Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Hiatus

Taking a break from the blog this month, but I'll be back at the first of the year with more fun stuff, advice, and Wednesday Reads. My agently duties will still be in full swing, ie still accepting queries (please no NaNo novels). I'm also looking for some fun events for 2012: blog contests, judging contests, conferences, etc, so please put the word out!

Happy Holidaying!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaNo Debreifing

Remember at the beginning of the month when I asked for a brief description of what you thought you were going to write about? (Do you still have enough brain cells to remember the beginning of the month, when you were so full of hope, energy, and time?) Tell me where your novel ended up! Did you scrap it? Did it turn into something else? Is the plot and characters so awesomely awesome that you have a new one line pitch for me? Also, what you do you plan to do with your NaNo novel now? Going to revise (and revise and revise) before you query it? Or shelf it and get going on another?

Happy writing! (go take a nap!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Feeling Yammy?

Let's have some fun today! I have no idea where this is going to go, so let's jump on board the crazy wagon and hold on tight!

What one Thanksgiving dish best describes your writing/reading style? This can pertain to the sort of things you write or read, or the manner in which you write or read.

For example, I would be an upside down turkey (I cook my turkey upside down so the breast cooks in the yummy juices; makes for a really juicy turkey): the staple of the meal, very traditional, but with a twist no one saw coming. I suppose this describes the sort of things I like to read: good writing, solid structure, but a twist on the norm that makes everything that much better.

Happy eating!

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

We're heading into cold weather (some of you have already had it), which brings up images of roaring fires and thick blankets. Tell me, what's your ideal writing and/or reading environment? Personally, I prefer sunshine and a bottle of suntan lotion, but I'm getting pretty partial to a fire and hot tea. Now it's time for snow to seal the deal--as long as the power stays on.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNo Halfway Point

Has anyone given up yet? Haha. Just a few things on the agenda today:

1) BACK UP YOUR FILES. If you haven't already, back up your files. Last year when I did NaNo (the first and only time), I didn't. I had them on a thumb drive because I was worried my computer was about to crash. Instead, the files on the thumb drive got corrupted. I did manage to save the 60K words, but it didn't have punctuation, format, quotation marks, nothing. Needless to say, it was a nightmare to fix, which I finally did a few months later.

2) What's the craziest thing you've done yet this NaNo? Forget your child? Scream EUREKA!! in the middle of the grocery store because you just realized how to overcome a plot hiccup? Go two days without eating? Manage to write 1K words on your grocery list? Start over with a new idea?

3) And just in case you need it:

Happy (safe) writing!

Friday, November 11, 2011

#freeadvice Day 5

Last day of free advice!! But keep it coming! And find me (and all the other #freeadvice participants) on Twitter to share even more! For our last day, I couldn't just put one piece of advice up.

Master the art of B.I.C... Butt in Chair.
---Em Musing, blog here

Our next piece of advice comes from three different sources; all connected and all valuable... and can help you master B.I.C.

Read. Read. Read!!
If you want to write in a particular genre, you should probably, you know, read in it, too.---Krista V.
It will help you be aware of what's in the market, and make you a better writer.---Angela Cothran
Expose yourself to enough, and cliches will be that much easier to avoid.---David King

Happy writing!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

#freeadvice Day 4

There are three Ts to writing:


The first will come from perfecting the other two.
---Elissa blogs at Awesome/Fearsome

What a great way to say "never give up," advice we hear all the time. And it can be applied to any aspect of your life!

Keep the #freeadvice coming!

Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#freeadvice Day 3

Mind control is cheating and has already been thoroughly explored by Star Trek. Find another way to move your plot along.---Janice Sperry blogs at Come Out When You're Happy
In other words, don't fall back on overused standbys and cliches to make your story interesting. We can actually make this a really fun game. Replace a cliche for "mind control" (say reading minds), and replace a title for "Star Trek" (say Twilight or True Blood). Give me your best twists on Janice's advice!

And keep your own #freeadvice coming!

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#freeadvice Day 2

Twists aren't just for the end of a story. Use them from the beginning so readers never know what to expect.

Today's #freeadvice comes from Angela. Check out her blog at Live to Write... Edit when Necessary (its own great advice). I picked her advice to feature today because it's something that's such a duh sort of thing, but no one ever puts it in such simple terms. And some writers really need to live by it. Put it on a sticky note above your computer, right next to Life is a Box of Chocolates...

Keep the great advice coming via Twitter and Blog!

Happy writing!

Monday, November 7, 2011


If you get stuck while writing a scene there are four things you can do to get moving again that never fail: kill a character, write a kissing scene, add zombies, or blow something up. --Stephanie Allen. Visit her blog at My Personal Fairytale (here) and follow her on Twitter (here).

Do you have some free advice? Tweet me (or leave it in the comments). If I like yours the best, I'll feature it on my blog along with your blog and twitter links! (If you leave it in the blog comments, include your blog and/or twitter links; if you tweet me, I'll follow up with you for links if you win.) Up to three winners this week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday). If you enter, please visit the winner's sites to spread the lovin'. And visit with Stephanie, whose Tweet inspired the fun in the first place.

Happy writing!

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNo break

Tap tap tapping away? If it's on your computer and you're actually getting word counts done, stop reading now. If your fingers are tapping your desk and your word count sits at a very tiny number... well read on. It might not help your word count or writer's block, but it's a good use of your time since you're not doing anything else.

(This would be termed a non-helpful blog post. Next week I'll see what I can do about being more inspirational.)

Go to the Google homepage. Type in "do a barrel roll" and press enter.

That is all.

What are your favorite internet time wasters when you're supposed to be typing or brainstorming?

Happy NaNoing!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Save the Cat!

The month of NaNo brings us writing guides rather than novels for our weekly book review (I know how busy you all are, and I wouldn't want to tease you about all the books you're missing out on by writing all the time--like giving you chocolate but not letting you eat it). Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder has a subtitle of The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need.

Screenwriting? you ask. Ah ha! Let's stop focusing so much on the minuties of writing shall we? It is, after all, NaNoWriMo, in which you furiously scribble as much as you can without thought of writing details. Instead, let's think about plot, character arch. Maybe you get a week in, couple 10K and suddenly you have no idea where to go. Browsing a book solely on plot and character (told in a witty voice that will hold your attention) might help you must through.

Brownie Points: Snyder offers us tips on how to plot before you even write, how to think about each scene and arch (character and plot) to keep you on track. With charts and worksheets! Blake's Beat Sheet might be one of the most useful tools you'll ever need as a writer.

Beefs: It is a book about screenwriting. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I found it fascinating to learn about the movie business, how movies are thought up and planned out--parallels the book business in many aspects. Some readers may find it tedious and want to scream, But I'm a Writer! You watch movies, don't you? It's great practice for when you don't have time to read. Watch movies in your genre (the equivalent of) and deconstruct their plot and character arches.

