Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are you ready for a story?

To have a little fun, we've got a Round Robin story going on this week at the YA Rebels. I love it because we all have such different methods of storytelling. Here's my part below, and you can find Tuesday's, which precedes it, below:

Please ignore the fact I wrote this around midnight after a VERY long day, a week with too little sleep, and an impending final exam this morning.

* ~ * ~ * ~ *

And now, your lesson for the day: When all else fails, trust in the simple act of writing to relieve the weight.

I've been REALLY stressed lately. If you follow me, well, ANYWHERE online you probably noticed. And the frustration/exasperation/temper was getting worse and worse and I couldn't figure out what I needed to do to relieve it. And then I sat down, and wrote. And just like that, the stress began to bleed away. It's the simplest reminder that this is what I'm meant to do. This is what I'm made to do. It's so easy to forget that all this stuff that surrounds writing, the industry, the (mostly awesome) people, what it all comes down to, what's at its absolute center, is WRITING.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh don't mind that, it's just my jaw on the floor...(books I love)

So, you might have noticed, I don't actually talk about books often on here.

I talk about my TBR pile, but almost NEVER review. There's a reason. I am the Russian judge of the book world. I am so super picky, and anything from bad writing to a familiar plot will turn me off a book. A lacking ending is the worst offense, but poor craft is pretty darn close. The number of books I love is small (but man when I love a book I will shout it from the rooftops).

So let's talk about three books I love, one's been out for almost 15 years, one just came out this year, and one isn't out yet.

NEVERWHERE. Neil Gaiman.

So I'm a little behind. This came out in 1996 and I just finished listening to it driving to and from classes. Oh. My. So, my love of Gaiman is nothing new, and just a few months back I talked about how THE GRAVEYARD BOOK was one of my all-time favorites. This book had me similarly in awe. Perhaps it's because I've been in edits and am thus hyper-attentive to the writing/craft and the world-building/rules, but I found this book to be SPECTACULAR, from the amazingly horrific bad guys down to little details. One of my favorite elements was a major plot element, established in only TWO sentences. It was so cleanly done, I might have paused the CD to marvel. Love love love abounds from my corner for this master.

BEFORE I FALL. Lauren Oliver.
I was so, so happy to see this book have SUCH a strong debut, since I had read an ARC and been amazed by the depth and complexity of the characters. The only way I can describe them is REAL. The most real I have ever found fictional people to be. Beautiful craft and compelling narrative make this one of those books I hock on street corners and in YA aisles of bookstores.

INFINITE DAYS. Rebecca Maizel.
Wow. Okay, so this book comes out this summer. It's a vampire book, and yet it is SO incredibly refreshing. Once again, beautiful language, engrossing plot, and a wonderful attention to detail made this book a DELIGHT. I am actually considering re-reading (and I almost NEVER re-read, no time, but that's how much I loved it). Put this one on your lists, people. LOVED.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Advice: The GOOD and the BAD.

This week on the YA Rebels we're talking ADVICE. Of the good AND the bad variety.

I also polled the interwebs to see what they had to say, too.

Deb Harkness: Best: write every day. Worst: write every day. Sad, but true! Sometimes, the words are just stuck and it's better to take a walk!

Paul Greci: Best advice: Never give up. Worst advice: Don't even start.

Shelley Watters: Best: From Colleen Lindsay a month is like a minute in publishing. Worst: Publishing is luck and who you know, not how well you can write.

Maria Sweet: Worst: worst advice EVER I've been given regarding writing/publishing was to query before I finished a MS and to query even if what I have is only one chapter.

Sara Winters: BEST: To listen to the characters and not worry about everything so much. Let the first draft write itself.

Christopher Morris: Best: Write drunk, Edit sober- Hemingway.

Angela Cerrito: Best: From Markus Zusak "put something unexpected on every page", From Kathleen Duey "keep going, don't stop, be true to your story"...

Kristi Cook: I think the very best advice I've ever gotten is that the very best thing you can do for your career is to simply write more--rather than driving yourself nuts and wasting all your energy trying to promote a book, you're better served concentrating on writing the *next* book, and the next, and the next. Good writing is the best "promotion" there is.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Write Down, Sell Out.

Almost everyone who writes YA/MG gets asked at some point when they're going to go on and write "real" books. It's almost like a rite of passage, that question, along with first bad review, etc.

But I've stopped being asked that. Or at least, the question has given way to a NEW question.

