Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Debut Author Challenge # 8: How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend...And a Giveaway!!!

Reading Song of the Day: "Girlfriend (Remix)" by Nsync ft. Nelly

We told ya we'd have more Debut Author Challenge to share with you guys :) This time, we're going to introduce you to a fun, light (hmmm, that's slightly debatable b/c there are some high stakes in this book) YA (possibly older MG) novel called How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislan.

The title is pretty self explanatory but just in case you want more, here is what Goodreads has to say:

David Gershwin's summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad's new patient Zelda tells him she s from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming. But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David's hooked, and soon he's leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David's going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth or beyond.

Yep, it's as fun as it sounds. Just in case you need more convincing, here are:

The Top Four Things You need to Know about How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend:

1. The MC has Crazy Voice!: David is the son of a psychiatrist who witnesses crazy teens on an almost daily basis. He's clumsy, nerdy, and he makes lists to spell out the zany situations he gets caught up in. He is also a typical fourteen year old boy who loses words at the sight of boobs--I loved the authenticity of this character even while being wrapped up in alien politics.

2. The Love Story: When the book begins, Zelda is introduced as a sixteen year old lunatic who thinks she is from another planet. David finds himself enamored by Zelda almost right away and the story blossoms between the two from there. It's really sweet how it starts as a cute (although abusive--Zelda is fierce!) friendship.

3. Realistic Family Dynamic: Mom and Dad are separated, Mom is evil with a rich lifestyle and a new boyfriend, and David's older "stepsister" is a Bohemian drifter who hates her dad and David's mom. All of the characters come to life and again I liked how much reality was in the background of all of the alien craziness.

4. What's at Stake: What's more timeless than a story about someone looking for love? Of course, this book takes it to a whole new level when the person looking for love is an alien searching for a celebrity like Johnny Depp. Also, I like how Ghislan doesn't hold back on the explosions, butt kicking, and alien powers as David and Zelda travel in search for Captain Jack.

If You Like...

Books: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Roswell High Series by Melinda Metz, and Girl Parts by John M. Cusick...then you'll like How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend.

Movies: Earth Girls Are Easy, Disturbing Behavior, and The Faculty ...then you'll like How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend.

But, wait! That's not it... just as we did with Crystal Allen's How Lamar's bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy, we are going to give this gem of a book away!!!! That way you can enjoy the alien antics as well :) All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this post by Midnight on July 5th, 2011 and be a follower of this blog. So easy :)

BTW- have you read any good debut author books lately? If so, share--even though our To Be Read Piles will hate you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RTW: Best Book in June

Reading Song of the Day: "You Are the Best Thing" by Ray LaMontagne

Due to popular demand, the ladies at YA Highway have brought back "The Best Book of the Month" Road Trip Wednesday topic! We couldn't be more excited :)

I'll keep this short and sweet b/c we have another book review in store for tomorrow and we know book reviews can sometimes be daunting. This month I read two books for the Debut Author Challenge and finished one that I started a while back. Since the other two already get their moments in the spotlight, I'm gonna name I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore the best book I read in June!

Interested? Check out what Goodreads.com has to say about it:

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.And Number Three in Kenya.They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
I am next.

This book is full of action and has an EPIC plot & premise. The writing is the not the best in the world and it won't win any Newberrys or Caldecotts...but if you are looking for a good, exciting, and fun read (and a cover that features the YUMMY Alex Pettyfer), then this is your book! Oh, and the movie was awesome, too :)

What was the best book you read this month?

Monday, June 27, 2011

WIP Snapshot: Project J

Writing Song of the Day: "Fake It" by Seether

Okay, so we blatantly stole this idea from the lovely Caroline Tung Richmond (who, by the way, you should SO follow--her blog is incredible!), who has admitted that she stole this idea from super author Kiersten White. Basically, they both gave details on their current works-in-progress. I'll tackle mine this week--but stay tuned for Quita's breakdown next Monday. And now...let's do this!

Title: Some of you may remember me mentioning Project J on the blog. Well, I had to quickly give it a title for an SCBWI novel retreat, and I settled on Faking It. Don't worry, it's only temporary.

