Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Querying 101: DON'T

Please do not praise an internet picture of the agent. Please do not praise said picture for four paragraphs. Not only does it not tell me what your book is about, but it sounds creepy and stalkerish, which are probably not characteristics of an "ideal client."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Holidays GIVEAWAY #1: Peace Love and Baby Ducks

I had the pleasure of seeing Lauren Myracle on Friday night at the Doylestown Bookshop. She read an excerpt from her recent YA book, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks. Check out a video interview with her HERE.

Fifteen-year-old Carly has a problem—two, actually: her younger sister Anna’s new “real live Hooters-esque boobs.” While Carly was away getting self-actualized at a back-to-nature camp, Anna was busy turning into a hottie, a state that makes “granola-girl” Carly uncomfortably jealous.

Now back in her privileged Atlanta suburb, Carly is struggling with feelings of insecurity as she tries to reconcile her newly acquired bohemian belief system with the incredible wealth in which she has been raised. In addition, her crush hardly notices her, she feels trapped between her rival best friends, and her parents seem to be growing more distant with each other by the day.

CONTEST
I'm giving away a signed copy of Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is comment below and include your email address so I know how to contact you. Enter by midnight on December 10th.

Extra entries:

+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll
+3 for referring someone to the contest
+3 for being the person referred

Friday, November 20, 2009

Shouts & Murmurs: Subject: Our Marketing Plan: newyorker.com

This is older, but still hilarious...

Shouts & Murmurs: Subject: Our Marketing Plan: newyorker.com

Interesting Things in the Blogosphere

Nathan Bransford did an awesome post about the toll waiting takes on writers.

Harlequin announced its new partnership with AuthorSolutions, and professionals in the publishing industry went wild. Here's a well thought out explanation and response, and one more, RWA's response, the mean and sharkly Janet Reid's reaction, another agent's reaction, and a thread for authors to weigh in.

Oprah announced the end of her show and the end of Oprah's book club and sent millions of people to tears.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor

Today's pick for the can't-wait-until-this-title-is-released is The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor, out February 9th from HarperTeen.

Before he died, Melissa’s father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren’t always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn’t only skin deep, the people around her don’t seem to feel that way. There’s her gorgeous sister Ashley who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school, there's her best friend Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney, and there’s Melissa’s mother who’s dating someone new, someone who Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.

To make sure she doesn’t lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and completing a journal her father began—one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present, as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.

Check out Jillian Cantor's website HERE.

Because these are too true

Thanks to one of FinePrint's fantastic interns, Deirdre, who sent an email my way titled "Random thoughts from people our age…" Here are a few of my favorites.

2. More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me. (This happens in our office all the time!)

3. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

5. Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

6. That’s enough, Nickelback.

7. I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger. (I love naps!)

9. Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.

10. There is a great need for sarcasm font.

11. Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what was going on when I first saw it.

13. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

14. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

18. Was learning cursive really necessary?

19. Lol has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say”.

20. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

21. Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.

29. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

34. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

38. If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

39. Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem….

41. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.

42. There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

43. I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

44. “Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this ever. (Or for me, it means, I probably won't buy that.)

49. I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

51. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

62. The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There’s nothing like being made to feel fat before dinner

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Beautiful Creatures





Check out Little Brown's Beautiful Creatures website, HERE. (It's definitely one of the best book websites out there.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

GIVEAWAY! Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay

I already did a contest for the ARC, but I managed to get my hands on two copies of the actual book (one for me!) which comes out November 24th from Pocket Books. So here's your second chance to win!

GIVEAWAY
All you have to do is comment below and include your email address so I know how to contact you. Enter by midnight on December 1st.

