Monday, February 28, 2011

Goals For the Week - 2/28/10

I was EXHAUSTED  this week. It was a short week, but it was the longest short week ever. 


Goals for the week of 2/21


* Be productive today (I have the day off) Do SOMETHING worth reporting about on this blog. Write. Revise. Outline. SOMETHING. Don't just sleep in and stare at the dog
I'm sitting here trying to remember what I did last Monday on my day off and I am drawing a complete blank. I know I read a book, but I think I did some stuff, too. How do I completely forget what I did only a week ago? Hm. Well, let's just go ahead and cross this one off. 

*I got feedback from one reader, so I need to start implementing her changes and brainstorm on ways to move forward from where I am
I did implement her changes, but I'm still a little stuck on where to go and what to do. I don't know why the second part of this book is giving me such a problem. Actually, as soon as I typed that I figured it out. The climax of this book came to me first, and then other parts filled in from there. But now the issue I'm facing is that the middle/climax doesn't really match the beginning. So I need to tweak the middle/climax...and that's giving me pause because that's where I started. It's hard to accept that I need to change it, you know?

*Continue outlining New Project
Yup! I have a rough outline of this now, and now I want to move forward and detail it out some more. I realized in writing my current WIP that I am NOT a pantser. So I'm hoping a detailed outline will make the process easier with New Project. I have so much to learn.

*Read another book...try to get to 10 books by the end of February
I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano and I am in the middle of Stay by Deb Caletti...which will put me at 10 if I finish by the end of the day. I don't know why making time for writing has been so difficult lately. But I have been taking advantage of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab and reading e-galleys on my iPad. I have to admit, I like using the iPad as an e-reader much more than I expected. I have 4 library books, but I keep reading the e-galleys! Hopefully it can get me out of my reading rut.

*Start thinking about a reasonable and REALISTIC timeline for finishing (really finishing) this book
I started thinking about it. I still don't have a timeline, though.


Wow. I kinda sorta did everything. I even used Mac Freedom at some point to really get down to business. Why don't I feel more accomplished?




Goals for the week of 2/28


* Come up with a treasonable and REALISTIC timeline for finishing my WIP
* Read another book (It's silly that I need to keep making this a goal)
* Tweak WIP outline for the second part of the story - REALLY need to do this
* Add detail to rough New Project outline


*sigh* I feel like I'm not making much progress, guys. Do you have any tips for me? What do you do when you're feeling defeated?


Don't forget about my The Sky Is Everywhere Give It Forward giveaway! You still have a few more days to enter, if you haven't already! I can't wait to give this amazing book to one of you!


Have a wonderful week, everyone. Good luck with all of your goals!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Signing: Chris Jericho

I go to a lot of book signings and book events. I'm lucky, living where I live. Almost every author passes through the LA area at one time or another, so I've had a chance to meet some of my very favorite authors...and really add to my signed book collection. (It's getting pretty out of control, if you want to know the truth.)

This week, the husband turned the tables on me and asked me to come with him to a book signing. What? My husband doesn't even read! Whose signing could he possibly want to attend?

Oh. WWE wrestling star Chris Jericho, that's who.

I try every now and then to be a good wife, so I went along. Chris Jericho has a much bigger fan base than the various YA authors whose signings I usually attend, so it had all of these things I wasn't used to. Lines. Wristbands. Waiting. Lots of waiting. The husband waited in the same spot (the blue wristband section...aka the last group) for about an hour (while I sat in a chair in the corner chatting with writing peeps on my computer) before his line even moved. Yikes.

I'm used to my signings having a reading and a Q&A and all that, but there were so many fans there, it just wasn't possible. They just shuffled everyone through the line, let them talk briefly with Chris while he signed, and then let them snap a quick picture.

You KNOW I had to get a pic. I'm down for pretty much any photo op.

I have to protect the husband's anonymity. But, yes, he is very tan.

