Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, October 31, 2011

Countdown to NaNo: Trick or Tweet!

Writing Song of the Day: "Story of My Life" by Social Distortion

Ahh, yes--it's a magical time of the year. Sure, it's Halloween--but it's also NaNoWriMo's eve. Gah!

So Quita and I've been planning for NaNo by settling on our story ideas and outlining our plots. And this week it's all about character, baby!

Sure, we'll probably do the usual character worksheets and playlists that we've grown to love. But for our NaNo projects, we wanted to also try a unique spin. We decided to fabricate Twitter profiles for our main characters! Squeezing in a bio for fictional people in a 140 characters or less? Sounds pretty difficult, right? Well, it was.

Pam's Characters:

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my NaNo novel is a modern YA version of Cain and Abel, so I decided to create a fake profile for my two main characters--Casey and Aiden.

Casey Porter

@caseclosed Williamsburg, VA

17. Senior. Insert interesting bio here. Seriously, who reads this shit?

Aiden Porter

@aidinfull Williamsburg, VA

Lover of life--that includes my fam and my girl! Wrestling for UVA next year. Full ride, baby! Swag.

Quita's Characters:

So my story is all about a boy who struggles with his identity after surviving an abduction. I chose to write his bio, along with the girl he may or may not like.

Derek Harris

@darkderek Washington, D.C.

Lacking a soul, but working hard to get it back. Also working hard to find a movie scarier than my life. So far...no go.

Haylee White

@thehayleeexperience Washington, D.C.

Jr. class president & current valedictorian. Engaged to Haze, my electric guitar. Usually searching for nothing.


So, that was tough! What about you all? Have you tried these for your main characters? If not, give it a shot in our comments. :)

P.S. Don't forget to leave us your NaNo usernames so that we can be buddies! Pam is pharris81 and Quita is mhockaday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Countdown to NaNo: It's Plotting Time!

Writing Song of the Day: "The Plot" by White Rabbits

Okay, we are less than a week away from NaNoWriMo and the nerves are kicking in. Two weeks ago, Quita outlined our prep for NaNo, and this week we had to start outlining our plots.

Confession: we're not quite finished. But we're getting there! First, we have these:

That's right--our Michael Jackson notebooks from our abandoned Plot and Paper Projects. Also, we have this:

This nifty book was given to us by the AWESOME Alicia Gregoire. You see, Quita and I wanted to plot a little differently this time. Instead of filling our MJ notebooks with a few sentences that describes every--single--chapter, we've decided to use the Act Formula from this book. What's that, you ask? Here it is in a nutshell:

Act I: Introduce your protagonist, possibly the villain, and some kind of turning point that startles the reader.

Act II: Huge chunk of the story that introduces subplots, such as a love interest. Your protagonist also has a glimmer of hope. Well, until the second turning point creates IMMINENT DOOM!! Dun dun DUN

Act III: This is where you have a climax that rocks your protagonist's world, and then wrap this baby up in a quick pace that'll keep readers turning the pages.

Does that sound like a cool process? Then by all means--by this book! Quita and I would loan you ours but...okay, I can't think of an excuse. We totally need this book so it's not leaving the house.

I know you all have mixed feelings about plotting versus pantsing, so how are you all preparing to get your story moving for NaNo? Oh, and if you haven't done it, yet--leave your usernames so we can be buddies. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RTW: We Wish...

Reading Song of the Day: "Wish You Were Here" by Incubus

It's Wednesday and we're ready for the companionship of road tripping with the lovely ladies of YA Highway!

This week they wanna know:

What was the best book you've read in October???

*sigh* If only we had the time to read!!!! Yes, we're technically cheating on this RTW post because we have not completed ANY books this month. We know...stop gasping so loud! Anyway, we thought we'd tell you what we wanted to read and hopefully when November rolls around we'll be able to participate in the best book RTW post forrealz.

What Pam wishes she can read:

I've started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, but with two part time jobs, one full time job, plotting for NaNo, and a demented puppy, I've yet to finish it. I also plan to read The Iron Queen, the third in Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. Oh yeah, and I'm hoping to Beta read The Blues for the cuz this month, too.