Genre: Hopefully humorous, contemporary YA

Pages: 283. This is double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font.

Chapters: 28--maybe I'll lose one or two of them during the revision process (which I'm devoting the whole month of July for).

Word Count: A little over 70K. Yeah, I definitely have to ditch a few chapters.

Draft Time: Well, I technically started Project J last summer, but then I hit a roadblock so I went back to my Wants revisions. I had to ask Quita when I started writing it again, and she said she thinks either February or March. I'll take her word on that. I just know that I FINALLY finished my first draft near the end of April.

Origin: I was inspired by the 80s classic, Can't Buy Me Love. I knew that I wanted to write something a bit lighter since Wants was so dark (though it does have its light moments, too). I also still wanted to tackle "heavy" issues and underrepresented populations. I haven't read many stories with gay/lesbian parents, so I found a way to combine the ideas together.

Random Facts:

  • My protagonist's name is Jonah. I recently went through another revision of Wants and noticed I had a minor character named Jonah. Wants Jonah is a douche--which is the complete opposite of my new protag.

  • Jonah's mom's name is Beverly--which I also realized is the name of one of my character's moms in Wants. I really need to visit one of those baby names websites more often, huh?

  • I've written three YA manuscripts so far, and basketball is featured in every one of them. I have no clue why since...well, I have NO CLUE about basketball. Which sucks because Jonah was trying out for the basketball team. Let's just say I utilized Google and my dad a lot.

  • My story is set in a small city in Virginia, which is pretty much where all of my stories are set. Can you guess where I'm from?

  • Jonah doesn't use a lot of profanity, which makes this one of the "cleanest" stories I've ever written. Hmm, I wonder if that's why it took me forever to complete the first draft...

  • When Jonah was younger, he was in a school production of A Christmas Carol. His only line was: "Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge." I so stole that memory from my dad.

There you have it--this is what I'll be working on over the summer. I'm hoping to send it out to betas soon so that I can really dig into the heart of this story. What about you all? How's your writing going? We'd love to read about your WIPs. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fives: Go With the Flow

Brainstorming Song of the Day: "Go With the Flow" by Queens of the Stone Age

After a week off, we're hopping back in the saddle with the Paper Hangover gang for the Friday Fives. Today they want to know the:

FIVE things that get your creativity juices flowing

Hmm, this is a tricky one, but let's give it a shot:

1. Music. I think this may be a popular one for many writers. Quita and I differ on this, though. While I LOVE listening to music while I write, if it's a song I know too well, I'm going to be singing it from the rooftops instead of getting the words down. Quita can sit down and write through a rock concert, though. So, YES, I love music--but I prefer to listen to lesser known artists while I'm first drafting.

2. Other books. We've heard it all before--in order to be a great writer, you need to read, read, READ. I especially like to keep my eye open for techniques that I need more help in, like setting. Quita likes to look for pacing. Reading work from well-respected authors (and not even just in YA) helps us up our game.

3. Movies. Every Friday night, you can find us at the movie theater. In fact, I got the ideas from the last 2 WIPs I wrote from movies that I loved as a kid. It's not necessarily stealing--it's taking what you love so much about those movies and applying it to your own world.

4. People watching. So, we're no longer teens, but we love writing about them. How do we make our writing authentic? Well, by watching teens of course--and we mean that in the not creepy way. We love eavesdropping in on conversations, or just watching interactions in public areas to make sure we're nailing that teen voice.

5. Attending conferences. We LOVE going to writing conferences! Just mingling with other writers, and hearing words of wisdom from publishing insiders makes it money well spent. Every time we leave a conference or some other writing-related event, we're so motivated to pound the keys on our laptops.

What about you all? What gets your creative juices flowing?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Debut Author Challenge # 7: Possession by Elana Johnson...AND a WINNER!

***Ummm...yes, we did schedule a post without adding in our winner...EPIC FAIL. But we have fixed that mistake. Sorry, guys :(***

Reading Song of the Day: "I Will Posses Your Heart" by Death Cab for Cutie

It's been awhile, but we're still at the Debut Author Challenge game...and we're doing pretty well! We're already on # 7 (out of the 12 required) and there will be two more to come in the upcoming months. This time we present to you another much awaited YA novel: Possession by Elana Johnson. Doesn't the title alone just pull you in???