Chris was VERY nice. He was in a great mood for having been signing for well over an hour. He joked with the crowd and chatted with the husband when we came up to him. I'm not sure why he was wearing sunglasses or a sparkly scarf, but hey, he's the one with a book on the NY Times bestseller list, so what do I know?

This wasn't my normal book event, but it was still entertaining. Lots of great people watching, another signed book to add to the collection, and it made the husband happy, so I call the whole thing a win. I'm just glad to have a few actual YA signings coming up on the calendar. I need to get back in my comfort zone.

Have you been to any book events lately?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sad About Borders

Like many people in the book world, I was very sad to hear that Borders filed for bankruptcy last week and has started closing 200 stores. I've been lucky to have four locations between my home and my work, but, sadly, three of those four locations are now going to shut their doors.

I love Borders. It's my chain bookstore of choice. I have had some iffy customer service experiences with B&N, and the YA section of my local B&N is just sadly lacking. They never have what I want or need, and when I have a B&N GC, I end up having to visit several locations to use to whole thing up. I just never feel at home at B&N like I do at Borders. I think I would be bummed if I heard that it was B&N declaring bankruptcy and closing stores, because any time a bookstore closes it is a sad thing, but I wouldn't be upset like I am with these Borders closings. It wouldn't impact my life the way this does.

The Borders I am going to miss the most the store near my school. I frequently stop in that store after work to pick up a book, and I love running into my kids there. I see them all the time, because this is the only bookstore that is local to my students. Now, when it closes, they won't have a close bookstore. They won't have somewhere they can easily stop by when running errands with their parents. Books will be more difficult for them to get their hands on...and that SUCKS. It's hard enough to get them to choose  a book over their various other distractions, but now it will be that much more of a challenge. Shopping online is fine for us as adults, but the kids don't really have their own credit cards for easy online shopping. Going to a different store is no big deal for us, but the kids don't all drive or have cars. It makes me sad that they aren't going to have this easy access to books anymore.

And I know it's kind of ridiculous, but, you know how people daydream about their Oscar acceptance speeches? Or mentally plan their visit to Oprah? I always imagined that my launch party for my debut novel would be at this Borders. A bunch of my students would be there, and my co-workers, there would be food, and it would be so much fun. So, when I heard this store was closing last week, I had to let go of that little dream...probably just like a lot of people had to do when Oprah announced that she was in her last season. I know it's a silly thing, since I haven't even started querying agents yet, but it was just that little mental picture that would push me along on days I was feeling low.

It's not like there is no longer a bookstore near me. It's not like there isn't even a Borders near me...the one close to my house isn't closing, so I still have one within a 10 minute drive. But my special store is closing, and the special stores for people all over the country are closing, and that makes me so sad.

I really hope that Borders can survive this financial hard time and turn things around. I'd hate to see more stores close and more people lose access to books. Hang in there, Borders!

(Hey, if your local Borders is closing, now would be a great time to shop indie!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Love - Demonglass

WARNING: It's impossible to talk about Demonglass without Hex Hall spoilers, so if you haven't read Hex Hall, go away, read it, and then come back. (Don't worry, though...no Demonglass spoilers)


Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. 

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth. 

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers. 

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?


I usually don't like second books as much as first books, and I really liked Hex Hall, so I wasn't expecting to love Demonglass. Boy, was I surprised. I think I actually liked it more than Hex Hall, which I didn't think would be possible. I definitely liked Sophie better in this second book. I liked her in Hex Hall, but I actually preferred Jenna, her vampire roommate. Sophie shone for me more in this book, which I enjoyed, since she is the narrator and all.

This book delivers on two things that left you hanging in Hex Hall...Sophie's dad and OMGWTFBBQ Archer. Not only do we get to meet Sophie's dad, but we get to spend some quality time with him in England. And we get some of those burning Archer questions answered, since he left a little, um, abruptly in Hex Hall.

Rachel Hawkins just keeps doing what she does best in this book, which is BRINGING THE AWESOME. This book is just as spunky and witty as the first one. There are all kinds of new mysteries introduced that keep you turning the pages. There is a new potential love interest for Sophie, but it doesn't turn the story all "love triangle-y" at all. There is still Jenna, who I LOVE.