Recommendation: I believe everyone should at least take a look at this book (what can it hurt?). But those who often find themselves hitting writer's block or are told that their plots are slow or their characters need work, should read it. Take notes. Study. Apply.

Have you read Save the Cat!? Would you recommend it to other writers? Or, to you, is it a waste of time for writers?

What are your favorite writing guides to refer to others and revisit yourselves?

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On your marks... Get set... NaNo!

NaNoWriMo begins today. Did you know?!
Let's have a little fun. Put down your pens... er... minimize your word document...

Do you have a set idea in mind for your NaNo novel? Think you know where it's going? This might work best if you're a panster rather than a plotter, but who knows?

Last year when I did NaNo, my light-hearted, rom-com-esque novel inspired by a friend turned into an emotional, dark journey into the past, and it did not have a happily ever after. Whoops. (and no, I'm not NaNoing this year--too intense for me, and too time consuming)

Tell me, in one or two sentences, what you think your NaNo novel is going to be about. Visit me again at the end of the month and give me another short blurb to see if or how much changed. Do you have any fun NaNo-changling stories from past years?

Happy (as in, don't go insane) writing!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween! In the writing world, I truly do consider this a frightening day... because NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! I won't be participating (one year was enough for me) but I'll be thinking of you all. Blog posts will be shorter next month, filled with fun and games, wisdom, tips, comic strips, etc.

But before we go into a month in which my clients will probably stop talking to me (let me know beforehand if you decide to poof!) and my readers forsake me, let's have some fun with Halloween.

Firstly, check out the agency blog's Authornomics (here) this week, featuring Tex, Editorial Director of Under The Juniper Tree, a dark, literary horror magazine for children's stories and artwork. Find out what makes a great scary story, enter to win a critique with Tex, and find out what he and Marjorie Merle are dressing up as this Halloween! Website here.

Secondly, share some of your favorite sites, topics, pictures, stories, costume, favorite scary book or movie. And tell me what type of Halloween you enjoy: sweet costumes, pumpkin carving, and some Hocus Pocus? Stephen King or slasher flicks, lights off, haunted mansion type of Halloween? Or traditional Day of the Dead festivities?

Myself, I like carving pumpking (mostly so I can toast and eat the seeds), put on a lame costume I've used for several years running, navigate a corn maze, and snuggle down with some good movies; my absolute favorite is the little known but super awesome Monster Squad (shout out if you've seen it).

Lastly, gaze in awe at this:
That is all.

Happy haunting!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

For this week's read, I thought I'd look at a book that's been a long time favorite of mine. It came out in 2007, so it is pretty recent. What's amazing is that it hasn't spawned it's own following of copy cats. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a novel told in part by traditional narrative, and part by pictures.

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.
First Line/Page: The novel actually doesn't start with a sentence. It starts with a serious of pictures that introduces the reader to the setting and character--Hugo and a train station. Only then, when we're intrigued and pictures cannot possibly tell us any more, does the narrative begin. Some amazing first lines I share with friends to tempt them to read. With Hugo Cabret, I show them the first few pages. Sometimes I merely flip to a random illustrated page and they stare in wonder at the art of it.

Brownie Points: The plot, characters, writing, it all holds you captive. The illustrations are the cherry on top, but necessary as well. The whole book is a Brownie.

Recommendation: Everyone should read it. And what's great, is that it appeals to any age group. It's simple enough for children to understand, but complex and rich enough for adults to remain captivated.

Would I represent it? If I'd had a chance to represent this very book, I hope I would have had enough sense to latch on. However, when it comes to art, I'm pretty much lost, so more likely than not I would have passed (hard to admit that). I hope no one makes this the next "big thing," like all the literary classic spin offs of a couple years ago. I'd love to see Selznick's work stand alone forever, with no contenders/pretenders. It's unique and it should stay that way.

Also, Selznick had another book released just last month, titled Wonderstruck, that for some reason I haven't read yet, but plan to immediately. You should too.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Moonglass

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby. One of the reasons I love my clients, is they always give me great recommendations (comps that hadn't made it into my TBR list yet). This one was a perfect summer read.

Anna’s plans for junior year are washed away when her father accepts a job transfer. There’s no denying that living in a cottage on the beach has its perks, and it happens to be the town where her parents met and fell in love, but Anna is none too eager to rebuild her life from scratch. She already did that once, after her mother passed away years earlier.
Despite her reluctance, Anna is slowly won over. But even as she makes new friends and relishes the gorgeous ocean view, she is confronted by her family’s history. Everyone around Anna seems to know more about her own family’s past than she does…and she begins to realize that she and her father can’t outrun the painful truths of her mother’s death.
Anna’s sea glass collection proves that time can smooth rough edges—but what about when the jagged hurt of loss remains as sharp as ever?
First Line: From prologue: "I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both." Do I need to tell you why I love this opening? 

From first chapter: "Rain and wind pelted the ocean's surface so hard it looked like it was boiling." Anna's entire life revolves around the ocean, so it makes perfect sense that the opening sentence would evoke the water. And reflect her feelings.

Brownie Points: You've noticed my background picture right? I love the water. And, as a veteran beach comber, I appreciated Anna's connection with the water and beach glass (though finding washed glass on Washington beaches is a bit different--hello rocks!).

Okay, brownie point number 2. The characters. Kirby has a talent for bringing characters to life. Even Anna's first friend, Ashley, who should be a cliche (rich, blonde, tiny dog, ditz), is funny and real. And Tyler, the leading man, is... well, never underestimate a good boy. Who needs the bad boy vampire type? Psssh. You'll fall in love with all of Kirby's characters.

Recommendation: If you enjoy Jennifer Echols or Sarah Dessen, or the beach, read it.

Would I represent it? Yes, please!

Happy reading!

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Interview with ME!

I've been doing a lot of interviews lately, haven't I? This week, find me over at Andrea Hurst's blog, where I've been interviewed for the Authornomics series. A great resource, and the interviewers are sooo savvy.

Find my interview here.

Find a list of past and upcoming interviews here.

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Authornomics: Interview with a YA Agent

Are you keeping up with the Andrea Hurst and Associates blog interviews?

In case you  missed it, this week our fabulous interviewers interviewed Mandy Hubbard, YA author and agent (and all around amazing person). Get an inside look into her dual life here.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Luxe

The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen. Why did it take me so long to read it? I've been hearing wonderful things about it for ages. Probably because there's no fantasy, magic, steam power! (I think I've been drinking too much Harry Potter Kool Aid.) But here's a wonderful, gossipy, historical mystery, with bells, frills, and whistles.

Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.
Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions.
White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.
This is Manhattan, 1899.
Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future.
With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear...
In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.
First Line: From the prologue: "In life, Elizabeth Adora Holland was known not only for her loveliness but also for her moral character, so it was fair to assume that in the afterlife she would occupy a lofty seat with an especially good view."

