Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Take on Race in YA

Writing Song of the Day: "Come Together" by The Beatles

Friends, with so much drama going on in the world, we try to make things really light here on the blog. However, there were a few blog posts last week that truly inspired me.

It all started with this gem from YA Highway. Nicola K. Richardson wrote a guest post titled "Writing Race in YA." You see, she's an African-American YA writer just like Quita and me, and she brought up concerns that we've quietly noticed for years: the sometimes lack of diversity in YA fiction. Growing up, we read a TON, but we didn't have many characters that we could identify with. So, what did we do when we first started getting really serious about our writing? We wrote what we generally read: about white characters. But to prove that we weren't "selling out" in the black community, we also wrote about biracial characters--mainly a character with one black parent and one white parent.

Why? Because we didn't want to ostracize the white reader. Even though we heart writing, we'd be lying if we said we didn't want people to actually read it. We didn't want to write about gangs and growing up in the ghetto, which makes up the majority of black YA fiction on the shelves. To us, we thought being successful meant writing about white people.

But when Nicola wrote about "Not Quite Black" characters, my heart sank. She was talking about me. I had to stop thinking I was being diverse just because I threw in a few biracial characters. I really need to write about my experiences--and growing up, I had friends of all races. So why couldn't I write about them?

Then I read another great blog post by the lovely @sjaejones. She's biracial, and she was a tad upset about Nicola's comment on biracial characters--which I completely understand. I think the biracial community needs a voice just as much as any other minority. However, this is how I took Nicola's comment:

On this sitcom, My Wife and Kids, Damon Wayans' teenaged daughter looked like this during season one:

But during season two, she magically looked like this:

As you can see, these two girls look nothing alike. I'm not saying the casting decision had anything to do with race. All I know is that most of the time when a black person is depicted in a TV show or a movie, they usually look like the second girl. I don't look like her, and not to sound conceited, but I'd like to see more examples of people that look like me.

Finally, the lovely Dia Reeves gave her take on race in YA. Basically, she agrees with Quita and me--not all black characters should have to go through the hardships of oppression or the ghetto. Sometimes they just want to kick some supernatural ass. Can I get a woot woot?

There you have it. My main characters will no longer just be white or biracial--they'll be whoever I want them to be. Besides, not just white characters can fall in love with vampires or overturn a dystopian government.

What would you all love to see more in YA? Are you doing anything in your writing about it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Agents Want: Selkies!

Querying Song of the Day: "Watered Down" by The Used

What Agents Want is a new series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We'll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.

This week, we are gonna go into a territory that freaks me the BLEEP out. I HATE mermaids--they are the weirdest creatures EVER! And this creature that is featured here today is in the family of "sea people".

Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, Ltd.) mentioned in an interview that she is looking for novels that feature supernatural creatures that are not overused. In her example of said creatures, she listed something called a selkie.

So, what the heck is a selkie?

1.)They are creatures from Faroese, Irish, Icelandic, and Scottish mythology
2.) They can be referred to as a silkie, or selch
3.) They are a form of shapeshifters (they can be either male or female)
4.) They are seal/human creatures that can shed their seal/human skin when needed
5.) They are handsome/beautiful and seductive (aren't they all??)
Male selkies look for females who are unsatisfied with their romantic life (we can assume that female selkies do the same)
6.)They are supposed to be found on the Orkney and Shetland islands
7.) Selkie comes from selch/selk which is the Scottish word for seal
8.) Without their seal skin, selkies are stuck in their human form

What Kind of Legends/Stories Make the Rounds About Selkies?

* They are usually tragic romance tales where either the selkie lover is gone without a trace (and the human did not know they were a selkie), or the human lover hides or burns the selkies seal skin.
* Selkie females: They make good wives, but they long to return back to sea. They are usually staring at water and being miserable in their human lives.
* Selkie males: They are said to be responsible for problems at sea like shipwrecks and storms.
* Selkie and human lovers are only supposed to spend short bursts of time with each other before the selkie must return to sea. Then they can see each other again in seven years, unless the human gets a hold of the selkie's seal skin.
* If a woman wishes to see a male selkie, they need to cry seven tears in the sea.
* Some folklore says selkies are the tortured souls of drowned humans.

