Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RTW: Summer Lovin'





Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.





This Week's Topic:

(Back by popular demand!) What's the best book you've read this month?


Yay! I get to talk about books!

*ahem*

Soooo...here's what's off the June TBR list:

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Catalyst by Marie Halse Anderson

Hero By Mike Lupica

10th Anniversary by James Patterson

Love, Lust, and Faking It by Jenny McCarthy

Jinx by Meg Cabot (I'm currently reading, but I'll be done by tomorrow)


Yep. There's my list.

And I'm supposed to choose ONE?!

Well, I'm not. I'm cheating and choosing two. Because it's my blog, and I can.

Humph.





In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


I read this book in two days (between work, mom, and chauffeur duties). At a stoplight, my daughter picked it up, read ten pages in the three minutes it took to get from red light to driveway, and said, "You will be done with this NOW."

I finished the last sixty pages, handed it over, and my twelve year old devoured it. If you like Hunger Games, you will looooove Divergent. Trust me. Read it. NOW.





It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined
If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I just gushed about this one the other day. If you need more convincing that this book is right up there with Divergent, check out my review here.

SO, there are my fave June reads.

I know, I know. You secretly hoped (come on, admit it) I'd gush about this one...



Believe it or not, one of my book club girls put it up one month for potential selection. Majority did not pick it, I was disappointed, so this closet naughty girl had to buy it. Two words:

freaking hilarious

Almost had me LOL-ing as much as Will Grayson, Will Grayson

How about YOU? What's your June book love?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shivering With An-tic-i-



-pation!!!

Now that I've left you with that pleasant Monday morning thought, let me gush about what I CANNOT WAIT FOR!!!

1) My kids! Grandma stole them for five days so the hubs and I could get away for the weekend. I've left my kids for a few days here and there, but they've NEVER been on a vacation (like, gone somewhere) without me. I'm suffering LEGO withdrawls. I'm even excited about rolling eyes and huffs every five seconds. I miss them. Hurry up, tomorrow. Please?

2) Saturday I leave for the beach. For a week.



Enough said.

3) Anyone else dying for July 15 to get here?!



4) August 16!

No, I don't want my summer to end, but August 16-18 are the dates for Writeoncon, an online writing conference through which you can learn A LOT from agents, editors, authors. There will be opportunities to network with other writers AND get your work critiqued! Very exciting!

5) September 5!

Release date for Kody Keplinger's newest novel. It's a day before my birthday (which - PS - not looking forward to) so uh...I know what I'm getting. Un-le-ss someone has an ARC they'd love to send me. *winks*

Anyhoo, here's the blurb...



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.


Can you see WHY I can't wait for this book?!

And in case you didn't know, Kody Keplinger is author of THE DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). Amazing. And she's nineteen. I wish I had a tenth of her brilliance.

6) Finally, I'm anticipating my climax. My book's climax. Things right now are HOT. Intense! There's tension, there's build-up. I'm getting so close to that moment of crisis after which everything will just explode into the most amazing book-gasm ever.

Okay, maybe not. But, I'm excited. After all, once I, er...my story achieves climax, resolution's just around the bend. And we all know how short that should be. Finish, and get out.

Ahem.

So, anything got YOU shivering with an-tic-i-pation?!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fives!

I recently discovered Paper Hangover (PS—fab name), a group blog that offers writing tips, book reviews, and other cool stuff. You should definitely check it out. And every Friday they host the Friday Fives. This week’s prompt:

FIVE things that get your creativity juices flowing:

1) MUSIC I don’t necessarily have a playlist for every story I work on, but I definitely have songs that get me in the mood. Here are some I’m listening to now: I Know You Want Me (Pitbull), Back in Black (AC/DC), Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)

2) EXERCISE Need inspiration, take a walk. Exercise can be so mind-opening.

3) MY STUDENTS Watching them and listening to them (yes—I am a champion stalker) is not only entertaining, but also enlightening. And definitely puts me in the write mood.

4) WRITING Once I start, my fingers just take off. Just actually getting my butt in the chair and opening up a new doc is enough to get the creative juices going.

