Sunday, February 28, 2010

Don't make me wait, please!

So, I'm just plodding around the internet on this fine Sunday afternoon. Then I decide to check something out on Amazon.
That never ends well.
I found these.

I want them all.
Pretty, pretty please?
You aren't going to hand 'em over, are you?
I'm gonna have to wait, aren't I?
How will I survive?!
Oh, I know! With this!

But wait. That doesn't come out till Friday. What the heck am I supposed to do until then?
Math homework??
I think I'm gonna go reread Hunger Games now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Worthy Cause

So. That was the sound of me hitting the brakes on my usual blogginess. No book recommendation today. No long, rambling writing advice. Nope. Today gets to be about the fun stuff! You ready? Okay, good. Today I'm talking about .... Self confidence!!
Yeah, right. I agree. I despise that topic. Why? Well, as a teenage girl with uncontrollable hair and not enough willpower in the morning to correctly apply makeup, sometimes my level of self confidence can be pretty dismal. Ahem. Right. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Besides that, especially in winter, I tend to dress in hoodies and jeans and that's about it. And lemme just tell you...I don't look like this.
But there's this website. (Isn't there always?) It's called Operation Beautiful.
How often do you feel grungy? Nasty? Not good enough? How often do you glance at your friend and wish you had her hair, or smile, or just something? Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't do that. If you are, then I'm glad. Seriously, I am. That would be nice. I think most of us do though. Personally, I could rattle off twenty different things I hate about my appearance at the drop of a hat. Most people could. I like Operation Beautiful for just this reason, though. It isn't about caring whether or not you're perfect. This site is about confidence. It's about feeling better about youself.
Bleh. I feel like I'm muddling this.
Well, here's the mission statement;
The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way
you are!

Is it cheesy? Maybe. Who cares though? How often do kids feel that way? I'd bet...Oh, basically never. The site is for everyone, but it seems particularly pertinent to young girls.
We all feel ugly at some point, and it's dumb. I mean, come on, society! One of my friends dances. She's great at it. Another is probably the funniest person I've ever met. Yet another takes joy from long and complex math problems; weird, but someday, she'll be taking over the world. (Ahem. I mean, she'll be using her power wisely to help everyone. Yeah. That.)
All three could tell you the extensive things wrong with them. I don't see it though. I think we just like seeing it in ourselves. We dig ourselves into dark, deep little holes of emo and then don't know how to get out.
I like Operation Beautiful. It's kind of like a hand that can go into the nasty little hole and help pull you out.
Anyway. Go check out the site.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Miss Fantabulous in her debute review of Vinyl princess!

Note by Sam; My friends know that I blog. Some of them have blogs themselves. Brandon, Maddie, and Maggie are all from my school. Today, though, I am with someone who does not have a blog, but wants to speak to you. So, in her debut review (Yes, she spelled debut wrong on purpose earlier) I give you this.

Hi! This is Miss Fantabulous (Sam's friend) known in some circles as gorgeous. This is who is representing me today.

Note by Sam: My friends are not all this conceited. Just this one. :D Kidding, kidding.
For all of those people in the world who are diehard classic music fans (not Sam) who know great life changing music when they hear it (also not Sam) I would sugest the book Vinyl Princess.

Yvonne Prinz knows her music and if you love the clear sound of vinyl this is a great book for you. Allie's quirky way of looking at things gives the tasteful world of tasteless music a much needed makover. The best selling point... She makes fun of Dave Mathews.

(Sorry to any Dave Mathews fans...if you do in fact exist.) Who knows you might even get a few ideas for your collection. If you are a true vinyl fan you do have one (even if you won't admit it).

That's all I have to say. Now go put on Supertramp Breakfast in America, Bob Dylan Don't look back, or Rod Stewart's best album Every picture tells a story and enjoy some true music.
Final Note From Sam: I know Bob Dylan. Out of those three, that's about it. My expertise is planted firmly in the written word. However, Miss Fantabulous is pretty dang good with books too...Usually. Movies, I would not take her word on. She's been quoting this book all week though, so I assume it's good.
I'm off to go read about zombies.
More Later!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Prepare for slight screams

Yay!! This is by far my favorite ever. Thank you Cipherqueen! It sparkles!!! Cue happy squealing and clapping of the hands!
Now. Moving on past my girly screaming. . .
And into even more screaming! Why? Well. Because of this book.

