Thursday, December 22, 2011

Interview: Kirsten Hubbard, Author of WANDERLOVE!!

I'm BEYOND delighted to welcome one of my fave YA authors to the blog today!! Ladies and gents, I give you Kirsten Hubbard! *claps like a maniac* Kirsten is the force of nature behind contemporary YA novels Like Mandarin, and the upcoming Wanderlove (which I've reviewed here). Without further ado, here's my quick interview with Kirsten:

1) Favorite movie genre
Honestly, just like books, I love movies from almost every genre (including really good horror).

2) Favorite teen movie
I adore Clueless, but if I had to pick just one, it'd be Empire Records. I was in junior high when I saw it, a wannabe grunge kid, and I wanted to work in that record store and make out with A.J. SO BAD.
(I've yet to see this movie, BUT I've heard great things about A.J. *grins*)

3) If Bria Sandoval could direct her own movie, which genre would she choose and why?
 Bria loves fantasy, art and humor, so I could totally see her working for Pixar someday.
(*makes note to stalk Bria into Pixar someday*) 

4) What about Grace Carpenter? Which genre would she choose and why?
 Grace is a tough one. She's extremely introspective, and very much a people watcher. I could see her working as an indie filmmaker, making quiet, heavy films with an undercurrent of magic. I'm thinking Sofia Coppola.
(I would totally be her best friend. Forever)

5) What's one thing you've learned as a writer from watching teen movies?
Because movies are visual by nature, they can't just stick conversations and plot events in the same old settings; they often utilize creative, dynamic backdrops -- even when the whole film takes place in a record store, like Empire Records. I took a screenwriting class in college, and it really inspired me to do the same with my novels: to explore the power of setting, on both a large-scale and scene-by-scene level.
(*takes notes from brilliant advice*)

It all begins with a stupid question: 

Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

A huge thanks to Kirsten for stopping by!! Make sure you pick up Wanderlove when it hits stores on March 13th, 2012! AND go buy your copy of Like Mandarin, which is in stores now!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Things On A Monday: Ryan Gosling and Robbie P's Identity Crisis

So. It has been a WHILE since I've blogged, you guys. A. While.

In order to fix that, I have decided to share two memes with you. Because that's how I show my love, of course. With memes.

Le memes:

Ryan Gosling Reads Young Adult is one of my absolute favorite things in the universe. If you're feeling down, or mad about the cold you thought you'd gotten rid of (*points at self*), this page is for you.

Someday he'll figure it out, folks. He will wake up, look at himself in the mirror and say, "OMG, you're that murdered wizard/sparkly vampire dude AT THE SAME TIME." 

He will faint from the excitement seconds later. 

*pulls out camcorder* 


So yeah. I'm back to bloggy land. Which means there are more memes to come, and more randomness than should be legal. 

How have the holidays treated you so far, blogging buddies??? I've missed you!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blog Chain: Where The Magic (Writing) Happens

For this round of ye olde Blog Chain, Tere asks us to spill on the following topic:

What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?

Closed door vs. Crowded coffeehouse 
Closed door. With headphones. There's something about staring at a wall while listening to a playlist that shifts between pop and metal, you know? Plus, coffeehouses have pretty people in them. And I am easily distracted by The Pretty. 

Sit down to write vs. Wait
Definitely wait. It's impossible for me to just push the words out when I'm not feeling it. That usually ends up in one of two Very Bad Things: 1) I either count how many times the cursor blinks; 2) or write a bunch of words that suck. Epically. The kind you're embarrassed to share with three-month-old babies.

I've tried to change my writing style often, but nope. Doesn't work. Even my muse is stubborn :)

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

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!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-or-Treaters You Should Stay Away From...

Happy Halloween, folks! Hope you're stocked up on candy and spooky reads today! 

Me? Well, I'm... scared.

You see, trick-or-treaters will knock on my door tonight. And although I love giving people unhealthy foods, I may just keep all my lollipops to myself when these dudes come around.

Here's my Halloween Survival Guide: Trick-or-Treaters You Should Stay Away From:

Muscles? HA! Nobody cares, dude. Nobody cares. If he shows up half-naked to your doorstep, he should not be trusted, people. Plus, nobody cares about muscles.

*stares at muscles*

Do not take his hand. Ever. No matter how deep and reassuring his voice is when he says he'll save your life. Dudes that do this might kidnap the heck out of you, okay? Say no to the hand.

Why do I insist on staying away from all this pretty?

Oh, come on. You know the truth about pretty, don't you?


Now if you'll excuse me, I must go chain myself to the wall before The Pretty ring my doorbell.


Are you prepared for The Pretty today? What survival tips work best for you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guest Post: YA Author Miranda Kenneally And GIVEAWAY!!

Yep. I have another amazing guest post (and first ever giveaway!) for you today, folks. I'm thrilled to welcome YA author Miranda Kenneally to the blog! Since Miranda's debut novel, Catching Jordan, features a girl who plays football, I figured I'd ask her about her favorite YA sports movie. (Bonus points: she chose a movie I LOVE).

