Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best Banned Book Bonanza: SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson

I don't think I need to remind you that this week is Banned Book Week. The blogosphere is buzzing with posts on how much banning books sucks. I am here today to second that.

The ever-awesome Tahereh and The Rejectionist have teamed up to host the Best Banned Book Bonanza, where people can review their favorite banned book on their blogs.  

Me? I'm going with one I can never stop thinking about.






I have so much to say about this book, but I won't say it. Everyone who's anyone around the Web has already said it on my behalf. And they said it better than I ever could.

I am going to take a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness of Anderson's writing, though. This woman took a tale about rape and infused it with moments of humor, wit, and a killer deadpan voice. Anderson paints the reader a big picture, one that's impossible to miss--speaking up is the only way you can heal. The only way you can move on, find happiness, and be yourself. 

That's why book banners can suck it. Hard. "Don't read this book" becomes "don't listen to that person". And even worse, "don't think for yourself". I'm very sorry, but nobody needs to be told how to think. Especially if the thoughts are stupid, backed up by prejudice and ignorance. Isn't USA the land of the free, people? Well, that includes defending what you believe in. And if a story about a rape victim and the consequences of such an atrocious act is what you believe in, defend it. 

Never shut up, folks. Speak LOUDER. 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yep. I've Been Tagged.

My crit buddies Lindsay and Katrina have ruined my life by tagging whoever reads their blog. 

Okay, they didn't ruin my life... Just my time spent on studies... and outlining...

Anyway. I've been tagged. 






My challenge? Answer 8 questions.

Here we go...


1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?


Just one???? Oh, all right... Mind control. So Jensen Ackles will finally see the light and marry me. :)


2. Who is your style icon?


Personal style (as in, I would wear EVERYTHING in their closet): Gwen Stefani


Style icon: Diane Von Furstenberg 




3. What is your favorite quote?

I seriously cannot choose one. Case in point: I have TWO NOTEBOOKS full of quotes I've picked up from movies, songs, and real life. 


But one that's been swimming around my mind lately is: "She is a pyramid/ but with him, she's just a grain of sand"- Pearl by Katy Perry. Heartbreak and empowerment all rolled into one. 




4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

A boy I once knew told his guy friends I was the most loyal person he'd ever met. The guys eventually trusted me with their secrets, and when I asked why I was suddenly so relevant to them, they spilled on what he'd said. :)




5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?

My current WIP's playlist has a lot of dudes singing about love: James Blunt, Erik Hassle, One Republic,  Lifehouse, and Nelly (yes, rappers have hearts, too...). 




6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

More like an afternoon person, if such a thing exists.




7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Dogs. All the way. I like to cuddle, and cats don't seem to share my penchant for cuddle time.




8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?


No Rest For The Lazy. 

Me? Lazy. Rest? Nonexistent. 

Also, I think anyone who has a passion needs to choose proactivity. You can't just sit back and watch as your dreams pass you by, even if you suffer from chronic laziness. *raises hand* 


In honor of my life being ruined by my crit buddies, I have decided to ruin yours, too. If you read this, you're officially tagged. 

Ha.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice Part Deux

On my first edition of Teenage Dream, I suggested you find lyrics with meaningful teen stories. For the second part in the series, I'm going with something I've loved for years.

Teen magazines.

Sure, there are tons of articles that highlight what's hot with teens these days, but that's not what I want you to focus on. Think about it: what makes you buy any magazine? Is it 100% the articles you'll find inside? Or is it...




the person on the cover?

I can hear you all shouting together: "what's so important about the person on the cover, Amparo???"

Simple. That person is interviewed.

Teen magazines feature the most popular young celebrities out there. Just like with pop songs, you don't have to listen to them if you don't like them. You read their lyrics and save yourself the agony of enduring the auto-tune overload. Same goes for teen magazines--don't read the whole thing if you don't want, but definitely take a look at the interviews. 

Not all young celebrities are created equal. Different people see the world with different sets of eyes. Want a frivolous, OMG-type of POV? Read Miley Cyrus. Looking for someone a bit more socially conscious and mature? Emma Watson's your girl. 

My point? Word choice makes or breaks your narrative. Interviews are very contained, short experiences where the artist has to come up with *decent* answers at the drop of a hat. You'd be surprised at how well most teen celebrities handle them. They can be smart, witty, or a bit distant (when personal stuff gets thrown in the mix). Not all teens express themselves the same way. Neither should your YA characters. 