What Books Can I Read for Research?

Water Shaper by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Seven Tears Into the Sea by Terri Farley
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton

Finally, tell me about the agent who wants novels featuring selkies!

Ginger Clark has worked at Curtis Brown, Ltd. since 2005. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. Ginger also represents British rights for the agency's children list. Some of Ginger's clients (according to QueryTracker.net) include: Patricia Wrede, Richard Kadrey, and most recently: Scott Tracey!

Once you write this awesometastic novel on selkies (or if you already have!) then query Ms. Clark with just your query letter and contact information. She prefers e-mailed queries which can be sent to: gc@cbltd.com She will respond only if interested in seeing more material.

Find more info on Ginger Clark here:

Find more info on selkies here:

Did you know about selkies before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP featuring them??? Just researching this, we're getting a few ideas ourselves...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

RTW: Gotta Question For Ya...

Writing Song of the Day: "Question!" by System of a Down

Woo hoo, a little late to the party, but once again it's Road Trip Wednesday!! Here's this week question from the lovely ladies of YA Highway:

Interactive Q&A. Post a question on your blog then travel the highway answering others' questions!

You liked how they flipped it on us, huh? We're the ones asking the questions this week. Let's get this party started:

Pam's Question: Okay, I'm a little obsessed with Publishers Marketplace. By obsessed, I mean I check it at least twice a day to see all the new YA deals. I've noticed that when most people receive 3-book deals, it's usually for dystopians or paranormals. I'm a fan of both genres, but my first love is contemporary, realistic fiction. My question is--

Aside from the Gossip Girl/The Clique/etc. series (though I have nothing against them), can you think of any realistic, contemporary trilogies? If not, why do you think these aren't so popular?

Quita's Question: Just like Pam, I'm also a fan of contemporary YA--but I also teach history, so I have love there, too. *pokes Pam because she's falling asleep* I've written both contemporary and historical YA manuscripts separately, but I'd love to combine the two. Here's the twist--I'd love to do that without using the classic: "Lookie here, I've discovered a letter/journal from the past" method. My question is--

Can you suggest any books that combines both historical and contemporary in a creative way?

We know we can count on you guys. You rawk!! :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pam vs. Quita: First Drafts!

Writing Song of the Day: "First Love" by Adele

Pam Vs. Quita is a series in which we battle it out over our writing methods and you, our lovely followers, choose the successor...or at least let us know who you agree with more. :)

Quita royally kicked Pam's hind-pots on the first installment, which was all about story ideas. Now, we're rumbling over how we get those dreaded first drafts done.

Pam's Thoughts:

First drafts. Just typing those two words sends chills up and down my spine (or it could be I still have to ice my knee post-surgery). While, of course, I heart writing, I'm not the fan of the first draft. It takes SO much will power to shut off my internal editor and just get the damn story out.

Here's the thing--I'm not a plotter nor a panster. I'm some weird hybrid of both (plonster?). I start outlining the first few chapters of my WIP. I tend to look at each chapter like a short story--I want to make sure that there's always some kind of conflict that the protagonist is trying to overcome. If I hit a roadblock, I just start to write what I have. As looney tunes as it may sound, the characters eventually start to speak to me and steer the story the rest of the way. I then may get inspired and start outlining the remaining few chapters.

On my current WIP, I'm having trouble getting past that roadblock. So, my trusty cousin, Quita (though in this post, she shall be noted as My Ain True Enemy), downloaded the beta version of Scrivener for Windows for me. I plan on placing the scenes I've written so far on different note cards and rearranging them until I have an ah-ha moment. From there, I'll either just write or plot out the remaining few chapters. A plontser, you see. The fun stuff is with revisions, but more on that later...

Quita's Thoughts:

First drafts are sooo annoying, but fun at the same time. I'm a little bipolar about them, I guess. And impatient. That's my biggest pet peeve about the first draft--why can't all of the plots and ideas flow out of my head as quick as I'm thinking of them? I really wish there was a way to get some of those scenes out without having to type it all. Microsoft needs to come out with a stream of consciousness word program--the words appear as you think them!

