Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog Chain--My Best Accomplishment Ever

It's blog chain time!

This round's question is brought to me by Michelle H. She wants to know the following:

This is the month in creating writing goals and making big accomplishments. What is your greatest accomplishment--in writing, your life or perhaps something incidental that had a big effect on you?


I've been very lucky in my short life. Despite my many injuries (no, I am not an athlete, which makes said injuries even more embarrassing...), I'm happy with where I am right now. Of course, that hasn't always been the case. But I know why I'm finally okay with everything I've done in the past.

I've found who I really am.

Yes, I've graduated with honors my whole academic life. Yes, I fulfilled a fantasy and flipped peer pressure the middle finger when I went to Europe at sixteen, leaving behind a lot of confused friends.  Yes, I got accepted into Psych grad school and Law school at the same time. Yes, I've finished a novel. Four, to be exact.

But my greatest accomplishment is knowing myself. 

There's still a lot left to learn, to travel, to write,  to dream. 

The only difference is that now I know I can do it all, and how happy it'll make me to watch it happen.


Make sure you check out Abby's post, and stay tuned for Sandra's post tomorrow!

Now tell me: what's your greatest achievement?  

Friday, November 18, 2011

CONGRATS To My Operation Awesome Buddy, Angela Townsend!!

Yesterday was a pretty good day, folks.


Because THIS happened:

Angela Townsend's AMAROK, set in a remote Alaskan town, when a runaway is kidnapped by an evil man and his black wolf, whom she later discovers is a boy enslaved by an ancient shaman; she must find the strength to save herself and the wolf, and in turn discover what love truly means, to Kate Kaynak at Spencer Hill Press, by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency (NA). 




HUGE congrats to Angie!!! I can't wait for y'all to read Amarok!! And I can't wait to actually hold it in my hands!!! 

You can go congratulate Angie on Twitter, and stay tuned to Operation Awesome for our celebration!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Post: Movie Villains Who Deserve YA Novels by Lindsay Scott!!

Today's guest post is very special to me, folks. My dear friend and critique partner, Lindsay Scott, is here!! You can follow her blog and on Twitter, as well as on Operation Awesome

Lindsay's going to discuss one of my favorite topics in the universe: villains. Particularly, which movie villains she'd love to see narrate their own YA novels. 


Okay. Let's get to it.

Take it away, Lindsay!


We love to love them. Love to hate them. But out of all the teen movie villains out there, who would be a good choice for spending 300+ pages with? Ladies and gentlemen, I present my choices for your consideration.

Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions (1999):

Sure, Cruel Intentions was based on the novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, but Kathryn would be an interesting character in her own novel. She's manipulative, self-serving, devious and intelligent. All qualities of an excellent villain.

But it's her hidden side, the small tear of (perhaps) regret, that emerges at the end of the movie that makes me want to delve further into her character. 

Jason Dean (J.D.) in Heathers (1989):

I guess he can be called a lot of things other than a villain: the self-styled bad boy, mysterious stranger, anti-hero. Even psychopath. J. D. is many things, but he's never boring.

The thing that's interesting about J.D. is that he isn't set up as a villain from the beginning--the "Heathers" are seen as the antagonists:

It's only as the movie continues that we discover his true nature. Like Kathryn, J.D. is cunning, manipulative and a little (okay, okay very) twisted. But his ability to justify his actions, along with his backstory, make him a interesting character.

Regina George in Mean Girls (2004):

The movie was based on a self-help book (Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman), but Regina George... how do I begin to describe Regina George?

Enough said.

Which movie villain would you like to see in a YA book?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why THE HUNGER GAMES Trailer Is The Perfect Query

For those of you who still haven't seen it, here's the full-length trailer for The Hunger Games:


Not only is the trailer OMFGawesomeonastick, I think it's a little instructional for writers. After I saw it, I kept remembering the dreaded Q-word: queries. The more I dissected the trailer, the stronger the impression I got that it resembled a perfect query letter. 

Here's why:

 The World-Building

For the most part, the HG trailer focuses on how this dystopian world works. How the Tributes get picked at the Reaping, how they train for battle, how they're groomed for the reality TV-obsessed audience, and what the Hunger Games actually are. And it does so in very little time. The trailer focuses on the key info that's necessary for a general understanding of what the movie's about: cruel government + children competing in a fight to the death = world-building.

The Conflict

Katniss doesn't want to be selected for the Hunger Games, but she's prepared for it. Her little sister, however, isn't. So she has a choice: volunteer on Prim's behalf to save her, or stay out of the Hunger Games. When she steps up to take Prim's place, audiences can see her heart breaking. And when she meets her fellow Tributes, her fear and discomfort are palpable as well--she doesn't want to take anyone's life. But she does want to survive. Katniss's inner and outer conflicts are well defined, which is what agents/editors expect from your query. Above all else, they should care about your characters. Paying close attention to the inner and outer conflicts helps do just that for them.    

The Cliffhanger

The trailer could've shown a bit of footage from the Games. But it didn't. It stops right when the Tributes are racing toward the Cornucopia. Right when the good stuff is about to happen. That's how your query should end--it should compel agents/editors to request pages. It should make them go "Whoa, whoa, whoa... You can't just leave me hanging like this! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT??". Some authors/agents suggest only including what goes down in the first 3 chapters, or first 50 pages, of your manuscript in a query. I'd have to agree, but the key thing to remember is to hint at something big, terrible, and inescapable for your MC. Something that whoever gets your query will only find out if they ask for more.