Well, if the title isn't enough, we shall give you what Goodreads has to say...

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

AND, now we will convince you even more with:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know about Possession:

1. Holy Tech Overload: If you've read the book, then you get that line. Point being, this book is full of so many awesome and engaging technologies that it kinda boggles the mind at first. It's so cool, though...I mean, the characters can actually teleport! This book offers a scary but realistic view of where technology may take us.

2. Vi: The MC has such a strong and engaging voice from page one that I didn't want to stop reading. I had to get to know this girl. I had to get why she wanted to be bad. As I read on, I realized how refreshing it was to be reading a book from the POV of someone so headstrong. Vi is definitely NOT a damsel in distress.

3. Action: One of the things we struggle with the most is writing action scenes that are engaging and well-written. Elana Johnson obviously does not suffer from this writer's kryptonite. The action in Possession starts on page four and did not let down from there.

4. Jag's Jaggy-ness: OMIGOD, Jag's one of the sexiest, dreamiest, hottest (did I say sexiest?) love interests created in YA. From his tanned skin, to the cocky smile, to the muscles, the shrug, the way he says "Nice"...*sigh* It's sad, I know, but that is one dreamy mofo! And even though he was supposed to be the "bad" boy, I didn't view him as all that bad. And I think that's crucial to creating the relationship that he and Vi form.

If you like...

Books: Matched by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, or Delirium by Lauren Oliver...then you'll like Possession.

Movies: Terminator, Never Let Me Go, and Aeon Flux...then you'll like Possession.

Have you read Possession, yet? If so, what'd ya think? If not, what are you waiting for???

Oh, yeah! We also are announcing the winner of the awesome-tastic book from editor extraordinaire Cheryl Klein! So, without further ado the winner of Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is....


Check your e-mail soon :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RTW: The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fi-ya (and a winner)!

Saving Song of the Day: "Light My Fire" by The Doors

It's been a minute, but we're joining the lovely ladies of YA Highway for another Road Trip Wednesday. This week they want to know:

Your house is on fire and you can only grab 5 things. What are they?

This question is so unfair! But we still had fun compiling this list:

1. Our laptops. Are you kidding us? Our laptops have EVERYTHING: vacation photos, our iTunes playlists, and most important--OUR WRITING! These definitely will be the first things we look for in the midst of all that smoke.

2. Photo albums. Yeah, our laptops have a few photos, but the memories from our childhood are in the actual albums. Where else can you find Pam posing with her dad in Bart and Homer Simpson T-shirts...or Quita crying at her preschool graduation. (Side note: I SO wanted to post that, but Quita has threatened my life)

3. Tote bag of books. Okay, we cheated a little with this one. We couldn't just choose ONE book, so we decided that we'd each have our own bag of our faves. For Pam, she'd have to have something from Ellen Hopkins, Courtney Summers, John Green, and Stephen King. For Quita, she'd grab books from Joyce Carol Oates, Blake Nelson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Maggie Stiefvater.

4. Jewelry. Our class rings are completely irreplaceable--and so are our rings from Quita's beloved dad, Duke.

5. Car keys. To get the hell away from the fire--duh!!

Whew, hard stuff, but what would YOU grab?

Oh wait! We have to announce our winner of the signed Brendan Halpin book, Notes From the Blender, as well as Fill in the Blank Plotting. And the winner is....


Congrats, Vivien! Expect an email from us shortly. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

While We Were Away...Plus ANOTHER Contest!

Revising Song of the Day: "Back Down South" by Kings of Leon

Hey, all! Fancy meeting you here...where have we been this past week, you ask?
*Working on MFA requirements (still doing that a little...)
*Revising our YA WIPs and completed manuscripts.
*Attending an awesome SCBWI Novel Retreat in Shenandoah National Park!!!