What Quita wishes she can read:

Like Pam, but w/out the two part time jobs, I've got way tooo much to do. SO, I started Kody Keplinger's Shut Out, but can't find the time to finish it :( I am hoping to read Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and also FINALLY take a look at Alica's fantasy manuscript.

We shall see how successful we are in fulfilling these wishes! What about you all--what was the best book you've read this month, or what are you trying to find time to read?

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's All About the Risks

Risky Song of the Day: "Risk" by The Deftones

This past weekend me and Pam attended our regional SCBWI conference in Dulles, VA. We drove over four hours (traffic was a mean, cranky bee-yatch) and endured getting lost about three times to hear people like Meg Medina, Jennifer Rofe of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary, and Han Nolan speak. And the torturous ride was definitely worth it.

There were three different panels with agents, authors, and editors. We learned plenty about how to market your book, what agents look for when going through submissions and what YOU should look for in an agent, as well as what editors think about characterization and voice.

But perhaps the most inspiring part of this conference was when Han Nolan gave her keynote address, entitled "Risky Business" and omigod, did this hit home for us.

Right before Han Nolan gave her speech, me and Pam had lunch and we discussed some of the things we'd heard earlier in the conference, as well as other things that we've heard/seen around the web. Two of those things were: the agents don't like "angsty" teen books, they want lighter, more humorous materials, and historicals are hard to sell. And I immediately thought, that's what we write. We write stories that are hard to tell--about murder, drug use, kidnapping--the ugly parts of the real world. And I also write historicals. I told Pam, "I think I should change my NaNo idea. Write something lighter." She told me not to listen to what anyone says, to write what I wanna write...but I still had my doubts.

Then we sat down and Han Nolan spoke. She told us about her first novel, If I Should Die Before I Wake and how it got bad reviews but eventually became a huge success. She told us that despite all of her hardships, despite naysayers, she stuck with writing. With this risky business. Amongst many other things, she told us it's a risk to strive for excellence and excellence only comes through hard work. So, sure I've been working on both my angsty and historical manuscripts for two years, but that's the hard work--that's the risk. And my first drafts are AWFUL--but that goes with another thing Han told us, allow yourself to be terrible and don't stress over failures. When you fail, it makes your successes that much better.

It was very inspiring to say the least. And me and Pam both have vowed not to shy away from the risks. We'll keep writing about the dark and scary sides of YA if we feel the need to tell the story, and if those stories are failures, so be it. At least we know we've taken the risks.

What about you all, are you willing to take the risks involved with the business of writing?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black Fox Update: What Ya Waiting For?

Writing/Reading Song of the Day: "Watcha Waiting For" by Gwen Stefani

Shameless self promotion time, peeps!

We, along with our sis Racquel, are gearing up for the second issue of our literary magazine, Black Fox. If you want to OWN and hold in your precious hands the debut issue go here (please, go there!)

As well as moving forward and putting out a new issue, we have just debuted a brand spanking new website. Click here to check out the new look of Black Fox :D

Besides promoting our first issue and pimping our new look, we also wanted to make sure that all of you know what we're looking for and what kinds of services/contests we're offering.

Overall we take fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art from various genres. BUT we started the mag during our MFA program due to our frustration with literary magazines and how they don't showcase every form of writing. Therefore, we search for underrepresented fiction. That includes YOU YA writers that love and follow this blog. We're also desperately seeking romance, mystery, and flash fiction. There are opportunities for artists and poets in our magazine and on our website, too. We are always looking for authors to interview as well. All submission guidelines can be found here. Again, underrepresented fiction writers, we want YOU!

FINALLY, we wanted to make sure you are aware of the contests that Black Fox Literary Magazine offers. We are offering cash prizes for our fiction contest. You can submit to the contest with a low entry fee of $10.00. Your fiction can be in any genre but must not be more than 5,000 words. First place gets published in our Spring 2012 issue and receives $150.00. The deadline to enter is December 1st, 2011. Find out more info about the fiction contest here. ALSO, we are giving our 100 Twitter Follower contest another go. When we started the contest a while back we only had three entries and planned on giving three prizes...we decided to extend the contest to try and get more people to enter. We are open to taking suggestions for the prizes in the comments section of this post. (b/c we assume that's why people didn't enter...) and we'll give more info on the contest regulations and end date in a later post.

