Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, November 28, 2011

We Did It!!

Celebrating Song of the Day: "Oops!...I Did it Again..." by Britney Spears

Saturday, November 26, 2011 is a date that will live in infamy...at least in the household of two greedy, sleep-deprived cousins. You see, we managed to collect this:

That's right--Quita and I won our second NaNoWriMo challenge! Can we get a woot woot? How about a little dance?


So yeah, my contemporary YA (with a hint of magical realism), So Now You Are Cursed, clocked in at a lovely 56,441 words. And Quita's contemporary YA, The Captive Soul, ended at an awesome 57,205 words. So, as promised, we treated ourselves to this:

I tell you, victory has never tasted so sweet.

We thought last year's NaNoWriMo was difficult, but this year was a pure juggling act. I had to work on revisions for another novel, while Quita started up a part-time job (in addition to her full-time one of yelling at...I mean, TEACHING high schoolers). Not to mention everyday we pretty much wanted to punch our WIPs in the face. But with will power, and the thought of chowing down on some Five Guys grub, we got through it.

So now what?

Well, we're going to ignore our stories for a while--and by a while, I mean MONTHS. Then we're going to eventually draft ideas for our next WIPs. But most importantly, we're going to READ like it's going out of style.

What about you all? Have you finished NaNo yet (if you participated, of course)? What are you going to do with your WIPs once you're finished? But most importantly, how are you going to REWARD yourselves? :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Thanks, a Winner, and a Turkey!

**This was supposed to be posted this morning...yeah, Thanksgiving day Fail...sorry, peeps**

Celebrating Song of the Day: "Thank Me Now" by Drake

It's Turkey Day AKA Thanksgiving & we hope that you all are enjoying yourselves :) We just have some quick business to take care of, then we are off to begin our food comas!

Remember that contest we had in celebration of finishing the 2011 Debut Author Challenge? Well, we have us a winner! Congrats to:


You have a $15 Amazon e-gift card to be thankful for today. Send us an email to: cuzwewrite@gmail.com from the address that you want your card sent to & we shall get it to you ASAP. The rest of our lovely followers- we are thankful for you. Please enjoy this turkey on our behalf:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Debut Author Challenge # 13: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts...AND A Giveaway!!!

Reading Song of the Day: "In the Dark" by Flyleaf

Omigod! We've come to the end of our list!!! And it's before December 31st. I didn't think we were going to do it, but we finished each and every book that we said we'd read for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge! *throws confetti* *pops champagne*

And our final book-- holy shiz, you guys, it definitely helped us end this DAC on a high note. I finished Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts in the span of a week. I could not. Put. It. Down.

Here's what Goodreads has to say:

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.

Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever.

Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.

Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.

Okay, tell me you don't wanna grab that book and read it right NOW. It is so, so, so, so good and if that summary isn't enough to get you interested, then I shall give you...

The Top Four Things You Need to Know About Dark Inside

1. The Four Points of View (POVs) are distinct, interesting, and I felt empathy for them. That is so hard to do with just one character. Imagine how difficult it would be for FOUR! I found myself flipping the pages because I wanted--no needed--to know what was happening with each and every character. And not all of them are saints, yet I saw the good in each one. Bravo, Roberts, bravo.

2. The book is effing scary. The last time I got scared from reading a book was when I read Roald Dahl's The Witches when I was a kid. Dark Inside had so many scenes where I was holding my breath because the author described the tensions and creepiness with such amazing sensory details that I felt like I was there. I was so freaking scared of those crazies!

3. There are love stories and hope among all the chaos. When the world is ending and there are a bunch of crazy people trying to kill you, the last thing you think you'll care about is love and relationships. And that's true for these teenagers, yet amongst their struggle for survival, they still manage to forge relationships. And some of them are truly heart wrenching.

4. It makes you think, but not in a preachy way. There's an obvious message behind Dark Inside. But I didn't feel like I was being "taught" to behave a certain kind of way. I felt like I needed to think about some of the choices I make from now on. AND it also makes me think about humanity. Okay, I know that sounds boring. But I promise you--it's so not! The book just really makes you think: what if...