So my second tip would be: read interviews from teens with meaningful lives. 

By meaningful, I don't mean those who make trillions of dollars to shake what their mama gave them. I mean teens who know about the world and have an opinion to share. Teens who've seen the worst and have come out of it stronger than they ever expected. Teens who had a dream and turned it into reality.

Teens you'd easily find in YA books. :)

Now raise your hand if you read teen magazines *raises both hands and stands on tiptoes*

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monday Book Madness: Daisy Whitney's THE MOCKINGBIRDS

I know I say I can't wait to get my hands on a particular book every Monday, but this time, I mean it x1000.

Le book:



THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney



Le blurb:

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.


I'm on a serious contemporary kick lately (I think that's because I STILL haven't read Clockwork Angel or Paranormalcy...). This book is right up my alley--secret society, girl power, mysteries galore. 

Sold.

Other than that, I'm confident about the way Whitney mixes a very serious issue (date rape) with a lighter  tone. Not many writers venture into this territory, mainly because it's such a steep hill to climb. I'm glad Ms. Whitney took the challenge.

THE MOCKINGBIRDS comes out on November 2nd, so mark your calendars.


How about you? Any books you're dying to read this week?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment: Creating Compelling Characters

Yep, it's another blogfest entry, folks. Today I join the Trifecta of Awesome that is Elana Johnson, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Jen Daiker for their Great Blogging Experiment

The topic? Creating compelling characters.

There are three things that make a character unforgettable to me. I like to call them the three C's:


1) Their channeling. Voice--we've all heard about it. We've all suffered through the terror of not creating a believable, authentic teen voice. To me, it's not so much that a character's voice has to be believable or authentic in terms of how teens really speak nowadays. It's all about how your main character channels the world around them to your reader. And the best way to create a compelling channeling experience is to see that world from an unusual point of view. 

When I say unusual, I don't mean weird. I mean saying 'it looked like a dog barfed on the stupid thing' instead of saying 'it looked terrible'. Anyone can say something looks terrible. But how does your character say it? How does he/she see what surrounds them? If a character can make me envision setting/action/emotions in a way I never expected to, I'm sold. They stay with me long after I finish their story.


2)  Their choices. Sure, motivation is super important. They're what makes a character move forward in the story. But let's say we have two different books with two different main characters. Character A is shy and insecure, while Character B is outgoing and cocky. They both have the same motivation--to get the girl before senior year is done. That's not what makes them who they are, though. It's what they do to get the girl that matters. It's how they face the seemingly impossible obstacles in their way that makes them jump off the page. Remember that awesome quote from Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? "It is not our abilities that define us. It is our choices." Yep. The old timer nailed it.


3) Their change. Character development is often sacrificed for other things in books. This. Cannot. Happen. Seriously, who wants to stick around with a person who never learns from their mistakes? Who brushes off the hardships thrown at them by life without getting derailed? Not only is this annoying to most readers, it's also reflective of poor writing skills on the author's part. Trust me--you don't want people hating on you because of poor writing skills! 

Let's go back to Characters A and B for a moment. Character A, the shy and insecure dude, starts off in a really sucky place emotionally. As the story progresses, so does he. It can be offering his crush a lopsided grin first, then a full-blown smile, until he finally plucks up the courage to talk to her. How he does that is totally up to the writer, but the end result (the change) has to be there. Same goes for Character B, and for any other character in any other book. 

Static is boring. Change rocks. Remember that. 

Now go write some awesome fake people ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wanna Be Bad? Part Deux: The Good Girl/Bad Boy Relationship I Heart

Last week, I asked whether you liked the whole good girl/bad boy hookup. I also hinted at writing a post about a certain good girl/bad boy relationship this week. 

Well, folks, the time has come.

I give you a good girl/bad boy relationship that works:



Veronica Mars and Eli "Weevil" Navarro



Okay, okay--Veronica Mars is not a YA book. It is a TV show. But have I mentioned that I'm going through an obsession phase right now? Because I totally am. And no, I'm not embarrassed. *blushes*




What I love about Veronica and Weevil's relationship is that it's so... complicated. They started out hating each other (and by hating, I mean h-a-t-i-n-g). Then both of them do some serious 180's--Veronica saves Weevil's life, then he feels like he owes her. He returns the favor, then she feels like she owes him. They keep doing things for each other without realizing they're actually becoming friends in the process. Only by the end of Season 1 does Weevil have an aha! moment, when he protects Veronica from a douchey boy--he does care about her. They're always there to get the other out of a sticky situation. 