I admit. When my mom handed it to me, my first thought was OOH PRETTY. And yes. Ooh pretty indeed. That cover is absolutely brilliant.
But then I opened it.
This book is on my list of all time favorites. It's clever. It takes an old topic and totally revitalizes it. And let me just say, I totally have a book crush on one of the characters. The evil villian has possibly the most epic description since Voldemort.
The whole thing is smart, funny, and . . . well, pretty. I adored it. It was the first book in a while that I read cover to cover during the school day. (Biology? What? Pedigrees, you say? Homework, you say? Really?? Oops . . .)
Her website is pretty and as I type this, I'm singing along to her playlist. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and seriously, seriously want the next one.
Ahem. So. Screaming over again.
...No, I lied again. It's back.
That website? Yeah, you know the one. The one I won't shut up about? Inkpop?
Well. My story? It's under the top ten.
Top five I get an editorial review.
A lot of people reading this know about my agent hunt earlier this year. It was a lot of testing the water and I really didn't expect it to happen. However, that meant it still stung pretty bad when I got rejections saying things like . . .
"Your dialogue is unrealistic. Kids don't talk this way."
"I love the story. Fifteen year olds, though, are not reliable clients."
"....Please stop writing."
Well, that last one is kind of exaggerating. But still. This site has totally revamped my confidence. Less than three weeks, and I'm in the top ten.
*Happy dance!*

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hilary Wagner!

So, remember how I promised you an interview? I have it! Hilary Wagner has answered the questions I had up earlier this month. Her book, Nightshade City, is coming out later this year!

Does it seem unfair to anyone else that someone so talented also gets to be so pretty?I mean, relaly, it seems as if someone should be one or the other, but Hilary really got both. :))
Anyway, she's way more interesting than I am so, without further ado . . .

Describe your book to us, please.
NIGHTSHADE CITY is about fighting for what's right and never giving up. It's about never letting a few decide the fate of many. Oh, and rats too!

Here is the summary:
Unbeknownst to humans, strangely intelligent rats have lived in the Catacombs, underneath Trillium City, for years. To the discontent of many of its residents, the Catacombs is now run by Killdeer, Billycan and his Kill Army. Fighting for their home alongside rebels who are hiding in a concealed world beyond the Catacombs, Victor and Vincent Nightshade battle for retribution and redemption while realizing their future and releasing ghosts from their past.

How difficult was it to get published?

For me, finding an agent was far more difficult than getting published. Nightshade City was rejected by about 175 agents over the course of 13 months. I received several requests for partials and fulls of the manuscript, which was encouraging, but in the end agents thought the book would be a hard sell to publishers. Lo and behold, my agent, Marietta Zacker of Nancy Gallt Literary, sold Nightshade City to Holiday House Books in less than eight weeks! It felt amazing! I feel so lucky to be with this publisher. They've been around since 1935!

Did you ever think it wasn't going to happen?

One night, after probably my 100th or so agency rejection, I told my husband, "You know, I will get published." He said he believed me, thank goodness for sweet husbands. I'm not sure if he really did believe me and I don't think even I believed me, but saying the words, changed things for me. I think then and there I said I know I can do this, Nightshade City will be published.

What's writing a sequel or getting a deal for a sequel like?

I'm having the best time with Nightshade's sequel. I think the key for a successful sequel is making the book markedly different from the first, but still capturing that same spirit. I just finished Part I of Nightshade City' sequel, which my editor at Holiday House is reading right now! I really love where this book is headed, I hope she does too! It's all about my favorite Nightshade City bad guy, Billycan, who you will all meet come this fall!

I know from your blog that you have kids and a husband. How do you deal with family life on top of writing? Does it ever get hard to focus and make time for reading?

You mean writers are supposed to read and spend time with their families? Ha, ha! I have many responsibilities, it's true, but it seems the more responsibilities I have the better I get at time management. I have my "alone" time early in the morning. That's when I do my best writing. If you told me when I was in high school that I'd be a "morning person", I'd never have believed you and neither would my parents! I write whenever I have free time. When I put my son and daughter to bed I can squeeze in an hour or so. If we have nothing going on, weekend afternoons are great too, sometimes late on a Saturday night. When I add up all the little hours I steal writing, remarkably it's quite a bit of time! Just don't ask me about my neglected laundry!

How many revisions have you gone through? Do those revisions ever make you feel as if you've lost something in the novel?

We went through two rounds of editing. We never did any major overhauls to the novel. It was more making sure everything "clicked". Julie Amper, my editor, had great Author Queries, which is a term used to describe an area of the manuscript that's need explaining or clarification.
As the writer, it's easy to forget that your reader doesn't know what's going on in your head and what you may have "intended" to come across in a particular scene. You need to be clear. Timelines need to be just right. Don't get so into your descriptions or back story, that you're neglecting dialogue or action. No info dumps! The story needs to be faultless in every way and readers deserve it to be so!
My editor didn't want to change Nightshade City; she wanted to make it the best it could be. When we spoke on the phone for the first time and talked about editing, I told Julie I was so happy she thought the book was good and she said, "The book is not good, it's great! Now we're going to make it perfect." I had goose bumps for a whole week!

Do you have any tricks to making your characters seem real?

Call me a drama queen, but when I write I feel the emotions of my characters. If I'm creating a sad scene, I've been known to get teary eyed, if it's funny, I laugh! I think I put a lot of myself in my characters, even my bad guys! I'm working on a new middle grade novel right now, and I'm writing a scene with two brothers (who happen to be hobgoblins) who are arguing with each other, and I think, what would I have said to my brother? We are friends now, but man, did my brother and I fight like cats and dogs. Pulling from your own life, past or present, is something I think is key when making characters real and not forced.