But, I digress. How do I write my first draft? I don't really have an interesting answer to this. It's very simple: I just get it all out. I have my ideas outlined (for the most part) and then I just type it all up. As I go along, I change things and then my outline gets all scratched and ugly, but that's okay :) That's what programs like Scrivener are for--it's about time for me to give up the paper and pencil method, I suppose. So, my first drafts are usually just "dumped" out for lack of a better word. I don't self-edit, I just type it all and I worry about changing things later.

Okay that's Round 2? Who's the victor this week??

Friday, February 18, 2011

Debut Author Challenge #3: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Reading Song of the Day: "Just Like You" by Three Days Grace

The next installment of our 2011 Debut Author Challenge is a book that I've waited AGES to read. I've entered so many contests that I was lucky enough to win the pre-order as well as an ARC. But when I finally got Kirsten Hubbard's Like Mandarin in the mail, I was a little...nervous. Why?

First, what if this book didn't live up to the hype? I remember waiting eagerly for a book after reading so many great things about it only to feel like...whomp whomp. I didn't want Mandarin to leave me feeling underwhelmed.

Second, I really like Kirsten. We're friendly over the interwebz and she even spotted me at last year's LA SCBWI conference and gave me a hug. What if I didn't like her novel? I'd feel awful!

Luckily, I didn't have to worry about that because this book is AWESOME! So awesome that I had to come up here and share it with you guys despite still being a little hazy post-surgery.

Here's what Goodreads has to say:

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

And now...

Top Four Things You Need to Know About Like Mandarin:

1. It's realistic fiction. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of other genres (In fact, I just swooned over Across the Universe here)--but me and Quita's first love is and always will be realistic, contemporary fiction. Kirsten writes a true coming-of-age story, and though I've never stepped foot in Wyoming, it's like I've met these characters before.

2. No boy comes to the rescue. Yeah, I like a good love interest every now and then, but sometimes boys just aren't needed (shocking, I know). There are definitely good and bad guys that enter Grace's life, but they don't change or define her. Mandarin holds that power, and it's refreshing to read a story about the evolution of female friendship.

3. Well, whaddyaknow, the mom is an actual character. There's been a lot of talk about how there aren't many parental figures in YA. While this never had any bearing on whether or not I liked a story, I love how Kirsten makes Grace's mother so real. She's not perfect, but she's not some exaggerated monster, either. She has her flaws but there's no denying she loves her children--and I couldn't help but smiling when Grace realizes that, too.

4. You, too, will want to be like Mandarin. I mean, who hasn't had a "Mandarin" in their high school? You know, the girl that everyone trash-talked but secretly envied. My Mandarin was actually named Vanessa. She was probably just as beautiful as Kirsten described Mandarin, and she drove guys crazy. However, the more I got to know her, the more human she became--and I love how accessible Mandarin becomes at the end of the novel. We see her layers, but she still intrigues us. That's talented writing right there!

If you like...

Books: Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald...then you'll like Like Mandarin

Movies: Sixteen Candles, Thirteen, Can't Hardly Wait...then you'll like Like Mandarin

If you've read Like Mandarin, what are your thoughts? Have you ever wanted to be like someone else in high school?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We Gots Us an Award!

Feeling Lovely Song of the Day:

It's always great to get awards. Especially awards that celebrate things you work really hard on...and believe us, we work hard to keep you all entertained here. So, yesterday after having a loooong day, we came home to this:

Yep, the Stylish Blogger Award from Caroline Tung Richmond!!! Thanks, Caroline- we truly appreciate it!!!! "throws confetti and balloons*--wait can you throw balloons??

So, the rules to accept the award this award is to thank and link back to the person who gave you the award, list 7 things about yourself and pass the award along to ten other awesomtastic, Stylish Bloggers, and finally contact said bloggers.

This, we can do!

7 Things about Pam and Quita:

*We are totes obsessed with the movie, Inception. Pam requested a Blu-ray player for Christmas just so we can watch Inception on it.

*We will murder a mo-fo if they mess with our family. WE can talk about them all we want, but if you speak out of turn, we'll eff you up.

*Pam: When I was younger I was riding my bike, and one of my neighbors wanted me to chase him. He moved too quick, my front tire hit a curb and I hurt my hoo-ha...but I can still have babies someday!