5) TALKING ABOUT WRITING Hashing out my ideas with my husband or my CPs or well, any fool nice person who’ll listen to me spurs creativity.

There are definitely others, but I thought I'd play by the rules (this time) and just list five.

How about YOU? What gets your creative juices flowing?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RTW: In Case of Fire

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.









This Week's Topic:

The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?






Yikes!

Okay, assuming that my children and husband are no longer in the blazing flames and I'm the only lunatic brave soul racing back in, here are the five cannot-live-without items:


1)Pictures. As many as I can get my hands on. Considering they're all over the place because I'm not one of those scrapbooking album-y moms (um...maybe I should be?!), I would grab a trash bag and turn on my shoveling powers. Scoop. Scoop. Scoop.

2) My netbook, my portable hard drive, and every thumb drive I own. I think we all know why.

3) My daughter's snake. Not a real one. It's a purple stuffed one she's had since she was seven (she's now twelve) that's been everywhere. Even through the mail. Yeah, the nice hotel folks in Myrtle Beach sent it to us after we made it home from a trip and realized the snake didn't. Point - the snake does not get left behind.

4) My engagement ring. It has my husband's grandmother's diamond in it, and well it's very important to me for many other reasons. I would say I'd grab my wedding ring, but the sand gobbled it up at the beach a few weeks ago (can we say bad wife?). No worries. The rings were purchased sixteen years ago in our poor beginning teacher days (wait - I'm still there) so we were planning on new ones anyway. The beach ring-napping just sped up the process.

5) I will also manically push into that exploding trash bag of pictures every possible irreplaceable memento - trophies, artwork, first cleats. I realize this is way more than five items, but am I really going to run into a burning house and not grab everything I can?!

Oh yeah...and I'm going to do all this within two minutes, without getting burned, without a hair singe, without so much as a scratch from falling plaster. After all, I am superwoman, right?

Ha.

This road trip was fun! And definitely thought-provoking. I absolutely need to go on an organizing spree this summer.

How about YOU? What would you grab In Case of Fire?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Winner! And Another AMAZING Book!!!

Two things today, wonderfuls!

First...



The winner of the pay-it-forward The Sky is Everywhere contest is

*drum roll*

Eliza Tilton!

She's fabulous. Her blog's fabulous. And I'm thrilled to be paying forward The Sky is Everywhere to her!

And now for Part II! A book that might, might just rank right up there with The Sky is Everywhere *gasp*

Okay, it does. In my book rankings. It so totally belongs up there.




If you haven’t read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I have two things to say to you:

a) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! (sorry, was that abrasive? Oops)

b) Go buy it. NOW. Because I’m about to review the sequel - aka - I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

And while If I Stay is off-the-chizzang amazing, Where She Went surpasses it—a million times over.

Here’s the book jacket blurb…

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face…

But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked.

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance
.


Okay – so if you read If I Stay, you know that Mia, after the catastrophic accident that took her family and left her in a coma, decided to stay. You may also remember Adam’s promise to Mia.

If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll quit the band; go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I’ll do that too. .. And that would suck, but I’ll do it. I can lose you like that, if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.

Um…love him.

Well, months of rehabilitation and prepping for Julliard follow. Adam is there with her through her recovery. Sees her through her grief, the physical and the emotional. And then in September, Mia leaves for New York. And Adam pretty much never hears from her again.

Yep…I so wanted to hate her.

The book opens three years later, and it seems they’ve both moved on with their lives. Mia’s a featured Twenty under Twenty, and Adam’s fulfilling what he thought were his wildest dreams. He and his band are celeb status. He’s got fame and fortune, tosses money out like it will instantly grow back in his hand. His celeb girlfriend has upped his rock star status.He’s seemingly got it all. But he doesn’t.

Adam’s angry. Bitter. He smokes, plays, pops pills, preps for the tour, doesn’t want to do the tour. He suffers through interviews. He explodes, smokes some more. Loses himself in the music, the words. Does anything to cope. To get through the day. To get through the next hour.

