Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Format!

Workout Song of the Day: "Video Phone" by Beyonce (not the Lady GaGa version--no offense, but I'll take my Beyonce straight up)

Okay, like many of you, I procrastinate when it comes to writing. Also, like many of you, when I don't write, I like to snoop around other people's blogs (as you can tell from my growing list of faves on the sidebar). A few blogs mentioned how it was hard to come up with something to talk about each day (in which I respond with a resounding YESSS!). To remedy this dilemma, it has been suggested to keep a solid format--pick a topic, post about it weekly. And so, to further pull me away from my WIP, I've decided that the format of my blog will go something like this:

Mondays: My Agent Wish List. I'll post information about an agent that I really want to represent me, and then I'll give you all background and contact info on them because...well, I'm an idiot.

Tuesdays: Teaser Tuesdays. Yes, I've succumbed to the temptation sweeping the blogging nation. I'll start posting very rough portions of my WIP, Wants. Be afraid--be very afraid.

Wednesdays: YA Highway Road Trip Questions. I'll answer the weekly questions from my peeps over at YA Highway. During the weeks when there are no questions (like this week--what happened? I was so lonely!), I'll post some kind of random thought. And believe me, I can get pretty random.

Thursdays: Book Review. Okay, I need a snazzy name for this, but I will start reserving Thursdays to give my opinions on the latest books I've read. Which means I need to start reading more. Which means that I need to give my TiVo a rest (shudder).

Fridays: Fitness Fridays. Since this blog was started not only for my writing, but also for my health, I figured that I need to start paying more attention to the latter. I'll share insight on my weight-loss progress, and maybe even provide a few tips on eating healthy and exercising. Anyone who knows me is probably just blinking at the screen right now; I'd eat chocolate chip cookies and pepperoni pizza everyday if I had the money.

So, there you have it. Yes, I know it's ridiculous to start a schedule right before the holidays, and it may take a minute to get it off and running--but I'm pretty excited about it. How do others plan on freeing themselves from "blogger's block"?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Contest Alert!

Workout Song of the Day: "3" by Britney Spears

Because I love you, I've decided to share the wealth about news of an upcoming contest. Vicious Writers is having their own month-long writing event. However, unlike NaNoWriMo, in ViNoWriMo, you're given a story topic on New Year's Eve. Then, for the month of January, you have to complete a 50,000 word novel based on that particular topic. Difficult? Yes. Fun? Hell to the yes!

The chosen winner will receive $500, as well as an opportunity to publish your novel with Key Publications. I know, I never heard of them either--but they will be releasing their first novel in January 2010 by Nazarea Andrews. And who might that be? Only the winner of the ViNoWriMo contest in 2009!

So go ahead and take a crack at it. I doubt I'll be able to participate this time around since I'm so focused on "cleaning up" my current WIP. Any takers?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Review: Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin

Workout Song of the Day: "Hard" by Rihanna

Before I begin with my eloquent review, I need to take a moment to squeal. I was a guest blogger over at YA Highway, and my topic was on GLBTQ issues in YA literature (which is a nice segue for this week's book review). Check out my post here.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...Davida Willis Hurwin's Freaks and Revelations touched me beyond belief. The story is told by two narrators: Jason, a 13-year-old gay street hustler, and Doug, a 17-year-old violent punk rocker. Both young men are ostracized from their families--Doug's dad is abusive, and Jason's religious mom kicks him out of the house upon learning that he is gay. They also both rely on friends for support and affection, and these influences lead them to their first tragic meeting.

F and R is based on the true story of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal, who were accidentally reunited years after Timothy assaulted Matthew and left him for dead. Hurwin intensively interviewed both men to write a fictional account of their lives, but the bashing scene was real--which makes this scene so raw and difficult to read; however, I wouldn't dare put the book down for this sequence. What makes this novel so compelling is we're able to sympathize for both characters. I thought I was going to hate Doug--he was belligerent, racist, and self-destructive. Yet, as the story unravels, I was able to see why he felt the need to hurt others--it was because he was hurting inside (okay, this isn't as Lifetime-y as I'm making it sound).

My only qualm about this story is that we're not able to fully experience Jason's first time with another guy. Sure, I felt the excitement of his first kiss, but the kid eventually becomes a hustler--and I didn't quite grasp how having sexual encounters with strangers made him feel. I wasn't looking for anything graphic, but more time was spent on dissecting Doug's first time with a woman. Overall, I think this novel clearly depicts a hate crime from both angles--and I think the message would benefit anyone with insecurities and prejudices.

My Rating: 4 and 1/2 out of 5 Cookies (yes, I'm still using cookies--I may switch to carrot sticks when I start eating healthier. Or not.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On My Favorite Topic: Me! :)

Workout Song of the Day: "Say Something" by Timbaland ftg. Drake

Okay, I hope you all know that I'm being totally facetious about my title. I hate talking about myself, which is odd because I'm the only child--which is supposed to mean I'm spoiled and self-centered. But whenever I'm the center of attention, my stomach gets cramped and I laugh for no reason--it's like I have a giggling form of Tourette's or something. But, my peeps over at YA Highway wants to know more about their devoted followers, so here I go...

1. The 3 Best Books I Read All Year
Hmm, this one is kind of tough, but if I had to choose I'd say Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell (which follows a hit man-turned doctor on his day from hell--did I mention this is actually a pretty romantic novel?), Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (could this novel BE anymore heartbreaking? Check out my review here), and Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin (another piece of edgy YA--my review will be up in the next few days).

2. The Author I Most Want to Meet
Well, I would've said Stephen King...but he kinda scares me. He's a literary genius, but I think our conversation would consist of me fiddling with my fingers and staring at my shoes. So, I think I would have to say Jodi Picoult. I have such a crush on her. I love how she has crossover appeal--both teens and adults enjoy reading her work. Plus, I would LOVE to convince her to write a sequel to The Pact.

