Saturday, June 26, 2010

Interview with Kody Keplinger!!

I am incredibly stoked for this interview. (Shut up. I'm sixteen. I'm allowed to say stoked.) Anyway, I got to talk with Kody Keplinger, author of The Duff. Let me just tell you how much I want that book. Seriously, it's insane. The Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. As someone who has a couple of really flamboyant friends and a couple of aggravatingly pretty friends, I've definitely felt that way before. You can order The Duff, or read more about it, here
And guess what else? When Kody signed with her agent, she was STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL.
She's pretty much amazing. She's also way more fun to listen to than I am, so without further ado . . .

The Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Have you ever personally felt like that? Do you have anything to say to girls who do feel that way?
I have felt like the DUFF many, many times.  When I first heard the word, in high school, I was sure I was the DUFF of my group of friends.  But when I voiced this fear, my friends were all shocked.  I thought they were beautiful, but they all felt like DUFFs, too.  I think most girls do at some point or another.  And really, I guess my advice is just to know that every girl feels that way at some point, and that everyone is beautiful in some way.

Okay, so you published YOUNG. (You’re basically my hero, just so you know.) Do people treat you differently because of that?
Not really.  Occassionally I get comments about being so young, but essentailly, I've had the same journey as most writers.  I've been writing since I was very young.  But I'm very glad I was lucky enough to get my break at my age.  Most people, once they get to know me, realize that I'm just a normal teenager.  I just happen to have a book coming out.  I prefer NOT to be treated differently, though, because I'm really, really not that different.
What’s your writing/editing process like?
It varies for every book.  With THE DUFF I just wrote, wrote, wrote and never planned at all.  But with the project I just finished the first draft of, it was very carefully outlined way before I began to write.  Every story is different for me, so I never really know how the process will go.  It's always a fun surprsie! 

You have an amazing agent. (I agent stalk. I’m sorry. I can’t help it.) Can you tell us about her?
I am represented by Joanna Volpe (she'll love that you think she's amazing!).  She is really the best fit I could have asked for. She's so enthusiastic and smart, and this sounds cliche, but she justgets  my style.  I am so blessed to have found her.  She's my hero, to be honest.  When I grow up - assuming I get to be an agent as I hope - I want to be just like her.  She's so savvy and - and I really could never say enough.

 What’s the scariest thing about the whole publishing process? What’s the most fantabulous, awesome part?
Scariest - knowing that people are going to actaully be reading this book that I spent so much time with.  Knowing that my words, my story, my characters are open to judgment and criticism. Knowing people could really hate it and that I can't do anything about that.
The most awesome - knowing that people are going to actually be reading this book that I spent so much time with.  Knowing that my words, my story, and my characters could really impact another person the way so many books have touched me.  Knowing that some people may loe my book. Knowing that maybe, hopefully, I'll touch even just one person the way authors like Judy Blume and Elizabeth Scott an Carolyn Mackler have touched me.

So, pretty much solidifying your position as Super Woman, you’re attending college at the same time you write. Is it hard to juggle that? (And, ahem, as a 16 year old . . . Is college as fun/horrifyingly terrifying as it seems?)

I LOVE college.  I love the independance. I love the choices I have in classes.  I love the oppertunities and adventures it provides me that high school couldn't.
What I do not love? The homework.  I always managed to finish homework quickly in high school, which is how I was able to write so much.  But college has a lot more homework - the homework is more fun than it ever was in high school, but it is a lot.  I dont' write as much as I did in high school, but I still manage to write. I'd go crazy if I didn't!  I will say, Mt. Dew helps a lot.  Lots of late nights.

This is a shallow, almost dumb question. But highschool can be scary sometimes. When people heard about getting you getting a publishing deal, what were their reactions like?