The last item on the list was probably the most fun and informative and we would love to share that experience with you. After traveling on a train, a bus, and then a taxi cab,we FINALLY arrived in Shenandoah National Park Friday June 10th. We went to our room which looked like this on the outside:

And the view looked like this:

And this is what sunset looked like:

Oh, and this is us posing with the awesome bear at Big Meadows Lodge (cuz we were in bear country!):
Then we proceeded to have dinner and after that was our FIRST (out of four) sessions with the amazing, super intelligent, uber literary, spectacular Cheryl Klein from Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic). In the first session Ms. Klein gave us general ideas about what we'd be discussing later in the weekend, and probably gave one of the coolest pieces of advice ever. Ms. Klein told us how she has her clients write a letter to her when it's time for revisions. In the letter, Ms. Klein tells her clients to answer the following questions:

What were you trying to do with this book?

What's the story or your vision?

What's the book about?

What do you love most? (Characters, scenes, lines etc.)

What do you suspect needs the most work?

That was just one of the major highlights from the retreat. The rest of the weekend was full of peer reviews (with problem scenes and first page critiques) and insight on revising novels from Cheryl Klein. Ms. Klein gave sessions on character, plot, and voice with specific outlines, questions to ask, and exercises to complete in order to make your novel better. Most of her talk is featured in her writing resource: Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults

We stood in a line like this to get our books signed:

Now...there was a limited number of these excellent books, and essentially me and Pam are one person. So...we decided to get one signed for us:

And then get the other signed for one of YOU!!!!

Okay, since we just finished a big contest (winner will be announced Wednesday June 22nd) this one will be easy. To win all you have to do is be a follower of the blog and comment on this post with your e-mail address. Simple, right??

We hope that you all will enter because Ms. Klein's book is a priceless tool that we guarantee will only make your novel better. Good luck! You have until Wednesday(June 22nd) at Midnight EST to enter.

In the mean time, do you have any revising tricks you'd like to share??

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Fives: Light Reading...And a CONTEST!

Reading Song of the Day: "Summer Love" by Justin Timberlake

It's that time again...the freakin' weekend! And once again, me and Pam are traveling. This time we're headed to Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia for what is sure to be an ah-may-zing SCBWI novel retreat. But we couldn't leave without participating in Pam's group blog Paper Hangover's Friday Fives.

Also, we have a few announcements to make...so make sure you don't leave until you get to the end!

This week's Friday Fives is:

What are the Five Best Summer Reads?

Here is our list in no particular order:

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: We have raved about this book here and here. I don't think there's more we can say-- except the book is fun, light, and absolutely clever. A must read for the summer!

2. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare: Okay, so this may not be "light" reading, but the summer is a great time to get caught up on the series. There are 4 books out already and more to come. If you want to be a part of the craze for the next book in the series, then use the summer to read what you've missed thus far.

3. The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa: I brought these books for Pam for her birthday b/c she is working on a fairies book and she wanted to see what else is out there. She's going to use the summer to get caught up on the series so she can be ready for the next book.

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Pam bought me the first book for my birthday b/c I told her I wanted to start reading them. I am now hooked! I'll be using the summer to read ALL of the books and hopefully start watching the movies as well.

5. Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz: Pam read Gone, Gone, Gone and RAVED. So, we figured Invincible Summer must be just as good, if not better. Plus, you can't go wrong with the word "summer" in the title!

Okay...now it's time for some announcements!

Announcement # 1: We are going on a blogging hiatus. Fear not, loyal followers! We shall return in ONE WEEK- June 20th, 2011. So, you have to go one week w/out us...don't celebrate too much.

Announcement # 2: This one is much more EXCITING! We are giving away TWO books to celebrate our one year blogging anniversary (as of 5/31/2011--Pam and I have been blogging together for one WHOLE year!) AND to celebrate all of the awesomeness that we experienced at Weekend of Awesome. Because we want to celebrate that joyous occasion we will give away two books that we learned about from our new real life friends :)

Book # 1: Notes From the Blender by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook. You can read what Goodreads has to say about this novel here. We got to do a Skype chat with Brendan during WOA (thanks to Erinn) and he is so funny and witty. Those elements are sure to show up in his novel and we KNOW you will enjoy it! But, wait...there's more! This book will be signed by Brendan Halpin himself!