He’s broken. He's lost.

He's empty.

And it’s like, Mia, don’t you get it? The music is the void. And you’re the reason why.

Just so you know – when I finished reading this book, I read the awesomeness that is Divergent, and then several other fabulous novels. And even after swooning over the likes of Four and Alex Fuentes, I am STILL wild about Adam Wilde—like I can’t get this guy, this book out of my head. He’s amazing. The book’s amazing.

Where She Went is raw, real, and ohmygosh beautiful. Some chapters I tore through, wanting, needing to see what would happen next. Others left me literally shaking. I would have to stop, figure out how to breathe again before turning the next page. Adam Wilde is so unbelievably real. His voice, his pain. I experienced every bit of his anger. I felt his devastation, his uncertainty. His loss. Eve-ry-thing. As they have a final night in NYC, there were times I hated Mia. Then loved her again. Then wanted to shake her and scream, “Why are you doing this to him?” And then I wanted to shake Adam. Quit censoring yourself. Just get it out there!

And there were times reading this book, I was certain I knew how it would end. And it killed me. Like Adam was prepping himself and me for his inevitable loss. Oh—and in case you haven’t figured it out—I cried a lot.

One night I slept with November Rain (Guns and Roses) playing and replaying all night long on the stereo. The same song, the same lyrics—over and over again. I could’ve turned it off. I didn’t.

That’s how I feel about this book. I WANT it to keep playing in my head. And I’m completely okay with the fact that it is. At times the story’s a ballad—Adam’s ballad, the words so heart-spoken. Poetic. Lyrical. Other times, it’s gut-tearing, bang-your head metal. Def Leppard. Guns and Roses.

Nirvana.

Here are some tracks from Adam:

You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow, but realized to late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet


"Bridge"
Collateral Damage, Track 4


First you inspect me
Then you dissect me
Then you reject me
I wait for the day
That you'll resurrect me


"Animate"
Collateral Damage, Track 1


Raw, intense, real. Read it. Experience it.

Trust me. You won't regret it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tagged








I've been tagged by the fabulous Bryce Daniels and I'm delighted to play along (It's a game, dude - I'm IN!) Andbutso, I have to answer a few questions and tag a few others so here goes.







1) Do you think you're hot?

Depends on the hair day. Just kidding (sort of).

Seriously, I think my hotness factor reflects my confidence level. If I'm feeling pretty good about ME, then yeah, I'm probably steamin' up some mirrors.

2) Upload a pic or wallpaper you're using.

Cue boring side. Um...I have no pics or wallpaper on ANY of my computers or phone. So I'll upload a pic of my favorite people.



That's the fam at Christmas. *sigh* Aren't we adorable?!

3) When was the last time you ate chicken?

Easy. Me = psuedo-vegetarian so chicken is about all I eat. I indulged in a cajun chicken sandwich from Cookout on Saturday. Yum!

4) What were you thinking while doing this?

These questions, duh. Because I'm always super-duper focused and not thinking about a million and a half other things. Not me. Nope.

Whatever.

5) What song/songs have you listened to recently.

Um...how many should I list? Wait, don't answer that. Okay, here are three I listened to yesterday: Don't You Forget About Me (Simple Minds), Freak the Freak Out (Victoria Justice), and Hysteria (Def Leppard). And yes, I do have a very diverse taste in music.

6) Do you have any nicknames? What are they?

I go by Alison. Or Mrs. Miller. When people call me other things or spell my name the WRONG way, I might respond. Maybe.

7) Tag five blogger buddies.

No problemo. Here are some of my new faves in the blogging world.

Erin L. Schneider

Alicia Gregoire

Carol Riggs

Sophia Richardson

Tracy Neithercott

They're all pretty fabulous. You should totally check them out!

So, yesterday Cornhole, today Tag. What games might YOU be playing this week?

And PS - today's the last day to enter The Sky is Everywhere pay-it-forward contest! Click here for details!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Word Sandwich

Word Sandwich? What’s that? I want one!