*Quita: When I was younger, I was hyper. I was playing and ran into a long wooden stick hanging from the bed of a truck. I hit my head and still have trouble remembering things to this day...

*We LIVE for chocolate and peanut butter mixed.

*At around ages 9 and 10 we would write a few pages in our Lisa Frank (or any other) notebooks and read them out loud to each other. (Early on critique partners !)

*Going to the movie theater is one of our favorite past times. Unless of course they are crowded b/c we both have a slight case of agoraphobia ;)

YEAH! Now you know seven new things about us and we get to the fun part!!! Here are ten other Stylish Bloggers that we would like to pass this award on to.

1.) Racquel Henry!
2.) Abby Stevens
3.) Glenna Walsh!
4.) Alicia Gregoire
5.) Emy Shin!
6.) Jessica Byam!
7.) Jamie Manning!
8.) Alex Mullarky
9.) Meredith (from Meredith Writes)
10.) Kate Scott

If you don't know these bloggers, go check them out- NOW! Thanks again to Caroline!!! We will be in touch with our fellow Stylish Bloggers :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RTW: What's In A Title?

Writing Song of the Day: "My Name Is" by Eminem

Those of you who are familiar with how we are know that we probably shouldn't be writing a post on titles. I mean, we did have a contest before where asked people to title our NaNoWriMo projects...but it's Wednesday, YA Highway Road Trip time, so we've gotta play along!

So, how do we come up with titles?

We put a bunch of different phrases in a hat, shake it up, and whatever we pull out that's what we title our work.

That would be pretty cool, wouldn't it?

Well, it's not true.

Titles are pretty much secondary to us in the writing process. We just want to get the words out first and then we'll go through that terrible task of creating a title. *shudders*

We both look for a central theme (or recurring theme/place/topic) that shows up in our work and then we try it out on each other. Some of our titles didn't sound right at first until we went through the work and it all sunk in.

Also, we may look at a piece of dialogue that one of our characters says and sees if it's universal enough to apply to the whole story. We heard one of our faves Courtney Summers used this tactic to title Some Girls Are and everyone knows that she RAWKS!

So, what about you- how do you come up with your titles?

Monday, February 14, 2011

YA Blogosphere Lovefest: We LUVS Abby!!! (Plus our Contest Winner)

Speading the Love Song of the Day: "Valentine's Day" by Linkin Park

We signed up to join in the YA Blogosphere Lovefest hosted by Kate Hart, Kristin Miller, Sarah Enni, and Tahereh Mafi. The lovefest scheduled to occur today, the lovey dovey-iest of all days. Valentine's Day. Would you like to know the history of how this day began? No? Good, cuz we don't feel like telling you. We would much rather get right into loving on our chosen YA Writing Valentine.

Who did we get???

Abby "The Tabby Catt" Stevens!!!

And why is she awesome???? See for youself...

How do we Love Abby? Let us Count the Ways...

She's creative and unique, always thinking on her feet
Prodigal Maggie is a story concept that can't be beat
She's loyal and loving to her fellow YA bloggers and writers
Giving out books and holding contests it seems like she never tires
Creating blogfests and buttons that are almost as cute as her smile
Amusing and entertaining her followers all the while
She loves Harry Potter like a fat kid loves snack cakes
She provides insight on publishing, letting us know what it takes
Abby stomps for the cause for our wounded and fallen soldiers
The girl is amazing, I thought we told ya?

Now that we've told ya how awesome Abby "The Tabby Catt" Stevens is, why don't you go and check her out for yourself? You can get to her blog by clicking here, and you can stalk her life(follow her) on Twitter by clicking here!

Happy Valentine's Day ALL! Do you have anyone you wanna give some love to, today?

Wait...are we forgetting something???

OH YEAH!!! The winner of our $35.00 cupcake gift card to Edibles Incredible Desserts is...

Valerie Ipson!!!

Congrats, Valerie! Make sure to check your email later today....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Little Known YA Wonders # 2: What Happened to Lani Garver??

