Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Audiobook Winner and SHUT OUT Giveaway!

The winner of the audiobook of THE FOX INHERITANCE is . . .

Ilima! (my lovely crit partner!)

But don't be sad if you didn't win--over at Noveltee(n), I'm giving away a copy of Kody Keplinger's SHUT OUT, which comes out 9/5. Believe me when I say you don't want to miss out. Three out of three teens who've read my copy call it "uh-mazing."

There's also an interview with her. So go read that and enter!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Let's Talk about Sex, Baby

The lovely Authoress posted about sexuality in YA the other day, and I was inspired to talk about it on Noveltee(n), too. This is mirror posted from there.

Personally, I'm not sexually active (hi Mom and Dad!), but I've been exposed to people who are from a very young age. Let's just say swimmers are very confident in their bodies and physical experiences. And I'd have to be blind and deaf (and likely missing a few other senses) to avoid the sexualized culture of today's media.

Of course teens are going to wonder. Of course teens are going to make their own decisions.

Truth is, it's uncomfortable to talk through this with parents, so many don't. Many take action, and learn through experimentation, pressure, and regret. But I'm in the camp that's it's better to learn through reading, thinking, and relating.

I just finished Kody Keplinger's SHUT OUT, her second novel after THE DUFF. Both have heavy sexual themes, and Kody, as a teen, knows exactly how today's teens look at these issues.



And here's how: each girl thinks she's weird. One thinks she's weird for loving sex. One thinks she's weird for wanting to wait til marriage. One thinks she's weird for disliking it. With no one willing to say what normal is, how can anyone tell?

So when teens go to the bookstore, or the library, or browsing on their Kindle, we're just looking to see if we can relate.

We want to know if we're the only one who thinks this, or does that, or wants the other thing.

Frankly, I let the story be told. If my character is someone struggling with some sexual issue, I let her struggle. But I'm not going to force in gratuitous sex to make things "edgy."

What do you think about sex in YA? Why do you think authors include it? Do you think it's "right" or "wrong" to include it? How do you deal with sex in your writing?
Also! I'm giving away a copy of SHUT OUT over at Noveltee(n) on Wednesday this week when I interview Kody.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What's Most Important to You?

As I'm reading more and more (and more and more) manuscripts for my internship and for Teen Eyes, I'm learning a lot about what makes a good manuscript--and what makes a manuscript I like to read.

Surely people have asked you if you're a character, a plot, a writing, person. Do you prefer falling in love with characters? Or do you like a plot that makes you want to turn the pages faster than you can read? Or do you not care about those and rather just savor every beautiful sentence you read?

There's an exchange between a couple of my characters that goes like this:
"Try it," she says to me. Her eyes follow him up-down-around the deck, and I know if things don't work out between us, he'll have her as a fallback. "He's got nice abs."

"You know I'm more of an arm girl."
I'm not even sure which story that's from, but it always reminds me of our personal preferences.

Physical appearance alone, some girls fall hard for abs, others for arms, and others for legs.

It's the same with a story. Obviously the best guys stories are great everywhere, but sometimes we overlook flab weaknesses when our preferred body part aspect is awesome.

I personally am an arm a plot girl.

What about you?

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Making out with a Pool Deck

This is also known as the Looking Ridiculous post, in case you aren't comfortable with making out with tile (let's be serious, not many people are).

In case you all* didn't know, I'm back at college, and still trying to keep up my CrossFit workouts. The other day we had one that involved running a sprint 100 meters then doing some exercise a bunch of times.

And, brilliant swimmer that I am, I decided to change it to swimming a sprint 50 yards. Too late I realized this would make me do an exercise that involves lying flat on a pool deck. Mmmm, nasty tile.


Yes, my arms totally look like that.
This was made even better by the fact that I was the only person in the pool other than 10 water aerobics ladies. I can only imagine what my frenzied sprinting/climbing out/making out with pool deck/diving in/frenzied sprint/etc looked like for half an hour. Needless to say, I have better things to fantasize about.

But the freshman class is not the point of this point. (Dad, Mom, I'm totally kidding.)

The point is that this workout was one of the best workouts I've done in a while, and while I felt ridiculous doing it, it was ultimately the best thing I could have done. So next time you wonder if getting a critique partner/beta reader/professional editor is a good idea, remember that getting better first requires being worse.

Make sacrifices for what's important.