And, of course, there is that cat on the cover. I love this cover lots (Sophie's outfit is so cute! And I like that bag!), and the cat just cracks me up.

The whole book is just a perfect blend of mystery, scary, sweet, and funny, and I seriously can't wait to see what happens in the third book. Because HOLY CLIFFHANGER.

This book was so much fun. No sophomore slump here...and in some ways I think I might actually like this book better than the first one. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (9)

Continuing with my favorite story songs, I have another Very Special Song that tells an awesome story. I've loved this song for a long time now, and even though its meaning in my life has changed through the years, its spot in my top 10 never goes away. I would make out with this song if I could.

It's a YA novel, this song. Someone could turn this song into a YA novel, and it would be so killer. I would read it, and then I would turn back to the first page and read it again. (I know this, because that's what I do with the song...haha) (My love for this song, and for YA in general, really makes me think I have a lot of unresolved teenage angst.)

In addition to its beautiful story, I love the build. It starts out slow and soft, but it build and builds in intensity, so by the end all the other instruments have joined in, Andrew is pounding on the piano, and you just feel the song pulsing in your veins.

I can never get this song out of my head.



Konstantine - Something Corporate


I can't imagine all the people that you know
And the places that you go
When the lights are turned down low
And I don't understand all the things you've seen
But I'm slipping in between
You and your big dreams
It's always you
In my big dreams

And you tell me that it's over
Wake up lying in a patch of four leaf clover
And you're restless, and I'm naked
You've got to get out
You can't stand to see me shaking, no
Could you let me go?
I didn't think so

And you don't want to be here in the future
So you say the present's just a pleasant
Interruption to the past
And you don't want to look much closer
Because you're afraid to find out all this hope
You had sent into the sky by now had crashed
And it did
Because of me

And then you bring me home
Afraid to find out that you're alone
And I'm sleeping in your living room
But we don't have much room to live

I had these dreams in them I learned to play guitar
Maybe cross the country
Become a rock star
And there was hope in me that I could take you there
But damnit, you're so young
Well, I don't think I care
And if I hurt you
Then I'm sorry
Please don't think that this was easy

Then you'd bring me home
Because we both know what it's like to be alone
And I'm dreaming in your living room
But we don't have much room to live

And Konstantine is walking down the stairs
Doesn't she look good
Standing in her underwear?
And I was thinking
What I was thinking
We've been drinking and it doesn't get me anywhere

My Konstantine came walking down the stairs
And all that I could do is touch her long blonde hair
And I've been thinking
It hurts me thinking that these nights when we were drinking
No, they never got us anywhere, no

This is because I can spell confusion with a 'k'
And I can like it
It's to dying in another's arms and why I had to try it
It's to Jimmy Eat World and those nights in my car
When the first star you see may not be a star
I'm not your star
Isn't that what you said
What you thought this song meant

And if this is what it takes
Just to lie with my mistakes
And live with what I did to you
All the hell I put you through
I always catch the clock
It's 11:11
And now you want to talk
It's not hard to dream
You'll always be my Konstantine

My Konstantine, they'll never hurt you like I do
No, they'll never hurt you like I do
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

This is to a girl who got into my head
With all the pretty things she did
Hey, you know
You keep me up in bed
This is to a girl who got into my head
With all these fucked up things I did
Hey, maybe, baby
You could keep me up in bed
My Konstantine
You spin around me like a dream
We played out on this movie screen
And I said
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
Did you know I missed you?
I miss you

And then you bring me home
And we'll go to sleep, but this time not alone, no, no
And you'll kiss me in your living room
I know
You'll miss me in your living room
Because these nights I think maybe that
I'll miss you in my living room
We don't have much room
I said does anybody need that room?
Because we all need a little more room
To live

My Konstantine 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Goals For the Week - 2/21/10

This week was busy. My life is busy. I feel like I never get anything done. 