Reading Song of the Day: "What Ever Happened" by The Strokes

A while back,
Pam did a post about not believing hype surrounding YA books and that got us thinking about lesser known/praised YA books. We wanted to do our part and highlight some of the fabulous young adult books that we don't often hear about.

The first part of this series was dedicated to Blake Nelson's Paranoid Park. Now, we're gonna tell you about a writer even more obscure, who definitely should be getting more praise.

I was looking for demented young adult books this past summer. My thesis for my MFA program is about feeling empathy for murderous characters (at least enough empathy th
at you want to continue on with the book) . A poetry professor in the program knew this and recommended that I read a few books by her friend, Carol Plum-Ucci. I am sooooo happy that I listened to her. I read What Happened to Lani Garver and am dying to spread the word about this AWESOME book!
Plum-Ucci is a brilliant writer. She knows how to intersperse vivid detail about the setting of Hackett Island and the people who inhabit it. More importantly, she has the teenage voice and vernacular down! The main character, Claire, is in remission from leukemia. She is elated when the most popular girls in school befriend her, and she starts to date a guy who is part of Hackett Island's elite pack of fishermen sons. Things are great, until Lani Garver comes to town. The major question people ask right away...is it a boy or a girl?

This novel explores small towns and how they deal with homosexual issues. Claire takes us on journey of friendship and love when Lani embraces her and makes her face her demons. Although the novel seems dark from the general synopsis, Lani brings a light with him/her to Hackett Island and this light will save Claire, her family, and her friends, in more ways than one.

Plum-Ucci won a Micheal L. Printz award & was a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe for her novel The Body of Christopher Creed (which is waiting for me on my e-reader). She is famous for including her roots in her stories. She grew up in Jersey and loves to use islands and the mainland of New Jersey as her stories' backdrop. To find out more about Carol Plum-Ucci visit her website and become her fan on Goodreads.

Does this book sound like something you'd want to read? What kind of YA Wonders would you like to see highlighted on our blog?

BTW- Don't forget about our Sweet On You contest! You have until Sunday 2/13/11 5 PM EST to enter :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We're Kinda Sweet on You! (Contest!!)

Lovey Dovey Song of the Day: "Your Love" by Nicki Minaj

Okay, we're not the most romantic people in the world. In fact, we usually snicker/scoff/vomit during the kissing-in-the-rain love scenes in movies. But something we do love?


So with Valentine's Day looming around the corner, we decided to celebrate the only way we knew how...with cupcakes!!

Does this look good to you?

Or this...
Or, OMG, this?

Then you HAVE to enter this contest!! Just fill out the form below and Random.org will pick one lucky follower to win a $35 gift certificate to Edibles Incredible Desserts. You'll have until Sunday, 5 PM EST to enter. We'll announce the winner on, you guessed it, Valentine's Day! (BTW-unfortunately this company only delivers to the US. Sorry, International followers *sad face*)

Good luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pam vs. Quita: Story Ideas!

Brainstorming Song of the Day: "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)" by 30 Seconds to Mars

Pam Vs. Quita is a series in which we battle it out over our writing methods and you, our lovely followers, choose the successor...or at least let us know who you agree with more. :)

Our first installment of Pam vs. Quita is all about inception. No, not the movie (though as many of you may know, it's probably our fave movie EVER), but how we actually come up with our masterpieces, a.k.a., our story ideas.

Pam's Thoughts:

I'm a weirdo. Some of you may remember that the story that nabbed me an agent came from an elaborate dream. You see, I rarely dream about myself--I usually have these grand sequences featuring some of my favorite actors. Again, weirdo here. If the dream sticks with me, then I may finally sit down and jot down my idea.

I've also gotten a few ideas from movies that I loved when I was younger, but I try to put my own modern twist to it. Right now, I'm currently working on a WIP that is reminiscent of the Patrick Dempsey classic, Can't Buy Me Love. My NaNo novel was inspired by my obsession for Lost Boys. Believe me, I'm not plagiarizing the plots--I take the basic formulas but add my own layers.

So after I get the initial idea--say, from a dream or an old movie--I use a strategy that I learned from one of my fave authors, Jodi Picoult. She takes a situation then asks: What if? What if the Lost Boys were about mermaids, not vampires? What if Patrick Dempsey wanted to date the "hot girl" not to gain popularity, but because he needed some kind of alibi? Once I ask a question that I'd like to read more about, I start outlining my first draft. But that's another blog post...

