Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Love - Where She Went

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 StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I absolutely adored If I Stay, and as soon as I heard there was going to be a sequel, I knew I had to read it as soon as I could get my grubby little hands on it. 

I have to say that I adored Where She Went just as much as If I Stay...and maybe even more. I'm not sure. I'm still processing it. This  second book is from Adam's POV as opposed to Mia's, and it takes place three years after the original story. I really liked these changes. I loved being inside of Adam's head. I loved him so much in the first book, and it was a real treat to be in his head for this one, even though he was in a dark place. 

I fell in love with both Adam and Mia in the first book. So often we think about our favorite characters in books and wonder what happened to them after the book left off. This book actually shows us, which was such a cool experience. We get a window into their lives that we never really get with book characters. Even with series books, the second book generally picks up right when the previous book left off, not years later, with the characters changing and growing in the meantime. Adam and Mia have both changed significantly...their changes are heartbreaking and realistic and totally understandable. 

These pages are so full of emotion. This is a great book to read if you want to FEEL. You feel for Adam, you feel for Mia, you even feel for Adam's bandmates, Mia's best friend, Adam's girlfriend. I felt so much while reading this book...that's sort of why I am still processing it. It takes place over one intense day (August 13th, my anniversary, and Bella and Edward's anniversary), and all the feelings just happen and happen and happen and Adam and Mia are all over the place and you are all over the place and you laugh and cry for them and it's all just so much. 

This is one of those recaps that is hard to write because I loved the book so much. I wanted to read it again the second I finished it. It made me feel like I was walking along with these characters, and while I was so happy to be able to visit them again, I am now missing them even more than I was before. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - Books You Were Obsessed With As A Kid

I've decided to jump into Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YAHighway. Each week they ask a reading- or writing-related question and everyone who wants to participate answers it on his or her own blog. Fun!

This week's question:
What books were you obsessed with as a kid?

I read a LOT when I was a kid, and I was particularly obsessed with series books like The Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley High / Twins.

One such series that I was really in love with was called Pen Pals by Sharon Dennis Wyeth.

Pen Pals was a series about four girls who shared a suite at boarding school. They decided to put out an ad (or something?) to get pen pals from the local boys' school. The call themselves The Foxes of the Third Dimension because they live in suite 3-D in Fox Hall. So all four of them end up with these boy pen pals...and hilarious antics ensue! I remember one of the girls felt like she wasn't that pretty so she sent her a picture of her beautiful older sister...and then she got all worried when they had to meet.

There were obviously more hilarious antics than "what will happen when we meet?" because the girls meet the boys pretty early on in the series. But MAN I loved these books when I was a kid. I used to have pen pals myself (although sadly none of mine were hot boarding school boys), so that's what drew me to this series originally. And I'm remembering ALL of these covers, so I obviously stuck with them for awhile. I know these live somewhere in my parents' garage. I need to go dig them up...I'd love to read them again.

And speaking of the covers, it looks like one of the roommates was a totally spunky Asian girl! I don't remember that at all. But YAY!

Did anyone else read Pen Pals? What books did you love as a kid?

*How on Earth do I carry this information around in my head after all these years? I honestly can't remember things my husband JUST told me, but I can remember minor plot points in books I haven't read in...omg, it has to be like TWENTY YEARS since I have read these books. God, I am OLD. So I remember this crap, but not important things like paying my bills or feeding my dog. I seriously fail at being an adult. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (12)

Today's musical choice is inspired by Where She Went by Gayle Forman*. It's one of my favorite songs to have on in the background when I'm writing, so imagine my surprise and delight when it showed up in a very key scene in a book that I had been dying to read for months now. I don't want to spoil the book or anything, but I love so much that Gayle mentioned this song by name for this key was playing in my head as I read through the pages and it made that emotional scene that much more real for me. I loved this book, I love those characters, and I love this song, so it was all very perfect.

I know that a lot of authors share the playlists they created for the book. I love that Gayle put this sing right there on the pages for us.

Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

I fell in love again
All things go, all things go
Drove to Chicago
All things known, all things known
We sold our clothes to the state
I don't mind, I don't mind
I made a lot of mistakes
In my mind, in my mind

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow
We had our mindset
All things known, all things known
You had to find it
All things go, all things go

I drove to New York
In the van, with my friend
We slept in parking lots
I don't mind, I don't mind
I was in love with the place in my mind, in my mind
I made a lot of mistakes in my mind, in my mind

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow
We had our mindset
All things know, all things know
You had to find it
All things go, all things go

If I was crying
In the van, with my friend
It was for freedom
From myself and from the land
I made a lot of mistakes

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow
We had our mindset
All things know, all things know
You had to find it
All things go, all things go

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow
We had our mindset
(I made a lot of mistakes)
All things know, all things know
(I made a lot of mistakes)
You had to find it
(I made a lot of mistakes)
All things go, all things go
(I made a lot of mistakes)

*Book Love coming on Thursday

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goals For the Week - 3/28/11

I had a pretty big realization this week. I really need to cut back on some of my obligations. If I really want to make progress, I need to get some stuff off of my plate. I was ridiculously busy again this week...and it feels like I'm ridiculously busy every single week. I'm looking at my Google calendar and I sorta want to cry because I have something going on almost every single day and I just wonder WHEN DO I GET TO WRITE.

So, any ideas on what I can cut out of my life? I'm serious here.

Goals for the week of 3/21
*Read a book
I read TWO! Whee! I read Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. I devoured both of these pretty quickly. 

*Finish writing new beginning
Nope. I'm not going to lie, I didn't get anything done on this at all. 

*Get new Ch 1 nailed down to take to SCBWI retreat this weekend for critique
Another negative. I have some of it written, but I didn't get it in shape enough to bring it in for critique, which was a total bummer. 

Yeah, I hardly got anything done this week at all. I had something going on literally every single day after work. Annoying. 

Well, it wasn't all annoying. The SCBWI retreat was awesome...I'll blog about it later this week. 

So, that brings me to my goals for this week. This week is going to be INSANE. It's my last week before my 2-week Spring Break, I have grades due, and my brother-in-law is getting married this weekend and I'm in the wedding. I'll try to keep things simple. 

Goals for the week of 3/28
*Read a book
*Work on SOME ASPECT of my WIP for at least one hour on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. (Tuesday I work both jobs...from 7:30am to 11pm, Friday is the wedding rehearsal dinner, Saturday is the wedding)

Yeah, I'm not even going to be detailed about what I do. I just need to do SOMETHING. It's going to be that kind of week. 

The countdown to Spring Break is ON!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Year Later

This weekend I am off to my local SCBWI chapter's spring retreat.

I went to this event last was my very first writing event ever. I was so incredibly nervous about it. I thought about it the entire week before hand. I typed angst-ridden e-mails to my writing group about it. I sat in my car for like 20 min after I pulled in to the parking lot before I could bring myself to go inside. (That's a thing I do. I have some social anxiety problems every now and then.)

I don't know what I was expecting. That I would be ignored? That people would be mean to me in some way? My only experience with other writers at that time was my novel workshop class, which was really a mixed bag of people writing a mixed bag of genres, and they weren't all nice. I didn't realize at the time just how kind and welcoming the kidlit community was.

Of course, everyone ended up being super amazing. I met so many nice people, and I had a great time. It was the first time I got overwhelming positive feedback on my writing (my novel critique class was full of "literary" writers who didn't really get YA, so I always got mixed feedback from them), and I thought, okay, maybe I don't totally suck at this.

And, those of you who have been to conferences or have real life writing friends can attest to this, there is just something about being able to TALK about all of this writing stuff with actual other people out loud that is so comforting. It was so much fun to have conversations about it all in real life and not just online.