Next time your friends say "Let's go to the world's largest balloon fight at UK Friday night," don't be afraid to say "Sorry, but my revision outline needs to be filled out, like, last week."

But, please, don't do that all the time, because writing about life is only good if you're living it too. And making out with a pool deck is only okay until you become immune to chlorine. Or until someone realizes what you're really doing.

Tell me the last time you did something ridiculous! Are you sacrificing anything for writing? Have you ever made out with a pool deck? Don't you want to come check out these freshmen?

*I really had to stifle the urge to make that "y'all." You know you've been in Kentucky too long when.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: The Fox Inheritance Audiobook + GIVEAWAY



Title: The Fox Inheritance (audiobook format)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA sci-fi
Read by: Matthew Brown
Recieved: from publisher
Release date: 8/30/2011

I reviewed THE FOX INHERITANCE in book form earlier, but now I have an audiobook to not only listen to but also give away! This was my first audiobook in . . . oh, six years? As a story, it did not disappoint.

Synopsis
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.
Story:

Locke's point of view? 260 years later? Probable bitterness? Yes, please. Pearson still focuses on what makes a human human, but there are plenty more aspects explored. It's a story about selfishness, revenge, and the bonds of friendship.

The stakes are much higher in this sequel, with Locke and Jenna presumably "owing" something to the man who "saved" them, and technology making their cross country journey more perilous. But the characters were my favorite part. It's set in a far, far off future, and robots, or bots, do most tasks. Locke and Jenna are helped by one bot, and she is easily my favorite character, human or not.

I only had one problem with this book, and that was the whole host of antagonists. I get the whole "world is against me" thing, but the three factions working against Locke made each individual one seem less impactful. Still, The Fox Inheritance is one of the best books I've read all year, and I can't wait for the next one.

Audio-thoughts:

I thought Matthew Brown, the narrator, sounded authentically like a teen, and he did a good job of emphasizing the verbal differences between characters. Interestingly, Locke's internal monologue was the most hit-or-miss thing for me, as it occasionally came across as slurred and drunk. I think they may have been going for the deadpan apathy of a teenage boy, but it was just hard to listen to.

The majority of the time, though, I was engaged in the story and found it hard to do anything but listen, even though I had just read this ARC 3 weeks earlier. I listened while cleaning, unpacking, and setting up my dorm room.

So!

One lucky winner will recieve this audiobook!

To enter, simply comment. 2 extra entries for tweeting, and 4 extra entries for blogging. Let me know how many entries you have.

Contest closes 8/29 at midnight EST.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Plotting! With PICTURES

In case you didn't know, I was on vacation in Port Townsend, WA last week, doing fun things like camping (which was made less fun by being sick but WHATEVER). And staying in a brothel, but that's a post for another time. Like tomorrow.

Here's a quick link you all should check out if you're interested in learning more about Teen Eyes: Melodie at Forever Rewrighting interviewed me and Kate.

One thing you all prolly know is that I'm a plotter. What you don't know is that I have a very special place I go to plot:


This what I look like most of the time. Hmming it up. But sometimes:


Idea!

*Totally kidding. I do not have a sketchy concrete bunker in which I go to plot. But they did during the war, which is why Fort Flagler near Port Townsend does.

Other pictures of me doing my CrossFit on the go:




"Pick up something heavy and run!"
Something heavy=sister


Pullups!


Synchronized handstand push ups!


This was SO AWKWARD.


I love handstand pushups :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Today

If you've been following my posts this week, you'll know that I've been reminiscing about the past. Today I'm looking at how far I've come. If you had told me a year ago that I'd have almost 200 blog followers, over 200 twitter followers, have started a collaboration blog, and be receiving books for review, I would have laughed. How could I, someone so introverted, such a lurker, be able to do that?

But then I look at my web presence and smile. I'm not awesome. I'm not about to put my web presence in a query, but I'm happy with where I am.

And this series of posts is for the people who are where I was a year ago or five months ago.

You can do it.

Don't get discouraged right now. Be aware that the writing community is the most welcoming, most friendly one I've ever been a part of. Don't be scared to join twitter, or comment on blogs, or email people you admire. Most likely, they'd love to talk to book people too.

Disclaimer: remember that social networking is not a substitute for writing. Writing is what brings writers together, so keep that your priority.