What books would you recommend for teens?

I think it depends on what you want to write! For anyone interested in writing animal fantasy, I'd recommend the Silverwing Trilogy and Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, the Ratha series by Clare Bell and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H., by Robert C. O'Brien. Last, but by no means least, I highly recommend NIGHTSHADE CITY! Yes, I had to throw that in!

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice on that?

I was first inspired to write in 3rd grade! All we had to do was write a story, but I was so excited I created a book out of construction paper and my teacher read it to the whole class. It was entitled Mouse and Ladybug! I guess I've always had a thing for rodents!M y advice to young writers, learn from other writers! Read their books and figure out why you like their writing so much! What about it captivates you? Write about what interests you and what you know! I love doing research for my stories, because the topics fascinate me! The worst thing a writer can do is write for the market, hoping that will get them published. If you like vampires or zombies, by all means write about them, just don't do it thinking it will better your odds of getting an agent or editor. Don't be a copycat! Agents and editors want fresh, new ideas, things no one has come up with yet. If it's something that's been done before figure out a way to make your story distinctly different. Make it incredible! If you have the passion and creativity you can do it. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. I didn't and look where it got me. :)

Thank you Hilary, so so much! These answers are GREAT and so inspirational. It really give me hope for getting published.

Monday, February 8, 2010


First. A blog award. Thank you Kendra.
This is part one of humbled. I'm glad to get the award, but I was kinda surprised! Thanks so much, Kendra. :D
Second part of humbled?
That. Oh, my, frigging, god.
They are letters. Written by teens, written by people. They're heart breaking. It's secrets, compiled into a story; all true. All heart breaking. It's one of the only things I've read that's made me cry like this.
It's so beautiful.
Read it, please.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brain dead over here

So, I really want to say something inspiring and brilliant and all that stuff.
However, I am really tired.
And my head really hurts.
But I haven't posted in a while, and I'm feeling as if I am neglecting my blog. This bothers me.
My family and I went on a mini vacation over the past two days. It was fun; shopping, and food, and Marti Gras.
I have a pile of sparkly on my desk that looks just like that.
And as for my wisdom?
Let's see.
Don't fall in love with a vampire unless they, like my necklaces, sparkle. Sparkling is the truest sign of humanity in a vamp.

If you are going to dress up like a man and join the army, make sure that you have a cute commander. Why? Well, because your commander will probably end up being your boyfriend someday.

See that? That turns into this.

What else? Hmm....

Oh. Manners. They're important. In fact, they're quite fantabulous. It's funny, because most people will say that kids don't have them.

Um, excuse me. We actually do, thank you very much. In fact, when a kid is forced to sit and listen for two hours to politics they don't agree with, and comments on their views that greatly offend them, that kid doesn't say anything. That is being polite.

So. Don't lose those manners. They will do good things for you someday.

And as for my last bit of wisdom? When watching a Marti Gras parade, grab all the beads you can get. Not only are they pretty and sparkly, but they are remarkably hard to find in a store.

And even though it's 11:30 right now, I might as well add this....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If only I had this talent

So, Cipherqueen? I officially adore you. (In a non creepy way.) I am in love with the city picture. I am, however, SUPER in love with that cover. Actually, I was in love with all of them, but this was my favorite and I didn't want to overload the post with all that awesomeness. I am so computer stupid; I have yet to figure out this picture thing. So.
Thank you. So much. I liked the other picture okay, but this really gets the actual feel of the story more. I mean, the biggest part is her purple eyes, so....yeah, I wanted the cover to have purple eyes. And...well. My book isn't emo, so the non emo thing is nice. I wanted that.
(Or a dark deserted city. Ahem. So much for not emo. At least it isn't crying.)
Thank you very, very much.
Oh. The other thing; it occurred to me that I might as well post a blurb about my story. I was putting it off because I usually find that sort of thing incredibly big headed. But I have it on Inkpop and it only makes sense to put it on my blog.
So. Sigh. Altered's blurb;

If you had to choose between the lives of millions or the lives of your loved ones, how could you?

Ash is done with war. It's fair enough; after all, she spent her childhood fighting one. At eight, she was scientifically made into one of the best soldier ever known—but now she’s seventeen, and the war’s over. All she wants to do is live peacefully, get a manicure or two, and leave the life of the Altered behind.

Unfortunately, her manicurist dumped her after all the broken nails. Even worse, the other Altered are hunting her down.

After four years of hiding, they’ve finally found her. One of these three is Ky, a boy who’s gotten ridiculously attractive. He makes her head goes fuzzy; something that’s is kind of dangerous, considering her life. Not two days after Ky and the others appear, everything goes wrong. A civilian mob, a black tattoo, and a self righteous idiot push Ash back to PEKA, the corrupt company that Altered her. From there, things get even worse as Ash is forced to choose. She can lead PEKA's Altered army against suddenly murderous civilians, or she can step back and let her oldest friends be killed.

Ash is used to having godlike power. Using it, though, has never been so hard.
So. That's it. Yup. Going away now. Farewell.