Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Best Books of June!

Writing Song of the Day: Letters From the Sky by Civil Twilight

The lovely ladies at YA Highway are gearing up for another Road Trip Wednesday. This week, they ask: what's the best book you read in June?

Pam's Comments:

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in myself this month. I had lots of things to tend to with the school year ending, so I didn't get to read as much. In fact, I only got through one novel and one novella (I'm sure most of you may know the latter. There's a HUGE movie opening today related to it). But, the novel that I did manage to squeeze in was hands down, one of the best books I've read in years. So, what holds this distinctive title?

That's right--Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this novel. I had heard so much hype about it from everywhere that I delved into it full of skepticism. And I even rolled my eyes a few times during the first pages or so. But then all hell broke loose and it got good.

Really good.

My students were taking standardized testing while I was reading this book, and I hated it when they were finished because that meant that I had to stop reading. I am not used to a book scaring the crap out of me unless it's written by Stephen King, but there were times when I was scared to turn the next page. And I wasn't just feeling fear throughout the course of this novel--the romance made me boo hoo like a baby. I was so worried that the romance would feel contrived just to sell more books, but I found myself actually swooning over the love interests. Just writing about it makes me want to read the book again! But I'll stop blabbering and let Quita share her thoughts. :)

Quita's Comments:

Like Pam mentioned, I didn't get much reading done either. I'm trying to finish my historical YA WIP and I'm ALMOST there- woo hoo! However, I did manage to get two books read in June and it's really, really hard to choose between them in order to determine the best. The books were Fallen by Lauren Kate and Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson. If I were forced to choose though, I would go with Nelson's YA "thriller" of sorts.

Paranoid Park was OUTSTANDING- the voice of the narrator was hands-down the best first person POV I've read in some time. The way that the novel is written (diary entries/letters) keeps the action moving at a steady pace with intense inner dialogue with the narrator. You go in to the book thinking you know what it's about and what is going to happen, but so many twists are thrown at the reader that it makes you want to speed through the pages in order to know what's going to happen. AND it's a pretty quick read, so it won't take up a lot of your time.
Tell us, what's the best book you read in June?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Music Monday: Composing a Book Series

Writing Song of the Day: Sing for Absolution by Muse (check it out below!)

Hey aces! So, we recently read an awesome post on the Blue Lipstick Samurai's blog where she talked about the ingredients to writing a good novel. This inspired today's post on composing (because it is Music Monday after all) a book series.

We are toiling with an idea in our minds for a novel that could possibly turn into a series (although we intend to write the first book as a stand alone- no pretentiousness here- WE PROMISE!) and we came to the conclusion that before we start we need to figure out the perfect "notes" in order to put together our "song."

The Instruments You will Need:

1.) Characters- Varying types of people- some dark (think bass guitar), some cheery, eccentric and loud (think electric guitar) and some characters that are somberly in the background always sensing the doom (think acoustic guitar).

2.) Conflicting and twisting plots- Interweaving story lines that rise and fall within the story (think piano).

3.) Romance- Smoldering heat between characters- that of course causes more conflict and twisting plots (think violins).

4.) Action- Intense scenes of minutely described action- where the bad guys excel, but then they fall and the good guys prevail... but then you find out that the bad guys are still around because you need to have a second book, right? (think drums & symbols).

Throw all of those together and you get plenty of the successful YA series out there...and come on, you can't tell us that this doesn't sound like the perfect Muse song!

For more advice on composing book series check these out:

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

RTW: FML Submissions

Writing Song of the Day: "Boiler" by Limp Bizkit (check it out below!)

The brilliant creative minds at YA Highway have done it again! For their Road Trip Wednesday this week they asked us what our favorite fictional characters would submit to FMyLife. We are ELATED to participate in this topic- what's more fun than giving a voice to our fave fictional characters??? Here we go!
"Not only am I starting high school with everyone hating me, but I just found out that HE goes to school here. And HE notices me. FML" - Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

"I finally found out that my childhood crush is in love with me. Now the unconsecrated wants to eat our brains. FML"- Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

"I finally met him- the wolf that I love. But now I find out that he may never be human again. And a few of my friends have been bitten. FML"- Grace from Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

"I only wanted to skateboard at the park. I never meant for that to happen. And now I have no one to tell- no one to trust. On top of all that, Jennifer is still giving me pressure to be a good boyfriend. FML" - Narrator from Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson

"I already severely injured this one dude, and now the girl that I love is acting like she didn't want to go all the way with me. FML"- Keir from Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

What would your fave characters submit to FMyLife???

