Tuesday, May 31, 2011
But really, we'd love for you to check out her post. :)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Hey, peeps! We hope that you all have a good Memorial Day. We know you'll take the time to remember those we've lost--whether from war or other circumstances--just like we're off doing today.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Via Paper Hangover (Pam's group blog--check it out here) we're getting our Friday Five on!
1.) TWITTER--Omigod. We were actually not willing to get Twitter accounts at one point. Now, I don't think we could live without it. A day that you don't see us tweet something, anything (even just a re-tweet) , is a day that zombies have attacked our humble Virginia county.
2.) BLOGS- Right after we made our own blog (we used to have individual blogs at one point) we proceeded to find other writers and readers so that we could be on the up and up about any news, advice, or general support.
3.) Pam: As I mentioned in my post from Monday(here), Publisher's Marketplace is part of my daily routine. It never hurts to see what's getting purchased. This way I know where my own writing stands and I get more motivated to finish current WIPs.
4.) Quita: E-mail. LAWD, I check my e-mail once every ten seconds. Hoping that I'll get that response from an agent that I've been waiting for since March/April.
5.) Celebrity Gossip Websites: It's not always trashy stuff (Pam gave up Perez Hilton's site at least a year ago), but we do like to keep up with the news on the Hollywooders that we stalk on a daily basis. You know, the likes of Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Pattinson, Justine Timberlake, etc.
There, you know how we procrastinate when we should be writing that masterpiece that we're dying to get out of our heads. What about you--how do you distract yourself on the Internet?
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Who in your life has most inspired your writing?
1.) Of course, our parents encourage us to follow our dreams, but if we're talking about who has inspired us our WHOLE lives to keep writing and being creative, that would be EACH OTHER!! We push each other to reach goals, encourage each other to finish projects that we know the other would regret abandoning, and we're in the process of finishing a goal we set together--getting our MFA degrees this summer- WOO HOO!
2.) But there a few others who inspire us now on a daily basis besides one another. We have to give that credit to a few bloggy/MFA pals we've met along the way...
a.) Bloggy Pals: Alicia, Erinn, Abby, Holly, Mo, Jamie, Glenna, Caroline, and anyone else we left out b/c we're total space heads sometimes!
b.) MFA Pals: Of course our sis, Racquel, and our adopted lil' bro Matt :)
3.) Annnd, awesome writers like Courtney Summers, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Blake Nelson, and every other awesome YA (and really ANY) writer for showing us how it's done!
What about you? Who inspires you to keep going and push for those writing goals?
Monday, May 23, 2011
As soon as I get to work, I complete the following tasks:
1. Check my work email.
2. Complete morning bus duty.
3. Grab a coffee from my school's cafe.
4. Check out the latest deals on Publishers Marketplace.
Now, the last task pretty much determines my mood for the rest of the day. I range from: "Hey, what a cool concept. Good for them!" to "Wait a minute...I wrote something just like this..." to "Where's my name? When is it my turn??" With the latter, my tears add extra flavoring to my coffee (it's the new Splenda).
And sometimes I feel so guilty when I get those moments. Outside of any job I've ever had, the writing community is the most supportive. You always have someone giving you a high five (both IRL or electronically) when you complete revisions or even a rough draft. And when you receive bad news, it's the writers that offer their condolences when your friends and family don't quite understand. It's not like teachers do the wave for me when I write an awesome-tastic guidance lesson (which they always are, btw).
This is the time where we're supposed to tell each other to not compare ourselves to other writers. To say that our time will come one day.
But you know what? That doesn't always work for me. What does work is to allow myself to have those mixed feelings when I read about Jane Smith's 3-book deal for a dystopian vampire adventure. Because those mixed feelings are what motivate me. They make me sneak in a few spare minutes at work to complete my WIP. They make me turn off American Idol at night to knock out more revisions (and in all honesty, it hasn't been very difficult to tune out AI this season). Basically, reading about someone else's good fortune makes me get my butt in the chair. Not to prove anything to everyone else--just to prove something to me.
How do you all feel about writer jealousy? Do you think it's productive, or does it hinder your work?
Friday, May 20, 2011
One more 'gin we're joining in with the Friday Fives fun from Pam's group blog Paper Hangover.