Book # 2: Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting by Linda George: The link will take you to the Goodreads page where you can learn more. But this book was introduced to us by Alicia during WOA and it is AWESOME! It'll help you to plot your novel based on the Hero's journey and the Three- Act structure.

Enter to win by filling in the form below. Easy peasy!

Now that that's over with...we'd love to know what books you all are looking forward to reading this summer!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plotting 101: The Room!

Writing Song of the Day: "In the Next Room" by Neon Trees

On Monday, we mentioned the awesomeness that was Weekend of Awesome. On Friday night, we all gathered around the tube to watch the monstrosity--whoops, I meant "epicness" that is The Room.

Quita and I first learned about The Room from this article by Entertainment Weekly. We promptly rented it, and then stared at the screen like cliched characters in shock: our mouths agape and eyebrows lifted. Needless to say, we were more than thrilled when we discovered some of our WOA peers have also seen this movie. You see, The Room is so, so awful, that it's deliciously good. It's the kind of movie that'll make you look at your POS first draft with pride.

We, along with Erinn, Alicia, and KO, have decided to share what we learned about writing from the cinematic masterpiece that is The Room. And now...

The Three Don'ts of Plotting:
1. Don't Drop a Bombshell and then Forget About It.
Protagonist Johnny has a skankified fiancee (Lisa) who no longer loves him, as she'll remind the audience a bazillion times. However, even more irritating than Lisa is her mother--who's pretty much a prying, judgmental you-know-what. During one of their "heart-to-hearts," Lisa's mom reveals that she has breast cancer. Lisa tells her mom to focus on the positive, and the cancer was never. Mentioned. Again.

Um, WHAT??? Sorry, but cancer sucks. You can't just think good thoughts and will it away. And you also can't reveal something that extreme to your audience and then abruptly disregard it. Writers, this is why we revise. Make note of when something this HUGE is in your story. But, if you wrote about an element this serious in your first draft and then forget about it, you have to ask yourself: Is this important? Does this push my plot forward?

2. Don't Create an Unrealistic Climax.
SPOILER ALERT! Basically, Johnny's fiancee cheats with his best friend, Mark. All throughout the movie, Mark was riddled with guilt for his actions. However, out of nowhere, Mark becomes a jackass--at Johnny's birthday party no less!

I get it. Johnny needed to learn about the affair in order to make a life-changing decision. That is the purpose of a climax after all. But--HUH?? Why did Mark become a jerk? Why did he all of a sudden not care about Johnny's feelings?? Writers, remember--character development plays a HUGE part in plotting. Don't make your characters do anything--well, out of character--in order to move your story along.

3. Don't Pull Something Out of the Blue Just to Make Your Ending Work.
There's this creepy kid that Johnny takes care of named Denny/Danny (his name changes depending on who says it), that has a dangerous encounter with a drug dealer.

Yeah, apparently Denny/Danny owes a drug dealer money--but this wasn't mentioned before OR after this scene occurred. Basically, the gun that Johnny takes from the big, bad drug dealer is significant for the conclusion of the film. I get that--but you want to avoid deus ex machinas, which is a HORRIBLE plot device. Try to find natural ways to lead readers to your ending--or they may not just make it there.

There you have it. The Room in all its horribly decadent glory. If you haven't checked this out yet--GO. RENT. NOW. I promise you, you'll want to pat yourself on the back after watching it. :) Don't forget to check out Erinn, Alicia, and KO's blogs for their writing tips from The Room.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why WOA Was so Freakin' Awesome!

Reflecting Song of the Day: "I'm Awesome" by Spose

What better way to celebrate our official one year blogging anniversary (more to come on that front later this week) than meeting our bloggy pals IRL? This past weekend was so...well, AWESOME! We met up with Erinn, Alicia, and Kat in Hilton Head, South Carolina for a three-day writing retreat dubbed Weekend of Awesome (WOA) and it was totally AWESOME! BTW- stay tuned to our blogs throughout the month of June b/c we'll ALL be giving away awesome prizes...are you tired of us saying awesome? Forewarning--you will see the word "awesome" quite a few times in this post.

