem with the borrowing of characters. The problem is that they are never developed. The author relies exclusively on the reader's prior knowledge of the plays the characters were taken from and the playwright's character development.  Despite, overlooking an obvious opportunity to put some work in the characters and show sides that maybe haven't been seen before is the fact that not every reader will be familiar with all the plays characters are borrowed from and the author makes no attempt to fill that reader in. I think it's also an dis-justice to the characters as they are never developed as people.

Even Bertie, the protagonist, isn't well developed. She is sassy. Don't we love a sassy narrator? Well, it's really more bratty. She's often times sassy and rebellious without reason and we have no idea why, other than this is just how she is. It makes it hard to like her.

So why don't I regret spending my hard earned money on this? Well, because in the last 100 pages the author gained some sense of coherency and the story gained a decent pacing. In the last 100 pages, a rather interesting story unfolds and is told in such a way that it can actually be followed! Since this is a debut novel, I'm willing to cut it some slack and since the story did finally develop I may even read the sequel. Though, I remain uncertain.