They didn't really have reactions.  I signed with my agent in the last week of my senior year, and the only people who knew I signed were my AP English classmates, who didn't really know what "getting an agent" meant.  Everyone knew I wanted to get published, or that I was trying, but they didn't udnerstand the processs, and I didn't want to explain it and then have them get their hopes up for me.
But the book actually sold during the summer.  I know the news has spread in my hometown - its' a small town - but I haven't really been home a lot since last summer because of school.  So I'm not 100% sure what my peers reactions were.

You’re also part of the WONDERFUL YA Highway blog. How did that get started?

I wasn't there from the start, but I knew Kirsten Hubbard from Absolute Write.  We actually signed with agents the same week, and then our books (hers is LIKE MANDARIN) sold literally ONE DAY after mine.  We started really getting to know each other then, and she invited me to join the group.  I"m forever glad she did.  I can honestly say my closest writing friends are the YA Highway girls.  I don't know what I'd do without them.

I know that you had a relatively short time querying, but did you ever feel like giving up immediately/crawling into the Emo Corner? How did you deal with that, if you did?
I honestly never felt that way.  Mostly because I never in a million years thought I'd get an agent.  I queried one book before THE DUFF (very breifly and badly) and I thought THE DUFF would go down the same way.  I never EVER though I'd get an agent at 17, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't at least try.  So it was more of a pleasant surprise than a relief when it happened.
I’m kind of obsessed with critique groups lately. Did you have people helping you shape your story before you submitted it?

I had 3 beta readers who read THE DUFF.  They read it, gave me notes, and all of them encouraged me to query.  They were amazing, and I encourage everyone to have a critique partner or group.

What advice you have to give to teenagers who want to get published someday?

My main advice is DON'T RUSH YOURSELF.  Seriously, getting published before graduation isn't necessary.  I wrote for years and years before THE DUFF happened.  Focus first on honing your craft and becoming the best writer you can be and THEN on publishing.  Trust me, you'll be happy you did.
My second advice is don't be scared of rejection.  It's going to happen. It happens to EVERYONE.  Don't let fear of rejection scare you away from trying for your dreams.

Okay, I’m done cyber harassing you. Almost. Is there anything else you would like to say?

Thanks for interviewing me, Sam!

Isn't she cool? You should go check out her blog, and then you should pre order her book. (Ahem.)

More later!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Artistic Inspiration

I like pictures. I can't draw and when we did origami in seventh grade, I pretty much failed.
No. I'm not joking. I can't even fold little paper cranes. It's not my fault; personally, I blame genetics. (Though my sister is an amazing artist . . .)
Well. Fine. But anyway, I like pictures. Natalie Whipple did a picture post about inspiration and pictures that helped her writing. I'm not quite up to a book review but I adore pictures. I also am suspecting you might be tired of hearing me ramble. So now I'm rambling with pictures. And this is pretty much the end of my incessant cyber babble.
My inspiration for my WIP.
deercabin.jpg Cabin in the Woods image by brokencowboy_photod856ece7.jpg bow and arrow image by japarisi

sayings-2.png lightening image by darianbabe3
FRIENDS-2.jpg friends image by SLumy

Okay, I'm done.
Well, almost. This really isn't all that 
symbolic or inspirational, but hey. He's pretty.
jace1.jpg image by sarahalmodiel
More later. And hey, next time, there might be, like, relevance!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fireflies and fireworks

The last time you watched fireworks, did you think about how pretty they were? Did you wonder at what made them work, or maybe notice just how prettily they offbalanced the stars? When an idiot guy who knocked over the rocket hevwas trying to light got chased by one, did you laugh? If you did any of those things, was the experience worth it? Or would you rather be writing?

Waiting for an answer. -hums along to my Ipod as I wait-
I think it's better to watch the fireworks and watch the idiot dive into a truck bed to avoid the bottle rocket (Because, yes, he was dumb enough to aim it at the truck that you happened to be sitting on) and maybe even look at the stars. I know, amazing, huh. But writing is words, and words only have power because they represent things. I don't think it's possible to be able to spar and weave and dance with words without appreciating the things they represent.