So now I'm going back, one year later. It's weird...I'm still working on the same project. But I have some so far with it, and I have come so far in my life as a writer. I've also come a long way with writing events. While this one scared me last year, I totally seek them out now. And this year I will actually know other people who are going to be there. I won't feel like a loner, and I won't sit awkwardly in my car for 20 minutes trying to build up the courage to go inside. This year I'm actually excited about it.

Have you been to any writing events? How were they? Do you have any coming up?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Love - This Lullaby

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

This isn't the first YA book that I read, but it's the first YA book that I loved. This is the book that made me fall in love with everything YA. This is the book that made me all but abandon reading "adult" books and shoved me headfirst into the YA pool. 

The funny thing is, I had just finished writing my NaNoWriMo novel (the great-great grandmother of my WIP) when I picked this up...a contemporary YA. I don't know what I was doing writing YA at that point when I didn't really know much about it. And when I closed this book I said, "Oh my goodness, THIS is the book I wanted to write! Exactly!"

The major thing I love about this book is Remy, the narrator. She's a total hard ass. She's pretty bitchy. She's not always likable. But I LOVE her. I love her attitude and her spunk, but also her vulnerability. She's a very layered character who is rough on the outside, but damaged and vulnerable on the inside, and I love how Sarah Dessen builds that throughout the book. 

Then there is the adorable Dexter. I have found that everyone seems to connect with a different Sarah Dessen book, and I think a lot of that has to do with the guy in the book. All of her guys are so different, and they really appeal to different types of people.  I love all of her books (and all of her guys...except for Rogerson, of course), but there is something about Dexter that is just the perfect storm of everything I love in a literary boyfriend. He plays in a band. He's lanky and awkward. He plays in a band. He doesn't take no for an answer with Remy. HE PLAYS IN A BAND. I just love Dexter, and Dexter is part of the reason this book has my heart. 

I made my first attempt at writing YA before I read this book, but this book is the one that let me know I was doing it wrong. And it opened me up to the world of Sarah Dessen and the world of amazing YA lit that is out there. It's hard for me to think of a book that has had more of an impact on me than this one, and I love it for that. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (11)

I love Greg Laswell. I really do. He's everything I love about music.

Choosing a favorite Greg Laswell song is like choosing a favorite kid, I imagine. I actually imagine it's a bit more difficult, since none of my Greg Laswell songs have drawn on my walls, woken me in the middle of the night, or pooped on me.

This is the one I find myself listening to the most.

I love the story here. He's still so in love with this girl. So much that he has to just get away from her. I think "you're all over this city" is my very favorite line. When I listen to this song, I sing that line at the very top of my lungs.

Even though this song is more upbeat than a lot of his stuff, that doesn't mean it's not sad. In fact, I think these pretty heart-wrenching lyrics set to this somewhat perky tune really ads to the meaning of the lyrics. He's trying to pretend he's ok, but he's really, really not.

UNF Greg Laswell.

The One I Love - Greg Laswell

I'm all packed up now early in the morning
I'll take my leave
I'll bring your words along with me
maybe one day they will mean something

For now they buzz and crumble down
A little bit too easily
From a time that I am not quite over
What the hell is wrong with me?

I might be gone a little while
I guess we'll see
I gotta make a home outta somewhere
And you're all over this city

And it'll take a flight to figure out
Where I'm gonna finally land
And the time it takes for me get there
I'll be one to start again

But I should probably say that I'm unsure why I'm running
Running away from
The only thing I want
Yeah, I should probably say that I'm unsure why I'm running
Running away from the one I love

And as the plane lifts off
I'll write you a letter, to say goodbye
And I will make it long and maybe lie just a little 
Tell you that I'm doing fine

Then I'll send it out and let things be
If not for you
For me and for the time I've spent 

Foolishly loving thee

But I should probably say that I'm unsure why I'm running
Running away from
The only thing I want
Yeah, I should probably say that I'm unsure why I'm running
Running away from the one I love

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goals For the Week - 3/21/11

So, the week before was sucky and this past week was just BUSY. I had something on the calendar almost every single day, which left little time for accomplishing my goals. 