This entire week we will be blogging about the awesomeness of WOA and we're gonna jump off with the TOP 5 Awesome-est things that we experienced this past weekend:

1.) Meeting our bloggy pals IRL--Putting faces and voices to the witty and sarcastic tweets and blog posts was ah-may-zing. We feel like we've known these girls forever and now we're pretty sure that we have a tight knit groups of writer friends for life!

2.) Cheesy Movie Night--We gathered around to watch Tommy Wiseau's The Room. If you have seen The Room, you know why this is AWESOME! Anyway, we learned so much about writing from this movie. Make sure you check out all of our blogs on Wednesday to see our writing tips.:)

3.) Critiquing/Pitch Session-- We took a walk and shared our favorite scenes from our WIPs. Then, we pre-read short selections from each other's works (Pam bravely gave away THE first draft of a problem scene from Project J, Quita used The Blues) and critiqued them. This was extremely helpful and enlightening. It's sad to admit it, since we are in an MFA program, but this was some of the BEST critiquing we've ever experienced. Also, we workshopped our elevator pitches, then had a mock pitching session where someone (*cough--Holly Dodson--cough*) pretended to be an agent & asked us questions before determining if they would request pages. It was uber fun and a great learning experience as well.

4.) Giggle Fests--Whether while watching The Room, participating in the mock pitch sessions, talking about our fave (and not so fave) books, or discussing concerts and crazy uncles--we had our share of giggle fests throughout the weekend. Of course there was an abundance of sugar and "spirits" consumed.

5.) General YA love--We discussed books (those we raved about OR warned to never read--EVER!) and we shared resources. It was great to talk to other YA writers in person and see their mannerisms when talking about books. Erinn was very animated with her synopses of the Artemis Fowl series and Alicia and Pam spent quite a few minutes discussing the awesomeness of Cassandra Clare and the Mortal Instruments series. Also, Erinn set up an...yes, you guessed it--AWESOME Skype chat with YA/Adult author Brendan Halpin (again, stay tuned to our blog throughout June for some cool prize packs--hint, hint). He was hilarious, intelligent, helpful, and just overall WINNING :)

There's so much more we could tell you--like the fact that we got a swag bag full of goodies, including a WOA compilation CD with our fave songs on it, and we had tons of junk food! But we don't want to bore you all to death--or make you eternally jealous of our awesome weekend. This was a wonderful experience and we can't WAIT to do it again next year--oh, yes there will be more awesomeness to come. We hope some of you think about joining us next year. Until then, what do you consider to be an awesome weekend??

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Fives: Some Cheese with That Whine...?

Writing Song of the Day: "No Excuses" by Alice in Chains

At the very moment that you're reading this, we are driving to meet up with Erinn, Alicia, and Kat for what else but a WEEKEND OF AWESOME! But we still had to make sure that we got all up in the Friday Fives groove. So, via Paper Hangover (Pam's group blog--check it out here) this week's Friday Fives question is...

What are FIVE excuses you're ready to give up to become a better writer?

1.) There's never any time! What with a full time day job, MFA classes, a part time job for Pam...did we mention full time jobs (in education, which means we're still working at home, too)--oh and don't forget about TV shows and movie watching time, and reading--aye yi yi! It always feels like there's never enough time for us to actually just sit down and write. BUT since we completed NaNoWriMo this past November, we realized this is an excuse that we can overcome. Like the eloquent Nike slogan: Just Do It!

2.) No one's gonna like it anyway... It's so easy to cut ourselves down. Usually this is done b/c we fear rejection. We figure if we say it first, then no one can say anything worse. But this is one excuse we are resolving to stop using. If we love it- SOMEONE out there will love it, too. Pam found that out when she nabbed her super agent, Sarah La Polla!

3.) This genre's not "hot" anymore! We came up with a bada** vampire story and then thought: "Nope, vampires aren't hot anymore." Then a bada** dystopian idea presented itself, but so many dystopians are coming out that they won't be hot much longer, right? Screw that! If we're itching to write a story, we're gonna write that effing story!

4.) You can't teach me how to write! What do I need a craft of writing book for? Practice makes perfect, right? What will these craft books teach me that I won't learn from just writing? Obviously, a lot. A few of our bloggy pals are into craft books and we're starting to realize that these books could help us with those nagging problems- like action scenes or describing settings. Oh, not to mention we're both getting graduate degrees in creative writing--so it's apparent that yes, we can still learn a thing or two.