Goals for the week of 2/14
*Continue to outline New Project while I wait for my feedback.
I didn't do this as much as I wanted to. My grandma's birthday party took up my whole weekend, and there was a lot of prep involved there, too. So I didn't do very much here.

*Continue taking even small opportunities to get things done. This needs to become a habit.
Sorta. I could have done better. But I'll cross it off anyway.

*Read another book. It's not that hard. I have awesome books checked out from the library, and I really want to get through them.
I actually read TWO books! Oooh, actually two and a HALF. Look how I went above and beyond that goal! I'm still only at 8 for the year, though. Compared to past years, that's downright embarrassing. 

*Use my day off on Friday to get some major work done - either on the outline or on my WIP, depending on if I have heard back from my readers.
Ugh. I did NOT do this, really. I mean, I got a lot done on Friday. But it wasn't writing. I read an entire book and then worked a lot on getting favor bags ready for the birthday party, and doing general last-minute preparations, which took way longer than I was expecting. (I'm really learning that EVERYTHING takes way longer than I expect. I need to start adjusting my expectations.)


Goals for the week of 2/21


* Be productive today (I have the day off) Do SOMETHING worth reporting about on this blog. Write. Revise. Outline. SOMETHING. Don't just sleep in and stare at the dog
*I got feedback from one reader, so I need to start implementing her changes and brainstorm on ways to move forward from where I am
*Continue outlining New Project
*Read another book...try to get to 10 books by the end of February
*Start thinking about a reasonable and REALISTIC timeline for finishing (really finishing) this book




I'm looking ahead to March and only two of my weekend days are still free. For the whole month. Baby shower. Book signing. Health expo. Chaperoning a dance. SCBWI retreat. That doesn't count the days I work. And I'm sure it's just a matter of time before those other days fill up, too. 


Guys, I love my life, but I'm exhausted. And over-stimulated. And DISTRACTED. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.


And am I the only one who seems to take twice as long as I plan to actually get things done? 


Have a great week, everyone! Good luck with your own goals!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Love Giveaway - The Sky Is Everywhere

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.
I have a funny story about The Sky Is Everywhere. I went to the LA Times Festival of Books with my hard copy of If I Stay for Gayle Forman to sign. Sitting next to Gayle Forman at the signing table was Jandy Nelson, signing The Sky is Everywhere. As Gayle signed by book, she started singing the praises of Jandy's book, encouraging me to check it out. And I had seen it around and wanted to read it, but I had this backpack with me FULL of about 17 or 18 books (mostly hardcover) that I was planning on getting signed, so the thought of adding another book to my backbreaking load made me want to cry. But I made a promise to check it out later. 

Well, later came. And let me tell you, I have never in my life fallen so hard for a book. Never. I have never been so enamored with a story by the second paragraph. I have never wanted to fold myself up in the pages of a book and sleep there. I have never in my life closed a book and felt compelled to immediately send an e-mail to the author telling her how much I cherished each and every word and how much of a jerk I feel for not picking up a copy and getting it signed when I had the chance. (Ugh. JessFail.)

This book will MOVE you. It will make you FEEL. And it will want to make you lick up every one of Jandy Nelson's gorgeous words. And these characters. OH, these characters! You guys have to meet Lennie. You have to meet Gram and Aunt Gooch*. You HAVE TO meet the incomparable Joe Fontane. These characters will feel like old friends, and you won't be able to imagine a time when they weren't in your life. 

I never feel like I do a good job of talking about books I adored. In my head is just this "!!!!!!!!!!" and trying to get that into words is difficult. So I've decided I'm just going to give away a copy and let one of you feel the love for yourself. 

I was very inspired by a post over on Casey McCormick's blog**. Casey loved this book so much that she decided to host a Give It Forward giveaway, and now I'm going to do the same. 

This is how it works. 

I'm going to order a brand new hardcover of The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson for one lucky winner. (Unless you really want the paperback...I can pre-order it for you.)*** Enter using the form below. 