Let's see how I did. 

Goals for the week of 3/14
*Outline my WIP AGAIN with the changes suggested by my readers.
I did get a rough outline of how things are going to go now. There's going to be more of a mystery element, so I've been reading up on mystery plotting, which is fun. 

*Come up with adjusted timeline
I did this. I tried to make sure I left enough time for things that I know will take awhile. I have spring break coming up (two weeks off...yay!) so I'm really hoping to make some major progress then. 

*Finish writing new beginning
I didn't do this. I just haven't had much time to write at all. But I did re-write my query several times. You know, because that's important right now. 

*Read a book. Obvs.
I started Wildefire, but I didn't finish it. I was going to grab a short book to read really quickly just so I could cross this off, but that felt like cheating, so I didn't. 

Ugh. Rough week. Life can really be a time suck sometimes. 

Goals for the week of 3/21
*Read a book
*Finish writing new beginning
*Get new Ch 1 nailed down to take to SCBWI retreat this weekend for critique

This week isn't going to be as busy as last week was, but I'm losing a lot of the weekend to my local SCBWI retreat in Temecula. (I'll be blogging about this later.) The weekend is when I get most of my stuff done, so I'm not going to go too crazy with the goals.

I hope you all have a great week in the works! Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Something Cool For A Friday Afternoon

So, here's a cool thing.

Today on her blog, Robin Benway showed off the new paperback cover for The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June.

Cute, huh? I really liked the hardback cover, but this one captures the personalities of these sisters so well. 

Well, the back of the paperback is covered with quotes about the book from bloggers.

I was looking at all the quotes and I couldn't believe it...MY quote made the back of the book. In fact, it's up at the top with the blurbs from Kirkus and Booklist and Publishers Weekly, like it's important or something.

I used to have a book blog that I loved (and it's now gone...sad), but it's nice to know that my quote lives on right there on the back of Robin's book. It's hardly my most eloquent review of a book, but WOW...this totally made my day. Especially because I think Robin is particularly awesome and I really did adore this book.

Hopefully this won't be the closest I get to seeing my name on a published YA book, but it will totally do for now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Love - Wither

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.

I'll be totally honest, I really had no desire to read this book even though everyone was buzzing about it. Because, polygamy? Freaks me out. I don't like to think about it, I don't like to talk about it, I don't like I watch it on TV, and I certainly don't want to read about it.

But everyone was talking about Wither, and I was able to get an e-galley through GalleyGrab, and, well, I had an extra few hours, so I decided to give it a try. Oh boy, am I glad that I did. I ended up loving this book way more than I was expecting.

It's a dystopian, but I liked that the focus was on the future of relationships just as much as the future of society. I like the bleak views of society presented in dystopians, but at the heart of it all I need some romantic element to get me into it, because that's just the kind of girl I am. This book really focused on that, and the world Rhine found herself in really drew me in.

The villain in this book, Rhine's father-in-law, was such a good, creepy villain. Every time he showed up on the page I felt a sense of dread. And the best part about him was that he wasn't just an evil mustache-twirler. He really thought the evil things he was doing were good. I think that makes the best kind of villain, don't you?

This book has a lot of similarities to The Handmaid's Tale, and it was interesting to compare the two worlds as I read. Both present a very sad future for women, and it was fascinating to see Rhine struggle with her reality and try to break free from it. It was also fascinating to see the relationship she developed with her two sister-wives. In the end, the way the polygamy thing was handled didn't creep me out too much. Maybe because two of the three wives knew how much it sucked, that made it easier for me to handle.

Then there is that gorgeous cover. I just love it so much. The model looks like Mandy Moore (I love her), and that dress and that hair and that bird...ugh. Love.

This book is one you don't want to miss. And I can't wait to see what the next books in the trilogy have in store!