Quita's Thoughts:

I get inspiration from the people and things around me. Probably like most writers, I am very observant. I'll listen in on conversations and when I hear/see something I like, I make a mental note. Now...I'm not very good at keeping mental notes, because, well I'm a lil' senile. So I have to try and write it down as soon as possible. And I've done this from time to time. Here are a few example of how something I have seen/heard influenced my writing and story ideas.

I get TONS of story ideas from my students. I saw one student with dark, long, black hair covering his face, tight black skinny jeans, and bright green converses on his feet. The green converses helped me shape an entire character and side plot in my NaNo project. I will listen to their conversations and how they interact and get ideas from that, too. I came up with one project while listening to a female student talk about how she would murder someone for her favorite singer. I thought about what would really drive a teenager to murder, and I hatched an idea of a young Natural Born Killers-esque couple on the run.

To sum it all up, I'm a complete thief for story ideas. I steal from real life people as well as TV shows, talk shows, reality TV, and books that I admire.

There you have it, peeps. So, Round 1 goes to...???

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Debut Author Challenge #2: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Reading Song of the Day: "Prototype" by Outkast

Okay, the next book we chose to read in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge was Beth Revis' Across the Universe. You know, that small book that debuted at #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. I wanted to read this book because:

A.) Beth Revis' journey to publication is a total Cinderella story. She was a high school English teacher that finally made her dreams come true--with a 3-book deal no less. There's hope for Quita and me yet. And,

B.) I got to read the first chapter online and my jaw literally hit the floor.

Here's what Goodreads has to say:

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Now without further ado...

Top Four Things You Need to Know About ATU:

1. It's told in dual POVs. We get to hear the voices of Amy, a teen girl who's been frozen for centuries, and Elder, the future leader of the spaceship community. Revis doesn't do anything fancy to differentiate between the voices, but readers just get it. The two perspectives are so different that I never needed a reminder of who was narrating.
2. Do you hate sci-fi? You'll still heart this book! Please don't let the aforementioned "spaceship" scare you. Though the story takes place in a galaxy far, far away, it's more a story about morality and human emotions. This is coming from the girl who's never gotten into Star Trek and only saw the Episodes 2 and 3 of Star Wars (and that's just because Quita thinks Hayden Christensen is hawt).

3. You won't get frexxing confused with the jargon and setting. Again, the story is set in the future, and Revis describes this brand new world casually. She doesn't lay on the descriptions extra thick, but you can actually see the many levels of the spaceship, Godspeed. And the jargon is so natural, I find myself shouting "frex!" whenever I stub my toe. :)

4. Holy M. Night Shyamalan ending, Batman! And I mean this as a compliment--when twist endings were fresh and new. Though book one of this trilogy wraps up in a satisfying way, Revis makes sure to leave you with enough intrigue to snatch up the sequel. (By the way, would that make the third book the "threequel"?)

If you like...

Books: The Children of Men by P. D. James, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Maze Runner (Book 1) by James Dashner...then you'll like ATU.

Movies: Back to the Future, Total Recall, Avatar...then you'll like ATU.

Have you read ATU yet? What are your thoughts?


Two of our winners did not get in touch with us by the cut off date. THEREFORE...we still have two prizes up for grabs. They are:

*Query Critique by K.M. Walton
* 10 Page Critique by both Pam and Quita (double the trouble--huh?)

Anyway, we went back to the drawing board and chose TWO more lucky winners!!! If your name is below please e-mail us at: marquitahockaday@gmail.com to claim your prize. Please rank it from 1, t0 2. We want to give you the prize that you want first.

Okay, without further delay, here are the two NEW winners!

Jessica Byam!

Jamie Manning!

CONGRATS! We'll be looking out for your e-mails :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RTW: Books Everlasting

Reading Song of the Day: "Again" by Flyleaf

It's Wednesday! Not only does it mean we're closer to the weekend, but also that it's time to hit the road with the cool chicas from YA Highway. Here's this week's Road Trip Wednesday question:

It's Groundhog Day! Pretend you're Bill Murray in the 1993 movie-- what book would you read over & over forever?