Take it away, Miranda!

Varsity Blues: The Ultimate YA Sports Film

Varsity Blues came out when I was 16. The movie is R-rated so I had to buy a ticket to “She’s All That” and sneak into Varsity Blues. Also, I went with a guy who turned out to be a major asshole, but that’s beside the point because the movie was INCREDIBLE.

The plot of the movie is thus: Mox has a great family and a super cute girlfriend, but he wants out of his football-obsessed town. He wants to go to Brown University. Mox is very smart and wants to focus on school, but everyone expects him to play for the football team because that’s what athletic guys are supposed to do in Texas. Mox finds out that the coach has been forcing the star quarterback, Lance, to get cortisone shots in his injured knee so he can keep playing. Then Lance gets sacked hard and the coach denies he knew anything about Lance’s injury.

Mox has to step up and take over as quarterback for the rest of the season because Lance’s knee is ruined. Mox is disgusted with the coach and his overbearing ways, and throughout the season, Mox lets the coach bully him and threaten his dreams of going to Brown. Finally, Mox steps up and confronts the coach, which inspires the rest of the team to confront their bully of a coach too.

Why is this movie great YA? It starts with a serious problem. Mox sees that his best friend Lance is injured, but the coach tells Mox it’s none of his business. When Lance gets hurt, it inspires Mox to confront the issue.

YA is all about hope and Mox has big dreams he wants to fulfill. Other secondary characters have similar dreams about wanting to move beyond football, and Mox inspires them too.

Ultimately, Varsity Blues isn’t about football. It’s about standing up for what’s right. It’s about confronting bullies. It’s about going after dreams. That is Reel YA. 

Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, a contemporary YA novel about football and femininity, coming in December 2011. Other books include PLAYING PARKER (fall 2012) and BAD, BAD THING (spring 2013). Miranda is the co-creator of Dear Teen Me. The Dear Teen Me Anthology will be published in late 2012. She enjoys reading and writing young adult literature, and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her husband. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at Nelson Literary Agency.

A huge thanks to Miranda for stopping by! And to celebrate the release of Catching Jordan, I'm throwing a preorder giveaway! There are two rules to enter the giveaway: 1) be a follower; 2) comment on this post. That's it! Contest ends on November 2nd,  and I'll be choosing one winner through

Here's Catching Jordan's official blurb:

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starting position... suddenly she's hoping he'll see her as more than just a teammate.

Best of luck to all who enter!! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post: Shaun David Hutchinson + DONNIE DARKO = Awesome YA Novel

I'm pleased to welcome Shaun David Hutchinson to the blog today! Shaun's the author of The Deathday Letter, a hilarious yet touching YA novel that should be on everyone's to-read pile. And since I loved this book so much, I figured I'd ask him to stop by and share his awesomeness with you. 

Take it away, Shaun!

What character from a teen movie deserves his own YA book?

I love movies almost as much as I love books.  Having an older brother, I grew up with the great teen movies of John Hughes and others from that era.  The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, One Crazy Summer, Better Off Dead, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  In fact, I sometimes pitched THE DEATHDAY LETTER as a Ferris Bueller's Day Off type adventure...the big difference being that my character dies in the end.

There are so many to choose from.  I think the geek from Sixteen Candle could definitely have his own YA series (and I think Jake Wizner could totally write it).  One of my favorite teen movies, Stand By Me, was already a novella by Steven King.  I'd love to see more of Brendan Frye from BRICK, and I bet Steve Brezenoff would own writing a book like that.  But for me, if I were writing it, I'd want to write a YA series about the character Donnie Darko from the movie of the same name. 

Clearly, that's not possible (and if you've seen the movie, you'll understand what I mean--if you haven't, quit reading this and go watch it).  But what draws me to Donnie is the oddness of him.  I'm drawn to reading and writing characters who don't fit in.  Characters who are average and normal and on the outside.  I'm drawn to misfits who are forced into unique situations.  A random, horny teen having to decide how to die.  A scared guy living in a hospital.  An orphan searching for his parents' murderer.

The character of Donnie is this guy who talks to a giant talking rabbit.  He hallucinates.  He narrowly avoids being crushed under the weight of a jet engine.  But he's not special.  He's normal.  Maybe a little mentally unstable.  But he still worries about dying, and girls, and kissing.  And despite the fact that he might possibly be living in a parallel timeline created by a paradox, life goes on.  Because we're all normal, a little screwed up, and living in this surreal world.

Those are the people who are interesting to me.  Donnie Darko...and Frank the rabbit. 

And if I had a second choice, it'd be Brian Johnson, the geek from the Breakfast Club.  Because I'm betting at some point, he loses it.  And I think that'd be interesting to see.

The clock is ticking?
Ollie can't be bothered to care about anything but girls until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he's going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.
Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn't work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It's now or never?

Huge thanks to Shaun for sharing his pick!! And if you haven't done so yet, go check out The Deathday Letter, which is in stores now!
Have you seen Donnie Darko? If so, what's your favorite thing about it? Any other dark movie characters you think should get their own YA novels?