They're friends.

Do they flirt? Totally. Is there sexual tension between them? I'd like to think so. But neither one of them makes a move. There are several reasons for this, but the one I find most relevant is respect. Sure, the show's writers could've made them hook up, but they figured that would ruin their friendship. Their flirty back-and-forth banter works perfectly on the platonic level--no need to seal the deal. 

No need to force romantic chemistry for the sake of ratings.

The same goes for books--no need to force romantic chemistry for the sake of sales. If you're still on the querying/submitting stage, the issue would be to not force it to grab an agent's/editor's attention. When it feels off, they'll know and call you out on it. 

So here's my advice: build strong character relationships without the romance first, then make them hook up (if it's necessary...). The more time you take for your characters to see themselves in another light, the more effective that aha! moment will be. Your readers will jump with joy when they finally see the obvious.

There you go: Veronica and Weevil are my good girl/bad boy combo of choice.

Tell me: what's yours??

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice

Yep, I'm starting another weekly feature. But this one will be for a couple of weeks, though. Don't want anyone to get sick of my rambling :)

Okay. Teens. They're awesome. Why else would we write for them? 

If you're an aspiring YA author, you face the same issues plaguing every other writer: plot, pacing, tension, setting, world-building, blah, blah, blah. But there's a little something extra that might give you a harder time than all those elements combined. 

Voice.

Confession: I am not an expert. I'm just someone who refuses to grow up. Vehemently. So I guess I can shell out some advice on how teens think and sound. 


Tip #1: Music Is Your Boyfriend (or girlfriend)

You know those artists who win those music awards and appear on the covers of those teen magazines? You've sort of heard about them, but can't really name their first single, or their latest. Well, not all of those artists deserve your attention. As far as honing your YA voice, only two artists are worth your time.

a. Katy Perry- You don't have to listen to pop music if you don't like it. You can simply Google her lyrics and read them. This girl writes all her songs, which reflect both her adult life and her high school years. There's a reason she's so popular. People--most importantly, teens--can relate. Humor, rebelliousness, and honesty are her secret ingredients. She's never the same character in all her songs--they're all a different layer of her whole persona. A very weird, funny, and unapologetic persona (my favorite).

Some songs I suggest you study are: "Teenage Dream", "Ur So Gay", "The One That Got Away", "Lost", "Pearl", "Thinking Of You", "One Of The Boys", "Hot And Cold", and "Not Like The Movies".  


b. Taylor Swift- This is the "duh!" artist. She's still young, so her perspective is fresh and untainted. Heartbreak is her specialty. And kissing. Lots of heartbreak and kissing. But she writes about it in unconventional ways. For example, her song "Mine" explores her perspective on love, how her boyfriend changes it, and what he thinks about it himself. Say it with me, people: "depth". I always like to remind writers to go deeper with their character arcs, and I blame Taylor Swift for that. There's a bittersweet innocence to her writing that won't ring true to every teen out there, but her message about not giving up on yourself, or on love, is universal. 

I suggest you check out: everything. Seriously. Read all her lyrics, if you can. Some might even spark a story idea. It totally happened to me :)

That's part one of my YA voice "workshop"--find lyrics with meaningful teen stories. Absorb them. Then write. 

Now tell me, friends: have any favorite songs about teens you'd like to share with me? 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest!!!!




I am super excited to be a part of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest!! Woot!

Okay. TV. I freakin’ l-o-v-e the thing. And I have ten reasons why.

I’ve decided to divide the shows into two groups of five. Group One is called No Longer Alive. Group Two is called Still Kicking.

Here is Group No Longer Alive:


10) Dawson’s Creek


Teen angst at its finest. And Joshua Jackson. *sigh*



9) Friends



This was the first sitcom that actually made me laugh. Out loud. More than once. A real winner in my eyes.



8) Heroes (Season One)



Great premise, cast and special effects. Then came Season Two. It was okay, but not as great as before. I will forever miss the awesomeness of the beginning.



7) Buffy The Vampire Slayer



Do I really have to explain myself here?



6) Veronica Mars




Confession: I did not watch this show while it was on air. I am watching it now, and hating myself for waiting three years to discover this gem.