We take some things for granted without realizing how cool they are. You ever noticed that? Some things, sure, we do take notice of. For instance, we all adore Harry Potter, or maybe Twilight, or if you're weird, maybe you like Jane Austen or Faulkner. We've all had that 'W-o-w' moment when reading a book.
But the little stuff inside of a book, the actual corporeal objects, we tend to ignore in order to find out more about the really hot guy. Actually, the little stuff just gets ignored a lot of the time.

Like fireflies. We love to write about little bugs with lights on their rear ends, but when was the last time you just watched them? They shouldn't be so enthralling, so beautiful, and something that sometimes even looks like it's from a different world (don't mock me, child. It's an animal that glows. Think about every fantasy you've ever read--something, somewhere, will glow.) When you read a book that talks about fireflies, or hear a song about them (Hi, Owl City) you forget that they are really cool.

Or what about twilight? No, not the vampire novel. The actual time of day. It's the perfect setting, and a lot of do have those vague memories of thinking 'wow what a beautiful time of day' but when was the last time you were outside in it? Second question: when was the last time you wrote about the setting sun or even the rising sun and how magical it was?

Where do you live? City or small town? A small town has charm sometimes and aggravating slowness at others but it's unique. A city has a pace and hustle bustle that is the base for hundreds of novels, really great novels. But I don't think we really think about how amazing the place we live is. Even if you don't love it, there's something special about it.

The boy that broke your heart; you've written the scene three hundred times. But do you ever remember that day, the tears and his expression, and then the next week when you got over him. The boy that got you over the one that broke your heart--even if it was forever ago, do you remember him? You've written about a girl flirting with some random dude in a coffee shop, and even if it's not your thing, maybe it's worth it to as least hang out at the coffee shop or go find a random dude to possibly flirt with.

The best friend. Also in almost every story. But we don't always appreciate them the same way we should. It's like Kierstan White said in an interview she did with Maggie; we can't forget to live life. On the same thing, I think it's just as important to take notice of everything around you. Every moment can be put in a book, I think, and so even if doing random things isn't appealing by itself, then I guess you can chalk it up to your writing experience. You can't write a story without anything to draw on--well, you can, but it's way more fun if you can get inspiration from the stuff around you.

What say you? Is there a particular part of your life that you've drawn inspiration from? It can be as little as a couple of pretty sentences about fireflies, or even a story idea.

More later. And one of the 'more laters' will be an interview with Kody Keplinger! YAY!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When Blogs Go To Die

I know I posted today, but quite frankly, that was a lame-o post. Not the content, but my actual, you know, post. So, I figured I'd use this to talk about something I've been thinking about; the death of a blog.
I was cyber stalking an author's blog when I read something that interested me. It talked about when blogs die.
(This is the graveyard of dead blogs. Don't ask me who the dude running up the steps is; I'll be forced to find a deep and elaborate explanation.)
We've all seen it. Someone posts and posts and then they just . . . stop. I'm not talking about an author who's busy or someone who just has no time. That's fine--it'll happen eventually to all of us. I'm talking about the people who just stop blogging because they're sick of it.
The original post barely even brushed on that topic, but it's interesting to me. If someone isn't willing to keep up blog posts, it seems as if they'll never be able to finish a book. I've had a couple of friends who used to blog, and did it for a couple of weeks/months and then decided that it wasn't for them. That was fine; I can understand that. But what about the people who blog because they want to be authors? These are people who write and write and read and edit and love it enough to start basically an online journal for everyone to read.
It seemed oddly counterproductive to let it die. Author's need publicity, sure, and that is one aspect of having a blog. (Not as in branding, just as in, you know, getting your name out there.) There's the networking aspect as well--the fact that blogs give you the chance to meet people that you never would have before. Without writing this, I would never have gotten the chance to talk to authors. It's given me guts that I never had before. But there's something else; the motivation blogs give you.
If you work on a blog (and I really need a synonym for that word, because I'm using it a ton) than you have something to work toward. It can be like Green Bean Teen Queen's blog, probably the best books reviews and best news alerts I've seen, or a published author's blog networking and talking about books, or even one just like this, where I ramble incessantly. But even the rambles are motivating. The days that I want to quit writing, when I figure that I'm just some idiot kid that's never going to do anything, the blog is one of the things that helps. If I can keep this up, than maybe someday I CAN get somewhere with writing.
Motivation can go into graveyards like the one above just as easy as blogs do. Writing, especially when you aren't published, just feels so futile. I've even felt juvenile for it, like some little kid putting on author shoes and trying to do something I suck at. Those are the days when any little bit of motivation helps--and by letting a blog die, I think someone's motivation would take a pretty hard hit.
It's interesting. Any opinions?
More later.

