Friday, October 29, 2010

Fess Up Friday: What Makes Fantasy Awesome

Today we have a special guest to the Operation Awesome blog! The wonderful Janice Hardy, author of THE SHIFTER and BLUE FIRE, is stopping by to talk about what makes fantasy awesome! Run over and check it out!

In honor of Janice's guest post, I'm going to throw ya'll a question related to what she shared for this edition of Fess Up Friday. 

Tell me: what makes fantasy awesome to you?

For me, it's all about Janice's #1 and # 10 picks: magic, and the 'anything is possible' attitude.  I love getting sucked into settings that I never dreamed of. The allure, to me, comes in the shape of that ever-awesome 'what if?'

What if dragons really did exist?

What if I could transport myself to the next continent by drinking a potion, or flicking a wand? 

What if Alexander Skarsgaard was shirtless all the time???

Okay. That last one doesn't quite make sense in this post, but it's me, after all. Had to say it...

How about you? What makes fantasy awesome in your eyes?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Awesome Query Chat With Elana Johnson TONIGHT!

Just a reminder today, folks. Not only is it The Vampire Diaries night *sigh* but the one and only Elana Johnson is stopping by!!

What? Everything you need to know about queries. Killer ones. Sucky ones. You name it. Elana will be dishing out tips and answering your questions. How insane is that???

When? 9 p.m.

Where? Operation Awesome blog. *fist pump*

See you there!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writer Excuses: Why I'm In Favor Of The 'But I Was Just' Syndrome

Reminder: Join me over @ Operation Awesome's Query Chat with Elana Johnson this Thursday @ 9pm!! 

Now for today's post.

If you write, you know excuses are awesome. Especially when you're on a deadline. 

Some people like to crack the whip on writers who procrastinate. 'Don't leave it for later,' the whip bearer says. 'Just keep writing.'

To that, I say screw it. Excuses can work for the best, you know. 

But the key in using an excuse is to find the right one

Take me, for example. I tend to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'you're going to write today.' Out of the corner of my eye, this face flashes on the TV screen:

Or this one:

Or this one:

And I immediately say, 'OMGhessofreakinghot!!!!!!'

Then I say, 'excuse! I have an excuse!'

Then I check my word count, kick myself and say, 'nope. Not a good enough excuse, Amparo. You should be ashamed of yourself. Now wipe that drool off and get to work!'

Unfortunately, good excuses don't have anything to do with hot men. *whimpers* They do, however, have something to do with how you feel. About yourself as a writer in X genre. About the direction your manuscript is taking. About your character's voice. 

To me, anything writing related is a good excuse to stand aside. 

If you keep pushing through the frustration, it will most likely reflect on your manuscript. Remember when Stephenie Meyer got pissed because someone leaked chapters of MIDNIGHT SUN on the Internet, and said if she were to keep writing the story, all the Cullens would've been murdered by James?

Yeah. That's what I mean.

So instead of turning a homicidal vampire on your characters, take a break to think things through. Your story will thank you for it in the end.

Quick quiz, everyone: which excuse is better?

'But I was just checking if Ian's/Channing's/Alexander's abs were still there!'


'But I was just brainstorming ways to stop that homicidal vampire from killing the Cullens!'

Think carefully. You will be graded for this! :D

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Open Letter To YA Heroines

Dear YA Heroines,

It's been a while since I've thought about you. Usually, I just spend my time swooning over your male counterparts. Or wishing they were dead. It's a toss up, really.

But lately I've been reading things like this, this and this. Things that make me think, which has given me severe allergies in the past. I mean, can you imagine? Me, thinking. Hmm...

Anyway, let's get to the point. YA Heroines of the world, I heart you. I really do. But you have to step it up. 

What do I mean, you ask? 

Simple. I mean stop being so predictable. Stop apologizing for doing exactly what you wanted to do. Stop pretending you don't think about sex. Or that you don't like it (if you've had it, of course). Stop being nice simply because you have a vagina. That doesn't guarantee ANYTHING. Neither does having a penis.