Now I give you Group Still Kicking:


5) Bones




Doctors give me the creeps. Anthropologists working with the FBI? Now that’s my kind of show. Plus, it’s hilarious. Who knew people who mess with corpses were hilarious?


4) Fringe



Sci-Fi at its finest. An amazing female protagonist who kicks more ass than I thought possible. And Joshua Jackson. *sigh again*



3) Gossip Girl



First word: gossip. Me likes it. And those love/hate relationships? Sold.



2) Smallville



Superman as a teen, then as a sort-of man trying to balance his secret identity with the real world. And he is sometimes shirtless. Count. Me. In.



1) Supernatural



In the words of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless: “Duh.”




*Bonus show: The Vampire Diaries




‘Cause I just can’t stick to rules :)



Friday, September 17, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Wanna Be Bad?

I promise today's question will make sense soon. Probably next week, when I manage to successfully V-E-N-T about the reason this topic is frustrating me. 

Tell me, friends: do you like it when the good girl falls for the bad boy?

The question isn't only limited to books--it can be movies or TV shows, too. 

I, for one, love bad boys. The more complicated, the better. But he also has to be sweet, considerate, and mature (not asking for much, right???). I loathe whenever writers make the good girl fall for the bad boy just to piss off the hero. That just plain bores me. Or when they give very few good qualities to the badass, and yet the good girl still drools all over him. Does that happen in high school? Yes. But there are limits. Some girls can crush from afar and get on with their lives. Most YA heroines don't, though. They pursue the jerk, or let him pursue her without really understand why he likes her. 

The worst part? Sometimes the reader doesn't understand it, either. 

My future rant (the one due next week) has to do with a good girl and a bad boy. But it's the kind of relationship that I want to see. It makes sense, at least to me. I won't vent because it's illogical or stupid. I'll just scream my head off for another reason (which I can't spill just yet...). 

Until then, make me a happy lil lady and share: love this type of relationship, or are you over it?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How To Get Nothing Done: The Veronica Mars Edition

Friends, I have been pulling my hair out this week. 

I have been struggling to stay afloat in my own freakin' life. Outlining, homework, critiquing, blogging--I blame none of these things for my time management problems. No, I can do all that without complaining. I like making up daily schedules and to-do lists. That's what I'm all about.

But then I discovered something... dangerous.

Lethal. 

Ladies and gents, I have a new addiction:




Yes, folks. Veronica Mars has ruined my life.

How did I not see this show when it was actually on TV??? Now I'm stuck spending precious time downloading episodes when I should be reading or writing! FTW!!

In case you know nothing about this show, Veronica is a sleuth (cool word, huh?). She's the daughter of a private investigator who was once the town sheriff. After Veronica's best friend was murdered, everything went to Hades--Papa Mars accused the dead girl's father, lost his job when no evidence supported his case, and Veronica fell from popular girl grace and became an outcast. Each episode has a little mystery she has to solve, plus the major story arc involving the BFF's murder. 

Okay. Now I'm going to ask for a favor, blogging buddies. I need you to scold me. Slap me around. Tell me to get a grip and go back to my regular duties. Threaten to kill Jensen Ackles if I don't stop thinking about Veronica Freakin' Mars. 

I'm sure I'll thank you... someday... maybe...


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Operation Outline: Character Sheets Part Deux

To the pantsers of the blogosphere: I am sorry. Today I'm talking about outlining. Again. 

Please don't hit me. *cowers in a corner*

So last time, I mentioned Kody Keplinger's character sheet, which was pretty awesome. Now I want to show you something I'm doing for my current WIP. You see, I'm obsessed with character arcs. I LOVE seeing how someone goes from Point A to B in everything--books, movies, life. Because of this, I've started creating character arcs for all the key players in my WIP, but I went a step further. I've created relationship arcs.

It's important to get to know all your characters before you start working on how they get along with each other, and how their relationships will change throughout the manuscript. Sure, Kody's sheet works wonders for personalities and quirks, but I have a tip for you: go deeper.

Here's how I do it:

1) I start with Character A. He/she needs to be fully fleshed out before anyone else to me. In addition to Kody's personality sheet, I make a list of possible quotes he/she will say in the manuscript. That way, I get a feel for who he/she is directly from their head. I also come up with a short list of fears and flaws, which will come in handy later on in my outline breakdown.

2) I move on to the supporting cast. Everyone gets a personality sheet, but they also get the quote treatment, and the fears/flaws list. You'd be surprised how easy this can be after you've finished with the main character.