BUT if you win this book, you must be willing to host a similar contest on your own blog, where you purchase a new copy of this book for the winner within two weeks from receiving the book from me. Then that winner will host the same giveaway and so on. The point of this giveaway is not a book swap, it is to create a series of PURCHASES of this fantastic book to support the author and get the word out. The only out here is if you really don't like the book...in that case, give away the copy you got from me, but please keep the chain of Give It Forward giveaways going! (I hope I explained this ok...check out the rules on Casey's blog if you are confused.)

Ok, so the rules:
* You must have a blog where you can promote this giveaway

*You must be willing to host this giveaway on your blog if you win my copy, which means you purchase a copy of this book for your winner and require your winner to do the same (unless you didn't love it, you can give away the copy you won), preferably within two weeks of receipt of the book

*Link your giveaway on the widget on Casey's page so she can track this CHAIN OF AWESOME

*Because this giveaway is about spreading the word about this fantastic book, spreading the word will get you extra entires. General internet love of Jandy Nelson will also get you extra entries

*This contest will be open through March 2nd at midnight PST. I'll announce the winner on March 3rd 



If you have read and loved this book and don't want to enter the giveaway, but still want to spread the word, host your own Give It Forward giveaway and link it over on Casey's widget. 

I realize that this chain of giving it forward can't last forever. But it will be amazing to see the love for a beautiful book spread for as long as possible. I hope you guys want to join in on this.


*tee hee

**Casey has an amazing blog that everyone who will be looking for an agent any time soon needs to be reading. Even if you aren't interested in the giveaway, go check out her blog right now!

***International people, I'll order from BookDepository for you, so as long as you live somewhere BookDepository ships, you are eligible to win

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (8)

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned songs that are stories. I started thinking about it, and I realized how much I love these longer story songs. Thinking through some of my favorites, it looks like I keep coming back to these 7+ minute songs that tell a fantastic story from beginning to end. So I thought I would feature a few of these story songs that I love the most.

This song is one of my Very Special Songs. I have a few of these...songs that move me so much because they hit so incredibly close to home. Honestly, I love my Very Special Songs so much, but I can't listen to them all that often because they get me too emotional. Even just listening to it to put it on this post got me all...I don't even know.

But the story, oh the story. Don't you just know everything about this relationship and what this guy went went through after losing her? The pleas to be remembered, ugh, they just kill me. It's like aching regret, but in a happy/nostalgic way.


If you know and love this song, you need to take 8 minutes and watch this video. This live version of this song is incredible.

The Trapeze Swinger - Iron & Wine


Please, remember me
Happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin
The time when
We counted every black car passing
Your house beneath the hill
And up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range,
A piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention
But

Please, remember me
Fondly
I heard from someone you're still pretty
And then
They went on to say
That the pearly gates
Had some eloquent graffiti
Like 'We'll meet again'
And 'Fuck the man'
And 'Tell my mother not to worry'
And angels with their gray
Handshakes
Were always done in such a hurry
And

Please, remember me
At Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white
By midnight
We'd forgotten one another
And when the morning came
I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world
And then returned
And now you're lit up by the city
So

Please, remember me
Mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower call
Then pass us by
But much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour
Leave and resonate
Just like the gates
Around the holy kingdom
With words like 'Lost and Found' and 'Don't Look Down'
And 'Someone Save Temptation'
And

Please, remember me
As in the dream
We had as rug-burned babies
Among the fallen trees
And fast asleep
Aside the lions and the ladies
That called you what you like
And even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see
A trapeze
Swing as high as any savior
But

Please, remember me
My misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain
And chasing trains
The colored birds above there running
In circles round the well
And where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter's
So bright with cinder gray
And spray paint
'Who the hell can see forever?'
And

Please, remember me
Seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees
You turn from me
And said 'The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last'
The clown that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs
The parking lot
Had an element of danger
So

Please, remember me
Finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear
But if i make
The pearly gates
Do my best to make a drawing
Of God and Lucifer
A boy and girl
An angel kissin on a sinner
A monkey and a man
A marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swingers

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goals for the Week - 2/14/10

This past week was exhausting. In fact, this whole school year has been pretty exhausting. I know I just recently had a 3-week break, but I am already counting down to Spring Break in April...and then the end of the school year. These kids are working me.