Other Opportunities with Black Fox Literary Magazine:

*Blog Posts: We are launching a Black Fox Blog soon and are looking for contributors. Mainly we want nonfiction articles on the craft of writing, and book reviews. More info can be found here.

*Readers: We are also looking for individuals who are willing to read submission for Black Fox Literary Magazine. More information will be given on this at a later date.

*Manuscript Consultations: The editors of Black Fox Literary Magazine will be offering a manuscript consultation service for a low price. Again, more information will be given on this at a later date.

We're open to new ideas/suggestions as well. Do you see anything in other mags that we are not offering? If so, let us know. Also, don't forget to give us some ideas for the Black Fox 100 Twitter Followers contest. And please, please DON'T FORGET to submit!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

RTW: Why We Write

Writing Song of the Day: "One" by Creed

It's Wednesday...and we know what that means, right? Yes, we're only two days away from the weekend, but we also get to join the lovely ladies from YA Highway for another Road Trip Wednesday. This week they want to know:

What's your numero-uno reason for writing?

Well, our response can pretty much be summed into this picture:

That's right--FREEDOM.

Freedom to say what we want to say.

Freedom to be who we want to be.

Freedom to push away the stress from the real world just for a few hours.

What about you all? Why do YOU write?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Countdown to NaNo: Choose Your Idea!

Brainstorming Song of the Day: "I Choose" by The Offspring

Happy Monday, lovelies! You may be asking why I'm so stoked at the start of the work week. Well, that's because we're just TWO WEEKS AWAY from NaNoWriMo! Can I get a woot woot?

Last week, Quita outlined what we were going to do to prepare for NaNo. And our job last week was to actually choose our idea. Simple enough, right? Well, not quite. Let's break it down for you:

Pam's Idea: Last year for NaNo, I wanted to get out of my contemporary YA comfort zone. So what did I do? I wrote about fairies. And you know what? I had a blast.

After writing Ins and Outs this year (AKA, the WIP formerly known as Project J), I wanted to return to my darker roots--and I'm not talking about my hair. Ins and Outs was more of a funny ha ha story about a possibly serious topic. I had fun writing it, but I felt like getting a little moody again.

I saw a Twitter conversation that my agent had about Bible retellings, and it hit me--I wanted to write a story featuring a teenaged Cain and Abel! But wait--there's more. Since NaNo's all about getting out of my comfort zone, I knew I just didn't want to write straight up contemporary. So not only am I writing a Cain and Abel retelling, but I'm adding a magical realism twist. And that's all I'm telling you guys about it right now--but just know I'm SO EXCITED to get started!

Quita's Idea:

Like Pam, I tried to get out of my comfort zone last year, as well. I wrote about djinns or genies. And it's the WIP I've hated the most. I don't think fantasy or paranormal is my strong suit. Also, after revising the mess out of my historical, In Limbo, I knew I didn't want to go there again--especially not for NaNo.

Then I read an article in my People magazine about a boy who was abducted and I realized, I haven't read any YA books about boys who get kidnapped and what happens to them. Thus, my idea was born. But of course I want to do more than that, so my story is about a teenaged boy who was once abducted but is now free--only his family can't deal with what happened so he's sent to a boarding school. That's all I'm gonna give for now. You can find out more next Monday when we talk baby plots!

So what about you all? Have you chosen your story ideas for NaNo yet? Please share with us below!

BTW, add us as a buddy when that function works again! Pam is pharris81 and Quita is mhockaday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Post in Which We Steal a Stolen Meme

Reading Song of the Day: "Beg, Steal, or Borrow" by Ray LaMontagne

Just as the title suggests, we are a stealing a meme that was already stolen numerous times from various blogs. This meme is: The Top 100 YA Books List and we are borrowing (okay, okay--stealing) it from Inspired Kathy at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. All you do is paste the Top 100 YA books of 2011 in your post and BOLD the books that you have read. This way you can see what you've been missing. Inspired Kathy has no idea where this list originated, therefore we don't either (but it's obvious that the book did not have to be released in 2011 to end up on this list)

Whatever, it's all in fun! So, have fun with us! Here we go...