3) I go back to Character A and start pairing him/her up with Character B. This becomes my first relationship arc. What do I use here? The fears/flaws list of both characters. If Character A is scared stupid of being humiliated in public, and Character B doesn't get fazed by that kind of stuff, then how can B teach A to get over his/her fear? Or maybe B sucks at opening up to his loved ones, and A rocks at being honest--how can A help B let loose whenever he/she needs to vent? 

Another thing I find helpful is focusing on what Character A wants and how Character B won't let him/her get it. This works well with the hero/villain arc, but I think every character should want something that will force them out of their comfort zone. That's the only way real change will occur. 

Bottom line? Don't be afraid to go deeper. Yes, tons of writers create richly detailed settings and rock at descriptions, but relationship arcs should be just as rich. The key to making that happen is analyzing who the characters are, what they can/can't do for themselves and for each other, and how they'll change.

So there you have it: I've gone insane. Hopefully I'll have a pretty decent manuscript to show for it someday :)

Tell me: any tips you care to share with me? 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Book Madness AND A Contest!

Okay. Let's kick things off today with a book I just finished and went 'Holy Hell!' because of its awesomeness.






IF I STAY by Gayle Forman



Ze blurb:

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

________________________________________________________________________________

This book broke my heart, you guys. Tore it a-p-a-r-t. But you know what? I wanted that to happen. I wanted to feel Mia's heartache, and get confused regarding her fate after her accident. You see, she falls into a coma, and has to decide whether to stay alive or leave forever.


*cue waterworks*


It's haunting. It's heartbreaking. It totally didn't end the way I expected, and I loved it for that. Go buy it.
________________________________________________________________________________

Now onto some cheerful news: Operation Awesome is throwing another contest!! This time, my partners and I will be offering super awesome critiques. To see what you can win, go to our blog and sign up. We are all very grateful for your support this past month, so this is the least we can do.




Happy Monday, everybody!!




Friday, September 10, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Is Three A Crowd?

Okay, folks. Today we're gonna talk about something I've been seeing a lot lately. YA books seem to be flooded with this particular situation, and while I enjoy it at times, there are some stories that could work better without it. 

This week's trend question: what do you think about love triangles?




Edward: "She's mine, Doggie Breath! All mine!"
Jacob: "No way, Glo Stick! She's mine, beeyatch!!!"
Bella: "Uh... I'll just... stand over here and pout for a while..."



Confession: I love me some good romantic tension. But creating a love triangle for the sake of making the main character's life more complicated just doesn't do it for me. There has to be depth in her turmoil, a legit reason she can't choose between two guys. And the two guys need to be three-dimensional, well-crafted characters, not just eye candy. 

Thinking someone is hot isn't enough for anyone to fall in love, my friends. Just sayin'.

What say you, blogging buddies? Love em or hate em?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Operation Outline: Character Sheets

So. Outlines. Me likes them now. *cue death metal music*

I don't know how many plotters do it like this, but before I start my actual outline for the newest WIP, I'm making character sheets. 

A character sheet is a list of info regarding the characters in your story. There are tons of examples all over the Internet, but I'm using one I borrowed from super uh-may-zing YA author Kody Keplinger.

It goes a little like this:

Name
Birthday
GPA
Clubs
Favorite Class
Favorite Food
Favorite Color
Favorite Book
Favorite Movie
Favorite TV Show
Celebrity Crush
Favorite Band/Artist
Theme Song
Aspiration
Who Would Play Him/Her In a Movie?


Kody used this template to come up with her main characters' personalities (and it TOTALLY paid off). I've added a couple things to her template, like Favorite Song (the character's theme song represents who they are, but their fave song is simply one they listen to all the time). 

Believe it or not, this sheet has helped me figure out how my characters differ from each other by likes/dislikes alone. I've only completed one character arc, and it's been easier than I thought--thanks to this sheet. 

So there you go, blogging buddies. My life has changed for the better. 

Dear Pantsers: sorry for sounding like a public service announcement for plotting. Feel free to flip me the middle finger. I won't mind.

Now tell me: do you have any outlining tricks you use that have helped your story?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Story Of Uber-Hot Man And How He Ruined My Life

I wanted to write something deep and meaningful today. Something my readers would appreciate and, maybe, learn from. 

Instead, I spent the better part of my morning Googling pictures. Because that's what a Master's student should be doing, after all...

Anyway, I Googled him. 

I blushed. 