Though told in third person, with chapter POV shifts, the narrator manages to maintain a slightly snarky voice--maybe more ironic than snarky. It kept me riveted an involved all through the twisting plot, multiple scandals, and character shifts.

I gave you the line from the prologue because it demonstrates the narrator's voice. But also because the prologue was surprising. I would never suggest a new writer do this (chalk this down as Expert Level; you wouldn't try playing Guitar Hero on Expert your very first time, would you?). The prologue is basically a commentary on the guests at Elizabeth's funeral, giving us just enough information so that when we meet them again in the book (takes place leading up to Elizabeth's death), we know a little about them--and it intrigues us as to how they came to be as they are. It could be considered back story, or information dump, but it's done in such a way you keep reading.

Brownie Points: I've briefly mentioned the POV shifts, and I have to again. When I first realized that each chapter would follow a different character, I was annoyed. But I didn't stop reading. And I found, despite the third person, I was dedicated to each and every character. We were given enough time with each one to understand what makes them tick. Again, this is set on Advanced level--don't try this at home.

Recommendation: If you've read any Historical in the past and liked it, you should definitely read it. If you, like me, only read Historical Fantasy, this might be able to change your mind. When I have time, I will be reading the rest of the series. But I'm super excited to read another of Godbersen's books, Bright Young Things, set in the Roaring 20s.

Would I represent it? Have you ever heard me say that I'm not looking for Historical? Well... I might take a look if the time period interests me (can't really say what does interest me, so I guess the timeline is open). Unless done really well, I probably will reject something written in a similar style. I prefer third person limited or first person.

Happy reading! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Interview! (and food)

If you're interested in reading a new interview from me, conducted over at a fairly new blog, Pots & Pens, follow this link here. As a side note, for those out there trying to find a new blog hook, it'd be a great idea for you to check out Pots & Pens because they have a wonderful hook--food! So go check it out, and I might have included a very delicious recipe in the interview... anyone like Creole?

Happy eating! er... reading...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Shut Out

Kody Keplinger strikes again! Remember her debut novel, The Duff? If you enjoyed that, and you love witty, fun, while serious reads, check out her new book, Shut Out.

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.
First Line: "There is nothing more humiliating than being topless in the backseat of your boyfriend's car when someone decides to throw an egg at the windshield."

Lissa's very frank, often insightful and hilarious at the same time, continues steady through the entire book.

Brownie Points: Keplinger has quite the talent when it comes to writing and discussing often taboo subjects such as sex. That and she has really sexy libraries (library scenes, library boys... ahhhh libraries).

Recommendation: I highly suggest both of Keplinger's books for teens, boys if you can get them to read it, especially if they're feeling the pressure to have sex, are having sex, thinking about having sex... or, you know, what a good book to read.

Would I represent it? With a voice like that and an ability to put new spins on old topics? Heck yes!

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Call for Book Suggestions

As you know, I don't read or represent Middle Grade or younger YA. However, more than once I'm asked to recommend books to younger kids to read (I'd like to read some younger books as well, to round out my education).

So I'm asking you, dear reader, to help me compile a list of books, new and old. In particular, I have in mind my 10 year old boy cousin, an advanced reader, having a hard time finding things to read.

Let's build this list! Leave your recommendation in the comments, and I'll update this very post with our new list, which all of us can revisit as needed. Indicate the genre, whether you think it's best for boys, girls, or both, and the age group.

Updated 8/22/11

The List: Most I have not read, but all of these come highly recommended by my readers. Please feel free to comment on which you love the best, and I'll add a * for those that get multiple recommendations, a ** means it got very high recs.

This list will be a work in progress, meaning I will be cleaning it up, adding genres and ages, titles and authors when I have time. Please continue to suggest books and vote for your favorites!

Also, a great blog post by Literary Rambles, recommended by one of my commenters: YA Books in Libraries (click here).

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • RL Stine's Goosebumps or Nightmare Room series
  • Anything by Rick Riordan*
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini*
  • The Alchemyst: The secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexi (YA or upper MG, parental discretion advised)*
  • The Dark is Rising*
  • Number the Stars
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (fantasy, not YA or MG)*
  • Eragon
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Fablehaven
  • Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta
  • Mamba Point by Kurtis Scaletta
  • Deltora Quest
  • The Seventh Tower series
  • Charlie Bone series
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (I highly recommend as well)*
  • The Circle of Magic series (I remember reading these--loved them!)
  • Tyger, Tyger and the rest of the Goblin Wars trilogy by Kerstin Hamelton (Irish mythology)
  • Gary Paulsen's The Hatchet series
  • Anything by Brandon Mull
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer**
  • The Healing Wars Trilogy by Janice Hardy
  • Percy Jackson books
  • Pendragon books
  • Harry Potter*
  • Black and Blue Magic, by Zylpha Keatley Snyder (and anything else by Snyder)
  • The White Mountains trilogy by John Christopher
  • Brian Jacques Redwall Series - Upper MG for Boys*
  • Lloyd Alexander The Black Cauldron series - MG for Boys
  • The Chicken Doesn't Skate - MG Boys
  • Who Put That Hair On My Tooth Brush - MG Boys and Girls
  • The Golden Compass Trilogy
  • Ender's Game
  • Georgia Byng (sp?)'s MOLLY MOON books
  • Zazu Corder's LIONBOY series
  • Cordelia Funke's DRAGONRIDER
  • Louis Sacher's Sideways School books
  • Terry Pratchett's DISCWORLD books (Start with the Tiffany Aching books, then move onto the books about the City Guards (with Sam Vines), then give him the witches)
  • Edward Eager's books
  • Roald Dahl
  • Narnia series
  • Brandon Sanderson, young-YA series Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, epic fantasy series Mistborn, The Way of Kings, stand alone Elantris
  • The Genius Files by Dan Gutman
  • Jake Maddox, sports themed books
  • Barbara Park, Junie B. Jones
  • Mary Pope Osborne, Magic Treehouse
  • The Queen's Thief series, adventure
  • N.E.R.D.S.  by Michael Buckley, spy adventure
  • The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore, upper MG spy adventures
  • The Gallagher Girl series Ally Carter, spy adventures for girls
  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman*
  • Shonen manga
  • The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner*
  • The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, younger to upper YA*
  • Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry*
  • The Warriors series by Erin Hunter*
  • Anything by Louis Sachar
  • Peter Pan books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • Kiki and the Shadow City, detective/adventure, MG
  • Harriet the Spy, for girls
  • The 39 Clues
  • The Ranger's Apprentice series
  • Chris D'Lacey's The Last Dragon chronicles starting with The Fire Within
  • Escape at Night - a civil war adventure by Laurie Myers
  • Murder Afloat by Jane Leslie Conly about a boy in 1880's Baltimore who's shanghaied and forced to work on an oyster schooner
  • Dark Life by Kat Falls about people who colonize the ocean floor after global warming forces everyone under - it's kind of a western underwater.
  • Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, spy adventure 
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke about young pickpockets in 18th century Venice 
  • Inkheart series - Cornelia Funke, boys and girls
  • Savvy - Ingrid Law, girls
  • Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree - Lauren Tarshis, girls
  • Small Persons With Wings - Ellen Booraem, girls
  • Shug - Jenny Han, girls
  • Coraline - Neil Gaiman, boys and girls
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin - Josh Berk, boys
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - Michelle Paver, boys and girls
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, MG dystopian for boys

Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Reads: A Certain Slant of Light

Haunting and beautiful. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It's marketed as a YA, and it does have some YA themes--but the main character, Helen, was a woman when she died and has seen many years since, so the balance between YA themes (in some ways she is very much a child) and her adult spirit (she had a husband and family in her human life) are very intriguing. And also, isn't the cover equal parts terrifying and beautiful?