Top 100 YA Books (2011 version)

1. Alex Finn – Beastly

2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones

3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)

4. Ally Condie – Matched *

5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills

7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)

9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4) *

10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)

12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)

13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret

15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)

16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)^

17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)*

18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)

19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)*

20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)*

21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)

22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse *

23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply

25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)

26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere *

27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest

28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3) ^

29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)^

31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why

33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)

34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) *

35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines *

37. John Green – Looking for Alaska

38. John Green – Paper Towns *

39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)

40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2) *

41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)

42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)

43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)

44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3) *

46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3) *

47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

48. M.T. Anderson – Feed *

49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)

50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)

52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief

53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger

54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time *

55. Mary Ting – Crossroads

56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)

57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)

58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now

61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)

63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road

64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4) ^

67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion

68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind

69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline

70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust

71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book

72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)^

73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)

74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist *

76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere Carnal Over 40 Winks

79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)

80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip

81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride

82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key

83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever

84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2) *

86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3) *

87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days

88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy

89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)

90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian *

91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)

92. Stephenie Meyer – The Host*

93. Stephenie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)

94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees

95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)

96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)

97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)

99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)

100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

All of the bolded and red titles = We've read them

All of the titles with * next to them = We own, but have not yet read

All of the titles with ^ next to them = We want to read!

What have you read on this list? Any books up here you're dying to read?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RTW: Our Writing Journeys...And Boy Are Our Hands Tired!

Writing Song of the Day: "Tie My Hands" by Lil Wayne ftg Robin Thicke

Can you believe that the ladies at YA Highway have hosted 100, count it, 100 Road Trip Wednesday posts?? Well, they have! And this week, in honor of reaching the 100 Mile Marker, the ladies want to know:

How has your writing journey gone so far?

You mean, we get to shed light on our successful (okay not always successful) writing stories thus far? Don't mind if we do!

Pam's Response:

Wow, where do I begin? I have definitely been on a journey since I participated in my first RTW. First of all, this blog began as a solo venture, but then I joined forces with my annoying/lovable/most-awesome-person-in-the-world cousin, Quita. Second, I've written three, count them, THREE YA novels: one is a hopefully funny contemporary that I'll soon be revising, another is a supernatural modern tale about fairies that I wrote for NaNo 2010. And the third? Well, the third is my baby, Wants. And why is it my baby? Well, because it landed me the incredible Sarah LaPolla, who has just put my shiny new version of said baby back on submission (fingers crossed).

So what lies ahead? Well, I'm trying NaNo again this year, and I'm possibly delving back into my dark, contemporary roots this time around. I have a couple of ideas for future novels scrawled in my journal, so now I just have to find out which one is calling me next. Oh, and even though I graduated with my MFA in creative writing this past summer, I actually have to defend my thesis, gulp, TODAY. Wish me luck!

Quita's Response:

Since I began to take my writing seriously (about two or so years ago now) I've completed three novels, and "graduated" from my MFA program (for which I wrote a collection of short stories). Two of my novels have been through the ringer numerous times. My historical, In Limbo, is completely different from its first draft (which I wrote over a year and a half ago). It's moved from a single POV story about a white boy in love with a white girl, to a two person POV novel--and that white girl is now African American. Two agents have a full of this manuscript at the moment, one of which seems like she's REALLY excited about it--we'll see where that goes.

My other novel, The Blues, a contemporary mystery (I began writing this one a year and ten days ago), came close with three agents and finally one requested a revise and resubmit. I'm still working on the revise part. The final novel was a NaNo project--my foray into the world of paranormal/supernatural and I hated it. I think I'm just not good at telling those kinds of stories--at least not in one month. Maybe if I try and revise it, it might be okay...you never know. Now I'm on my way to taking another shot at NaNo--this time with a quiet story, and I'm gearing up to defend my MFA thesis next week. WHEW! I think that's it.