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stompin' With the Big Dawgs!

Brainstorming Song of the Day: "Successful" by Drake ftg. Trey Songz (check it out below!)

I'm interrupting our weekly Agent Wish List series to give you a round up of the top money-makers in the biz. By money-makers, I mean the agents who are able to pound the pavement for you and actually sell your books. And since we love all things YA (hence our new blog title), I'm focusing on the top deal makers in the YA industry. This list is generated from Publishers Marketplace. That's right. I subscribe to PM so you don't have to.

I've included the link to the agents' websites in case you're considering querying them. Also, just let me know if you want me to highlight any of these agents in our Wish List series (and if you can think of anyone outside of this list that you want to know more about, give them a shout-out in the comments below):

1. Rosemary Stimola from Stimola Literary Studio. 14 deals in the last 12 months; 11 six-figure deals overall. Sales include Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal, Aimee Carter's The Goddess Test, Julie Halpern's Get Well Soon.

2. Sara Crowe from Harvey Klinger. 9 deals in the last 12 months; 4 six-figure deals overall. Sales include Kristen Tracy's Enid Adrift, Robison Wells' Variant, and Lisa Schroeder's The Day Before.

3. Michael Bourret from Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. 8 deals in the last 12 months. Sales include Erin Downing's Eclipsed and Lisa McMann's Dead to You and The Unwanteds.

4. Stephen Barbara from Foundry Literary + Media. 7 deals in the last 12 months; 5 six-figure deals overall. Sales include Elizabeth Miles' Fury, Jess Rothenberg's The Catastrophic History of You & Me, and Cara Chow's Bitter Melon.

5. Kate Schafer Testerman from KT Literary. 7 deals in the last 12 months. Sales include Josie Bloss' Faking Faith, Carrie Harris' No Pain, No Brain, and Julia Karr's XVI.

6. Barry Goldblatt from Barry Goldblatt Literary. 6 deals in the last 12 months; 2 six-figure deals overall. Sales include Jo Knowles' See You at Harry's!, Mette Ivie Harrison's Tris & Izzie, and Robin Wasserman's The Book of Blood and Shadow.

7. Jessica Regel from Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. 6 deals in the last 12 months. Sales include K. Ryer Breese's Past Continuous, Kate Kae Myers' The Third Freak, and Emily Danforth's Lucky Human.

8. Holly Root from Waxman Literary Agency. 6 deals in the last 12 months. Sales include Rachel Hawkins' Rebel Belle, Lara Chapman's Flawless, and Maureen Lipinski's Ethereal Girl.

9. Edward Necarsulmer IV from McIntosh & Otis. 5 deals in the last 12 months; 1 six-figure deal overall. Sales include Carrie Jones' next two books in the Need series.

10. Ginger Knowlton from Curtis Brown. 5 deals in the last 12 months. Sales include Ellen Levine's Jamie's Choice, Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer's Teenage Waistland, and Todd Mitchell's The Secret to Lying.

NOTE: Please know that we're not saying you should query these agents because of these figures. If you really want to write, you'll write because you love it and yadda yadda yadda. I wanted to do this so you can have an idea of current trends and the kinds of books in which your fave agents may be interested. Happy Querying!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Monday: Songs for Scenes Edition # 1

Writing Song of the Day: Songs for Love Scenes Playlist (check it out below!)

Hey there, aces. We hope you had a great weekend! This Monday, we are going to kick off the Songs for Scenes edition of Music Monday. What we'll do for this special edition is suggest songs that you should listen to to help you write certain scenes. You know, those scenes that you're trying to include in your WIP or edit from your completed manuscript. The ones that focus on love, fighting, intensity, somberness, action, and emotion.

This week, we're going to focus on love scenes- whether it be literal love making, or the build up of a kiss or a relationship. Listen to the lyrics and allow them to help you break through your writer's block and FINALLY complete that scene.

Good Songs for Writing Love Scenes:

  1. In Your Eyes- Peter Gabriel
  2. I Just Can't Stop Loving You- Michael Jackson
  3. I'm Yours- Jason Mraz
  4. Overjoyed- Stevie Wonder
  5. Wonderwall- Oasis
  6. Unchained Melody- The Righteous Brothers
  7. Stellar- Incubus
  8. At Last- Etta James
  9. All My Life- K-Ci and Jojo
  10. I Caught Fire- The Used

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Can you think of any good songs we left off of the list?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free Friday- We got an Award- Woot Woot!!!!

Writing Song of the Day: "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (check it out below!)