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess. 
First Line: "Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you're dead."


Beefs: Not so much a beef, it was done very well, but more of a word to the wise. On page four, we begin a bit of back story, all of Helen's previous hauntings. This passage is done well; it's necessary, short, to the point, but doesn't lose the "sensual prose" (got that off a review from Amazon, has a nice ring doesn't it?) that the whole book is written in.

Brownie Points: I was thoroughly captivated through the entire thing. Really, I couldn't put it down. I got made when I was interrupted (it's been happening more rarely to me lately when reading). A combination of her beautiful writing and the naive yet intelligent characters was quite unputdownable. At times while reading I got angry, or scared for them, or an overwhelming eeriness concerning the subject matter, and I just felt so happy, so at peace at the last page with a perma-grin on my face for hours. Ahhhh, love a book like that.

Recommendation: Even if you're not entirely into ghost stories, or if you're looking for an unconventional ghost story, I suggest you try this one out. It's not going to be for everyone, but if you're the right sort of person this is aimed at, I know you'll fall in love.

Would I represent it? Sadly, probably not. It's too literary for my list and tastes, but then again, you never really know until something like it crosses through the slush pile.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Authornomics and more!!!

The Andrea Hurst and Associates blog will be continuing its Authornomics series. Every Monday, read a new interview from editors, agents, authors, and other publishing know-how professionals. Get insight, advice, and every so often you might just be able to win a prize.
See the agency blog here. See the schedule for upcoming Authornomics interviews here.

If you're local to the NW, you won't want to miss classes, presentations, and retreat opportunities presented by Andrea Hurst and Associates, Whidbey Island Writer's Association, and other fantastic opportunities. They're always updated on the agency website here, and you can also see upcoming events on the blog sidebar here.

See what else Andrea Hurst and Associates can help you with here; craft, marketing, consults.

And don't forget to read about the agents at the agency here. And, yes! we're on Twitter too! Follow Gordon Warnock and Andrea Hurst. Follow me too! Get me to 1000 followers and there might be something in it for you...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming this Fall


No Buddy Left Behind: Bringing U.S. Troops' Dogs and Cats Safely Home from the Combat Zone
Authors: Terri Crisp with Cynthia.Hurn
Publisher: Lyon's Press
Release date: October 4, 2011
Amazon Link Here
The love of a dog or cat helps heal soldiers’ emotional trauma. One very special woman and program brings them back together after the war.
No Buddy Left Behind is an animal book with a difference. It is not only about rescued dogs and cats, but also about U.S. soldiers trying to survive the horrors of war and readjust to life back home. It unveils the life-altering relationships American troops serving in the Middle East share with the stray dogs and cats they rescue from the brutalities of war. Overcoming monumental obstacles, Terri Crisp makes it her mission to save these wartime “buddies,” get them out of danger, and bring them home to the soldiers who love them.So, how does someone get animals out of a country at war when normal resources are lacking and every step of a plan to transport animals could get you arrested, kidnapped, or blown apart? As Crisp soon learns, each rescue mission from first to last is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience, and no animal is truly safe until its paws touch American soil. Terri and her team have saved the lives of 223 dogs and forty-two cats befriended by military personnel since February 2008and No Buddy Left Behind finally tells this story.

A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love
Author: Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, Foreword by Deepak Chopra
Publisher: New World Library
Release Date: September 17, 2011
Amazon Link Here 
Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles when he was a practicing surgeon and founded Exceptional Cancer Patients, a groundbreaking synthesis of group, individual, dream, and art therapy that provided patients with a “carefrontation.” Compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching, the stories in these pages are riveting, warm, and belief expanding. Their subjects include a girl whose baby brother helped her overcome anorexia, a woman whose cancer helped her heal by teaching her to stand up for herself, and a family that was saved from a burning house by bats. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crisis into blessing by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.


How to Party with a Killer Vampire: A Party Planning Mystery
Author: Penny Warner
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Amazon Link Here
Amazon Link for First Book in the Series Here
Party planner Presley Parker's new gig is the star-studded wrap party for a horror film. The location is a graveyard-conveniently, because the night of the bash, a tabloid journalist is murdered.

Under Attack: Under World Detection Agency Chronicles Book 2
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Amazon Link Here
Amazon Link for First Book in Series Here 
Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco's demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn't about to trust Alex's all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie's past, and malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Pleasure Unbound

Isn't that title scandelous? Haha, Pleasure Unbound, a Demonica Novel, by Larissa Ione, gave a great take on Demons. Guess what? They're actually evil! Well, many of them.

In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .

She's a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .
First Line: "Had Eidolon been anywhere but the hospital, he would have killed the guy pleading for his life before him."

Great first line, great first scene. Eidolon, a demon, is a doctor working in a demon hospital. I love Eidolon because he has values and morals, even when those close to him do not.

Brownie Points: I mentioned the demons above, didn't I? I'll repeat it. There are many types of demons that exist in the world, the main characters don't even know everything about every one; some are straight evil, some are somewhat evil, some try not to be evil, etc. Which the other main character, Tayla, must come to terms with. Black and white do not exist, only a world of grays.

Recommendation: I always come back to JR Ward, don't I? Like Ward, Ione creates a rich underground world. Like Ward, Ione screws her characters up and challenges them to put themselves back together (via sex, of course). If you're looking for a steamy novel, go no further.

Would I represent it? I've mentioned before that I like more Paranormal than Romance in novels I represent... however, if it's constructed like this one, I'll definitely be looking favorably on it.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Blog Features

Have you noticed? I've updated a few things on my blog to (hopefully) make navigation (pun) easier for you.

  • About me: includes specifics on how to query me and what I'm looking for. Also included are genres that I'm not looking for (since "all" in YA doesn't actually mean "everything").
  • Wednesday Reads: A listing of all the books I've reviewed, broken down by Adult vs Young Adult (any New Adult will be under YA) and includes the genre. 
Sidebar -->
  • Now includes a listing of my clients' blogs. Go check them out! (they're amazing)
  • My most popular blog posts from the past month. Check it out in case you've missed any highlights.
  • Follow by email: now you have the option to receive blog updates by email!
Please, if you have any ideas on how to make my blog more comprehensive, or if there are any features that are not already included, please leave suggestions in the comment section of this post.

