Friday, December 31, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Epic Things I Learned In 2010

Since the new year is upon us, I figured I'd make a list. Because... you know... lists are cool this time of year and stuff...

So. Here's my list of Epic Things I Learned In 2010:

#1: Blogging is awesome.

#2: The people behind the blogging are awesome.

#3: Writing a book is awesome and evil at the same time.

#4: Blogging about writing a book makes people either: a) think you're awesome; or b) think you're super lame. 

#5: Critique partners are awesome.

#6: Starting a writing blog with said critique partners is awesome.

#7: Getting partial and full requests by agents is awesome.

#8: Getting super kind, personalized rejections by agents is awesome.

#9: Getting into grad school is awesome. It's the staying there and working hard that sucks.

#10: Finally finding myself is by far the most awesome thing that's ever happened to me.

There you have it, folks. 2010 was... oh, what's the word?


2011, don't let me down. :D

And to make sure 2011 kicks off the right way, I've signed up for TWO awesome blogfests. They are:

1) Katrina's New Year's Revisions Blog Party on January 1st


2) Frankie Diane Mallis's No Kiss Blogfest on January 2nd

See you there!

And Happy New Year, everyone!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fess Up Friday: My Christmas (And Birthday) Wishlist

So. Tomorrow is Christmas. The day after that is Kwanzaa.

And my birthday :D

Here is my wishlist for both occasions: (feel free to send whichever gift you can!)

My husband, Jensen Ackles. (duh)

My lovers, which include:

Jesse Williams

Chace Crawford

Sam Worthington

Garrett Hedlund

Channing Tatum

(there are more, but that would make this post too long. And, you know, stalker-ish...)

Instead of getting those lovelies, I'm stuck with... *epic drumroll of doom*

My five-year-old cousin. Who wants to kill me in my sleep. Or steal my candy. Perhaps both.


Now fess up: What's on your wishlist??

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Get Back To The WIP When You've Been Away For, Like, Forever

So. My "vacations" have started. I say "vacations" because:

1) The students at my university are on strike (tuition fee skyrocketed and overall dictatorial crap coming from the suits upstairs)

2) Two of my three classes have projects due in January, and I haven't wrapped them up. BUT I'll be completely ignoring them from today till December 27th. After that, back to work.

Today's post is about going back to work on something else--le WIP.

I only have the first three chapters done, and ONE LINE in the fourth. Yep. I'm pathetic. My goal for this month is to get at least four more chapters done (and to finally pass that wretched 10k mark). 

So how do I get back to work on my abandoned WIP after a month and a half of ignoring it?

1) Le playlist

For every manuscript I start, I create a playlist. This WIP in particular has two--one for the main character, one for the love interest. I love both playlists with a burning passion. Because their songs are EXACTLY what the characters are feeling. No other manuscript has gotten that lucky. So I spend a good deal of time listening to the songs and getting back into my characters' heads. Then I wait for the point in which I can't tell myself apart from my fake people.

2) Le outline

This is the first WIP that has had an outline before I start writing. Usually, I outline as I go to avoid getting stuck. But no, I changed the name of the game, and I'm super happy I did. In fact, my playlists have helped me to FINALLY figure out the ending. I had a particular version I was quite fond of, but when I listened to a song from the main character's playlist, I just... got it. So my plan is to jot down everything I've come up with these past few days, then see if the story flows well. By adding or removing details, I force myself to immerse every single thought into the world I'm creating. 

3) Le other books on my to-read pile

I've been reading like a maniac these past few days. Books that are similar to my WIP. Books that totally aren't. The point? I've been reading. Other stories always make me crave to write my own. Doesn't matter the genre or target audience. I'm not sure exactly why, but it always works like this for me. So I make sure there are plenty of books around when I'm drafting, just in case I lose steam. And yeah, that happens a lot. *blushes*

So there you have it. Music, outlines, and books help me get back to work. 

What about you? Any tips you'd like to share??

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview Alert! A TOUCH MORTAL'S Leah Clifford!

So, this Sunday, my other home Operation Awesome is featuring an author you should know about.

Which author, you ask?

Oh, no big deal. It's just Leah Clifford, after all. Part of the YA Rebels. Author of this:

Which is about this:

Eden didn’t expect Az. 

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings. 