If you like...

Books: The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Blood Red Road by Moira Young...then you'll like Dark Inside.

Movies: Quarantine, The Crazies, and Stephen King's Desperation...then you'll like Dark Inside.

Okay, so now to the reason you read this post (JK- we know you love us and THAT'S why you read our posts :D). To celebrate the fact that we made it to the end of the 2011 DAC, we are going to give a $15.00 Amazon e-gift card to one follower that comments on this post as well as our Debut Author Challenge post from last week here. If you comment on both posts your name will be entered TWICE. You have until Wednesday (November 23rd) 12AM EST to enter and we will announce our winner on Turkey DAY!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Debut Author Challenge #12: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer...and a Future Giveaway!

Reading Song of the Day: "Coming Undone" by Korn

So, it took me a long time (what with NaNo, revising, and the day job), but I finally, FINALLY got to finish The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by the lovely Michelle Hodkin--the twelfth book in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. First, here is what Goodreads has to say:

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Ooh, intense. Want to read what I have to say? Well, it's time to give you:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know About Mara Dyer

1. It doesn't fit into just one genre. I didn't really know what to expect when I first opened Mara Dyer. As you can tell from the Goodreads summary, the plot has been rather vague. And that cover? Beautiful, haunting--but I still had NO IDEA what it meant. One of the reasons why I thought Mara Dyer was so great is because she crossed boundaries. The love story was so raw and emotional that at times I was feeling like it was a romance. But then there were all of these shocking moments that made me jump--which had to make it a horror, right? But wait, there's more--Mara also has to unravel a mystery, and the way the pieces all weave together make you think you might be reading a thriller. Again, I don't know what category I'd place this novel. I just wish there was one for: PURE AWESOME.

2. Noah is, um, DROOL-WORTHY. Remember that romance I mentioned earlier? Well, this guy brings the heat. I know, I know--some of us may be a little tired of the whole "bad boy" image. But Noah is more than just the forbidden love interest. He's dark and carefree and caring and sneaky and...just. JUST! As you can tell, he left me a bit tongue-tied.

3. The teens sound like teens. I tell you, Michelle Hodkin has a knack for witty dialogue. Not only did the rapport between Mara and her brothers feel natural, but the exchanges between Mara and Noah were just oozing with chemistry. Their lines meld with each other so well, and was so quickly paced, that I felt like I was reading something by Aaron Sorkin at times (just watch The Social Network then you'll get what I'm talking about).

4. Umm, cliffhanger much? I'm usually not a fan of these, but the way this story ends...well, I don't want to reveal anything, but I'll definitely be purchasing the next volume the day it comes out.

Have I psyched you enough for this novel? If not, then check out these comparisons.

If You Like...

Books: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, Uninvited by Justine Musk...then you'll like Mara Dyer

Movies: Heathers, Memento, High Tension...then you'll like Mara Dyer

Have you all read Mara Dyer yet? What did you think? What other "trippy" YA novels would you recommend?

*BTW, followers that comment on this post as well as our LAST Debut Author Challenge post (which may be next Thursday), will be entered to win a $15 Amazon gift card. Just saying.... :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

RTW: Required Reading List

Reading Song of the Day: "Part of the List" by Ne-Yo

It's Wednesday...and we are counting down the day until the freaking weekend! But, in the mean time, we're going road tripping with our budding from YA Highway.

This week they want us to discuss books! We couldn't be any more excited. The topic is:

In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

*Squee* We could talk about this alllll day. In fact, we did a post about creating our own YA Master Class and what books we'd have students read here. But, we digress. Back on topic, if we could create our own list of required reading for teens, this is what we'd include:

* Crank by Ellen Hopkins

WHY? Because she merges two great styles of literature: poetry and prose. And she does it BRILLIANTLY. This book can be used to teach units on effective fiction techniques, as well as poetry techniques. Winning!

* Looking for Alaska by John Green

WHY? Because the novel is a great tool for teaching climax and character development. As a matter of fact, all of Green's books are great for teaching these concepts. Can't go wrong with Green!

* Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

WHY? This book is all about the teenage struggle of finding their voice and using it. We think teens can learn a lot of valuable life lessons from this novel.

* The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

WHY? To make students better understand plot and pacing. Collins is PERFECT at these two aspects of writing.

* The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

WHY? There's no better book to use for teaching voice. Seriously.

* Divergent by Veronica Roth

WHY? This novel is probably THE best book to use to teach all of the important elements of literature: plot, character, climax, pacing, etc. BUT at the same time, it's a fun and exciting read. It's guaranteed to have boys just as interested as the girls.

* And we'd keep: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

WHY? Because some classics are still relatable and they stand the test of time. We feel that modern teens can still gain insight from reading these novels and each one can teach an aspect of studying literature.

DONE! You tell us, what else would you add to a required reading list??

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo Check In: Almost to the Prize!!!

Writing Song of the Day: "Race for the Prize" by The Flaming Lips

Morning, peeps :D

We hope you didn't miss us too much last week. As we stated, we had to take a week-long break from blogging to focus on other matters. One of those matters is getting through NaNo and conquering that pesky challenge for the second year in a row.

We're both writing novels that we were sooooo excited to start (you can read more about them here , here and here), but now? Well, we're ready to throw all 25k (and counting) words out of the window...and let a car roll over them.

We're sure we're not the only ones hating our NaNo novels, right now. And if we are, just indulge us and pretend that you're just as frustrated, 'kay? Anyway, we wanted to let you all know where we stand with our novels and also hear how you're doing with yours.

OH! And we forgot to mention the prize that we've agreed upon if we are
successful with NaNo this year. What is it, you ask?? Drum roll please....


Sound familiar? Yes, it is very similar to the prize we granted ourselves last year. But if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

So, tell us--how are you doing with your NaNo novel and what's your prize waiting for you November 30th??

Monday, November 7, 2011

We'll Be Right Back...

Writing Song of the Day: "Right Back At Ya" by The Spice Girls

**Due to NaNoing, the start of a new nine weeks at work, and revising other projects, we are going to be MIA for the next week. Don't fret, we'll be back before you know it!**

Happy NaNoing and/or other writing or reading!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Fives: You're the Inspiration!

Reading Song of the Day: "Hard Wired and Inspired" by The Subtle Way

Hey, peeps! It's been awhile since we've participated in Friday Fives but this week we're joining Paper Hangover. This question was too good to pass up on! The gang wants to know:

Who are the FIVE authors that inspire you?

This is a lil' hard b/c we are fangirly over SOOOO many authors. But if we have to narrow it down to the five that really inspire us, we could't think of a better list than the following. Here are the top five authors (in no particular order) who inspire us to keep the writing dream alive:

1.) Judy Blume AKA The MOTHER OF YA!

WHY? She was the first person that made me (Pam) fall in love with reading AND writing. One of the first stories I ever wrote was pretty much a copy of Superfudge. She just understands children so well, and you can tell how much love she puts in her words. It was so hard not to cry when I saw her in person at the last LA SCBWI conference. Maybe if I'm so lucky again, I'll work up the courage to actually speak to her.

WHY: She writes both contemporary & historical fiction and she does it with ease. Her historicals are more about the story than the backdrop and therefore, they stay relevant. This is what I (Quita) strive to do with my own historical novel. Also, her contemporary novels focus on the "edgy" side of YA and tells the stories that parents wish weren't true.

WHY? No one understands teen angst better than her. I (Pam) get anxiety sometimes when reading her novels because her depiction of high school is so real, I feel like I'm going through all of those emotions again. I can only hope that my writing is half as good as hers.

WHY? Because he freaking nails the teenage voice. Whether he has a male or female protag, Blake makes the MC and all supporting characters relatable and realistic. His novels are genius nuggets of contemporary YA.