So. Not only is this post an excuse to watch The Hunger Games trailer for the umpteenth time, it's hopefully a helpful tool for your query writing process! 

Now tell me: do you have any query writing tips to share? Do you like writing queries (like me), or loathe it with all your being? 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nina LaCour + Book Banning = Worst. Mistake. Ever.

I think it's no surprise how I feel about book banning. 

Not a fan, folks. Not a fan.

Some of those banned books are my absolute favorites. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, for example, changed my life as both a person and writer forever. I owe so much to someone I've never met.

That's exactly how I felt after reading Hold Still by Nina LaCour. I actually recommended it a couple months back. LaCour's writing is not only gorgeous, but her characters feel like long lost friends. Through them, I learn about the world and myself. I see light where darkness reigns supreme. 

Which is why banning it from school libraries is a mistake.

Sure, parents--the good kind--want what's best for their offspring. They care about them, of course. But telling other parents' offspring what they can and can't read? That's overstepping, folks. Big time. And more likely than not, teens who pick up Hold Still need to read it. Not for a grade, but for themselves. For their friends, or loved ones, or strangers they wish they could help. F-bombs and sex are in the book, and if teens take issue with those particular story elements, they will choose to put the book down on their own. 

But here's the kicker: we have to let them choose.

They are not little kids. They are young adults. 

Please stop disrespecting them.

Interview: Myra McEntire, Author of HOURGLASS!

Remember that time I blogged about how the film rights to Hourglass had been optioned by Twentieth Century Fox? Well, today I bring you the woman behind the time slip story--Myra McEntire! Myra was gracious enough to take time out of her uber-busy schedule and granted me an interview!

Le interview:

Favorite movie genre
SciFi Fantasy

Favorite teen movie 
Sixteen Candles - I used to be able to quote it line by line. And then I got old. 
(you are NOT old, Myra. *shakes fist*)

If Emerson Cole could direct her own movie, which genre would she choose and why? 
Horror, definitely. So she could make it funny. 

What about Michael Weaver? Which genre would he choose and why? 
Romance. Because he's swoony. 
(um... YES PLEASE).

What's one thing you've learned as a writer from watching teen movies? 
Anything goes, as long as you keep it real. 
(very true!)

One hour to rewrite the past . . . 
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

Make sure you go buy your copy of Hourglass, which is in stores now! And remember to follow Myra on Twitter, and go check out her blog!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blog Chain: My Favorite Monster

Okay. For this blog chain round, the ridiculously awesome Matthew asked:

What is your all-time favorite monster? 


So. My fave monster.

Thing is, I've never really thought about it. There are so many books, movies, and TV shows with creepy creatures I love. Choosing was much harder than I expected! 

But as I usually do, I go with the first thought to pop into my mind.

Folks, my all-time favorite monster is...


Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Confession: Tim Burton is my hero. He's one of the reasons I write, and why I believe dreaming isn't a waste of time. Even though he didn't direct The Nightmare Before Christmas, he wrote the screenplay, and had its characters living in his head for a long time. To me, Sally is his crowning achievement in this film.

For all intents and purposes, Sally is a monster. She's broken--literally. Her body's held together by black threads. She's a walking, talking ragdoll. Whenever her limbs fall off, though, Sally grabs her needles and sews herself back together. Despite her physical restrictions (and her caretaker's desire to have her with him 24/7), she yearns to see the world and the beauty it has to offer. She's kind, rational, and painfully shy when it comes to sharing her feelings for Jack. She's relatable. 

But she looks like she haunts little kids in their sleep.

Sally proves that age-old saying: never judge a book by its cover

Make sure you go check out Abby's fave monster, and stay tuned for Sandra's pick tomorrow!

Now tell me: have you seen The Nightmare Before Christmas? Is there another character you think is an awesome monster??

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Post: THE BREAKFAST CLUB Review By Marie Rearden!

Today's guest post comes from the awesome Marie Rearden! Not only is Marie a writer, but she also loves movies. So much so that she reviews them in 100 words on her blog. It's my pleasure to let her take the Reel YA stage and share a review near and dear to her heart. 

Take it away, Marie! 

Five teens.

Eight hours.

One essay on who they think they are.

With John Bender's troubled encouragement, Claire admits she's a virgin, Brian confides his thoughts of suicide, and five almost-strangers come together to admit how much their parents just don't get it. After that, five lives are changed, and we wonder what happens at school on Monday. To me, the members of The Breakfast Club defeat the adolescent caste system and never turn out like their parents, but most importantly, they each come closer to understanding who they really are.

Without a doubt, the timeless, phenomenal, BEST teen movie ever. :)

Huge thanks to Marie for stopping by! Make sure you go check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter!

Have you seen The Breakfast Club? Which is your fave character? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mystery Agent Contest: Get Those Twitter Pitches Ready!

Happy NaNo, everybody!!

*tosses confetti*

For those of you not entering NaNo this year, and have a completed manuscript, I've got great news. We're celebrating another Mystery Agent Contest over at Operation Awesome!

To enter, you need a Twitter-length pitch and the first 500 words of your manuscript.

Click here for more details.

And best of luck!!