Thanks to S&S Galley Grab for the e-galley.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thoughts on Rejection

Last week was a rough one in Jessica Land. I faced a lot of rejection last week, some expected and some unexpected, and it really wore me out.

The expected rejection: I received a pink slip. This is my 5th year teaching and it was my 5th pink slip. I don't have tenure, and they aren't planning on giving it to me any time soon. Last year a teacher with tenure from another school in my district transferred to my school and bumped me out of my job, but a few days later someone at her original school unexpectedly retired, so she decided to stay there and take the retiree's job instead of mine. I wanted to send that retiree flowers, because I was thisclose to joining the ranks of unemployed teachers. This year I don't know if anyone is planning on bumping me, but I know of some situations at work that are making me really nervous for my position. I'm trying so hard to stay positive about having a job next year (I got hired back four times already, right?), but it's hard sometimes. I mean, when can I just KNOW that I'll stay employed for awhile?

The unexpected rejection: I didn't get into the MFA program I applied for. I never took it as a certainty that I would be accepted, but at the same time, it didn't really occur to me that I wouldn't. I tried to prepare for the idea that I might not get in, but that was like preparing for a flood or preparing for the end of the world in 2012. It was a possibility that lived in the back of my mind, but didn't really seem like it would happen.

But it did.

I believe strongly in the Law of Attraction. You get back from the universe what you put out there. I thought nothing but positive thoughts about this. I pictured myself there. I thought happily about all the things I would get out of the program. And I didn't get it.

So that leads me to this wasn't the right thing at the right time. I don't feel like I'm not qualified for a good MFA program. I don't. I KNOW I AM. So there's just some other reason this didn't happen for me right now. I don't know what that is right now, but I am trusting that I'll figure it out eventually. But now? And this? It wasn't right. It just wasn't. Because if it was right, it would have worked out for me.

There were other small rejections sprinkled throughout the week (I got declined for books on NetGalley!), so by the time Friday came around I was totally exhausted.

But I wasn't defeated. I wallowed for a day after the big MFA rejection. I ate an entire Chipotle burrito and three spoonfuls of Nutella. I cried on my private Twitter. I vented to my writing group in our chat. My fellow temp teachers and I sent a string of irritated e-mails back and forth after pink slip day.

But now I'm over it. The MFA thing just wasn't right for me right now. There's nothing I can do about my job. I even requested the NetGalley books again, just in case. I'm not going to let this make me feel like a bad writer. I'm not going to let this make me feel like a bad teacher. I'm going to keep on teaching and I'm going to keep on writing, and I'm going to get better, even if a school or some suit at my district office doesn't think I'm worthy.

And this week has already turned around! I got a signed ARC of Wildefire in the mail, thanks to Karsten Knight. And I won a query crit from WriteOnCon. So it's only Tuesday and this week is already kicking last week's ass.

Rejection sucks, but it can't be the end of you. I really believe that things will work out the way they are supposed to. If my job doesn't work out (I'm really scared this year, guys), that's because something else is in store for me. This MFA thing didn't work out because something else is going to be right for me instead. I'm just staying positive, putting positive energy out in the universe, and trying to grow stronger from these setbacks.

Things will work out the way they are supposed to. I trust this.

I debated not even posting this on here. An aspiring author's blog is a place to be shiny and happy and to show what a team player and normal person she is, right? But this blog is about my journey, and this is about my journey. It would feel wrong not to include my speed bumps. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Goals For the Week - 3/14/11

Last week was one of the longest weeks I can remember. I swear, I thought it was never going to end. I got a lot done, though.

Goals for the week of 3/7
*Read at least one book
I finally finished Stay by Deb Caletti. It was so good!

*Per the timeline, edit ch 13-18. This involves writing a brand new chapter, so make sure to account for that, timing-wise.
My timeline got a little bit of a shakeup because I got notes back from Shana, who suggested a new beginning from my story and I love the idea! So I edited ch 13-16, then I started outlining a new beginning and wrote a chapter. I feel like editing four chapters, outlining, and writing a new chapter is about the equivalent of editing 6 chapters, so I'm calling this even.