Happy writing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

New YA Blog--YA Confidential

Check out a brand new blog! Targeted to YA writers to give you an insight into the minds and lifestyles of real teens. YA Confidential. From writer (and client) Cambria Dillon, she says: "Our goal is going to uncover more about what it’s really like to be a teen." And what is it going to entail? "We’re going to have teen roundtable posts where we approach our teen spies with a general topic and see what they think about it. We’re going to have our teen spies tell us what books they’re loving and why, what books/movies/tv shows get it right and why, what makes them happy/sad/stressed/anxious/etc and WHY."

So check out the brand new blog, YA Confidential, here. To learn more about it, remember to check out Cambria's blog, here.

Did I mention they're kicking it off with prizes? Want to know what one of the prizes is?! Critique with me? You're right! Keep your eye on YA Confidential updates for more info.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Word Count

I don't believe I've ever had a post yet about word count. Mostly because I assumed writers (those participating online) knew all of that information already. You can find it anywhere.

I just Googled it. BookEnds has a great post here. Colleen Lindsay has laid it out in handy bullet points here. Even Wikipedia puts its two cents in here, by way of a chart to show the word counts for novels, short stories, and novellas.

When reading queries, agents do discriminate based on word length. Even if your query is pretty good, if you're pitching anything over 120k, I'm going to reject it. Only in fantasy or some sci-fi will I look at anything over 100k. On the other side of the coin, I will also reject (most) anything under 60k (including YA--I've mentioned in a previous post here that I prefer longer books; just don't get too long).

If you are a debut author, stick to the guidelines. When you're famous you can do whatever you want.

Based on genres I represent and what I'm looking for, I give you the bullet-pointed list of word counts:
  • YA contemporary: 60k-90k
  • YA fantasy/para/sci-fi: 70K-100k
  • Adult para/UF/sci-fi/fantasy: 70k-100k
Pretty basic right? (I didn't list every genre because you can probably get the hint from this list). Due to world building, I expect fantasy-esk genres to be on the upper side (closer to 100k--but not over!). Many people will say that for adult or YA fantasy/sci-fi that up to 120k is okay (and I just said above I might look at it), but aim lower if possible.

Before you query or pitch, get your word count to a desirable length. Never say in a query or pitch that "I know it's a bit long/short, but I am open to suggestions on how to lengthen/shorten." This your job as the writer--deliver the best product possible. More than once I was being pitched a novel and when asked the word length the writer would reply with the word count while wincing. If you wince when you tell people your word length, you know it's not appropriate. Instead, say that it's not ready to submit and you're aiming for x. Then don't submit until it's edited, polished, as perfect as you, your critique partners, editors, friends, writing guides can make it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Scent of Shadows

Love the title. The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson. Adult Urban Fantasy.

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.
By rights, she should be dead.
Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset – a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow – seeking answers to whom or what she really is … and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.
But the nightmare is just beginning – for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful Shadows want her for their own…
First Line: "He didn't look dangerous, not at first glance. Still, a girl can never be too careful on a blind date, and that's why I'd insisted Mr. Sand meet me in a popular steadhouse nestled in a casino dead center on the Las Vegas Strip."

I gave you the first two sentences. Here's why: First sentence is good, but it's the second that locks everything in place. Plus, I love that she's on a blind date. Not something you'd expect of a bad ass chick in an Urban Fantasy. Also, this is a great beginning; without much telling you're established, just the first two sentences, in most of the Who, What, Where, When, Why.

Brownie Points: This was a long book, and a lot of major plot points happen, but you never feel overwhelmed by what's going on. The characters help a lot with that. Joanna is a very relatable character. And the paranormal stuff is just enough of a twist. Unfortunately, I can't say much more about any specifics because it would completely give everything away.

Recommendation: Looking for something a bit different but with great human emotions and a bunch of crappy things thrown at the main character? Haha, thought so.

Would I represent it? Yes. Here's a nice balance between Dark UF and not so dark (Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris both give blurbs on the cover), while remaining pretty dark. Stuff that happens: dark. Some of the characters and humor: light. Great balance. Loved it!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Webinar with Andrea Hurst--Sign Up Now!

Register Now!
Writer’s Digest Webinar
The Plot Thickens: An agent's tips on story structures that sell
September 8, 2011
If you are serious about getting published or wondering why your manuscript is not getting the attention you desire, let instructor and literary agent Andrea Hurst show you how to structure a plot that will keep an agent turning the page. 
Learn what agents and editors look for in a marketable novel or memoir.  Once an agent determines an author has mastered the craft of writing, the next thing they look for is an intriguing plot. At the agency we often find that even the best writers may not be able to sustain a memorable plot.  Andrea presents techniques that will help build your story, solve plot issues, and create a strong beginning, middle, and end. Get noticed, get read, and up your chances of getting sold.
Length: 90 minutes
Price: $89.00
Sign up at:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bad Ass Chicks in Leather

One of the reasons I love Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is the excessive use of leather. I do have to wonder though, are leather pants and leather bustiers really all that comfortable to run and fight in? But I guess that's why our imaginations are so tantalized by the imagery.

Points go to, of course, JR Ward for putting her vampire, demon-fighting good guys in leather pants and shit kickers. Oh those boys...

But I have to love Hannah Jayne's main character in her Underworld Detection Agency series because she does not wear leather, though her vampire roommate certainly does.

Personally, I'd go with camo/canvas pants, but hey, if I were in a novel I'd run around in four inch boots as well.

What other aspects of ParaRom and UF do you love that you'd be hard pressed to find in other genres?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Nightwalker

Soooooo good! Nightwalker is a Dark Adult Urban Fantasy by Jocelynn Drake, first Dark Days novel..

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.
The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.

First Line: "His name was Danaus."

For the book, it's a very good set up line, because Danuas is very important (written in first from Mira's POV). I like the paragraph following this line, something very tricky to do well (and it is!) which is a description of his eyes. But even that description tells so much about Mira.

Brownie Points: Mira. Loved her. I imagine that if I were a 500 year old vampire, I'd be a lot like Mira. What I really loved about her was that she acts like she's 500, calm and collected, bored at times, curious about things that are new to her (she's 500, that's hard to do). Which of course, is where Danaus comes in. But if you think they get along right away... haha, think again. They're kinda not friends, but not really enemies, and they constantly talk about killing each other. But... oh I love the characters!

Recommendation: Read it now.

Would I represent it? Give me a novel like this one and I will fall at your feet in gratitude. I guess I'll contend myself for now by reading every book by Drake (love it when an author inspires me to do that). What I especially liked about it were the characters, the darkness of it, and there was absolutely nothing cute about it (not one character was flamboyant or eccentric or the "brother" character). I like a nice solid departure from cozy paranormals.