How cool!

There's this massive thing coming up. Seriously. Massive. And Amazing. AND COOl.
What is this allusive thing?
It's a writer conference.
Now, I have no idea how it's going to work. But here are the details.
There is also a contest going on at YA highway for some AMAZING books. The Duff, by Kody Keplinger (I have a blog interview with her!! It shall be coming soon. SHE'S A TEENAGER.)
Plus a ton of other cool stuff. I love that site.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hatchets and sisters and wolves, OH MY!

I have a thing for fairy tale retellings. What can I say, I just like 'em. But Sisters Red, Jackson Pearce's newest addition? It's one of my new favorites.
It's GRITTY on one level and it's AWESOME on another and on a whole different level, it's deep and fantabulous.
...Wow, I am so not great at this description thing, huh?
Okay. Well.
This is a Red Riding Hood retelling. I think. Yeah, it is. But it's not the same old story, and it's not sweet and innocent Red going off to grandma's. It's smoldering in some spots and it's sweet in others. Told from two sister's POV, the reader gets to tag along as they both kill these really nasty wolf creatures. Oh, and you get to learn about a very cute woodsman named Silas.
Plus, no spoiler intended, but there is a seriously kick butt scene at the end.
Just saying.
I'm fond of sister stories. I've got one who's 18, not that much older than me, and is at times severely annoying and others pretty cool. (I'd go deeper into the cool part, but if she reads this I will never hear the end of it. For the rest of my life, whenever I find her aggravating, she'll remind me 'You said I was awesome so HAH'
-sticks out tongue at sister- )
Anywaaay. That means I was doubly fond of Sisters Red. Plus, the author? I'm stalking--ahem, following--her on Twitter, and she's hilarious. I've kind of got an author crush on her.
That's all I got for now. I'm trying to finish a WIP by the end of this month (it's at two weeks old and 26,000 words right now, with a goal of about 60,000) so I'm off to listen to the Glee soundtrack and think fondly of working on that. Maybe I'll even open up the document and pet it fondly.
More later.

Friday, June 11, 2010

How did I not know this?

Okay, so everyone has heroes, and in the writing business, everyone has literary heroes. For me, the number one hero has to be Tamora Pierce. Back during the 2008 presidential elections, I found her on a website for YA writers in politics. There were thousands of people on that site. On a whim, I sent a note to her, never thinking I'd get a response.
Yeah, well.
She responded.
I'm skimming over this part, but let's just say that this was a kind of sucky period in life. It was the start of highschool, and one of my best friends had turned into a jerk, the way they tend to. School was okay, but not great. My English teacher, normally the highlight of the day, wasn't particularly fond of me (I talked a lot) and I was having issues writing. After all, I was fourteen. How dare I not have done something utterly fabulous with my life?
(I refer to this as Rachel Berry syndrome.)