*Use Mac Freedom while writing/editing to limit distraction
I am loving Mac Freedom. It keeps me much more focused during writing sessions. I did a lot of my writing at work while I was proctoring a standardized test this past week, so I didn't need it as much as I was anticipating, but I did use it at home. 

I felt productive this week, and it felt good. 

Goals for the week of 3/14
*Outline my WIP AGAIN with the changes suggested by my readers. Some scenes/chapters will be saying bye-bye and I'm pretty excited about that. I feel like putting in these changes will actually give me a book with potential. Exciting.
*Come up with adjusted timeline
*Finish writing new beginning
*Read a book. Obvs.

I have a long way to go, but things actually feel like they could happen now, and I like that feeling. 

Good luck with all of your goals this week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Yay WriteOnCon!

I'm so excited that the dates for WriteOnCon have been announced!

August 16-18
Mark your calendars!

Don't know what WriteOnCon is? Check it out!

I'm such a conference hoor...I'm already really looking forward to participating again this year. And to celebrate the announcement of the dates, the lovely ladies of WriteOnCon have partnered up with a bunch of agents to give away EIGHT amazing query critiques. Check out their page for the details. 

Did you participate in WriteOnCon last year? Are you planning on checking it out this year?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Love - The Vespertine

It's the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

You know what I love the most about books that take place around the late 1800s-early 1900s? They are so swoony! Something so simple like a brush of a fingertip to bare skin or a glimpse of a wrist can have someone's heart beating overtime for days, and I love that about this time period! I love how meaningful a kiss was back then, and a look, and a whisper. It's so much fun to read about the swoon, and there was a lot of it in this book between Ameila and Nathaniel.

I also love the clothes and the customs of this era. I love the calling cards and the gloves and the sitting rooms and the chaperones. I'm certainly glad I didn't live during that time, but it would be fun for about a week to play dress up and flit about town. The Vespertine does a great job of capturing everything I love about this time period in a beautiful historical novel that is so much fun to read.

There's also a mysterious magical element as well, as Amelia is able to see the future, but only at sunset. This book doesn't travel too deeply into the fantastical, and that's what I really liked about it. It was historical at it's core, with this softer element of Amelia's powers. So if you aren't as much into the magic stuff, don't worry, it's not so prominent that it will turn you off from this beautiful historical story. And if you do like the magic stuff, then you'll really enjoy how Amelia's powers evolve and how they impact her life in ways she never even imagined.

Lots of swoon, lots of turn of the century fun, and even some future-telling powers. Oh, and that gorgeous dress on the cover. Love! (And is it just me, or does that model look like Katie Holmes? Dawson's Creek Katie Holmes, not Crazytown Katie Holmes) I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I did, but it really kept me turning the pages.

Thanks to NetGalley for the e-galley

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (10)

I need a little inspiration this week, and this is a song that always lifts me up when I'm down. I'm not usually that into punk/metal, but I really do love Strung Out. I think I've seen them live more than any other band, and each time they just rock my face off. And even though this song is an old one for them now, they always play it. I guess they love it as much as I do.

This is a song I can turn to over and over again to keep me going on days I just want to give up. So if anyone needs a little kick in the pants, here you go. Some good old fashioned punk rock to get you going today.

(If you want to hear the studio version of this song it's right here. But that doesn't feature the hotness of Jason Cruz in action.)