Because you are whoever your creators want you to be, not what people expect you to be. 

You are whoever you need to be in order to find happiness, not fit the mold. 

You are free to shout instead of whispering. To jump instead of tiptoeing. 

But you're also free to whisper and tiptoe if--and only if--that's WHAT YOU WANT. 

I am sick of people complaining about you, YA Heroines. It makes me do painful things like thinking. But it also gives me something to say after the pain goes away.

What do I have to say?

This: there is no one way to have a vagina. Or a penis. 

Get over it.


The Girl Who Played With Stereotypes

P. S. I'd like to thank Sarah LaPolla, Kirsten Hubbard, and Natalie Whipple for giving me the best headache of my life. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Scared Stupid

Before we dive into this edition of Fess Up Friday, go check out Nancy Herman's amazing success story over at the Operation Awesome blog!! Our contest helped her land an agent!! Woot!

Okay. Back to business.

Two things led me to pick this week's question. You can blame:

1) The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff 



2) This post by my buddy and crit mate Katrina

Thanks to them, here's what I want to know this week: what do you think about YA horror?

This particular question is haunting me for a ton of reasons, one being that my Shiny New Idea belongs to this genre. Don't be fooled, though--I am the biggest freakin' coward in the universe. And yet, I love reading books that creep me the eff out, as well as watching movies that don't let me get a good night's sleep. Sadistic much? 


There's something about ugliness that hooks me. Brenna's book is the perfect example. Here's the blurb:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

If you're a fan of Tim Burton, this book is for you. If you're not, it will turn you into one. Pinky swear :D

What about you, blogging buddies? Have any love for the scary? 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Awesome Fake People: Links On Creating Characters

Yep. Another links post, my friends. Can't help myself :D

This time around, I went on the hunt for characters. Many writers say they suck at crafting believable/memorable/likeable fake people. Since I am absolutely perfect and brilliant, I have NO IDEA what they're talking about...


Anyway, here are some really great sources for you to whip those fake people into awesome shape:

Roni Loren dishes tips on how to create sympathetic characters

Christina Lee talks about why changing who her main character is has helped her story.

The fabulous people over at The Blood-Red Pencil tell you how multiple modifiers can deepen characterization.

The lovely ladies over at YA Highway teach you about characters with Clifford the Big Red Dog, explain character motivation with Jack and Jill, and liken character description to the art of just enough.

Natalie Whipple shares her beef with strong female characters.

Janice Hardy (my writing hero) discusses things that are useful to know about your characters before you write.

Happy writing, blogging buddies!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Awesome Beginnings: Links On Perfecting Your First Chapter

I'm feeling a little down this week, and couldn't come up with anything to blog about. Luckily, my blogging buddies rock seriously hard and have provided some help!

With what, you ask?


They're scary to write, aren't they? Hooking readers in + Me = suckfest. That's why I'm giving you all some super awesome links to help you with that pesky first chapter. I promise to post my personal beef with first chapters later on, so pretty please stay tuned for that. 

Le links:

My Operation Awesome buddy Michelle McLean tutors you on how to create a thesis statement in your opening pages.

The ladies over at Adventures in Children's Publishing share their favorite opening passages.


There are A TON of other great sites/blogs/forums you can check out (like Janice Hardy's entire freakin' blog:, but these are just a few of my faves. You won't regret taking a look at them. Pinky swear :D

Now tell me: do you struggle with openings as much as I do???

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fess Up Friday: A Blog Award!!!!

My life is pretty cool right now. I won't bore you with details, but I WILL give you a tiny taste.

The super sweet and fabulous Kelly Dexter gave me this:

Yes, folks. I am now the proud owner of the Cherry On Top Award

*insert grin here*

This award comes with a question, which I'm using for this edition of Fess Up Friday. 

The question is: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?

My answer: Ha. 

Do-overs are tempting things, albeit impossible. BUT if I had the chance to hit Refresh, I'm not 100% confident I would. Yes, there are a bazillion things that I regret, but if I'd never done them, I wouldn't be here today, right? I had to go through the sucky to come out and meet the good. That whole 'everything happens for a reason' crap? Yeah. I didn't think it was true, either. 