5.) Tie between Jodi Picoult and Joyce Carol Oates:

WHY? Pam on Jodi Picoult: She truly is a Jill of All Trades because she understands both the teen and adult voice. After reading a bunch of stories I wasn't quite fond of for literature classes, Jodi Picoult reminded me of what it was I loved about reading. She can take a hot topic in the news and turn it into a heartwrenching story. She inspires me to write about what I see around me--and maybe I'll be able to help others just like she's helped me.

WHY? Quita on Joyce Carol Oates: Because she writes stories that focus on heavy and hard topics. Her prose is magnificent without being too flashy, and it's obvious that she writes the stories that others shy away from. She inspires me to write what I want without fear.

What about you all--who are those authors that inspire you to keep on writing?? Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Agents Want: To Be Scared Sh*tless!

Querying Song of the Day: "Is it Scary?" by Michael Jackson

What Agents Want is a series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We'll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.

It's the week of Halloween, and although the day has past, we are still trying to hold on to the spookiness of it all with today's post. If you know me and Pam, you know we love us some scary stuff. At one point we had a goal of watching every scary movie ever created (but we had to draw the line after seeing a trailer for a movie about a killer Thanksgiving turkey). Anyway, we love all the scary things...and so do a lot of agents!

A number of literary agents and editors are searching for a great edge of your seat, scary as sh*t YA horror. And just in case you don't truly know what makes a book fall under the horror category, or what agent is currently searching for said project, we're here to help! SIDEBAR: We're aware that more than one agent is looking for horror works, but we wanted to make this post as short as possible.

So, what the heck makes a novel fall in the horror genre?

The Bing Dictionary will tell you the following are the definitions of a horror story:

1. frightening fictional tale: a story that is intended to frighten people, usually by describing gruesome or supernatural events
2. report of horrifying experience: a true account of something very unpleasant or shocking

So, what does that mean in laymen terms? It means your story has to have something in it that makes people jump, bite their nails, or possibly gasp/scream while reading your work. That means your sensory words have to go into overtime. You have to describe what the villain is doing in vivid details-- that way the reader can really see and hear the torture that your poor victims are enduring.

Also, horror stories either have a supernatural or paranormal element that instills fear (zombies, ghosts, demons etc.) OR a real life type of villain, a story that will make the reader wonder if this could really happen to them, i.e. serial killers.
Go here for some interesting horror writing tips (the site brags that it's only for the "serious horror writer", so it must be good).

What books can I read for research?

Finally, tell me about this awesome agent in need of being scared sh*tless!

The agent we speak of has been very vocal about her longing for a good YA horror novel. Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency makes it no secret that she wants to be scared and is looking for an awesome novel that will do just that. Victoria Marini began working as an associate agent with Gelfman Schneider in 2010 and is extremely excited about building her list of authors. She is on the lookout for ALL YA, but she loves dark, edgy, and mysterious novels. Also, she is looking for the "quadruple threat: voice, character, story, world-building". To query Ms. Marini and learn more about what she is interested in, see her page on the Gelfman Schneider website and Querytracker.net through the links below.

For more information on Victoria Marini, check out the links below:

**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or to try and hurry to write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.

Were you thinking about writing a horror before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

RTW: The Perfect Coach

Coaching Song of the Day: "I'll Be There For You" by The Backstreet Boys

So, today Quita and I are venturing on Day #2 of the NaNoWriMo madness. Yesterday, we both had a good writing day--we passed our daily goals even. However, today we returned to the day jobs, and our writing goals are looking...well, bleak. That's why YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday is perfect for us right now. They want to know:

What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you?

Hmm, well, we definitely wouldn't want this type of coach:

You know, the type of person that's going to bark orders at you and grill you for not meeting your goals. But we also don't want this type of coach:

All of us probably know this guy. The type that's going to put a Band Aid on everything and never call you out on your crap.

Basically, we just need a sounding board. Someone we can vent to when times seem rough. The kind that will give us both a pat on the back or a reality check when we ask for it.

And that's the type of coaches we are. If you just want to blow off steam, so be it. But when you tell us what kind of help/motivation you need, we'll be there for you like Chandler was there for Joey (okay, nineties sitcom reference. My creativity dwindles during this time of the day).

What about you all? What are your coaching needs?