Um...that is definitely a word sandwich (a bookwich!), but not the kind I'm blogging about today. My word sandwich is a bit different. And I thought I’d go with five year old Jack’s definition—straight from Emma Donoghue’s Room (PS—awesome read!!!)




“Huge.”
“Enormous,” says Ma.
“Hugeormous.” That’s word sandwich when we squish two together.


“Scared is what you’re feeling,” says Ma, “but brave is what you’re doing.”
“Huh?”
“Scaredybrave.”
“Scave.”

Word sandwiches always make her laugh but I wasn’t being funny.




Word sandwiches. I make them all the time. They’re fun to create. They’re fun to say. I say things like gihugic and hideosity and my kids tell me how much they love my words and call me things like their "wowsome teacher mom.” They think I’m some fabulous goddess of word origins. And I’m their math teacher.

Of course, word sandwiches have their place in a classroom. Or times you shouldn’t say things, especially around sixteen year old boys. My students were studying transformations (aka moving graphs around – reflections, scaling,…) Andsowell, I charged my students with creating their own pictures on the graph and then experimenting with transformations – one drew a music note, another a robot. They flipped them over the y-axis, rotated them 270 degrees. It was one of those “I feel like a good teacher” days. And then another picture caught my eye. Kinda hard to miss considering it was falling off the chart graph paper as he drew it. I couldn’t help but exclaim

That’s ginormous!

And his friend immediately chimed in with

That’s what she said.

Yeah…I laughed. What else was I going to do?

But just like anything, you want to use word sandwiches in moderation. Not go all spazballs with them like I do on my blog. Ha. Much more powerful when used sparingly.

And they're EASY. I mean, look at the word fabulous. That word could be sandwiched with so many others. Fantabulous. Fabulosity. Fabulicious.

Okay, so sometimes they’re not that great. Or completely vomit worthy. Like peanut butter and pickles. But when they’re good, they're really good.

Like mint cream oreo cookie good.

So try it. Take two words. Smush ‘em together. I think I might try a totally epic word sandwich. Like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious epic. Hmmmm.

Word sandwiches. Fun to say. Fun to create. And mucho easy-peasy.

Got any word sandwiches on YOUR plate?

PS - only a few more days to enter the epic Pay-it-Forward giveaway! You could win your own copy of The Sky is Everywhere! Click here for details.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RTW: Pitch it to Me







Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.





This Week's Topic:

You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!

Yes! A game! I'm always up for a really cool game, so much so I wrote TWO. And just in case you haven't read either book, I tried not to spoil the ending. See if you can guess either of these.


Seventeen-year old cellist has a beautiful yet simple life: an eccentric family she loves, a hot soon-to-be rock-star boyfriend, and her own promising future in music. But then one snowy February morning, she loses her family in a tragic accident, and she’s not that far away from death herself. Her body in a coma, she walks the halls of the hospital, reflecting back on her life and listening to those that still surround her. And she must choose: life or death. Stay or go.

PS - this book is soooo good. So good.

How about this one?

Fifteen-year old and best friends set summer goal to see a live naked girl, even though neither of them have ever asked a girl out. But this goal is a lap in the kiddie pool compared to the one the main character takes on to impress the hottest girl on the swim team: swim the hardest stroke known to anyone except maybe Michael Phelps. With a little help from his friends, a hard-core swim coach, and his playboy grandpa, he has one hilarious eventful summer he’ll never forget.

It's American Pie at swim school. One of the funniest books I've ever read.

Any guesses? If you need a hint, they're both on my Good Reads widget. Just look to your right!

Oooh - and don't forget about my Pay-It-Forward Contest for The Sky is Everywhere! Click here for the details!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I'm Going to Buy a Lottery Ticket (um...Today) AND an Amazing Giveaway for YOU

Three reasons why everyone should enter contests:

1) They're FUN!!!

2) They support someone, somewhere, in some way. It might be a contest to support a cause or a book. The contest might encourage people to follow an already amazing blog. Perhaps it's to celebrate success. Or to help someone grow as a writer.