Extra entries:

+1 New followers
+2 If you're already a follower
+1 Linking to my contest on your blog, twitter, etc. Include links. (up to 5)
+3 For posting about my contest on your blog. (Must be actual post)
+2 Add me to your blog roll
+3 for referring someone to the contest
+3 for being the person referred


Here's my review of Better Part of Darkness (from 7/12/09)
Divorced mother of one, Charlie Madigan, lives in a world where the beings of heaven and hell exist among us, and they aren't the things of Sunday school lessons and Hallmark figurines. In the years since the Revelation, they've become our co-workers, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

Charlie works for ITF (Integration Task Force). It's her job to see that the continued integration of our new "friends" goes smoothly and everyone obeys the law, but when a new off-world drug is released in Underground Atlanta, her daughter is targeted, and her ex-husband makes a fateful bargain to win her back, there's nothing in heaven or earth (or hell for that matter) that Charlie won't do to set things right.

So I've read a lot of urban fantasy with the kick-ass heroine, but what I liked most about Charlie Madigan as a character was that though she fit that mold, but she was also different and unique. Throughout The Better Part of Darkness, Charlie has a tough exterior as a result of numerous different experiences she's undergone - a few of those are reasons she became a cop, a few of them result from her career choice - but she also has a lot of real fears and insecurities. A few times, when everything appears as if it's falling apart and she knows she has to be strong, she still breaks down and loses it before picking herself back up again.

Another unique thing about Charlie is that she's a mother. Pregnant and married at 19, Charlie's now the divorced, single mom of a 12 year old, and she takes that seriously - even more seriously than her job as a cop. I can't think of any urban fantasy that I've read where the tough as nails female protagonist had a kid, and it's a realistic portrayal of a single mother who's also a cop. She's desperately trying to balance the needs of her job - fighting bad guys and saving the world - with the needs of (and promises she makes to) her daughter. And her daughter, Emma, is always in the back of her mind.

The other characters in the novel also have distinct personalities. Will, Charlie's ex husband, has definitely made his share of mistakes, and even though I was annoyed with him at times, I also felt sorry for him too. (Can't go into it more without giving something away.) Charlie's partner and also a siren, Hank, is funny, charismatic, and definitely a guy I could fall in love with during the span of several books. (One thing I particularly enjoyed about the minor characters was that while there were plenty of hot guys Charlie had to work with, they weren't all in love with her, and they weren't all potential love interests - which tends to happen in this genre.)

The plot is packed with action - so it moves quickly even though there is a lot going on. The "world" Kelly Gay has created draws upon Greek mythology with a twist giving the urban fantasy genre a whole new set of paranormal beings, rather than relying on the typical vampire and werewolf varieties, and it holds up against scrutiny. There are still a few of the paranormal "species" that I don't have quite a clear image of in my mind, but I also have to admit that I was reading fast because I was in page-turning mode and dying to know what was going to happen next.

Fans of Kim Harrison's The Hollows series (Dead Witch Walking) and Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac Series (The Scent of Shadows) will love The Better Part of Darkness.

Check out Kelly's website here or visit her blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Agent Debate

I came across this post on GalleyCat about who needs a literary agent anymore and the well written rebuttal by DGLM. And it's interesting to see some published authors I love, like Jeaniene Frost and Seanan McGuire weighing in. Even more interesting is reading the passionate (sometimes overly so) comments on these posts.

But the thing is, this isn't a new discussion. Yes, e-books and the digital age in publishing, might change some aspects of the industry. But, this isn't the first time a "Who Needs an Agent" post spurred a discussion in the blogosphere. Less than six months ago, there was this one.

I agree that agents aren't for everyone and there are authors out there who can get published without one. And of course there are self-publishing opportunities out there, and some authors who are self-published can become very successful (though I've heard more horror stories than successes).

But I just don't see this eliminating the need for agents. We put a lot of time into knowing the industry, networking with editors, writing our own editorial letters before the book has sold, and the time and effort that goes into managing a writer's career, liaising between the author and publisher (on everything from cover art and typeface to royalty statements and check), negotiating deals, subrights, and contracts - it's a lot of work. I can't imagine doing all that and trying to also write, and write well.

But, it's an interesting discussion to check out, if you haven't seen it yet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Characterization

I started watching a few new television shows this season, and last week after watching several episodes of two new shows that were saved on my DVR, I pinpointed the reason one show had me sobbing and checking to make sure upcoming episodes were set to tape, and the other left me just "bleh." Characterization.