Where are you now? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five Months Ago

So after we looked at where I was a year ago--not at all integrated in the writing community, scared of twitter, and without writer-friends--let's move on.

Five months ago, I wrote a blog post that changed the way I view the writer blogosphere. It was the first time I truly realized how awesome writers are, and how much they care. I got emails, comments, and DMs of supportive people reaching out a hand. Telling me they had been where I was. Saying that I just needed to stick it out.

Here's that post.

4/6/11

I'm a college student at a 1300 person school in a two-stoplight town where freshmen aren't allowed cars. You can understand how stuck I feel, especially since I don't know any other writers. Even online, despite the decent amount of followers on my blog and twitter, I don't feel connected.

I finally escaped the school for my first ever writing event (bar NaNoWriMo write-ins) to go to a book signing almost three hours north. Do you know how desperate you have to be to drive a 5 hour round trip for a two hour signing? About as desperate for real-life writing community as I am.

The online writing community is wonderful. If anyone saw Carolina Valdez Miller's blog party (which, let's be honest, was impossible to miss), you understand how friendly, how exuberant, and how supportive writers can be. But everything seems so spotty and virtual when these bonds are online.

One of the other things I've noticed is that the most succesful writers in terms of social networking are those who have great writer friends whom they've met in real life. Those of us without writer-friends stare at them with our chins in our palms, wondering how we can get such an awesome crit partner/cheerleader/beta reader/pep-talk-giver. We fantasize about the day Natalie Whipple or (insert your favorite social networking star here) will reveal they've been stalking our blogs and ask us to trade manuscripts.

We wish we could find those perfect people who live near us, are at a similar stage on their publishing journey, and are near our age. We wish they'd love us immediately, have brilliant ideas to fix up our manuscripts, and write exactly the books we want to read.

Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Time for some truth, guys. Kentucky has an awful writing scene. I've been dreaming about moving to California, back to Seattle, to NYC, to Salt Lake City, and finishing college someplace I can find friends with similar interests.  I'm almost dying of excitement for my first writer's conference (WIFYR, woohoo!). And while I want those things so that I can become a better writer, more than that, I want to feel less isolated.

Because right now, that's all I feel.

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Angst, angst, angst. Where were you five/six months ago?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One Year Ago

So, I wrote this post on my Livejournal account back in July 2010. I was too scared to be on twitter, and I didn't follow blogs. I didn't devote my own blog to writing--it was mostly about swimming with excerpts from my WIPs.  Oh, how far I've come.

Here it is. Go ahead and laugh.

7/7/10

Time to be serious.

When I was ten, in sixth grade, I started a Xanga account.  (Do those still exist, or are they mostly for middle school kids?)  I blogged a little with like five of my friends, but my blogs were sometimes out and out fabrications.  I talked all the time about my friend (a girl whose name I don't even remember) and her exciting life.  Yeah, that was all fiction.  Maybe it was the writer in me aspiring for a more interesting life.  Anyway, that blog was full of angst and boys and drama and typical everything-is-the-end-of-the-world.  (Except I probably would have said apocalypse.  Precocious ten year old.) 

I stopped when I got sick of my friends, because the blog had only been a way to connect with them.

That's why, these past couple months when I started cyber-stalking people, I was so hesitant to start my own blog.  I had this pre-conceived notion that everything on the internet was connecting with people I already knew.  Myspace and facebook are perfect for that, though I'm like everyone else who started on myspace and switched to facebook in like 2008 (which actually made me a hold out). 

But blogs. 

Blogs are for finding people who share your interests.

And for me, that's writing.  (And swimming, but swimmers don't have as big a blogging presence as writers.  If if were the other way around, I'd say it was something in the water.  Since it's this way, I have to say it's write.  Those were really bad puns, and I apologize.)

Umm, back to the point. 

Since I'm cyber-stalking EVERYONE (agents, writers, writer-groups, aspiring authors, editors, book bloggers, etc), I have a lot of blogs I click through during the day.  But there's no way to remember everyone, so now I'm wondering . . . why haven't I started "following" people yet? 

(This sounds like a digression, but it's not.)

I'm aware that some people read this blog.  People will text/talk to me (on facebook on in real life) about something I posted.  But no one has ever commented.  It doesn't really bother me because I'm blogging to find my voice and stretch my creativity and social-ness.  And no one is "following" me yet.