3. The Book I'm Most Looking Forward to in 2010
Um, I have absolutely no clue. I know this doesn't count, but I have to say Push by Sapphire. Yes, I know that this was written years ago, but I know that I won't be able to crack the book open until 2010. Yes, I know this is cheating--I have to get my kicks some kind of way.

There you go, me in a nutshell--at least the literary part of me. I'm pretty optimistic about 2010, though, and I'm never optimistic about anything. I'm looking forward to reading more, revising my WIP, and querying agents. Of course, I'm also looking forward to sharing my rejection letters with you all--whoops, I said I was being optimistic, right?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wherefore Art Thou New Idea?

Workout Song of the Day: "The Bird and the Worm" by The Used

There's an interesting conversation going on at YA Highway about the lack of new ideas. Sounds kinda morbid, but it is kinda true (I know all of my former English teachers are wincing right about now). There's really only a handful of storylines that are recycled over and over and...over again, but talented writers know how to bring a little something, something to it--that's swagger talk for "a new twist."

Let's think about this. Lisa Dierbeck's One Pill Makes You Smaller is a graphic retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Sex and the City is just like Golden Girls without the Polydent. Westside Story is pretty much Romeo and Juliet with singing and men confident enough to do high kicks in very tight jeans. Every new story is rooted in a traditional tale.

Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, I have been thinking of a new way to retell one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and bring it to the YA world. Yes, I know that this has been done tons of times before, but I think that modernizing classics encourages students to actually take a look at the original works. Here's a list of my top 3 "revisions" of good ol' Shakespeare (all of these are movies since I LOVE to eat popcorn):

1. Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles: This is my absolutely FAVORITE Shakespeare play of all time, and Ethan played the title role with the perfect balance of subtlety and craziness. Sure, the Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh ones may be more popular, but I think Ethan's better to look at.

2. O starring Josh Hartnett, Mekhi Phifer, and Julia Stiles: Think Othello on a basketball team. Not only does this movie capture the essence of the play, which is jealousy and betrayal, but it does so from a teenager's point of view. O makes the gossip mill that's in every school building a bit scarier--and it allows you to see the tragic consequences of spreading a rumor.

3. 10 Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and, whaddaya know...Julia Stiles: Someone needs to find another Shakespeare play to adapt because I think that Ms. Stiles is seriously underrated. This film is a teen comedy take on The Taming of the Shrew. When my cousin and I first saw this movie in theaters, we pretty much blinked the whole way through. Now, it has become a cult classic--and it gave us a fine introduction to two of our favorite actors (we miss you Heath!).

So, as you can see, good stories can still be told--just make sure that you add your own personality to it. What are some of your favorite retellings?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mini Blog: Contest Alert!

Workout Song of the Day: "You the Best" by Drake

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my peeps at YA Highway? To me, there's no better Christmas gift than a brand new book to read. Well, besides money to pay off my student loans. Oh, and a vacation to the Virgin Islands with my future hubby, Leo DiCaprio.

Where was I? Yes--YA Highway is having an awesome contest! You earn points be becoming a follower of the blog, as well as posting comments. The person with the most points by Thursday, December 17th wins a bookcase and a choice of 4 YA novels (titles include Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers). The second place winner receives the remaining books. How cool is that?

What are you waiting for? Head over to YA Highway now and win some booty (sorry, couldn't help but giggle)!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Literary Crushes

Workout Song of the Day: "Panic Switch" by Silversun Pickups

Weight Loss Status: Nothing yet. Curse you, Thanksgiving! And they say turkey is supposed to be good for you.

Okay, YA Highway asked a wonderful question this week: who is your literary crush? At first, I was a bit confused--are they asking what authors I have crushes on? If that's the case, then that list includes Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, and Elizabeth Scott--all drastically different writers, all tug at my heart strings.
However, after reading a few other responses, I'm thinking this question is about characters; so, in order of their appearances in my life, here are the literary characters that have made my heart tha-thump over the years:

1. Edmund Pevensie from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You know, I barely remember this book. I must've read it 20 years ago (wow, am I really that old?), but I remember being giddy whenever I read about Edmund. I know, I know--he was a jerk who betrayed his siblings or something or other. But to me, he brought the drama. I like drama. And didn't he repent for his mistakes? Whatevs. In my head, I thought he was a hottie. By the way, who is this little boy? Did he even play Edmund in the movie?

2. Reggie Mantle from The Archies. Why did Betty and Veronica fight over the goofy redhead? Reggie was hot, rich, and obnoxious. Definitely not anyone you'd want to bring home to mama,but he'd be the guy to go to for a good time. You just may feel a little dirty the next day, though.

3. Richard from The Beach. I'm sorry--I completely lost my train of thought from just staring at that picture of my future hubby. But back to the topic: what is up with me and bad boys? Richard was a complete buttface--a totally unreliable narrator who constantly lied to get what he wanted. He had me at hello.

4. Jacob Black from the Twilight series. Let me make this perfectly clear: I've been on Team Jacob even before Taylor Lautner packed on muscle upon muscle to secure his role--but I am quite pleased with his diligence. Sure, Edward was the beautiful vampire who'd give his life to save Bella, and blah blah blah. He was just too...perfect. And perfect=boring to me. Jacob was real--as real as a werewolf could be. He was moody, and he called Bella out when necessary. I want a guy around to tell me: "Hey, snap out of it!" Not to mention he could warm me up at night. ;)
So, there you have it--a few highlights of my literary crushes throughout the years. I'm sure the list will get longer now that I've rekindled my romance with reading. I say until my real Edmund Richard Mantle Black comes along, bring it on!