Ok, let's recap.

Goals for the week of 2/7

*Finish reading this book. I have someone waiting for it, I need to stop lagging
I ended up taking a sick day in the middle of the week and devoting a chuck of it to relaxing on the couch and actually finishing a book. I read Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt. It was really cute. 

*Take even small opportunities to write. Even if I have only a few minutes, that's still enough to revise a few paragraphs
I did this, and it felt good. I need to keep this in mind...even a few minutes of writing is a few minutes more than what I had.

*Continue with my goals to revise and send out ch 1-11
I am pretty desperate for feedback on my chapters, so I sent them to three of my friends to read. I'm feeling really stuck, and two of these readers are spanking new to my story, so I'm hoping that their feedback will give me some direction. 

*Outline revisions for the rest of the ms
I was going to do this, but I'm waiting until I get my feedback. I have a rough outline, but I sort of hate where it's all going, so I'm going to hold off until I hear back from my readers.


I did start working on an outline for my next project, though. I didn't want to just sit around and not do anything while I waited to hear back, so I started outlining the new thing. It doesn't suck yet, which it lots of fun.


Goals for the week of 2/14


*Continue to outline New Project while I wait for my feedback.
*Continue taking even small opportunities to get things done. This needs to become a habit.
*Read another book. It's not that hard. I have awesome books checked out from the library, and I really want to get through them.
*Use my day off on Friday to get some major work done - either on the outline or on my WIP, depending on if I have heard back from my readers.

I think this week's goals are pretty reasonable. I'm starting off this week sick and in a bad mood, so it's good to have some things I know I can cross off. 



Best of luck to everyone working toward your goals this week! You can do it!

Valentine's Day Lovefest!

When I heard that Tahereh Mafi, Sarah Enni, Kristin Halbrook, and Kate Hart were hosting a Valentine's Day Lovefest, well, I wanted to get in on that action. Since my husband is going to be spending tonight at WWE Raw (yeah, for real), this is the only love I'm going to get!

So here is some love for my secret valentine, Kristin Briana Otts! You can also find her on YA Highway and on Twitter.

I wasn't sure how I could best surprise Kristin with a Valentine's Day post, but then it hit me. I could have my dog Gunner help me out. So here is Gunner with your Secret Valentine, Kristin!


Roses are red
Violets are blue
I hope you like dogs
Because he sure likes you

Happy Valentine's Day to Kristin, to everyone who participated in the Lovefest, and to everyone reading this. <3

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gunner-day

I thought that what this blog really needed today was an adorable picture of my dog.

So here you go.



My friend Claire took this picture of Gunner as he was watching the Puppy Bowl this past Sunday. Look at how much he wishes he could join in.

It's borderline ridiculous how much I love my little dog.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Love - Five Flavors of Dumb

The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.
The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band's manager and get her share of the profits.
The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she's deaf?
Piper can't hear Dumb's music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb.  
Ok, I'll admit it. I picked up this book because I loved the cover. Well, that's not even it. I bought it because I loved the cover AND I thought the hot girl kinda looked like me. I have a totally similar outfit and totally similar hair, and I could just picture myself crouching like that and listening to a band.

So, yeah, that's why I bought it. I will say, though, that I had actually heard good things about it before I feel in love with the cover, but, let's be real here, it's the cover that sealed the deal for me.

Well, lucky for me, the inside of this book is just as awesome as the cover.

First of all, it has something going for it that is sorely lacking in YA across the board. ASIAN MALE LOVE INTEREST! I have a newsflash for you, America. Asian guys can be hot, too. Can we please show them some love and make them more than just the nerdy guy in the front row of math class? I love that Ed Chen was cute and talented and cute and it was never even really mentioned that he was Asian. Hell, I could be going off on this rant for no reason, I'm only assuming he's Asian because his last name is Chen. (Antony John, can you please confirm? Thanks.) As a teacher, I look around my classroom and see so many types of people...and then I look at my YA books and see nothing but white people, with other races playing a stereotypical supporting role. I loved that there was an Asian guy and a mixed race girl in the band and it was never like, "Oh, look how multi-cultural we are!" It was just like, yeah, this is what high school looks like.