Now that you know all of me and Pam's bidness, how has your writing journey been so far?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Countdown to NaNo

Writing Song of the Day: "Countdown" by Beyonce

As the title states, we are UBER excited for NaNoWriMo this year. We have our notebooks ready, our minds are stewing new WIP ideas, AND we're already thinking up what the prize will be when we complete the novel in one month challenge.

If you're like us and you just can't wait for NaNo to start (in about three weeks...), we have some tips for you. The tips give you something to do each week in order to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Completing this will have you ready to start writing on November 1st, and will shave off some of that anticipation as you wait to begin your new novel. Here's what we think you should do each week to prepare for NaNoWriMo 2011.

Week 3 October 10th-16th: Choose your idea. This may sound simple, but if you have ADHD like we do, it ain't. We always have a bajillion ideas running through our heads and it's hard to narrow that down to one idea. During this week, at least by Sunday, you should be settled on exactly what you want to write about. What genre will it be? Are you going to write YA, MG, or maybe even go for early readers or an adult book? Also, ask yourself why you need to tell this story in particular. Once you think of an answer for that last question, you'll be settled on that one perfect idea.

Week 2 October 17th-23rd: Narrow down the focus and create your layered plot. Now that you have your idea, what is your major plot point? Use books like Fill-In-The-Blank Plotting by Linda George. Me and Pam are definitely planning to crack this one open during the week of the 17th to narrow our plots and create a well rounded story. Make sure you have baby plots, too. Without baby plots, your story won't work and you'll be staring at a blank screen trying to squeeze out those words come November.

Week 1 October 24th-30th: Get to know your characters on a personal level. Now that you have your focus, plots, and baby plots, it's important to delve into those characters more. There are numerous places you can go to gain access to character worksheets (if you don't know of one, e-mail us, we have plenty saved and are willing to share). Some are more in depth than others. The more in depth, the better. This way when you're trying to meet your word count on November 15th but a scene just won't come to you, you can can pull out that character worksheet and use those quirks to add more dialogue or describe a setting in your character's voice.

What else do you think should be added to this countdown to NaNo? We'd love your advice--especially those NaNo veterans. This is only our second year and we could use some of your tricks.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Read Here, A Read There

Reading Song of the Day: "Soul to Squeeze" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

If only we could have more than twenty-four hours in a day, right?? Especially for those of us who just want to sit around and keep our noses buried in a book. And yes, me and Pam belong to that nerdy club. If we had our way we'd spend the day (an extended day, of course) reading, writing, watching TV, eating everything that's delicious without gaining a pound, and listening to perfect music. Alas, the world's not perfect, so our lives consist of work, a deranged puppy (seriously, he's possessed), more work, reading minimally, and planning to participate in NaNoWriMo just so we can squeeze some writing into our lives. WHEW!

But as everyone knows, you have to keep learning for any career that you want. So, as a writer, you must read. The issue comes with...yep, you guessed it: TIME!

How do we find the time to read: 1.) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Shut Out by Kody Keplinger 2.) Beta WIPs 3.) The six books we just purchased from Barnes & Noble, PLUS 4.) The twenty or so books that remain on our bookshelves unopened and begging to be read???

Easy. You come up with, drum roll please....

Creative Ways to Squeeze in Reading

*Read at work: During lunch (or for me on lunch duty--hey, I peek up every now and then and make sure the kids aren't killing each other). Read during a lull in time. If the boss catches you, tell him it's research for dealing with your unruly kid at home.

*Read on commercial breaks: If you have cut down your TV watching schedule, but there are still some shows you will NEVER give up (Supernatural, we're talking to you!), then reading while the commercials roll is a smart idea.

*Read on the treadmill, on the exercise bike etc.: Duh, read while you do stationary exercise. It makes the workout go a lot faster, too.