Guess I was wrong.

Now I must pass this baby along to six of my blogging buddies. BUT since rules give me allergies, I'm going to break them and hand out eight. I have chosen the following uber-awesome people:

Congrats to all of you, ladies!!!

Now tell me: would you go back and change something??

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Character Interview with Lisa Desrochers: Luc from PERSONAL DEMONS

Have I mentioned that my critique partners rock? Because they totally do. Just so you know.

One reason they rock is this: we've got another character interview for you!!!

The ever-awesome Luc Cain from Lisa Desrochers's PERSONAL DEMONS!!! Woot!

My fabulous crit mate Lindsay's blog!!!

Now run over and say hi to Luc for me ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Awesome Chat With Elana Johnson!!!

I have been jumping up and down since I got the news, folks. And now that I can FINALLY share it with all of you, my ankles are killing me :)

What news am I talking about?

Well, Operation Awesome is having a chat on The Dreaded Query Letter
And joining us in our chat is none other than the author of this:

And this:

Yes, peeps. Elana Johnson will be chatting with us!!!

For more awesome details, including what prizes you can win (!),  head on over to OA blog right now

Trust me--you do NOT want to miss out. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Character Interview With Kody Keplinger: Bianca From THE DUFF

Hello, all!! Hope you're as excited as I am today. 

Why am I excited, you ask? Oh, no biggie. I just have an interview with Bianca from THE DUFF to share with you. 

I repeat: Bianca from THE DUFF is on my blog today!!! *squee fest*

Le cover:

Le blurb:

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

Lindsay and Katrina, my amazing Operation Awesome friends (and crit partners), were nice enough to deal with my fan-girling and ask some questions, too. So let's give a warm welcome to Ms. Bianca Piper!!

Lindsay: Your favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye. If you could choose one Holden quote as your motto, what would it be and why?
I don't think any of Holden's quotes would be my motto. Don't get me wrong, it's my favorite book, and Holden is an awesome character, but I think he's awesome because he's so screwed up. I know I can be bitter, but he's way worse than me . . . . right?
Anyway, I couldn't have any of his quotes as my motto. Though, all of his quotes about "phonies" rock.

KatrinaIn your experience, does the way a person presents himself or herself usually jive with what's inside as well?
Not really, I guess. I mean, look at Casey. The girl is tall, thin, gorgeous, and a cheerleader.  In the teen comedy, she'd be the bitchy cheerleader. But she's so, so not. She's freaking awesome and funny and smart.
I think our stereotypes of what looks "mean" are ridiculous, personally.

AmparoYour favorite band is Paramore. Talk about your favorite song and why it rocks your world.
Paramore's best song is totally "Playing God" from their new album.  The line, "Next time you point a finger, point it to the mirror" is brilliant. People need to work on their judgment of others . . . me included, I know.

LindsayYou threw Coke in Wesley's face. If there are three words to describe how it felt, what would they be?
Wasteful (a perfectly good Cherry Coke was lost that day)

Katrina: You've been described as loyal. Is there anything friends or family could do that would automatically sever your loyalty? In other words, what do you consider unforgivable?
Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything. I will say, that as far as I can tell, almost anything is forgivable.  Forgettable, though, maybe not so much.

AmparoGirls go through so much in high school, whether it’s peer pressure, exploring their sexuality, family issues, or all of the above. If given the chance to speak one-on-one, what piece of advice would you offer them?
I'd tell them what I learned the hard way. Don't judge others - including yourself - based on what others think. Everyone has more going on than what you see on the surface, and it isn't anyone else's place to judge them. By the same token, what others think of you doesn't have to dictate who you are. 

A humongous thank you to Bianca for stopping by, and to Kody Keplinger for giving her a voice in the world! Make sure you pick up THE DUFF if you haven't already, folks!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice Part Trois

At last, we've come to the thrilling conclusion of my Teenage Dream series! Woot!!

Okay. Let's recap what we've learned so far, folks.