We are so ADHD, we absolutely have to have something else to grab on to or listen to while writing and revising. With that being said, here are our top five must haves!!!
1.) Music Part I: When revising, we like to listen to low moody music. A great example: The Inception soundtrack, or most songs by Incubus or 30 Seconds to Mars.
2.) Music Part II: Creating playlists based on our character(s). For The Blues, a lot of heavy, loud music (SlipKnot, Korn, The Used) was put on Blake's playlist. For Project J, Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson provided some of the soundtrack of Jonah's life.
3.) Lubrication: Get your minds out of the gutter! We both happen to have cosmetic type materials that we need at our desks. For Pam it's lotion, for me ChapStick. Must. Haves.
4.) Candy: Preferably anything gummy--however, chocolate, Lemon Heads, Nerds and SweetTarts will suffice!
5.) Finally, a notebook: Not just any notebook either. Cute little white notebooks decorated with colorful polka dots. This was given to us when we were in England by our sistah from another mistah, Racquel. We keep these notebooks with us to jot down new ideas, and to write things we need to remember while revising.
There you have it, our five must haves while writing/revising...what about you?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
So...I have a TON of things I need to do:
1. Finish my thesis by the end of May.
The winner is:
Congrats, KO! Expect an email from us shortly. Oh, and any advice on how I can tackle this To Do List would be greatly appreciated. :)
Monday, May 16, 2011
Yep, you read that right. We were in New York City this weekend, beeyatches! We took a one day trip with our mom, and my older sis, Trisha, in celebration of Mother's Day/ Pam's birthday. To sum up the important deets: hot dog stand--check, NY slice of pizza--check, Central Park--check, Times Square--check, Fashion show featuring underwear clad male models--check!
Times Square :)
The fam at the LEGO store.
And there are so many more pics that we took!!! It was an exhausting, yet, exhilarating experience. Have you been to NYC? If so, what'd you do/see there? If not, do ya wanna visit one day??
***We're extending our contest for Crystal Allen's: How Lamar's bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy because Blogger was a DOUCHE last week. Click here for the deets!***
Thursday, May 12, 2011
This installment of our 2011 Debut Author Challenge features our first MG title--as well as the first MG book I've read in a very, very, long time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Crystal Allen's How Lamar's bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy. Please pause on the cuteness of that title.
Here's what Goodreads has to say:
Thirteen-year-old Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest, most spectacular bowler ever at Striker's Bowling Paradise. But while Lamar's a whiz at rolling strikes, he always strikes out with girls. And Lamar's brother, Xavier the Basketball Savior, is no help. Xavier earns trophy after trophy on the basketball court and soaks up all of Dad's attention, leaving no room in the house for Lamar's problems.
So Lamar starts hustling at the local alley with bad boy Billy Jenks. When one of their schemes goes awry, Lamar ends up ruining his brother's shot at college and wreaking havoc on every relationship in his life. Can Lamar figure out how to mend his broken ties, no matter what the cost?
From debut author Crystal Allen comes an unforgettable, laugh-out-loud story of one boy's struggle to win his family's admiration and get the girl of his dreams, all while playing the sport he loves.
In all honesty, I smiled pretty much the whole time while I read this. So that's why it's easy to come up with:
The Top Four Things You Need to Know about Lamar:
1. It Has Diversity. This is the first novel I've read in forever that featured an African-American narrator. Granted, this is partially my fault, but it was still refreshing to read a different perspective on the whole "coming of age" thing. Plus, Lamar wasn't your stereotypical black teenager. He went to church every Sunday, he did really well in school, and his dad always made sure he looked presentable and not "ghetto." Did I mention this was refreshing?
2. The Voice Was Sooo Authentic. I'll admit it--I fell in love with Lamar. He was that perfect balance between cocky and insecure. Crystal Allen also made sure that the teens sounded like, well, teens. The jargon she used in this novel was what I hear in the halls of my school everyday--but I can still see kids reading this years from now and still understanding the slang.
3. Hilarity Ensued. I haven't laughed this much from a book in a LONG time. I really wasn't expecting to be this amused since I thought the humor might be "beneath" me. But just reading about Lamar's attempt at getting a girlfriend and his proclamation of being the "King of Striker's" had me guffawing pretty much throughout the book.