3)And finally...everyone should enter contests because

You just might win.

I've entered some pretty fabulistic contests this year, and just within the past two months, I've won six books and two writing contests. And...AND met some pretty awesome people and had a chance to participate in some pretty amazing things.

The six books I won (aka my super-duper beach reads) arrived on my doorstep courtesy of these fabulous wonderfuls. Jennifer Hoffine, Melissa Dean, and Lisa Potts. They are amazing people who are going to be ridiculously successful in the writing world, and you should totally check them out.

The writing contests...

Do you remember a couple weeks back I shared my first page for critique purposes? (awesome feedback, thank you!) Well, I made changes, cut my 295 down to 250. Then I entered Shelley Watters Contest of Awesome.

And I won.

Super fab agent Judith Engracia selected three winners in all. You can check out my entry here and those of the other two winners.(THEY are going to be insanely successful!) And I'm sharing this so I can thank you. Yes, YOU. My faithful blog readers. You see - I won - but it was YOU who helped me get there. My CPs, other contest entrants, my friends - ANYONE who read my excerpt and commented - thank you, thank you, thank you. Thanks to you I will receive a ten-page critique and a full manuscript request. I wanted you to know that your efforts paid off.

PS - Shelley is hosting another hot, hot first page contest on her blog. If you've got a manuscript ready to go, check it out!!!

So, yeah. Definitely worth it to enter some contests.

Speaking of...I have one for you! A super-duper omg fantabulous one originated by Casey McCormick. It's a pay-it-forward contest (totally stealing this idea, PS) for one of the most amazing books out there. Seriously. Uh-mazing.

Here's zee blurb...


Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.



One of my CPs recommended this book to me over nine months ago. I was in the middle of editing Envious, and my novel contains similar elements to The Sky is Everywhere—seventeen-year old grieving over the sudden loss of a friend, flashbacks, the struggle to move on. My CP knew this and on several occasions she bullied encouraged me with, "You need to read this book."

Okay. Whatever. I'll put it on my TBR list and get to it eventually. It was probably a good three months before I saw it at Books-a-Million and thought, Eh. Why not?

So I bought the book.

Two weeks later I read it.

When I finished (in two days), I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next week.

And the week after that.

And the month after that.

Don't do what I did, people. Read this book, uh…now.

Here’s why.

As stated, I’ve already read this book, but I HAD to be a part of this pay-it-forward contest just so I could tell the world about one of my top five favoritest books I've ever read. It's that amazing, and Jandy Nelson is a BRILLIANT writer. I never laughed and cried so much with one book. It's intense, then light, then heart-wrenching intense, then omg so LOL hilarious. I was thrown into Lennie's despair, so much my own chest hurt. The pain was real. The humor was genuine. And...AND the writing, the poetry—freaking brilliant. You will identify with Lennie, cry with her, and root for her as she makes her first steps towards healing. And the romance element - hoo boy. Never before have I wanted both guys to get the girl. I finished reading and am STILL Team Toby and Team Joe.

If that wasn't enough of a sell, here are some of my fave quotes from the book (PS - had mucho trouble narrowing it down)

"It's such a colossal effort not to be haunted by what's lost, but to be enchanted by what was."

"She will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving because I will never stop loving. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy."

“I look into his sorrowless eyes and a door in my heart blows open. And when we kiss, I see that on the other side of that door is the sky.”


Yeah, okay...I'm dying now.

And here's what's weird. I love this book so much that two days before Lisa emailed me, telling me I won the contest, I had given my copy away to someone else. I planned on a replacement IMMEDIATELY, but I wanted my friend to read this book and fall in love with it as much as I had.

I'm telling you. Read. This. Book. It's one of the few books that I will read over and over and over again.

Oh—and well, you could win a copy from yours truly!

Here’s how the contest works:

1. You MUST have a blog or Facebook or somewhere you can give the book away and be clear about the rules (Twitter can’t support it, for example).