First of all--AWESOME movie! Second of all, such a fun question--let's do this:

Pam's Choice:

Oh my goodness, I can't choose! That's like asking me what food I would eat over and over--or any other example that's not as greedy. Hmm, if I HAD to pick, I'd have to turn to the author that made me fall in love with writing: Judy Blume.
Superfudge, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great...the list of greatest hits goes on and on. But the one that I probably love the most is Blubber.

I know I've probably praised Blubber a few dozen times before on this blog, but can you blame me? Blubber was the original Mean Girls. Readers got an inside look at both the bully and the victim through the protagonist's eyes. Though Jill Brenner does a lot of awful things, Judy Blume made me empathize with her. Me, and not only was I a very cynical child, but I also felt a little like Blubber while growing up. Blume balances tears and laughs, and it's like she was writing any classroom across America.

I would have shown you all my personal copy of Blubber, but it's a little bruised and beaten. Yeah, I love it that much.

Quita's Choice:

Oooh, Pam's choice was soooo good. Judy Blume RAWKS. I guess if I was being truthful about a book I would read over and over, forever I would have to visit some childhood faves too. I'm way too indecisive to choose between the two books that I wore out the most as a child. These would be a tie between R.L. Stine's The Boy Next Door ( I wrote my first YA novel based on this book) and Ann M. Martin's Super Special #3: Baby Sitter's Winter Vacation.

However, the Baby Sitters win. I read this book probably once every week from the age of 9 to 13/14. And I would still read it throughout the rest of my high school years. I was a little embarrassed, so I never told anyone I was still reading the Baby Sitters club, but c'mon! You know these books are classics! This one was my fave because it was so completely different then what I was used to. Growing up in Virginia where it barely snows, and with no money to travel to winter resorts, I didn't experience many snow fights, and snow man making contests. It was a complete escape...and the drama that ensued on this vacation was also exhilirating.

What about you? What book could you read forever and ever, and ever...?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pay It Forward Contest

Thankful Song of the Day (Does that even make sense???): "Thank You" by Alanis Morissette

There are certain people in this world who are just "good". These people are going to be (hopefully) recognized all over the blogosphere this week thanks to Shelli over at Market My Words.

Shelli is putting on an awesome contest this week in which she will choose ONE person to recommend to her agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group. Go here to learn more about this awesome contest!

In the spirit of paying it forward (and entering the contest) I am going to name a few people who have helped me thus far in my writing career. Here they are!

Of course my Alpha, Beta, Zeta (?) reader. No, I'm not talking about a sorority (although I think this would be a cool name for one!) I'm talking about Pam! My cousin/sister who always reads my work first, second, third...and last. Pam reads my synopsis, queries, pitches, Twitter pitches, you name it, she's read it and she fixes it! It's strange whenever I write something and she HASN'T read it. I trust her eye and I trust her. PERIOD.

We like similar subject matters so I always want to know what she thinks about my plots, characters, and dialogue, and she doesn't hesitate to offer advice--and believe me, she's not easy on me just because I'm her cousin. She keeps it real and my writing is better because of it. Also, she supports me with chocolate, French Fries, and adult beverages. :)

The YA Writing Community that I've discovered through Twitter and blogging. There are certain people who help me more *cough* recent blogfest counterparts *cough* but overall, the entire YA writing community is very supportive of one another. We offer book suggestions, we give support and advice, and we always, always have cupcakes/chocolate on hand to send through Twitter. :)

Ann Braden who I found through SCBWI's discussion boards. I was in search of a Beta reader for In Limbo and Ann, who is a former middle school history teacher, jumped at the chance. She read my manuscript within a week and e-mailed it back with extensive and extremely helpeful notes. I couldn't have queried (and gotten some positive responses) without Ann's help.

Other writing friends that I've made through my MFA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Especially certain people that me and Pam have added to the family. You all know who you are, especially you, Racquel, our little sister :) Without their support and critiques in workshops, I also would not be at the level I am today with my writing.

Okay, I think that does it. Who would you like to thank for helping you with your writing? Also, remember this is all part of a contest--go check it out!