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why I Love JR Ward

JR Ward and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, are on my favorite author list for much the same reason (please note that SEP is adult contemporary romance, which I do not represent). They have what I call "The Psychological Screw You" factor. Not so much "screw you" as in the reader, but in terms of character development and plot. If you've ever read a SEP novel, while laughing out loud every other scene, you'll realize that she's great at creating this amazing characters then throwing them down a cliff. The joy of reading about these characters comes when you watch them try to climb back up the cliff. She throws everything into it, too: family drama, past loves, financial ruin, reputation, jobs. Throughout the journey, you become close with the characters. Plus there is a lot of tension and frustration (and the sex scenes aren't there for the sake of being there; they are a result of the characters--not plot devices).

Now, JR Ward does similar things to her characters as well. Each character is so psychologically twisted that they have a hard time being in civilized company. Part of this is a result from the character's self--by that I mean a product of them being vampire (or a mix: vampire/celestial offspring, vampire/demon sucker, vampire/beast). All of them are dealing with scars from their past. Again, as I mentioned above with SEP's novels, the sex in Ward's novels are not plot devices or included for the sake of inclusion. Each scene is a product of the characters and sometimes act as a therapy tool.

(One of the main reasons I mention sex, is that it's one of the biggest mistakes a new writer can make in their ms, and one of the biggest reasons I'll reject a paranormal romance. If I see anything throbbing in the first two pages, it's usually a red flag. It must be done well and, as I said above, as a result of character development.)

Have you noticed that I haven't really talked about plot? It's all about character development. So whoever says that literary novels are all about character development, and commercial novels are only about plot, are dead wrong.

The point of this post, besides paying homage to two fantastic authors and their creations, is to show what I'm looking for when it comes to Paranormal Romance. If anything is going to be throbbing, there better be a good reason for it.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Haunting Jasmine

Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee was a light, fun, women's fiction with a supernatural element that was a joy to read. Plus, you've got a multicultural character that everyone can connect with.

A call from the past brings divorcee Jasmine Mistry home to Shelter Island to run her beloved aunt's bookstore, which has always been rumored to be haunted. With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, and guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors. Surprisingly, she finds herself moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger.
First Line: "I didn't see this turn of events coming, or going. My ex-husband, Rob, used his charm like a weapon, and ultimately he didn't care whose heart he broke--or whose life he ruined. Neither did he care whose bed he woke up in. My mother would say, Well, Jasmine, that's an American penis for you. You should've married a Bangali. Faithful, good, and true to his culture. Her words conjure an image of the royal Bengali penis decked out in a traditional churidar kurta, its head peeking from the gold-embroidered white silk kurta at our Indian wedding."

You probably see why I included the first paragraph instead of first line this time. I wanted to show you a really great opening. You immediately get a sense of Jasmine's voice and what is most important to her: hating her ex and not following tradition. You also see what the main conflicts are, which, incidentally, are also her ex and her culture. In the next paragraph you learn of another conflict, that of her aunt wishing her to take care of her bookstore. And voila! You're in the story.

Brownie Points: I love, love, love that this isn't your traditional "I see dead people," sort of thing. Jasmine sees the ghosts of dead authors in her aunt's bookstore. That's it. But how cool is that?!

Recommendation: Great for people looking for a light read, slightly quirky women's fiction, a little romance, or supernatural. Also fantastic for those who want a multi-cultural novel but have a hard time finding one that appeals to everyone. Also, don't forget to check out Anjali's other novels, website here (I plan to).

Would I represent it? No. And before you ask why I bothered to review it if my answer is no (you know how rarely that happens), I'll explain. As it's the month of Adult Para&UF on my blog, I decided to give an example of something that I love but won't be representing in the near future. I am sticking to Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. Whereas I would classify this as Supernatural, or as I often call it, a Supernatural Ghost Story (which I will actually take a look at in YA--but it needs to blow me out of the water; I already have one--thanks Katy!--and the bar's set pretty high). I have, however, come to love reading things like this.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Change of Topic

For the next month or so, I'll be taking a break from talking about YA--on the blog. I still represent YA, am still looking for YA, and still love my YA clients. But I've been going nonstop on the blog about YA for about a year, so it's time for a genre switch. All my Wednesday Reads will be Adult Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy. All my discussion topics will revolve around the same genres.

From you, dear reader, I'd like to get a list of your favorite ParaRom and UF novels (to add to my already ridiculous TBR pile).

Also, any topics you would like to see addressed or discussed, please leave comments, suggestions, and questions in the comments of this post.

Happy writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Much akin to the advice do not say that your target audience is everyone, do not include in your query or pitch that your novel is a crossover. Crossover novels are a cultural phenomenon that cannot be predicted (at the very least, your agent or editor will decide to target a wider audience if applicable).

In case you don't know what a crossover novel is, it's a novel that begins either as an adult novel but appeals to young adults, or starts as a young adult novel but appeals to adults. Lord of the Rings (adult to young adults), Harry Potter (middle grade to young adult to adults), The Hunger Games (young adults to adults), are only a few.

To me, there is no such thing as crossovers. I see so many adults reading YA that it's becoming a pointless term, and of course young adults have always read adult novels. But we do need our labels and it makes organizing a library much easier.

Tell me dear readers, your favorite crossover novels? Do you aspire to write the next great crossover?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Dragon Bound

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison satisfied the part of me that is restless while waiting for JR Ward to come out with a new book.

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful-and passionate-of the Elder races. 

First Line: "Pia was blackmailed into committing a crime more suicidal than she could possibly have imagined, and she had no one to blame but herself."

Got my attention. Did it get yours?

Here's what I love about this line: main character is front and center; we know the main conflict (and it's interesting); leaves enough mystery to keep us reading on; we know how she feels about the main conflict and there is more conflict behind it (for some reason she did it but didn't want to).

Brownie Points: For some reason, I'm not sold on the whole turning into a dragon thing. Rats, sure. Parrot, okay. Wolves, oh yeah. But Dragons never intrigued me, even in fantasy. This book managed to change all of that. Hmmm, Dragos was a yummy dragon. Thanks Thea for changing my mind!

Recommendation: Like I said above, readers of JR Ward will love it. Any other ParaRom readers will love it too. Smart. Sexy. Fun.

Would I represent it? Yes, I would. And I am looking for something similar to it. I am looking for Paranormal Romance.

Happy reading! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


As an agent who reads client manuscripts several times over (and one more for good measure after that), I'm not a rereader in "real" life (real life being the world in which I am solely a reader, reading for pleasure). I thought Rereading would make an interesting post.