Too Close To See - Strung Out

A cup of two day old coffee
You're feeling like yourself again
You're still on your own
You've survived another night in this dingy room with the same four walls

Lookin' in the mirror's
Gettin' easier these days
That old friend anger is losing it's hold on you
The game is survival in this crazy world
And it's good to see you're still standing strong

Not too long ago you were tearing at a world
That would never let you in
Strung out, outcast, turned away
You kept your face to the ground
And fought the world with your silence

And so the seasons change and the people change
And the good times come and the good times go
You found yourself in a winless race 
Fighting for a cause you never believed
[ Lyrics from: ]
Its easy to regret
Not so easy to forget all the stupid things that used to hold you down
You gotta break that chain and move on
'cause I know i've seen it in your eyes before

To surrender now to throw it all away
Is to sacrifice but you can't repay
In a world that don't owe you shit
You gotta think for yourself and fight every bit 
Of that piece of mind that keeps you going on
Gets you outta bed
And out that door
Step back take a look around
And soon you'll find there's something more

That'll come your way with a little patience
It will all work out for you in the end
This is my song to a friend that
Never needed anyone until now
Sometimes you get too close to see
A different side of what life could be
And if you stare too long it all becomes a blur
And it's easy to forget just who we are
Don't stare to hard, just take a look around...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Goals For the Week - 3/7/11

Another week has passed already? Where did the time go? I feel like this year* is flying by at the speed of light, for real.

Goals for the week of 2/28
* Come up with a treasonable and REALISTIC timeline for finishing my WIP
Okay, I have a goal in mind. The end of the school year. I'm dealing with a lot of outside influences that are really impacting my ability to write right now. But given where I am and what I need to do, I think this is a reasonable expectation. I've set goals in the past that I haven't met, but it was because I just didn't realize how long things would take. I think I have a better grasp on that now, so I think I can handle this deadline. I'd also like to start querying once school is out. 

So, my first mini-goal on my timeline is to finish this round of rewrite/revision/whatever it is by the end of March. According to my calendar, I need to edit/rewrite/whatever 5.25 chapters per week to get done by the end of the month. We'll round that up to 6, just to stay a little bit ahead. 

* Read another book (It's silly that I need to keep making this a goal)
I was hoping to finish Stay by Deb Caletti, but the husband took the iPad with him to Vegas. (Clearly this means that I need my own. Right?) But I finished up listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on audio and I read So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti. As busy and distracted as I am, I think I can manage to read at least one book a week, so I think this is going to stay on the goals every week for the time being. 

* Tweak WIP outline for the second part of the story - REALLY need to do this
* Add detail to rough New Project outline
I didn't really do either of these things, but it's because I just sat down and actually wrote out new scenes! I'm so proud of myself. Sitting down and just DOING them really helped me break out of my funk. Now I have a better idea of how I want the second half to go, so outlining those changes will be easier. I guess I sort of have an outline in my head now.

Goals for the week of 3/7
*Read at least one book
*Per the timeline, edit ch 13-18. This involves writing a brand new chapter, so make sure to account for that, timing-wise.
*Use Mac Freedom while writing/editing to limit distractions

I think that's a pretty tall order, given my recent productivity, so I'm going to leave my goals small for the week to see how it goes. 

Have a great week everyone...and good luck with all of your goals!

*I just realized as I was filling in the title for this blog post that I have been listing all of my Goals posts as 2010. Wow. Where have I been? And how did I keep doing that week after week? I guess I just haven't accepted that it's 2011 yet. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Realizations

Things I've realized this week:

* I've hit a stall in my WIP because I got to an unanticipated confrontation scene. I HATE confrontation. I will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it. I know this isn't healthy (believe me...therapy has been involved), but it's how I am. I didn't realize I hated it so much that I was even avoiding it in my writing. I realized that the scene I've been just staring at is a confrontation...and if I was faced with this confrontation I would run the other way. But my mc would never do that. She would get in a beyotch's face. I'm just glad I figured this I know I just need to tackle it. (I'm not sure I even know how, though...I go to such lengths to avoid these, I don't really know how they go.)

* I was trying to follow this #yamafia drama on Twitter yesterday, and I was trying to figure out how I felt about everything. I actually found a post that I could have written my very own self, so instead of rambling on about the subject, I'll just send you over to this post to read.

* I cheat at Mac Freedom. Damn smartphone. It's just too easy to check Twitter on you.

* I spend entirely too much time on Twitter.