We are a little stressed with end of the school year crap- so it was a nice surprise to get an award from our long-lost sister, the lovely Blue Lipstick Samurai. YEAH!!!! Look at how cool this award is:

Now, in order to accept this award we have to do the following:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

7 things about US:

1.) Although we technically were born as cousins- we are in fact, the same person. Just so ya know!
2.) Pam can do the Stanky Legg, the Jerk, and she can crank that soulja boy!
3.) Quita can roll her stomach.
4.) We both have an affinity to stalking Hollywood actors/musicians.
5.) We can rap the entire theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and remix it with the tune to the Golden Girls.
6.) We have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies, General Tsao chicken, lasagna, and pizza-YUMM!
7.) We are responsible for half of the revenue that Tropical Smoothie has made this year.

We pass this on to the following bad ass and intriguing bloggers:

  1. Racquel
  2. Leila
  3. Shannon
  4. Jaydee
  5. Sandy
  6. Wendy
  7. Casey
  8. Angela
  9. Marilyn
  10. Kristin
  11. V.M Pettingil
  12. Veronica
  13. Melanie
  14. Stina
  15. Kara

Go check out their blogs now- we know you'll love them as much as we do :) We love awards! Woo hoo!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RTW: When/Why Did We Start Writing?

Writing Song of the Day: "When I Grow Up" by The Pussy-Cat Dolls (check it out below)

It's that time again- time to go on a road trip! Our aces at YA Highway are asking when/why did we start writing? Well, we would like to say that we started writing as soon as we came out of the womb- but of course that isn't humanly impossible. Instead, when we both got to the age that we were able to write, we started writing and reading. We both were ahead of the class in English- always reading above grade level, and writing creative stories and poems (yes, we're doing a lil' bragging- but that's okay every now and then, right???). It was a passion that hasn't left us since elementary school.

Pam remembers when she was around 3/4 years old her mom would read Green Eggs and Ham to her. One time, when her mom wasn't there to read it, Pam made her own story to the images in the book! Creating stories at age 3, impressive right?

Pam carried her love for writing to college where she got her undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University in Creative Writing. And now, we are both attending Fairleigh Dickinson University to obtain our MFA in Creative Writing.

Why did we start writing? It started when we were a lot younger and were in need of an escape. We didn't grow up under the best of circumstances, so our characters became portals to another life. And we were always curious, so we explored different worlds/cultures through our stories. Honestly, we're really strange- and delving into the mind of characters is a lot more interesting than the exhilirating world of education :) And now no one could pay us to STOP writing. Whether it be screenplays, teleplays, novels, short stories, poems... we just can't make it stop! Even when we were pursuing our education degrees, we still spent our spare time writing. It's like breathing to us.

So, tell us- when/why did you start writing????

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Agent Wish List: Jessica Sinsheimer

Writing Song of the Day: "Three Libras" by A Perfect Circle (check it out below!)

Okay, buddies. Let's nab you all another agent! This time around we're giving a shout out to Jessica Sinsheimer, an associate agent from the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Ms. Sinsheimer attended Sarah Lawrence College and has "developed a reputation for fighting office members to see incoming manuscripts first." An agent willing to go head-to-head for a peek at your work? Sounds pretty cool! Here's more info:

Why I Heart Her: She believes that YA can be "more tender-more emotionally raw, and messy" than some adults works. That's exactly what I strive for in my own work--a warts and all approach to adolescence.

Why You'll Heart Her: She's going to be teaching a class at an upcoming conference on how to increase your odds of an agent loving your work. She's giving away a secret formula! If possible, I highly recommend you attend the DFW Writers' Conference next February.

Who She Represents: Ms. Sinsheimer is still relatively new in the agenting game, but I did see on Publishers Marketplace that she just negotiated a two-book deal for her client, Gwen Hayes, in March 2010 (her first novel is YA). Other clients represented by the agency include Linda Hogan, Laurel Holliday, and John Ash among many others.

What She's Looking For: She's on the look-out for literary fiction, YA, women's fiction, and nonfiction including memoirs, cookbooks, psychology, and parenting.

Notable Net Nuggets:

Guide to Literary Agents interview



Guest blog on Guide to Literary Agents

Absolute Write Water Cooler

Getting Past the Gatekeeper blog (Shh! Don't tell anyone this is Jessica!)

Agent Appreciation Day post by Gwen Hayes

How to Submit to Her: Send a query, preferably through e-mail, to Submissions@SarahJaneFreymann.com. She also doesn't mind seeing a few sample pages. For complete guidelines, please click here.