Why don't I reread? Probably because I enjoy the experience of reading for the first time. I read for pleasure--much like you'd enjoy a movie--that thrill you get watching/reading a high tense scene, or getting to know a new character, slowly like a new friend. But if I read something again, I don't get that experience. Rereading takes you into a different world--you see new things, you start analyzing, second guessing yourself and the author. If you're reading for the sake of learning or analyzing, you lose a bit of the pleasure. I don't like doing that (unless I'm editing of course, then I LOVE it--ah, give me a little control and I'll create WW3--and yes, I'm aware I'd make a great story book villain).

In a previous post, Comfort Books, I mentioned that Ella Enchanted was one of the few books I've reread (I can't count how many times I've read that book). So why have I reread a childhood favorite but not an adulthood favorite (Hunger Games for example, I've read the entire series only once)? Probably because I was friends with all the characters and I didn't mind rereading their adventure. But also, because it reminds me of my childhood. The only thing I'd gain from rereading Hunger Games is a better appreciation for how great an author Suzanne Collins is. Harry Potter, yes, I've reread. But mostly for education value and to keep up with my friends' incredible ability to keep little details in their minds (I was lost in conversations that dealt with the tiny details in the series--I was and still remain a loyal Potter head--I have a Tonks wig and Voldemort's wand--again with the evil villain thing!).

There is one more book I will reread. Wuthering Heights. I've read it a few times, and will probably read it a few more in my life time. Because I love it? No! I'm actually obsessed with how much I dislike that book. I don't understand the appeal. So I will read it more times than my favorite books just to figure it out.

Let's discuss. Are you a rereader? Why? Why not? If you do reread, is it to relive a pleasure, or for education? (You have more writerly minds than I do, so maybe you enjoy picking books apart to see how they were constructed?).

Happy rereading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Girl in the Steel Corset

Besides my first thought (ouch! that's gotta hurt), I was very excited to find another amazing Steampunk. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the "thing" inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on—even if it seems no one believes her.
First Line: "The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she'd be unemployed before the sun rose. Her third dismissal in as many months."

Great first line. And yes, I gave you second as well because they made the paragraph. But just from the first-- intrigue.

Beefs: There was one line that broke me from the novel, otherwise I was in it and dedicated to the story; and the line reminded me of the Scooby Doo episodes when the bad guy would say "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!" Not so much a beef as I had to share my moment of hysterical laughter before diving back in to our band of misfits.

Brownie Points: go to the Steampunk elements. Wonderfully done. Painted the world really well, something that was both familiar and foreign. Plus I love a little Steampunk mixed with paranormal.

Recommendation: If you've never read Steampunk before, this is an excellent one to start with. If you love Scott Westerfeld's Steampunk series, you'll love this as well. If you just want a good YA read, read it.

Would I represent it? Uh, yeah. I totally would. And I am looking for YA steampunk (more along the lines of Cross or Westerfeld's steampunk series rather than Cherie Priest's series).

Happy reading! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011


This weekend I'll be at the annual PNWA conference. If you're attending, please find me and say hello!

And remember to attend local conferences. Get involved.

Network with not only agents and editors, but also other writers. You may be able to find a new critique group more tailored to your needs. They may be able to impart advice, such as finding agents or other conferences/workshops to attend. They may be the voice at midnight you need to help get you through your first draft/multiple edits.

Take time to implement changes to your ms after attending workshops before sending it out to agents you've pitched at the conference.

Take advantage of extra pitch session time to ask advice.

Take advantage of having book doctors there to let you know where you are at with your novel and what you can do to step it up

But always, ALWAYS have fun!!

Happy conferencing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson is a debut novel, genre is YA fantasy. It comes out September 20, 2011. Make sure you get a copy.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.
First Line: "Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom. The Scriptura Sancta lies discarded, pages crumpled, on my bed. Bruises mark my knees from kneeling on the tiles, and the Godstone in my navel throbs. I have been praying--no, begging--that King Alejandro de Vega, my future husband, will be ugly and old and fat." That's the first paragraph, and I had to restrain myself from giving you the whole page. Carson manages the right amount of voice and information without being over the top or an info dump (tricky in fantasy).

New US cover
Beefs: Actually, I wasn't super thrilled to read it based on the description, cover, and title (all good, of course, but I'm not sure if I would have picked it up off the shelf--thanks Carol!!!). But I was hooked (line and sinker) after page one.

Brownie Points: Voice and character (and plot and supporting characters and world building and ending). What the synopsis does not tell you is about who Elisa really is (good thing too, putting all her traits on the back cover would have sounded gimmicky to me and probably would have turned me off). Elisa is a fat, lazy princess (who should be in Overeaters Anonymous) who is destined for greatness but does nothing with her life except pray and eat. The character arch is so well done, and I felt such a kinship with Elisa throughout the entire novel.

UK cover
Recommendation: Fantasy has a habit of being very heavy (Game of Thrones for example), but this novel manages to capture everything good about both the Fantasy and YA genres and meld into one terrific read that is neither too long, too short, or too heavy. Even if you don't like fantasy, I highly recommend it.

Would I represent it? I'm restraining from using ridiculous font that is sparkly and big and changes color, and maybe screams at you with trumpets. It would read YES.

It's possible that this is one of my favorites books I've read all year (if not in the number one spot).

I am currently looking for fantasy.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Books that Changed My Life

So far we've talked about Guilty Pleasure books, Comfort books, but now let's talk about Books That Changed My Life.

Pretty epic, right? People are accustomed to saying, this person changed my life, or this event changed my life. But a book? I've listed four, though really, every book we ever pick up shapes us, influences us in some way, even if it is just to make us happy for a few hours.

  • Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner--I learned to read off these books, I skipped picture books and moved right on to chapter books, and I read these books until I was far too old to keep reading them
  • Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka--inspired me to learn the violin in the 4th grade, which I played all the way through high school, and has had a huge hand in shaping who I am today--I've never reread it, it's not even a favorite book or a comfort book, but it had a huge impact on me as a child and I remember to this day how I felt when I read that book
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--might have been one of the first YA that I was proud to wave in front of people's faces and say this is what I want to do
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling--I can't not mention it, it did help shape my childhood, my imagination, my expectations--I was one of the generation right in the middle of it; elementary school when the books started, college when they ended--I also met some of my best friends through this mutual interest
Tell me about a book or books that have changed your life.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Comfort Books

As I was writing my Guilty Pleasure post, I started thinking about old friends--books that is. I'm sure we all have those, the books from our childhood or a book that helped get us through a bad point in our life. People always say they have a favorite song for those reasons, and yes I do too, but let's talk books. As I stated in my previous post, I have guilty pleasure books that I don't talk about on my blog or review in my Wednesday series because I don't represent it and I like to stay on topic.
Let's get all off topic this week :D
I have a comfort book so loved it's worn and faded from spending way too many nights under my pillow--I don't even have to read it, it just stays under my pillow when I need a friend. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine came out when I was in the fifth grade. I bought it from the Scholastic book fair and probably read it five times that year and at least once for every year following. It's one of the only books I've read more than once (another post for another time). So why isn't it over there ---> listed with my favorite books? Because I'm not looking for fairy tale books. As sad as that is. (And please do not mention the movie by the same name--it will be cause for rejection... I'm mostly kidding.)
So tell me: what is your all time comfort book?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Reads: And Then Things Fall Apart

And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky is the epitome of great voice.