So.  Point of this post:
No one is going to magically find my blog, think I'm awesome, and recommend me to all their friends.  No one is going to randomly ask me to guest blog.  I will (99% certain) not write a hard-hitting piece of journalism which suddenly gets my blog linked on twitter and everything. 
Since I'm not famous in the writing community (yet), I HAVE TO HOLD OUT MY HAND.  It's my job to follow the people who are already established. 

Which brings me to the next part of this.  The scariest part.

Twitter.

Twitter is SCARY!  It's like blogs, except you tag people so they know what you're saying about them!  And then they click on you and say . . . "oh my gosh what a freaking loser.  She thinks she's a writer.  Her voice is non-existent and how on earth does she think that's funny?  Even on the 1 in a 999999999999999999999999999999999 chance she pays someone to publish her awful book (seriously, I read the summary and it SUCKs), I would never read it." 

But apparently Twitter is the writer's paradise, so I'm going to bite the bullet.  Soon.

 . . . Just not yet.

Because Twitter isn't fun until you can interact with people, and I want to at least have a blog follower / following before I start randomly @-ing people out of the blue.

So today I will write a list of people I want to follow and then start clicking "follow."

Hmm, I just realized that this post will be read if they get curious about the freak who added them.  HI GUYS!

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Oh, how far I've come. Where were you one year ago?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Not Patronized

I was really surprised by the comments to my last post about not wanting to be a writer. I wrote that post not as a "this is hard; I'm struggling" thing, but rather to see how you all think of yourselves. I don't have a problem being a girl who writes.

Thank you so much for all your support, and I do agree with those who say "If you write, you're a writer." Unfortunately, I had to make a distinction somewhere, and it came down to the nuances of vocabulary.

I also want to address one comment from my The Power to Choose post, where Laurathewise said:
I always hate it when people say things like "what mature subject matter for 'such a young age.'" It's patronizing, like they've forgotten what it was like to be young, lost, and confused about those very questions and choices you're writing about.
While I agree that "for such a young age" is often patronizing, I disagree that it was patronizing in that statement. The truth is that teens are rarely concerned with the world outside of their front doors. (Before you jump on me, I know that there are exceptions! I know that most writer-teens who are on this blog are exceptions!)

So when my critique partner said she was impressed by my age with subject matter, I took it as a compliment to my maturity.

In other news, if you're a teen writer you totally need to check out today's Noveltee(n) post.

Mostly, though:

Go read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Now.

I'm not kidding.

Review coming later.

It's incredible.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Don't Want to be a Writer

Something really, really weird hit me the other day. I got an email from one of my critique partners, and she gently reminded me that, while I'm an amazing drafter, I need to be better at revising. And I know this. I know I have very clean, very quickly written first drafts, and I know that my idea of revising is weak at best.

Yet I have always shrugged my shoulders and hoped it's good enough.

"One of these days, I'll write a first draft good enough to get an agent," I tell myself. And maybe that's true. Maybe after I draft 20-30-40 novels, I'll be writing bestsellers without revision. But in the right here-right now, I'm not good enough to not revise.

But for some reason, when my CP pointed that out, I didn't care.

So I've been thinking about what that means. And I think I figured it out. I don't want to be a writer. I don't want to be a person who lives and dies by the perfection of revisions and the marketability of an idea. I love writing. I love stories and characters and even grammar. The clack of computer keys. The way it feels at eleven PM waking up from a near sleep to jot down an idea.

But I don't want it as a job if it's going to be hard.

(Which you could totally say is laziness, but I really feel like with my life, laziness isn't applicable.)

And maybe a few years from now, when I have to have a job, I'll do it when it's hard.

But right now, what's wrong with drafting when I'm inspired? Revising when I feel like it? Querying too early or not querying at all? Right now, I write. But I'm not a writer.

What about you? Why do you write? Are you a writer? Or do you just write?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: The Fox Inheritance


Title: The Fox Inheritance
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA sci-fi
Release date: August 30, 2011
Rec'd: ARC from library program

One spring day in 2010, I went to the bookstore. I had just begun really getting interested in the YA community, and I'd seem book recommendations for something called The Adoration of Jenna Fox. "Hmm," I said. "I guess I'll check it out." In between prelims and finals of a swim meet, I devoured it.

As The Adoration of Jenna Fox was the reason I started reading again, I had to snatch up The Fox Inheritance when I saw it sitting on my library's "for-review" cart.