So long happily-ever-after. 

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven. 

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own. 

And that’s only the beginning of the end.

Want to ask the ever-awesome Leah a question? Stop by the OA blog this Sunday and drop her a line. Leah's going to be checking in to answer YOUR questions, and I've been told she's fair game for anything, so go wild. 

And pretty please go buy A TOUCH MORTAL when it comes out February 22nd, 2011. 

See you Sunday! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congrats, Kody!!

Aside from being awesome, Kody Keplinger is the author of this book:

Today the blogosphere is buzzing about some great news for Kody: she just sold another book to Poppy!!! 

*throws confetti* 

*eats cake on her behalf* *lots of it*

Here's the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

Nineteen-year-old Duff author Kody Keplinger's LUSTSTRUCK, a contemporary reimagining of the Greek play "Lysistrata," that explores the issues of teen sexuality as high school senior Lissa decides it's time to end her school's ridiculous sports rivalry once and for all with a hook-up strike, to Kate Sullivan at Poppy, for publication in Fall 2011, by Joanna Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation (World).

Reimaginings of Greek plays? Hook-up strikes? 

I am so there.

So here's to Kody and her awesomeness. Fall 2011 can't get here soon enough :D

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Book Madness: THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

Folks, I am on a serious dystopian binge. Just ask my to-read pile. Equal opportunity reading is not in my game plan these days. *ducks from knives thrown by other books*

As part of my binge, I finally bought The Book.

What is The Book, you ask? The Book I've been dying to read for a whole year. Yes, that doesn't sound like a long time, but I am a very impatient person. One year = lifetime. So yeah, as soon as I bought The Book, I actually squeed. In front of the cashier. Who retreated four steps back.

Anyway, this is The Book:

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

Le blurb:

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

As you can see, this is one heck of a deep, moving story. And thought-provoking. And awesome.

Jonas is officially the Best Person Ever. He's so eager to learn, but he's afraid of knowing too much. He's always worried about a particular rule the Community enforces: the precision of language. You must say exactly what you mean to say at all times. No hyperboles or similes or metaphors. Exactly. What. You mean. 

Can you imagine writers living in the Community? The suicide rate would go up for sure...

Anyway! I'm officially recommending this one to all of you fine people. I wish I could talk about it more, but I don't want to ruin the experience. Trust me when I say it's a lovely story with excellent writing and killer tension. And I almost cried three times!

So. There you have it. How I spent my weekend (aside from slaving over two stupid research papers). 

Fess up: what did you read this weekend?

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Critiquing Stages a la Taylor Lautner's Body

Remember that time I talked about how Robert Pattinson's hair reminds me of writing? Or how Kristen Stewart's face nails my brainstorming process perfectly? Well, this week I had another totally useless epiphany--the feedback I give my crit partners is a lot like Taylor Lautner's body.

I know what you're thinking: "Amparo, stop looking for excuses to put up half-naked pictures of Taylor Lautner!" Believe me when I say this is not the case. There is a VERY VALID REASON, as you will see in a minute. *blushes*

All right. Let's get to it. Here are my critiquing stages a la Taylor Lautner's body:

Step One: My crit partners are very productive people. I am impressed by them. I am also jealous, but that revelation does little for this post. Anyway, my crit partners write their glorious manuscripts and send their latest babies to me. Once I am able to pry my face from Alexander Skarsgard's abs, I download their babies and read. In this first read, I simply focus on giving my uber-positive comments. Basically, I gush my brains out. Or make jokes. Sometimes both. The point is, I only highlight what makes the manuscript fun to read and easy to understand. My critique starts off a little on the light side, and sort of looks like this:

Step Two: I am a sucker for dialogue. Specifically, how it shows me who the character is. Voice is really important to me, and I'm super lucky to have crit partners with kickass voice. First, I focus on everything dialogue-related: whether what is said by Character A makes sense, does it clash with a previous action and/or interior monologue, is the scene dragging because the convos don't increase tension or give relevant info, etc. Then I dive in to the more style-related stuff, like whether there's too much passive voice, how well the words are flowing, the clarity of the setting/emotions/conflict. Little by little, my critique gets juiced up into something more meaningful. And, you know, a little thicker:

Step Three: After I read their pages, I give my overall impression at the end of the sample. I talk about what I loved best first, then I highlight the parts I think could be improved. By doing this, I feel like I'm giving my crit partners a more detailed version of what I scribbled on the Track Changes along the manuscript. But that's not the most important part, though. I find this Big Picture necessary because it gives me the chance to explain the Why better. Why I think some parts can be improved. Why I think the voice is awesome. Why I think the pacing should be tighter. Believe it or not, critiques are all about the Why. Without it, your partners will simply think you're a snob with no heart. The Why is what makes any manuscript better, folks. Use it. And when you do, you'll see that your critique bulks up to a point where it's fully fleshed out and uber-tight:

See? VERY VALID REASON for writing this post, right? Right???

Quick reminder: The results are in for Operation Awesome's December Mystery Agent Contest!! If you entered, believe me when I say you will NOT be disappointed!! Woot!

Now fess up: what's your critiquing style?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beth Revis's Epic Contest Of Epic!!!!

Yes, I'm aware that I'm posting twice in one day. You should be aware that I have a good reason why.

The post title speaks for itself, folks. The ever-awesome-and-talented Beth Revis is throwing a contest that puts all others to shame

How many prizes are there? 100.

Yes. One. Hundred. Prizes.

You could win one of them.

Just go to her blog and sign up. Simple as that. 

What can you win?

ARCS and a Hardcover Copy of her debut novel, Across the Universe

Bookmarks (from her book and other authors)



In other words, VERY AWESOME STUFF.

Why are you still here??? Go, go, go!!

And please remember to read Karsten Knight's EPIC QUERY here

Best of luck to all who enter!!

A Query That Worked

Confession: I love queries. Writing them. Reading them. Talking about them.

That's why I gave a really loud "squee!" when I found YA author Karsten Knight's UH-MAY-ZING query for his upcoming debut novel, Wildefire. Folks, not only did this query land him his (super awesome) agent, Ms. Mary Kole, but it captures the essence and voice of his novel so. Freakin'. Well.

Don't feel like taking my word for it? Check it out for yourself here

Read it. Study it. Then go make sure yours is just as wonderful.

I know I'll be working on mine ;)

Now tell me: do queries make you panic? Smile? Both???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Buffy vs. Veronica

Yep. You read that right. There is an epic post of awesomeness based on:



Veronica Mars

My two favorite girlies on TV *sigh*

Where is this epic post of awesomeness, you ask? Right over @ YA Highway, of course.

And don't worry. It's about writing. So you can... you know... learn something and stuff...

Okay. Fangirling over. Just wanted to let ya'll know :D

Now tell me: any TV heroines you fangirl over and over and over again???

Monday, December 6, 2010

All About Hype... and a Blogfest!!

Two links for ya'll today :D

First up, I'm blogging over @ Operation Awesome. My topic? Book hype. Fun times.

Now for some exciting news--the super funny Frankie Diane Mallis is having a blogfest!!! Woot! 

It's called the No Kiss Blogfest, and it's all about almost-kisses. *swoon* If you choose to sign up (and I sooo hope you will!), you can feature any couple from books, TV, movies, or your very own WIP. As long as it's two characters about to make out... then foiled in their attempt. *le sigh*

Get ready for the No Kiss Blogfest on Januray 2nd, and sign up here.

Now spill: how did you spend the weekend? Read any good books? Saw any good movies??

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice Part Quatre

I know it's been a while since I've blogged about voice, but today I'm going back to my first love. Some of you might've read my Teenage Dream series, where I give tips on how to hone your YA voice. Well, as part of that series, I'm adding another post.

But not from me *grins*

You see, the ever-awesome Steph Bowe wrote a guest post over @ Randy Russell's blog. She gives similar tips on nailing YA voice, but I think she does a better job than me. That's why you should go here and read what she said. Trust me--it's really helpful. 

Especially since she's a teenager herself *bonus brownie points*

And since I'm currently on the lookout for TONS AND TONS of books to read this Christmas, tell me: which YA novels have you read and loved recently??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mystery Agent Contest TODAY!!

Hop on over to the Operation Awesome site and submit your one-line pitch!

Remember: no NaNo novels, no picture books, erotica, or Christian fiction. Other than that, you're good to go. Contest will close once we have 50 entries, so hurry up!!

Best of luck to everyone!