5.) Didn't someone else already write this? Sometimes we've just written the most ah-may-zing story ever, or plotted the best novel in the world...but then something seems familiar about it. Then we scrap it because we're sure it's just like that one book by that one awesome author who's on the New York Times Best Seller's List. Not anymore! You know why? Because lots of people have similar ideas but the DELIVERY of that idea is what matters.

So, yeah, we're done with the excuses, peeps. What about you all? What excuse are you ready to chuck to become a better writer?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reading: Mmm, Mmm Good!

Reading Song of the Day: "Good Life" by One Republic

You learn a lot about people from the books they read--or better yet, books they DON'T read. Today at school, one of my students told me that reading was for rich folk. I'm still shuddering.

Anywho, we decided to take a look at our Goodreads accounts to see what they say about us. BTW, if you don't have a Goodreads account, get one. Now. Oh, and BTW, if you're not friends with Quita and me on Goodreads, what are you waiting for?? Check out my profile here and Quita's here.

Now, without further ado...

Pam's Books:

Currently Reading: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young. I won an ARC a while back and I'm finally getting a chance to crack it open. So far so good.

Books Read: 57. This is a complete lie. I've probably read three times as many books. Alas, I have yet to go through the archives of my mind to list every possible book I've ever read.

To-Read List: 87. Yes, my eyes are too big for my wallet. A few that I'm uber eager about? Love Drugged by James Klise; Cracked by my agent-sister K.M. Walton, and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer byMichelle Hodkin. Yes, ladies and gentlemen--I like my YA a little dark.

Number of Books I Gave 5 Stars: 26. Not a bad percentage if I'm only counting 57 books. A few standouts? The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff, Room by Emma Donoghue, Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Quita's Books:

Currently Reading: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Pam read this for our MFA program and raved...plus I feel like a loser for never reading this classic in the first place.

Books Read: 75- unlike Pam I did comb my mind to think of some old books I read...and like 20 of those books are from the Sookie Stackhouse series--Charlaine Harris just keeps popping those books out!

To-Read List: 75- no lie. I didn't make my numbers match on purpose. I don't understand how it's just 75. Note to self: must update my To-Read List soon. Some of the stars on my current "To-Read" line up are Recovery Road by Blake Nelson, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Number of Books I Gave 5 Stars: 25. Pretty good overall! Some of favorite 5 star reviews are Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Rock Star Superstar by Blake Nelson, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim.

So what do our book choices tell you about us? Furthermore, what do your book choices tell you about yourselves??

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

RTW: When You're Strange

Researching Song of the Day: "People Are Strange" by The Doors

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:
What is the strangest/weirdest thing you've ever researched (for your novel/WIP)?

We often find ourselves typing in questions and topics to Google or Bing pretty much every time we sit down to write. Seriously, what did people DO before the Internet? Anyway, even though we do this often, there have been a couple times where we realized: hmmm, this is pretty strange...

Pam's Answer:

While writing Wants, I had to look up the proper spelling of painkillers--that may look a little strange to someone browsing my computer history. Oh! And when I wrote (and completed, thank you very much) my NaNo WIP on fairies, had to research mythical fairy homelands--and of course how to kill a fairy. So, to an outsider looking through my computer, I look like a painkiller addict who wants to kill fairies. Nice.

Picture Taken From: http://www.foreveryoungadult.com/wp-content/upload/2010/08/fairies.jpg

Quita's Answer:

While writing In Limbo, I had to look up causes and cures for the Spanish Influenza. I had to look up how it spread, what kind of symptoms one would show etc. The symptoms were pretty gross--and I looked at pics of victims *shudders*. But, I guess the strangest thing I had to research was how to kill someone with a blunt object. In The Blues, Blake has to figure out who murdered his best friend who was killed with a blunt object. I had to make sure that was possible. So, if the police were to search my computer after someone is killed with a blunt object, I might be in trouble...

Picture Taken From: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000904139/GO187_answer_3_xlarge.jpeg

Tell us, what the strangest thing you had to research?