4. But it Also Had Heart. Sure, it had his laugh out loud moments, but Ms. Allen also made sure to tug at the readers' heart strings. Lamar deals with the death of one of his parents, and just witnessing how his family tries to keep it together had me reaching for the tissue box.
People always want to know how to get reluctant boy readers to pick up a book. My response: let them read Lamar.
If you like...
Books: Holes by Louis Sachar, The Cottonmouth Club by Lance Marcum, Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye...then you'll like Lamar
Movies: Baby Boy, Stand By Me, The Wood...then you'll like Lamar
But wait--there's more! I hearted this book SO MUCH, that we now want to give YOU a copy. Just leave a comment below with your email address by Wednesday, May 18th at midnight, EST. That's it--just leave a comment and email address. We'll announce winners Thursday, May 19th. Good luck! :)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic:
If you got to choose a celebrity narrator for the audio book of your WIP or your favorite novel, who would it be and why?
Project J is still underway and since that is fresh in my mind, I've thought of the perfect person to record the audio version of this novel. As I mentioned in previous posts, Jonah (the MC) is a self-proclaimed nerd who tries really hard to win the affections of the most popular girl in school--but in the mean time, he falls for someone else that he may not ever be able to have. So, who could be better than Michael Cera (Superbad, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) to speak Jonah? His sometimes youthful, and nerdy voice would definitely capture the persona and tone of Jonah.
The Blues, (out to Betas) is my contemporary YA mystery about a boy trying to find out who murdered his best friend and why. It is written in first person, so I would want a male voice who sounds kinda lackluster, yet passionate at the same time. The first person who came to mind? Joseph Gordon Levitt! Yes, I am a class A stalker of this man, but have you seen Mysterious Skin? If not, watch it, NOW! His character in that movie and the way he spoke just reminds me of exactly how Blake would talk and carry himself.
What about you--who would you want to be the voice on the audio recording of your WIP or a fave novel?
Oh...and BTW, it's Pam's birthday today!!! *throws streamers and balloons*...hmm, can one throw a balloon?
Monday, May 9, 2011
Good Morning, peeps! It's the start of a new week (we have 5 weeks left in this school year- woo hoo!) and we want to start this week off with some light information.
In the recent issue of The Writer magazine (June 2011) there was an article that caught my eye. There are never many articles on YA in The Writer mag, so when I came across the article "9 Inside Tips On Writing for YA" written by Joyce Doyle, a freelance writer, and young adult writer and librarian, I KNEW some of this info needed to be shared with you all.
As mentioned there are 9 tips, but let's focus on one shall we?
This tip is something we've been hearing a lot from teens and adult readers of YA. The tip is: Have fun with it! Yes teens are emotional and full of anger, sorrow, and dismay--but they also have some good times in those 6 or so years of teenage angst. Therefore, we need to focus on lighter issues and "themes" in novels for teens.
Reference this interview from me and Pam's oh-so angsty and emo niece, Tee Tee (courtesy of Paper Hangover). Now consider this--this girl can often be found with her head buried in a book and a black hood hanging over her eyes. That tells you something, right?
And reference this post from Pam. She talks about how she's stepping away from the darker, heavier, dramatic plots for her new WIP. Yes, she has some heavy issues in the novel, but she is focusing on the lighter side of drama. We know that with being a teen comes great dramatics, but even so we as writers can make those dramatics seem a little lighter, don't ya think?
Here are a few light books that you can read to get those juices flowing for your own light and fun new WIP idea :)
Can you think of a book we left off the list? How do you feel about lighter books for teens?
Friday, May 6, 2011
Once again, we're joining Pam's awesome blog, Paper Hangover for some Friday Fives fun!
This week, they wanna know:
Great question, right? Here are 5 things we've picked up along the way:
1.) Revise, revise, then revise again: Your first draft will always be different from the final (if there is even a final--several authors have said at conferences that they find things they want to change in their books that are already published) and you have to sometimes "kill your darlings".
2.) Any response is a good response: Even if you get a pass on a partial or full request--at least you got a request in the first place! Someone is reading YOUR writing, right?