What surprised me most during my discovery, was that had you asked me which show I thought I'd like more going in - I would have gotten it wrong. Going into this season, I was predisposed to liking one show more than the other...and it still managed to fail me.

As a vampire fan (I read vampire books before Twilight made them the cool new thing), I fell in love with Mick St. John, aka Alex O'Laughlin on Moonlight.


I was of course, devastated when CBS made the fatal decision to cancel the show after its first season (and I'm sure whoever made that decision got fired after True Blood and Twilight have gone on to super fandom). So when I saw ads for Mick St. John's new show as a doctor on Three Rivers, I was so excited that even called my mom to tell her about it (she's a vampire fan too).

And yet, the characterization on Three Rivers (in addition to poor scheduling by CBS - seriously, how can a show succeed if the show before it constantly runs overtime and ruins my DVR plans?) has been done so poorly up to this point that as I sit here, I can't for the life of me think of Alex O'Laughlin's character's name. (I googled it, and it's Dr. Andy Yablonski).

And I was predisposed to like him, I anxiously awaited the debut of his new show, and I watched both ER and Grey's Anatomy for several seasons each before losing interest. CBS couldn't have asked for a more primed viewer than me, but the show's focus on technical medical jargon and procedure, the philosophical and moral benefits of organ donation (a little too preachy for my tastes), and actions scenes (how many times can watching a helicopter fly to pick up an organ be exciting?) have left me bored and uninterested. Where are the great character stories that made ER and Grey's such big hits?

The show I am loving right now?


I recorded it on the DVR on a whim since the Fiennes brothers are usually pretty awesome. And I have to admit that I'm totally hooked. After several episodes, I feel like I know every character, and I might not know their entire backstory. But I know what will happen to them on April 29th for two minutes, and I know how they're handling - or not handling - dealing with that futuristic knowledge.

And, though this isn't characterization, I have to say I'm a sucker for television shows that have a master plan (X-files was the first show I followed with a religious intensity).

I've always said that it's characters and voice that make or break a manuscript or a book for me. If a character comes alive to me, sucks me into their story, makes me think about them for days after I've closed the book (I still love you Prince Brigan despite the fact that you've given me unrealistic expectations in men), I'm sold. Good characters can trump plot holes for me. I don't question inconsistencies other people noticed in Time Traveler's Wife because I'm too caught up in the characters to notice.

Good characters even hide their own unrealistic - and maybe not healthy habits - from me. It took me a few months after I first read Twilight to really think about Edward's creepy sleepstalking behavior and admit to myself that Edward Cullen is not the kind of boyfriend I want (extra thanks to Nick for raising his hand in class that day and saying "Wait. I just don't get the obsession with Edward. I mean, he's kind of creepy." It did spawn a twenty minute tangent discussion, but it did pull all us girls out of the book long enough to think...oh yeah, he is kind of creepy).

Without good characterization, it's just hard to care about the story.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm recovered from the flu...

Not the swine flu. Though it kept me home for a few days. Thanks to the fabulous godsend Dee for the picture.

300 Followers Contest Winner!

My 300 Followers contest has now officially come to a close and I'm excited to be giving away three awesome YA books: Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, and How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. After using the Research Randomizer, the winner is...

Lili


Congratulations! I've sent you an email. Send me your address within the next 48 hours so I can ship your new book!

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Kristin Cashore is one of my new favorite authors. I just finished reading Fire, her second novel, and her prequel to the bestselling debut Graceling. And it doesn't matter which one you read first. They're both amazing, and both definitely books I'd recommend.

Fire takes place in the kingdom of The Dells where the young King Nash and his brother and military commander Prince Brigan are desperately trying to hold together the kingdom their father just about plunged into ruin before his death. They're worried about enemies on multiple fronts and traitors within their kingdom they may - or may not - know about, and they're plagued about the choices their father made and what kind of men they will become.

Variations of animals known in other parts of the world also live in the Dells - colorful and astonishing creatures the Dellian people call monsters for they crave the taste of human flesh and of other monster flesh. They are spectacularly beautiful - colored fuchsia, turquoise, bronze, and green - so beautiful, they can stun people with their beauty and cloud their minds, and the Dellian people have to learn to strengthen their minds against the monsters.