2. You MUST be willing to hold this exact giveaway on your blog or Facebook in which you purchase this book for someone else (or give away the one you receive from me, IF you don’t love it) and require that YOUR winner do the same. Preferably within TWO WEEKS of receiving the book from me.

3. If you win, I ask that you PLEASE enter your giveaway into the linky widget on Casey's blog and have YOUR winner do the same on that original post (not on your blog), so we can track how long the chain lasts and how many purchases we achieve.

4. U.S. entrants only.

5. The contest will run June 13th to June 20th at MIDNIGHT. I will announce the winner on June 21st and the chain will commence.

Entry is simple. Just leave a comment that you want to win and an email address if you don't have one on your blogger profile so I can get in touch with you if you do.

So...what are YOU waiting for?! Leave a comment and you could pay it forward too!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The End Is Near!

It’s not 2012. Not Armageddon. Or Apocalypse Now. It’s not even Judgment Day May 21, 2011. (oh wait—we survived that one)

No people, it’s not the end of the world. But in a few short days, I will die and go to heaven for two months. Beach heaven, that is. Yep. School’s just about out for summer, baby. Today is my last day with the drama my teenagers. A few workdays next week. Then two months of recupe time. And this chick has major plans – to read, write, and relax.





Uh-huh. By the end of the summer I hope to finish the WIP, read A LOT, and have a new ethnicity. The writing will definitely be getting some serious attention, as will my most neglected family. But no worries! I’m not going to shortchange you guys! Nope. I’ll have more time to blog, read your fabulous posts, and add to my own.

So, in honor of my imminent utopia, I’m saying goodbye to the blahggy blue and breathing in a bit of vibrance. And whispering promises of book reviews for all these amazeballs books I’ve been reading. I’ll definitely be hosting some contests! And maybe add a few more helpful posts about writing (instead of all the whiny ones). I plan to post at least one more time per week, maybe even develop (*gasp*) a schedule.

PS—the blog will change umpteen times before I’m satisfied with it. Next week I might have a beach background, the next week monkeys. I’ll be a little moody—in a whimsical, wild sort of way.

So, any big plans on YOUR summer agenda?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Flying By the Seat of My Pants Got Me Nowhere Back to the Plotting Board




Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.


This Week's Topic:

Are you a plotter or a pantser?






I'm a little of both. For all my projects, I begin with a rough outline, plan to do more plotting, but my impatient side usually kicks in before that happens, and off I go, flying by the seat of my pants. Well, not completely. I have major plot points in mind, and I tend to outline a few chapters at a time before I actually write them, but I've always just liked to see where the story takes me. And my characters. And that method of writing has usually worked for me.

Until now.

Many of my followers know I've been struggling with the latest WIP (so if the post sounds familiar, um... it is). It's the story whose plot gave birth to ten different subplots, and they took off in a katrillion directions. And then some of those subplots got together and gave birth to more subplots. And more subplots. And...yeah, there was a ginormous circus in my head. And it wasn't always a fun place to be. Too many clowns. Too many eccentricities. Too much going on.

My saviour's been Save the Cat - Blake Snyder's Screenwriting Bible - aka Big Book of Awesome Sauce. It helped me see the effectiveness of plotting BEFORE taking the writing plunge. And I'm doing better. I'm almost to the midpoint of the new version of my WIP (I wrote two-thirds of the old one and scrapped it), and I have fairly detailed scenes for where I want the story to go from there. There are still things I want to fix on the front end, but I've turned my inner editor on mute (er...somedays), but well, that's another post entirely.

And I've learned - I still like to pants it, but I'm very much into the plotting thing too.

PS - I think I win the award for Blogger's longest post title. Ha.

How about YOU? Plotter? Or Pantser?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game On!




Alex Cavanaugh is hosting It’s All Fun & Games Blogfest today! All you have to do - list your three most favorite games and why. Board games, card games, RPG, video games, physical games, drinking games - even mind games! If it’s a game you enjoy playing, it’s worth sharing.



Fun! I love games. I just wish I had more time to play them. *sigh* Bu-ut, I am going to have amazing fun blog-hopping to see what every one listed as their favorites. Here are mine!