Me: I write YA.
Them: Oh, that was a smart choice, because that's where all the money is.

Well, two things.

1. Obviously it isn't a question, but it's a STATEMENT OF WORTH, if you will, which puts it in with the first question.

2. It seems on the surface less offensive. But it bothers me me.

It makes the assumption that I write what I write because of the money. That my writing YA was a CALCULATED move to get rich (much like my teacher telling all the students that genre fiction was created using a mad-lib format, easy money, so we should all quit school and go fill in the blanks). It also shows an ignorance about the industry, the super-saturation that makes YA even more competitive right now, the real reasons to write YA, the merits of well-written blankets all of these with the insinuation that I WRITE YA BECAUSE IT'S WHERE THE MONEY IS.

And I think that bothers me worse. But of course it's not an either/or, is it? I still get asked the first question regularly enough, so now I'm accused of BOTH writing down AND selling out.


You know what? I adore writing YA. I write it because it inspires me, because the readers inspire me, because the community inspires me. I could sit here and explain, parse out every motive I have for writing what I do the way I do. But I won't. I don't NEED to. Because the people who matter, the ones who read this blog, they already understand. They get it. You get it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What a difference a weekend makes...

Wow. I feel SO much better, guys.

This weekend I finished my edits, wrote my paper, did all my reading, and got back to work on the next book! Two days off made a WORLD of difference. Thank you for bearing with me, and for your encouragement and support. Was getting a wee bit frazzled. It happens.

I feel refreshed and ready to tackle this week, before I head to Chicago for the weekend!

Let's kick the week off with my TBR pile (of course not including the books on my comp that I'm reading for people)...

These are the books I'm CURRENTLY reading:

These are the ones on deck:

Anything good in your TBR piles?

Also, did you know I'm strongly considering moving to England later this year? It's true. A few things have to come together first, but if the fates are in my favor, I will find myself on the other side of the ocean for at least 6 months. More on these plans in the near future!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


So I'm writing this paper for one of my lit classes, and it's about public/private life in a short story we read.

And it got me thinking (which is always a dangerous thing).

I'm going through a small patch. Not a rough patch, per se, or a hard patch. A stagnant patch. Meaning, despite all the movement and activity in my life and around me, my actual progress on things of import feels frustratingly static.

Add to that the feeling like I can't keep up online (right now I can hardly keep up OFFline, for that matter) and I find myself a little ill.

Sometimes we get to the point where our connectivity becomes damaging to our focus, where the best thing we can do for ourselves and our work is unplug.

My friend told me that sometimes it's okay to be selfish now and then, and I'm hoping she's right.

I'm taking a VERY SMALL break. Literally a long weekend (what does it say about my present state that I felt the need to check in and inform you all rather than just pop off the face of the interwebs?).

I just need to focus. I have my final edit deadline coming up, my new book to make serious progress on, a paper on public/private life about about 100 pages of reading this weekend, etc. etc.

So. I shall return. And until then (let's say Monday, but certainly by Wednesday), I wish you all a marvelous weekend.

Love, of course.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Look! A snippet!

Hoping to start a series of connected short stories here on the blog, but until then, digging around through my WIPs, looking for snippets...

Eli jumped when the massive black shape of Vic's dog brushed by him. Dol had inky fur and the spindly grace of a great dane. Grace was a funny word to put with Dol, a beast whose tail fell off whenever he got excited and wagged it too hard (it had never stuck firmly after being lopped cleanly off once by Lena). But he was graced, in a way.

Vic trailed a tapered finger down Dol’s snout, tapping his nose absently. The dog didn’t seem to mind. His tail swished side to side along the concrete floor. Vic preferred concrete spaces, because the screams bounced around pleasantly without alarming anyone who might be passing by on the other side.

“Who’s my little frankenpuppy?” cooed Sydney, rubbing Dol’s ears.

A long white scar ran like a zipper down Dol’s stomach.

Most people changed. Whenever Sydney woke someone from the dead, they always seemed a little…vapid. But not Dol. Dol had been brought back six times, and he was always Dol.

"He looks like he's been hit by a truck," scoffed Eli.

"He has," said Vic.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This week the YA Rebels seem to have...misplaced on of our team. On Monday, we realized she was missing. On Tuesday we were disturbed to find her chair empty, her phone unanswered. And today, I try to piece together the last time we saw her...