Fire is a human monster, the last of her kind. She can control people's minds, and they often find her irresistibly desirable, which makes many of them hate her. She finds herself in a unique position where she can help King Nash and Prince Brigan and help restore the Dellian Kingdom to prosperity, but she has to decide whether she's willing to use her power since she knows what it can cost.

What I loved most about Fire (as well as Graceling) is the amazing strength Kristin Cashore gives to her main character. Like Katsa before her, Fire faces tough choices that test her emotional and physical strength. She is forced to think about the morality of her actions and the actions of others, to really examine the good and the evil in the world around her and determine her part in all of it. And when she finds herself in trouble, she doesn't wait for her love interest or anyone else to come save her. She saves herself.

The other characters is Fire are well drawn and complex, many of them embodying good qualities as well as flaws. There were several members of the royal family I didn't like when they were first introduced, but I found myself growing to love them just as Fire did. The action is well paced throughout the story with several twists I began to figure out as well as a few I didn't see coming. I found myself thoroughly sucked in after the first chapter, and I turned the pages late into the night until I got to the end.

I also am rather in love with Prince Brigan.

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Check out Kristin Cashore's blog HERE.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (late but whatever...) LINGER

Maggie Stiefvater unveiled the cover art and a quick excerpt of Linger, the sequel to Shiver a book that changed my life. Check it out!


grace

This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.

Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn’t cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend.

But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it’s only me who’s not firmly in my own skin.


Seriously. Can. Not. Wait.

Blog Award

Helpful Blogger Award
This award was created by Ash. Elizabeth over at From Rambling to Interviews.

The Helpful Blogger Award Rules
Include the award logo in your blog or post.
Link to post where you received the award.
Nominate seven blogs that you feel are helpful to others.
Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
Let them know they've received the award by commenting on their blog.
Share one thing that no one knows about you & quote a sentence from your favorite book.

(*I only chose 4 because they're the four book blogger sites that I follow most religiously)

1. Steph who I met at BEA this summer and gave me her extra copy of Catching Fire after I told her my horror story about getting up early to wait in line for tickets only to see the last ticket go to the woman right in front of me.
2. Alea whose blog is one of my favorites - I love checking out the cover comparisons she does
3. Cheryl and Amber at Just Your Typical Book Blog because it's anything but - I love their reviews and interviews and book pictures (not to mention that awesome clip of the boys from Supernatural, sa-woon)
4. The Compulsive Reader who does some of my favorite in depth reviews - I feel like I can always trust them to be honest and well explained

No one knows...the guy G from the Break Up Bag story just got engage, less than a year after he gave me the Break Up Bag. Looks like I dodged a bullet.

"Katsa didn't look back as they rode away. But she gripped Bittureblue tightly; and she called out to him, his name bursting inside her so painfully that for a long while, she could feel nothing else." ~ Graceling by Kristin Cashore (pg 328)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

* Sigh *


I missed the BSG phenomenon when it was on SyFy, but I've been playing catch up on Netflix with a friend, and we're down to the last couple discs. I just love that this show has everything - space travel for the nerd in me and a love story for the romantic. I'll be so sad when it's over!

Monday, November 2, 2009

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Thanks to the recommendation of the talented Kristin Miller, I started reading How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff last week, and I am forever changed.

Book Description:

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

How I Live Now is an amazing voice-driven and heartbreaking novel about teenage emotions - love, loss, pain, and hope. Told from Daisy's first person POV, her voice comes right off the page from the very beginning. Her voice keeps the pace moving quickly, and she glazes over more serious "adult matters" like the war so that I was actually shocked several times when I realized exactly what was going on in the outside world. Daisy's sarcastic humor is one of the truest to the teenage experience, that I've seen - especially when the world is falling apart around her. She made me laugh, cringe, and cry numerous times throughout the book, and her voice reflects the change and growth she goes through during the course of the novel. Definitely a must read for all YA fans.

Visit Meg Rosoff's website HERE.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?