Tip #1: find lyrics with meaningful teen stories.

Tip #2: read interviews about teens with meaningful lives.

And now, I give you tip #3:

Watch teen movies.

Confession: I have always loved teen flicks. A-l-w-a-y-s. Even when I was too young to understand what the heck they were talking about and had to ask my mom what second base was (best. moment. ever.). Sure, not all teen movies depict reality in a genuine way, but guess what? There are hidden gems out there, folks. If you watch closely, you might just learn something.

How does watching teen movies help you as a YA author? Simple. Pay attention to the problems the characters face. Maybe a girl who pretends to lose her virginity sounds irresponsible to you as an adult, but there's a reason why teens paid to go see Easy A (awesome film, by the way). I like to think that reason has something to do with that ever-alluring what if? factor. What if I went to school one day and everyone thought I was a slut? What if people spread rumors about me to my crush, who thinks I have a halo floating above my head? What if my *gasp* parents get wind of what I supposedly did? 

Problems and actions, my friends--that's what teen movies teach us. What has the ultimate power to mess up a teenager's life, and how he/she will deal with it. That is what YA readers (and moviegoers) look forward to. They want to see how someone else would cope with something that could easily happen to them. 

A few movies you should check out: 

Easy A (duh...)
American Pie
Whip It (you should also check out the book)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (same here)
Adventureland (not exactly teens, but the spirit is there)
Everything directed by John Hughes

So there you have it. Those are my tips to creating a believable YA novel--the teenage dream. That dream is complicated, but not impossible to achieve. I hope my mini-series helped you in some little way to see the light at the end of the OMG tunnel :)

Now tell me: what are your favorite teen flicks? 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Awesome Chat

Okay. Chats. They're fun, right?

Imagine having an online chat with writers. Now imagine that same chat with PRIZES. And you can win them just by showing up to chat with other writers. AND you can learn about the craft of writing while you win prizes. *insert squeeing here*

What the heck am I rambling about, you ask?


Operation Awesome is having a live chat!!!

When: Today, @ 5pm-6pm Eastern Time

What: Discussion about Magical Limitations In Fiction (what you can and cannot do within your story)

Oh, and did I mention there will be PRIZES??? Like BOOKS????

Hope you check it out!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Book Madness: Awesome Times Two!!

Before I dive into my book recommendations for this week, let me kick things off by telling ya'll that my post is officially up over at Operation Awesome. It's about how to channel your character's voice in a convincing way. If you check it out, I'll buy you a pony. In my mind :)

This week, I finally bought two books I've been dying to get my hands on. *insert huge grin here*

Which books, you ask???

This one:

A BLUE SO DARK by Holly Schindler

Terrified that her mother, a schizophrenic and an artist, is a mirror that reflects her own future, sixteen-year-old Aura struggles with her overwhelming desires to both chase artistic pursuits and keep madness at bay. 

As her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet keeps drawing Aura toward the depths of her own imagination—the shadows of make-believe that she finds frighteningly similar to her mother’s hallucinations. 

Convinced that creative equals crazy, Aura shuns her art, and her life unravels in the process

And this one:


When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.

Yes. I am still grinning.

What's in your to-read pile this week???

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Flipping The Script

No trend questions this week, folks. In fact, I've decided to not always feature them. Spice things up a bit :)

So. Today, I'm fessing up about something else.

My question: are you afraid of change?

Confession: routine is my happy place. Schedules, plans... me likes them. Throw in something unexpected, or something that takes me off course, and I'm stumped. 

But only for a little while.

Whether you're writing an urban fantasy and come up with an idea for a dystopian, or you've been taking the same bus to Wherever, USA and it stops going down your route, change can be scary. The one thing you have to remember is this: it's going to happen anyway, so you might as well deal with it. And you're only going to get stronger after it happens. 

I'm trying to deal with the change that came out left field right now, actually. The next few days are going to be full of moments where I crease my forehead and think harder than usual. In the end, I'll get a fresher perspective on life... and a headache.

So tell me: does change scare the bejeezus out of you, like it does with me?