3.) If you love to write, then write: NOTHING should get in the way of writing if you are a true writer. That doesn't mean you have to write everyday (funerals, births etc. obviously take precedence), but if you truly want to be a writer, there should be some writing going on--and a lot of it!
4.) This is ALL subjective: This is probably the BEST advice we've received. While one agent/editor may not like your novel--there are maybe two or three out there who do. Yes, sometimes there are things we need to work on with our writing, but overall the business of writing books is based on someone's opinion.
5.) Read, read, and read some more!: You can never read enough novels. This is part of our job as writers. If we want to write a certain genre or for a certain audience then we need to read novels in that genre or area of fiction/non-fiction. This way we can learn from it. It's just like how a doctor should read medical journals. Yes, we did just compare writers to doctors.
What has been some great advice that you have received through your journey as a writer?
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The next installment of our 2011 Debut Author Challenge is yet another book that I've been dying to read. Luckily, I won an ARC of Divergent from the lovely Katy Upperman, so I was able to actually read it before the release. There were three words that ran through my head once I finished: Oh. My. God.
In other words, this book DEFINITELY lives up to the hype I've been reading all over the Interwebz. In fact, I can't wait for more people to read it so that I can gush all about it with them. Really, if I can go into details about how much I love this book, I'll sound like a rambling idiot. I'll just say that it's probably one of the BEST books I've read. Ever.
Here's a snippet of what Goodreads has to say:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
The Top Four Things You Need to Know About Divergent:
1. Tris is a BAMF. I usually prefer male narrators, but Veronica Roth has created a protagonist that's...well, a bad a** you know the rest. I loved witnessing how Beatrice became Tris throughout the course of the novel. She started off as a passive wallflower, observing a world that she was dying to be a part of--but by the end of the novel, let's just say I'd want her to have my back in a fight.
2. You can see the action. As Quita wrote about earlier this week, action scenes are pretty much our writing Kryptonite. But in Divergent, you can feel the punches being thrown, see the characters jumping off of trains and buildings--there were even times where I thought I could taste the blood in my mouth after a character was attacked. Yes, Ms. Roth is quite talented--and I can't wait to read this again to take notes.
3. Can you say original? When I was discussing the concept of this book to my coworkers, they couldn't stop buzzing about the originality of it--and I couldn't stop agreeing with them. It's sad to say, but I've never heard of the names of some of these factions--at least, they don't frequent my daily conversations. And to think that when you're 16 you have to choose between joining a new faction, or staying with your family--how cool AND scary is that? We all know dystopian novels are HUGE right now, but if they're as creative and engaging as Divergent, then sign me up.
4. Four. Yes, there is a character named Four in this book--and believe me when I tell you that you'll be swooning over him DAYS after you finish reading. He's not your typical possible love interest. In fact, it's hard to determine who Four really is when we're first introduced to him--and the mystery will just be yet another thing that will keep you turning the pages.
If you like...
Books: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood...then you'll like Divergent
Movies: Gattaca, V for Vendetta, Battle Royale...then you'll like Divergent
Have you had a chance to read Divergent? What are your thoughts? What faction would YOU choose?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
We interrupt your weekly Road Trip Wednesday to bring you some important news:
1. The amazing Kate Hart is joining forces with other writers for Help Write Now. This is a writing auction to assist with storm relief in the South. Several writers, agents, and other publishing industry insiders will be donating their services. Quita and I have also joined a few of our writer buddies for a pretty awesome critique pack. Please stop by and see how you can help.
2. You may have noticed on our sidebar a cute icon for Black Fox Literary Magazine. Quita and I are co-founders and co-editors, along with our sister from another mister, Racquel Henry. Our very first issue will be this summer--woo hoo (if you can't tell, we're uber excited)! We're still looking for submissions and interviews for our website, as well as for the actual magazine. For submissions, click here. If you're a writer (published OR aspiring) that is interested in being interviewed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2b. Black Fox Lit has also surpassed 100 followers on Twitter, so we're having a contest! We're giving away T-shirts, pens, notebooks, and a print copy of our first issue! Click here for details. Oh, and don't forget follow @blackfox on Twitter. :)
Shwew, lots of news! Speaking of which, we're in dire need of good news--big or small. Anything you have to share?? :)
Monday, May 2, 2011
Writing Song of the Day: "Action" by Blink 182