Keek’s life was totally perfect.

Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.
First Sentence: "I once watched a collector kill a monarch butterfly on a nature show by putting it under a glass dome with a piece of cotton soaked in gasoline." Is that gripping enough for you? The beauty of this first line and its metaphor, is that she doesn't dwell on it throughout the book. She moves on to other things but the line served its purpose, both to catch our attention and set up Keek's voice.

Brownie Points: Tibensky managed to make me interested in Sylvia Plath (not enough to read Sylvia Plath) but she examines The Bell Jar in such a way that is neither dry nor boring. Also, I already said above, but this book has the most captivating voice. I love her witty, smart humor with touches of self pity and realism.

Recommendation: If for nothing else, you must read for voice. But also read it because it is a smart, sexy read, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much you'll love it and Keek.

Would I represent it? You know, if this had showed up in my slush pile, I would have rejected it. Most likely, the amount of voice and plot (no one dies! haha) would have scared me off, thought it was too much of a risk. And the voice is a bit younger than I normally acquire. Actually, I probably wouldn't have picked it up off the shelf if it hadn't been recommended to me, but I'm so glad it was because I loved every page.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

One of the best pieces of advice you'll receive is this: read in your genre.
However... sometimes it's beneficial to read outside of your genre. Not to mention therapeutic. I can only read so many YA novels before I have to take a break. I do read Adult paranormal and Urban Fantasy, and I love light humor (I read waaay too much dark YA, serious at the very least, very rarely something that is all humor), which is why I enjoy cozy mysteries and light adult paranormal.
I only talk about YA and Adult para/UF on my blog because those are the genres I represent and know the most about (and learn the most about). This may the only post that I deviate from my genres.
When I need a break from reading (without actually taking a break--I think I might have a nervous breakdown if there isn't a book in my purse), I read (or listen to) Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I've read other women's fiction in the past, but I'm stuck on the one author for a while. It fulfills a part of me that can't be satisfied otherwise. I randomly picked up a book on tape at the library and fell in love with the first sentence. I've recently complete Phillips's entire Chicago Stars series and am about to dive into all of her other books. When I finish with her, I'll probably find another author to listen to in my car, but the prospect of not having Phillips's humor and witty plots (yes, I said witty plots) as company in car rides is more devastating than having no more Harry Potter books to read (don't burn me at the stake for saying that please).
Your turn dear reader. When you need a break from your research, writing, comparable books, what are your guilty pleasure books?

Do you read them for the sake of research (see if there is something from other genres you can add to your own to give it a fresh take)? Read them purely to give you mind a break for a while? Read them because secretly you wish you could write it?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Wither

I've been wanting to read Wither by Lauren Destefano (Amazon) for a while. I didn't even know what it was about, despite reading the description multiple times. But based solely on the cover, I knew I wanted to read it. And I finally did. Worth it!

What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
First Line: "I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids. We sleep huddled together like rats, staring out, and dream of our bodies swaying."

Brownie Points: Rhine's relationship with her sister wives is slow, real, perfect. Also, the way Destefano treats the topic of polygamy is well done. Not at all in your face, condemning, or promoting it. It is what it is. World building at its best.

Recommendation: If you enjoy Dystopian, a strong, quiet, subtle character and story line, dark but hopeful, you'll love this.

Would I represent it? Yes!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books for Boys

I've been asked a few times to suggest reading material for teen boys who feel a little alienated in the girl-reader dominated market of YA fiction. Being a girl, of course, all of these are great for girl readers too, and I can't say I've read many marketed-toward-boys books (if there are even many out there). Also, most on this list happen to be some of my favorites (of all time). (Also note that these are YA, not MG. However, if the boy has read Hunger Games, most of the other recommendations will be the proper reading level).

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Amazon). Despite being told in a girl's POV, boys are able to connect with Katniss's story: thrust into the lime light, forced to grow up before she's ready, sacrificing herself for her family and country. Action level is very high in the entire series. Great for the reluctant reader.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (website) (Amazon). Told in alternating POVs of a boy and girl (tomboy), boys will be able to connect with both characters. It's a smart novel that voracious and reluctant readers alike will love. It combines action with history and steampunk. Also a great novel to introduce readers into steampunk.

Paper Towns (Amazon) by John Green (website). I would start a boy reader with this book, then give him Looking for Alaska (Amazon), then all his other novels (Will Grayson, Will Grayson is my favorite, but for reluctant readers start with the two above). And actually, you can reverse the order (I had a long debate with myself which to list first--Paper Towns won because it opens with an "adventure"). John Green embraces the nerd in his novels (online, he has a community of writers and readers known as "nerd fighters").

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (website) (Amazon). Also told in alternating POV of a boy and girl, this novel balances  the dual struggles of the protags as well as the unique identities of the genders. Often called light scifi, or dystopian mystery on a space ship, it's a great way to get into the scifi genre.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (blog) (Amazon). Told in the POV of a boy with the adventure of Hunger Games and a mystery that is never fully revealed (we're only on book two of three and we still don't know who the good and bad guys are!--third installment comes out Oct 2011), this is a must read for boys and girls alike who want a good adventure/fantasy, or are looking for something similar to The Hunger Games.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (website) (Amazon). Though told in the POV of a girl, I recommend this to boys because of the suspense aspect and the gruesome angle (she finds dead bodies). Also has a light romance angle that doesn't overwhelm the story.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (website) (Amazon). I read, no, devoured this series in 8th grade, and it has stuck with me all these years. Still some of my favorite books of all time. Told in the POV of a girl, it follows a group of friends in Australia who wage a guerrilla war on an army who has invaded the country while the group was in the bush camping. How does that description not hook you?

You'll notice that my list is all recently released novels (with the exception of the Tomorrow series by John Marsden). I could have included on my list Holes, The Giver, etc, but I'm a believer in giving boys (especially reluctant readers) something they are (99%) guaranteed to like. I respect the classics (they are classic for a reason), but kids are forced (yes, forced!) to read older books in school, and something just isn't working. I also haven't included Harry Potter (if they haven't read it by now, they won't), Eragon (beautiful writing, but might not captivate the reluctant reader), or Percy Jackson (heavy into the Greek mythology that also might turn off a reluctant reader).

Goodreads has a list for boys here. I haven't read the majority of the books and am curious as to your opinion; which of the listed books would you recommend?

And here is a list from Amazon here, mostly for comparison (I wouldn't recommend most of these books to boys unless they are tried and true voracious and advanced readers).

Any books you highly recommend for boys? Or books that you know for a fact boys have enjoyed?

Happy reading!