Drooled. 

Nearly fainted. 

And got nothing useful done. Uber-Hot Man has ruined my life, blogging buddies. I haven't worked on my WIP outline like I wanted. I can't come up with anything deep and meaningful for the blog. I haven't stopped drooling.

Who is to blame, you ask? 


Chris Hemsworth



He's Australian. He's really tall. He's uber-hot.

And he has a baby brother, Liam Hemsworth: (yes, there's TWO of them!)

I won't be able to think straight until someone physically removes me from my seat. Or until Supernatural comes back on and I can check out my husband, Jensen Ackles. *sigh*

So there you go. I am procrastinating because of uber-hotness. 

Is uber-hotness affecting you this week, friends???

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Book Madness: Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF

At long last, I can gush about a book I've actually read for today's feature.

Which book, you ask?

This one:




Blurb of awesomeness below:



Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. 



But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. 



Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.




THE DUFF is about so much more than that, you guys. It is an honest take on what being a teen is. I know you've probably heard that phrase before, but trust me, Kody Keplinger nailed it. If you've ever felt like you don't belong, even among the people you feel closest to, this book is for you. 

The best thing about this book is that it made me feel like a wonderful and terrible person at the same time. Wonderful, because Bianca's journey is similar to mine when I was her age (yes, I sort of had my Wesley back then, but not with the benefits part). Terrible, because I thought (and still think at times...) labeling people was cool. If they do it to me, I should do it right back. *hangs head low*

I don't care what people say about the amount of sex/cursing in this book. It's a must read. And if I ever have a child, this is getting in their hands by age 13. Word.

THE DUFF officially hits shelves September 7th, but it's already out in some bookstores across the US. Go. Get. It.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fess Up Friday: The Zero Trends Edition

So Fess Up Fridays are all about publishing trends on my blog. 

Not today.

For the Zero Trends Edition, I wanted to fess up about something totally different--fear.

Yes, peeps. I am afraid. Why?

I've just started my Master's degree in Literature. 

My latest WIP idea, as I mentioned yesterday, is in a genre I've never explored.

I have become a plotter for the first time e-vah.

My critique group and I launched a blog to inspire awesomeness in writers.

You're probably wondering why these things creep me out. Well, here's why: I'm afraid of coming up short.

Of not being able to stay afloat in my Master's.

Of totally bombing The Unexplored Genre.

Of not finishing the outline I plan to start next month (after all the research is done).

Of not bringing enough awesome to a complete stranger's life. 

I know I'll get over it, but I figured saying it aloud would speed up the recovery process. Let's hope it works :)

How about you? Any fears eating you alive this week? 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Confession: I've Become A Plotter (The Horror!)

First up, I'd like to give a HUGE THANKS to everyone who entered Operation Awesome's One-Line Pitch Contest!! We never thought entries would be filled in one day, ya'll! You rock. And best of luck to everyone who entered!

Okay. Now for the heavy stuff. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I am no longer a pantser.

I am a plotter.

The one thing I never thought I'd be, and here I am. Plotting before I sit down to actually write. *sigh*

Here's what happened: an idea for a new WIP came to mind a few months ago, but I put it aside because it was for a genre I've never written in. Months went by and I wrote another WIP while thinking about The One I Was Ignoring. After finishing Another WIP's first draft, I was burned out on the genre. I literally could not envision myself tackling rewrites because I thought my brain would melt. 

Fast forward to a week ago. I go back to The One I Was Ignoring and think about the premise. Then the characters. Then the voice. Then the genre. Cue my heart attack. 

After recovering from my heart attack, I realized this was a story I REALLY WANTED to write. But the fear of swimming in uncharted waters scared the bejeezus out of me. And that, my dear blogging buddies, is why I'm outlining. 

I refuse to believe I can't do this. So I need a plan of attack, one that's carefully constructed, to help me get through it. 

I'll tell you all about my outlining strategy later on, but for now, tell me: have you done anything you swore you'd never do lately??

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Operation Awesome Starts NOW

Today is launch day, everybody!! Woot!





Head over to the Operation Awesome blog and gives my buddies and me some love!! I will post every Monday over at OA, so be sure to check my randomness out. 

Oh, and remember that today is the One-Line Pitch contest. Mystery Agent will judge all the pitches and choose one winner, who will get the awesome chance to submit the full manuscript. Yes, I said FULL. 

Now that you know what I'm so giddy about, tell me: what are you most excited about this week?