All comments about Ms. Sinsheimer is that she's a totally chill sweetheart. She also seems so eager about the publishing industry, and I think it's great to have someone with that much enthusiasm in your corner. Good luck!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Music Monday: Character's Playlist Edition # 2

Writing Song of the Day: Blue's Playlist (check it out below!)

Hey, aces! It's that time again- the start of a new work week and time for some MUSIC!!! Why are we so happy this Monday, you ask? We have six, count them, SIX, days left of work until we are free for some summer fun. Woot, woot!

So, we're moving on to a new character's playlist. If you missed last Monday's post: Gavin's Playlist (from Pam's completed manuscript, Wants) check it out here.

This time we are discussing a character from Quita's completed manuscript, Chasing Manson. The manuscript came from a screenplay that we collaborated on. In our heads, we thought that the main character would look like Josh Hartnett (another one of Quita's husbands-to-be) take a moment to revel in all of his sexy handsomeness:
Moment up! The main character in CM is 18 yo Blue Hudson. Blue is a listless high school graduate who becomes obsessed with Charlie Manson and the Family. The novel is set in 1972, therefore musical research had to be done. Music from the late 60's and early 70's were used to help shape this character.
Blue loves music and narrates sometimes with song lyrics- also the chapter and section titles in CM are all named after popular songs during the 60/70's.

If Blue were to make a playlist it would look something like this:
  1. Yellow Submarine- The Beatles
  2. Somebody to Love- Jefferson Airplane
  3. Happiness is a Warm Gun- The Beatles
  4. Hit the Road Jack- Ray Charles
  5. Witchy Woman- The Eagles
  6. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction- The Rolling Stones
  7. Riders on the Storm- The Doors
  8. Never Learn Not to Love- The Beach Boys
  9. Bad Moon Rising- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  10. Come Together- The Beatles

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Once again, leave us a comment about one of your very own characters- whether it be for a completed manuscript or a WIP and tell us what kind of music he/she would have on their playlist.

** Feel free to scroll back up to look at that GORGEOUS HAWT Josh Hartnett one more time. Whoo!**

Friday, June 11, 2010

Free Friday: We've Got WINNERS!

REMINDER!!! On Monday you can only reach us at http://www.cuzwewrite.blogspot.com/ (same look, same blog- different address)

Writing song of the day: "We Are the Champions" by Queen (check it out below!)

Hey there :) Glad you could make it to our blog today. Are you having a good Friday so far? Good! We are too! Man, we have so much to do this weekend- write, go to a graduation, write some more, see a few movies...

Oh, are we forgetting something???


We had a contest? Are you sure?

Did we say we were gonna announce it TODAY?

Have we ever mentioned that we think we have adult ADHD? Well...ooh, there's a $2.00 tank top sell at Old Navy this weekend!

Oh, right. Contest! Are you ready to find out who won?

Are you sure?

Okay, before we expose the winners a quick word about how we chose them. First, we assigned each of the participants a number. There were a few ways to get extra numbers assigned to you:
  1. If you tweeted
  2. If you blogged or put our contest somewhere on your blog
  3. If your response to our question- which author would you like to collaborate with- was OUSTANDING.

Reminder of what you will win:

Third Place: $10 gift card to iTunes Second Place: $10 gift card to iTunes and $15 gift card to Amazon
First Place: $10 gift card to iTunes, $15 gift card to Amazon, and an Intro to YA Collection featuring these pinnacle books:

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  • Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

So, you're ready to know who won now, huh? Okay then! Scroll down- go!

One more thing!

If you are a winner, please e-mail us at marquitahockaday@gmail.com with the mailing address that you would like us to send your materials to. NOTE- iTunes and Amazon giftcards will be sent electronically.

Okay- enough wasting time. Here's what you came here for: THE WINNERS!!!!

3rd Place- Christa (thanks for tweeting!) for her take on collaborating with Meg Cabot!

2nd Place- The Blue Lipstick Samurai for her footwork (getting 3 EXTRA entries for tweeting etc.) and her unique idea to collaborate with William Shakespeare!

Drum roll please.....

1st Place- Abby Stevens for getting the word out (2 EXTRA entires for blogging etc.) and her fantastically, terrifically written thoughts about collaborating with J.K. Rowling!
Congratulations ladies! Remember to get in touch with us about your prizes! YEAH!!

BTW- We would LOVE to do this again for all of you who didn't win- sooo, how's about we get to 100 followers or so and see what other prizes we can pull out of our wallets :)

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