*Read via audio books: We're not huge fans of book on tape, but this is a good way to get some reading in. Especially if you're like us and you drive for close to thirty minutes to and from work.

*Read in the bathroom: Yeah...you know what we mean. In the tub or while you're taking care of other business ;)

Okay, your turn! Did we leave another way to squeeze some reading in off the list?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RTW: Putting the Spotlight on Co-Stars

Reading Song of the Day: "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson

Wednesday--middle of the week, the slowest day b/c you just can't wait for Friday to get here...but also: Road Trip Wednesday time with the ladies at YA Highway. This week they wanna know:

What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

This is one of the most awesome questions ever! And we knew EXACTLY what two characters we loved enough to read an entire novel based on them. Read on:

*Lindsay from Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. While reading this amazing book, we got a chance to know Samantha Kingston throughout the novel. We understood her by the end AND we got to see her redeem herself. But what about Lindsay? I mean, we kinda get why she behaves the way she does by novel's end, but me and Pam are DYING to know more about Lindsay's personal life. We want to see what she's truly like behind the bitchy comments and the thick wall she puts up.

*Four from Veronica Roth's Divergent. I mean, really--do we need to say more than that? Four is the epitome of hotness. Rough, elusive, sarcastic, strong, smart. We couldn't get enough of Four while following Tris' adventures. Every time we turned the page, we were hoping Four would show up again. How cool would it be if there was an entire book dedicated to Four's background (which, hello, from the taste of it we get in Divergent is pretty intriguing and dramatic) and his feelings about Tris before he makes them known? We really hope Veronica's reading this post and strongly considers writing a book from Four's POV :D

Okay, we're done rambling now. What co-star in a YA novel would you love to see move to center stage?

Monday, October 3, 2011

7 x 7: In Which We Take a Stroll Down Blogging Lane

Reflecting Song of the Day: "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes

Yay! The awesome KO (who just got AN AGENT, btw--go congratulate her!) passed along this lovely award to us:

As part of this award, we have to highlight some of our past posts that fit certain superlatives and then past it along to 7 other lovely bloggers. And so, let's do this:

Most Beautiful: Um, how can you not love this inspirational clip of a little boy just learning to ride his bike? Of course, it has nothing directly to do with writing...and we didn't do much but upload the video on our blog, but still. It was motivational, people!

Most Helpful: Though she's only done three, it seems like you really all like it when Quita does her "What Agents Want" posts. She'll be sure to add newer additions in the near future.

Most Popular: Aside from blogfests and our BAZILLION contests (What can I say? We love to give), our most popular post may have to be this one in which I announced that I was agented (major props to Sarah LaPolla, yo). Thanks SO MUCH for all of your support, lovelies. It means a lot. :)

Most Controversial: It started off as a fun idea. Quita wanted to share an article from the SCBWI Bulletin about YA cliches. I mean, we even got a great number of comments...including one from someone named: "Anonymous." That's right, we got our first virtual spanking from someone who didn't want to be named. Apparently, Quita linking to the original article was not enough for Anonymous--we should've included the author's name. Point taken.

Most Surprisingly Successful: I truly thought our post, "Our Take on Race in YA," would be considered controversial--so we were surprised with how many of you all supported our opinions. Sure, the number of comments won't go down in record books, but it was the quality of the comments that really impressed. We all had a great discussion!

Most Underrated: We had such high hopes for our First Lines Critiques. I mean, when we first announced it, we got such positive feedback and a lot of entries. But then when it was time to actually critique said first lines...crickets. So because of that, Quita and I are a little wary about offering any other critique workshops in the future.

Most Prideworthy: Well, for me, I had a blast comparing opening chapters to appetizers in a restaurant. If you're a fan of this blog, you already know by now how much I LOVE to eat. Quita chose this post in which she loves on fellow blogger, The Tabby Catt--she had so much fun writing her poem of all things Abby. :)

Well, that was awesome. It was nice reflecting on our blogging past since it gives us an idea of where to take this puppy in the future. As far as who we're passing this along to--well, anyone who wants it! We figure this award has been around town more than a loose girl, so if you haven't gotten it and want to join the party, go for it!