Bananagrams - yep. Big word nerd here, but I love, love, love this game. Players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all their letter tiles first. It's dubbed "the anagram game that will drive you bananas!"




Well, it doesn't drive me bananas- just my family. Especially when they're whipping out words like amaze and ball, and I turn over my twenty-one tiles and can't help seeing words like exacerbate or conundrum. And then use all my tiles before anyone forms their second word.

Um, yeah...I pretty much play solitaire bananagrams now.





















Of course I love soccer! When I said yes to my soccer coach husband's proposal (on New Years *smile*) seventeen years ago, I agreed to marry him and soccer.

But I really, really do love soccer. I rarely (only when my husband makes me) play myself, but I get enough of an adrenaline rush from watching it. The breath-taking headers, gorgeous finishes, diving saves. Gut-punching intensity when the game's all tied up in golden goal overtime. Games can get downright gritty yet still be so artistically aesthetic. And it doesn't matter the age. Whether I'm spectating my son's soccer mob ball game or my hubby's high school teams or the US National team live and in person on television, I enjoy every minute of it.

PS - those are some of my husband's girls in the photos (beating rival teams, thank you)





Finally, one of my favorite games to play and watch is one of my own creation. Math teaching is my day job, and well, math is just not so easy for everybody (really?). So I've developed games that help my students learn and have fun simultaneously. And uh, sadly, most of the super fun ones stem from, er...drinking games.



Anyone know 99? Toss out playing cards, try to get the value of the pile close to 99 without going over 99. Um, yeah...total inspiration for Log 21. The cards have basic logarithm problems on them, my kiddos find their values, toss them out, try not to get the pile to go over 21. Some cards have positive value (log525), some negative (log5(1/25)), some zero (log1(6)). So what happens when they go over 21? Do they chug, chug, chug their Aquafinas? haha, um...no. They just start all over. So original, I know. But my kids really do love it.

Soooo...there you have it. My three favorite games. Your turn! What's YOUR favorite game to watch or play?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weekly Road Trip with a Side of Giveaways, Coming Right Up!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:

What is the strangest/weirdest thing you've ever researched?

I do a lot of research for my stories, everything from the anatomy of a cheetah to yin yang to Succubus to the Bernoulli spiral, but I think the weirdest thing I've ever researched...





The woolly bear caterpillar






For my superhero WIP, I needed an animal that was uh, very cold-natured (don't ask), and this little guy worked. Woolly bear caterpillars can freeze their insides to withstand Arctic temperatures of up to ninety below. Cool, huh?

Any eccentricities in YOUR google searches? Check out the other YA Highway folks to see what they said.

Now time for CONTESTS!!!

Want to win some books? Some signed ARCs? Get your hands on some amazing summer reads? Check these out!

The fabulous folks over at YA Highway are celebrating their second anniversary and giving away a TON of books including a signed copy of Kody Keplinger's Shut Out, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and so many more. Click here to see what else is up for grabs.

My dear friend Ricki Schultz is hosting a June is Bustin' Out All Over giveaway - sooooo many uh-mazing books - Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Shine, Thirteen Reasons Why - so many good ones. Hop on over to her blog! Now!

And...AND...Carolina Valdez Miller, Beth Revis, Elana Johnson, and many others are celebrating Independent book stores by sponsoring amazing giveaways on their blogs. This is the super-duper list of who's participating...

Carolina Valdez Miller
Lisa and Laura Roecker
Sarah Frances Hardy
Shana Silver
Elana Johnson
Stasia Kehoe
Shannon Messenger
Mundie Moms
Myra McEntire
Sara Bennett Wealer
Janet Gurtler
Joy Preble
Ty Drago
Kate Walton
Julia Karr
Randy Russell
Adele Griffin
Helen Landalf
Andrea Higgins
Beth Revis
Tess Hilmo
Sheela Chari
Gail Handler
Christine Fonseca

Whew! That's a lot of giveaways! Wait - you're still here? Why aren't you entering these fabulous contests? Click, click, click away!