And omg. So glad I did.

Goodreads summary:
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.
Locke's point of view? 260 years later? Probable bitterness? Yes, please. Pearson still focuses on what makes a human human, but there are plenty more aspects explored. It's a story about selfishness, revenge, and the bonds of friendship.

The stakes are much higher in this sequel, with Locke and Jenna presumably "owing" something to the man who "saved" them, and technology making their cross country journey more perilous. But the characters were my favorite part. It's set in a far, far off future, and robots, or bots, do most tasks. Locke and Jenna are helped by one bot, and she is easily my favorite character, human or not.

I only had one problem with this book, and that was the whole host of antagonists. I get the whole "world is against me" thing, but the three factions working against Locke made each individual one seem less impactful. Still, The Fox Inheritance is one of the best books I've read all year, and I can't wait for the next one.

Are you excited for August 30?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Power to Choose

I'm a teen. I have issues. My friends have issues. My coworkers, my schoolmates, my friends' friends have issues. I see problems in their faces, on the news, down the street.

Don't ever say teens aren't mature enough to handle abortion, war, suicide, drugs, or anything that is an alleged cause to ban a book.

This isn't a rant on book banning or censorship. This is about a question I get asked a lot. My most polished two novels are SPLASHBACK (about a girl with one chance to save her sister from prostitution) and PLAYNG GOD (about a world ruined by the disappearance of religion).

I get questions like "Why do you write about such heavy topics?" And comments like "I'm really impressed about your subject matter for such a young age."

Truth is, I write what I care about. I care about the religious future of the world and about the choice or anti-choice of women who sell themselves. I care about sisters desperate to save each other and parents who have abandoned hope. About boys who love power and girls who need out of an abusive relationship.

I didn't write these books to have a message.

But when a student wrote me a note saying how much an abusive relationship in one of my novels spoke to her, I realized how much words have power. How writing what I don't know but feel passion for can be more life-changing than anything else.

I didn't write SPLASHBACK to say women should never sell themselves. Honestly, I don't know what I believe in that case. But I know I believe that women should have a choice as to whether they want to sell themselves.

I didn't write PLAYING GOD to say any one religion was right. I'm a Christian, but PG is not Christian fiction. It's a speculative look on a world without the option of religion, and how that takes away choice.

So maybe they are issue books. But really, it all comes down to one thing: the power to choose.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winners! Winners!

And SHATTER ME goes to . . .

Katelyn Larson!

The full manuscript critiques go to . . .

Random (please send your full manuscript to teen-eyes-editorialAThotmailDOTcom, and Kate will critique it):

Heidi!

Pitch (please send your full manuscript to tarynalAThotmailDOTcom, and I will critique it):

Melodie!

Congratulations, everyone! Kate and I had a lot of fun looking at the pitches.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Genres and Strokes

So once upon a time I did this post. In it, I took types of writers and compared them to types of swimmers, and there may or may not have been shirtless swimmer-guys for examples, just in case you need some incentive to check it out.

I'm feeling like doing another marriage-of-my-two-lives post.

In swimming, there are four strokes, but everyone knows there are six ways to divide swimmers.

Sprint freestyle
Ahh, sprinters. At first glance, everyone is jealous of the sprinter. How could a race that takes less than a minute be as hard as a 15 minute one? But add in the necessity for perfection, the knowledge that .01 could be your downfall, and suddenly you're sweating. Too much pressure. Sure, it's easy to swim across the pool, but swimming it well? A whole different ballgame.

Eamon Sullivan-AUS

Sprinters are like the contemporary writers. First thought: ohh, contemp is easy. No need to worldbuild. No need to draw extensive maps, or figure out a way to make on-foot travel across many miles interesting. But then again, contemporary is what everyone lives everyday. Writing it well? Much, much more difficult.

Distance freestyle
That person in the pool long after practice ends? That's the distance swimmer. The one who believes in quantity, in fully immersing in their craft. The one who isn't afraid to go the extra mile, so to speak, if that's what it takes.


Ous Mellouli - Tunisia
There's really no question: distance swimmers are epic fantasy writers. Who else would spend the hours and hours writing those backstories, drawing those maps, and planning an epic twenty book saga. Sometimes the rest of writers shake their heads as if you're doing too much, but the truth? They're in awe.