Anywaaay. Her note was long and great and talked about the power of teenagers. And so I started writing again, thinking, well, I want to be a powerful teenager. I wrote some random crap, and then wrote another story, and then finished one. I started submitting the start of sophomore year (which, I know now, was really dumb. I pretty much submitted the first draft. Ahem.)
Still, I had people tell me it was good. Like, agent people. I was told I had promise. And for once in my life, even though I had been writing since I was eight, it was like I had proof that maybe, someday, I could do this. I could write and people would like it.
And so I sent her an email, thanking her. I wasn't expecting anything.
I've read all of her books cover to cover and have started to crack the spine on most of them. And upon randomly googling her name today, I found out she HAS A BLOG.
I feel like such a bad fan.
Because guess what?
She has TWO blogs. And Here.
Cheers. I'm off to go scour her archives.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

At my library

So there was this really cool author event at my library last Saturday, and I've been wanting to post this since then. (My internet at home is EVIL. So, I am back at the library.)
Anyway, it was set up by the fantabulous Sarah (who has one of the best blogs about books out there) and there were four authors who were able to come.

Jenny B Jones was there.

She is absolutely hilarious. Upon answering the question "Who would win, Edward or Harry Potter?" she pointed out that Edward is a tad bit of a creeper who still lives with his parents, and he probably could not beat out Harry's awesomeness.
(I like Twilight, don't get me wrong. But he does stare in Bella's window an awful lot.)
Pretty much every time she spoke, I started cracking up.

There was Brent Crawford. For some reason, this is like, the only picture I can find of him.
Of course, thats the pic he uses on his website, so . . .
He also was quite funny. At one point, he talked about something that I thought was really, really interesting--seperating the editor from the writer. He said that you have to keep writing and not let that evil, picky little editor out. If you do, you'll never get anything done. It's okay to be bad, he pointed out, and then to fix it later.

There was Brian Katcher.
(The librarians were harrassing him about this picture, telling him he needed a new one.)
His book is actually state recommended next year in this thing that they call Gateway Books, so I was really interested in reading his book. His book is accompinied by Hunger Games (otherwise known as the Book of Awesome) and Graceling, which we all know is pretty awesome too. So it's in good company.
And those other books? They're in good company too. I read Playing With Matches on Sunday, and it was really good. It just seemed so real. Nothing was coated over. It's about aboy who gets involved with girl who's heavily scarred. Normally, I'd expect the entire book to be about 'Of course it doesn't matter, I am a good and noble high school boy so of course I would care not.' But there was so much more depth than that. I can see why it's been nominated.

Then there was Holly Schindler.

Long time readers of the blog know that I kind of adore her. She was the first author interview
I ever conducted, and I just loved her book.
I actually got to be one of the teens that 'showed her around' (Quotes because she already know the library. I just blabbered. A lot. It's what I do) and got to talk to her in person, which was kind of fantabulous.
It's interesting. I've learned a lot within the past year, but just talking to Holly for like, twenty minutes, taught me so much more.
All in all, it was a really great event.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Let's talk about awesomeness

First, how about the weather? It is humid, sure, but SO nice. Just saying.
(Even if today, upon the invitation 'to go swimming' my friends decided they want to tan. Hello, dear friends, but as a redhead, I have like zero skin pigment. Just saying.)
Honestly, this is really the one way I should be outside.

Second, let's talk about this blog. Maggie showed it to me, and so even though she has dark skin pigment, I might accept her as a friend still.
(The blog is having an AMAZING contest right now. There's one for people who read, one for people who write, and one just for fun. The prizes? SO awesome. GO. Run. Fly, fly, fly!)
And then there's this awesomeness.

You have NO idea how much I want this book. I keep reading reviews, and I'm following Cassandra Clare on Twitter, and I WANT IT.
However, I do now own this book.

The author is hilarious on her blog, and it's about Evil Red Riding Hood, kind of, so that pretty much spells fantastic.
Only thing not awesome? I left so said friends to go the library...which I am now at, with chlorine hair, surfer shorts, and one of my dad's old tshirts.
And yes.
I do look just SO pretty.
-deep scathing sarcastic look entered here-
More later.