*My job has been exhausting lately. So exhausting that papers are going ungraded and I come home and collapse on my couch. I'm generally a tired person, but I'm so beat at the end of the day lately that I can't even muster the energy to get out of my desk chair and walk to my car. How many weeks until Spring Break? How many weeks until summer? Zzzzz.

*My March is full. Totally and completely full. I have this Saturday (er, tomorrow) evening free, but that's about it. It's all good stuff, but my goodness.

* I REALLY like reading on the iPad. I never thought I would be Team E-Reader, but it looks like I might be.

* I want to try to finish my revision by the end of this month, but I have no idea if that's a possible goal. We'll see, I guess.

This was a total ramble of a post, but it's Friday. What better day to ramble. What did you realize this week?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Sky Is Everywhere Giveaway Winner

I'm so excited to announce the winner of my The Sky Is Everywhere Give It Forward Giveaway!

The winner of a brand new copy of The Sky Is Everywhere, purchased by me, is...

Congratulations Jacki!

I'm going to e-mail you to make sure that you are willing to follow through with the conditions of this giveaway, which is to host your own giveaway where you purchase a copy for your winner within two weeks of receiving the book from me, and requiring your winner to do the same.

Thanks everyone for entering, and the great thing about this giveaway is that it keeps going! So if you didn't win the book from me, just enter somewhere else on the chain. Check out these people who have recently won copies of The Sky Is Everywhere along the chain.

Ginger Johnson won a copy from Melissa
Paula McLaughlin won a copy from Casey McCormick

Let's keep this chain of awesome that Casey started going, everyone! Look at the linky widget on her many links in this chain so far. Let's keep spreading the love for this awesome book.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Critique Me, Baby

I had a really productive meeting with one of my CPs, Julie, on Monday night. (I call her my IRL CP.)

She sat down with me and went page by page through my ms, telling me all of my problems.

I know something like that might freak some people out, but I LOVED IT. I love knowing what isn't working and why. I love hearing, "Were you going to do something about this totally obvious plot device?" when I thought it was somewhat sly. I love the discussion that comes along with critique because it helps me come up with better ideas!

I took a ton of notes to go along with her comments, so I have a lot to work with here. YAY.

I was in desperate need of some inspiration right about now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Love - The Liar Society

Kate Lowry's best friend Grace died a year ago. So when she gets an email from her, Kate's more than a little confused.

Subject: (no subject)
I'm here... sort of.
Find Cameron. He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell. They'll hurt you.

Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace's death was more than just a tragic accident. She teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not-so)-shining armor-the dangerously hot bad boy, Liam, and her lovestruck neighbor, Seth. But at their elite private school, there are secrets so big people will do anything to protect them-even if it means getting rid of anyone trying to solve a murder...

Even if I didn't love all things pink, even if I didn't think Lisa and Laura Roecker were some of the most awesome people around, even if I didn't have an adorable student who happened to be named Grace Lee, even if I didn't have a thing for pearls, even if none of these things were true, I would still be all about this book.

I love mysteries. And even more than mysteries, I love spunky girls who solve mysteries. Veronica Mars is one of my favorite TV shows, and I was reminded of my girl VM several times as I read this book. There were tons of twists and turns as Kate explored this mystery, and I loved following along beside her as she navigated through them all. 

With all the mystery, this book is really all about the friendship between Kate and Grace, and I really loved that. Kate will do anything to help solve her best friend's murder and get to the bottom of the mysterious e-mails. She wants to make sure that the truth about Grace, no matter what that truth is, comes out. I love YA books about solid friendship, and I kept getting sad that Grace was only around in flashbacks and mysterious e-mails, because I really wanted more Kate and Grace interactions.

And I'm not going to spoil, but I really liked the ending. It surprised a good way. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

This book is so much fun. Exciting and mysterious, touching and fun...oh, and PINK HAIR. This book has a little bit of everything. It kept me so entertained from beginning to end, and I can't wait to read the next one.