Backstroke
It's like freestyle, but on your back. Lots of people call freestyle the "boring stroke" and backstroke is only a step up. Same stroke, new twist.

Aaron Peirsol - USA
Kinda like same setting, new problems, right? That's why I consider backstroke to be the swimming world's equivalent of mystery/thriller/suspense novels. Contemporary setting, but instead of trying to find yourself/get the guy/graduate high school, you're chasing a bad guys with the threat of death. A little bit more interesting, right? (*interesting does not mean any one mystery is better than any one contemp. Just that the genre has a little more . . . oomph to it*)

Breaststroke
There are two ways to describe breaststroke: that awkward stroke or that dirty stroke. There are also two ways to learn breaststroke: naturally or through endless practice. With all the variations in technique, even at the highest level, breaststrokers have the most ability to be unique yet still in the same race.


Ed Moses - USA
Unique, and same genre? Sounds like paranormal to me. Mermaids, vampires, witches--they're very different, but very solidly placed under the umbrella of paranormal. And, speaking of dirty, well . . . who hasn't seen the adult paranormal romance section?

Butterfly
So beautiful when done right, so painful when done wrong. Young swimmers gulp when their coach assigns it--oh, who am I kidding. Old swimmers gulp too. It's a punishment, a trophy, a grueling manifestation of years of work. And done right? The most effortless stroke of all.

Milorad Cavic - Serbia
 What genre requires complete world building in addition to a realistic look at society today? Dystopian combines these elements in a way that is the hardest to get right, and the hardest-hitting when presented best. Who didn't get chills when reading 1984?

Individual Medley
Take the four strokes (in the order butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle) and smush them into a race. Emerging the champion doesn't just require a strength--it requires no weakness.

Ryan Lochte - USA

That's why genre-benders are so hard to sell. Talk about your romantic sci-fi western with paranormal elements, and you'll have agents running far, far away. But done well . . . Natalie Whipple says it better than I could.

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What do you think? Agree, disagree? Enjoy the pictures?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Ode to My Critique Group

Just a year ago, I was lamenting my lack of eligible critique partners. I had no idea how I would ever find people with whom to forge any sort of lasting bond. Sure, I did the Absolute Write thing, but as I am terrified of forums, that didn't really work. I also posted comments on other calls for CPs, like this at Let the Words Flow, this at Mary Kole's blog, and this at Natalie Whipple's blog,  but nothing really forged a bond for me.

Then, all of a sudden, just after my dark moment, I found writer friends popping up out of nowhere. The Write On! teen forum. Random phone calls. Twitter. Blogs. And, of course, a conference.

Now I have the best crit group ever (five of us), and a whole bevy of beta readers (all teens). I have people who may not have time to read my whole MS, but they are willing to critique my query or synopsis tirelessly.

Let me tell you about my crit group.
  • We all met in the same novel writing class at WIFYR this past year.
  • Our genres span spins of Arthurian legends to sci-fi recovering the lost planet Earth to retellings of Beauty and the Beast to imaginings of a future without God to an ancient Hawaiian romantic fantasy.
  • We span two decades in age.
  • We live anywhere from Washington to California to Florida.
  • We all have blogs in various states of upkeep. (Yes, this was a guilt trip for you all to POST MORE!)
  • Katie can put together the most beautiful sentences.
  • Robin is writing the most unique fairy tale retelling I've ever seen.
  • Ilima weaves a setting perhaps more realistic than the real thing.
  • Emily's characters feel like they're my best friends, and I can't help but love following them through the incredible twists of her plot.
Whenever I see an email from these lovely ladies in my inbox, I can't wait to open it and learn whether it's a link meant to motivate, a personal anecdote, a piece of writing to be critiqued, or something else entirely.

Here's to you, girls!

I hope everyone else finds a group so awesome.

Monday, August 1, 2011

YA Scavenger Hunt!

My To-Be-Read pile is kind of scary at the moment thanks to the discovery of two used book stores and the sales of Borders and the lucky contest winning streak I had. (*pets ARCs*)

If you guys aren't participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt, you're missing out. I just finished my madlib, and not only was it fun, it's totally worth it.

The SHATTER ME contest, the free edit contest, and the partial edit contest are all still going on, so check those out. In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the morality of buying ARCs which are being sold. Chime in here.

What are your August plans? Is anyone going back to school? Starting college? A new job? Tell me all about you!