Second, well, Piper, the narrator is deaf. And she's the manager of a rock band. And she can't hear. And the fact that she's deaf, well, it obviously plays an important role in the story. But it doesn't make her someone you feel sorry for, and it doesn't keep her from doing what she wants, and it doesn't turn this into a book about poor Piper who can't hear, let's hear all about her disability. Piper kicks ass, and she lives, and she has fun, and, yeah, she's deaf, and, yeah, she has problems, but SO DOES EVERYONE.

Third, she has parents! And they are there, in her life! And she has drama with them, as normal kids do. But they aren't dead, and they aren't absentee, and they don't suck. They are one of the most normal families I have seen in a YA book in a long time. (And when I say normal, I don't mean Beaver Cleaver normal, I mean they look the most like a family you would find in real life.) Piper's problems with her family were so refreshing because they were so real.

This book made me laugh and cry, and I think that's one of the highest compliments that you can give a book. It was an emotional ride for me all the way through, and I loved every second of it. I don't think this book got enough buzz this past year, so if you're looking for something new to read, and you want to support a book that does a great job at normal YA families and not making a big deal out of non-white characters and characters with disabilities, pick this one up. Grab it for the kick-ass cover, stay for the awesome story.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (7)

So, this isn't a new song or an obscure song or anything like that. But it's a song that I heard while I was waiting in line at Starbucks this past weekend, and it made me start to cry. Even though I have heard it countless times, I just started thinking about the lyrics, I started thinking about my own life, I started thinking about the movie Once and how no other movie has moved me like that, I started thinking how hot Glen Hansard is, and I just got tears in my eyes right there in Starbucks.

That's a powerful song, isn't it? One that can have that kind of impact on you, even after countless listens? I think every music lover has that song. I didn't realize until this weekend that this was mine. Do you have a song like that? One that can still move you?



I found this amazing video that features clips from Once, but embedding is disabled. You should watch it anyway. Brought back all the magic of Once and made me tear up AGAIN. I swear, I'm such a sap.

Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova


I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react


And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You'll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black


You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won*

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing it loud


*I think this is one of my favorite lyrics ever, of all time. Love, love, love it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Goals for the Week - 2/7/10

Ok, so let's see how I did on my goals for the week.

Goals for the week of 1/31

* Send in my application for the SCBWI OC/IE Spring Retreat 
I forgot that I had to write a one-page synopsis for this! OMG, putting that synopsis together took so much time. I felt like I worked and worked and worked on it, but I am a wordy mofo, so fitting even the most basic plot of my 85K word ms (I know, I know) into one page was an impossible task. I finally just made the font smaller and called it a day. (I'm such a cheater.)


* Finish re-writing the scene in Ch 11 that has been giving me a hard time 
* Work Julie's comments into Ch 2
* Get some eyeballs on the revised Ch 1-11
I did none of these things. I have no real excuse. 


* Read at least one book
I started a book, and then I feel asleep. I have been the worst reader ever so far this year!


* Pay parking ticket that has my community college transcript on hold so I can finish MFA program application It turns out I didn't need to do this. I called to check - they only needed my BA transcript. So I didn't actually pay this, BUT I did finish and send off my MFA application! Yay!*


So my MFA program application ended up taking all of my free time this week. 


I HAVE BEEN A SUCKY WRITER. 


I know why. It's because I don't know how to go forward with revisions from where I am in my WIP and I just avoid, avoid, avoid. I say to myself, I only have 30 minutes right now. That's not enough time for me to get anything done. So I'll just sit here on Twitter for now, and I'll work on this when I have more time. And that happens every day for five days in a row, so if I would have just DONE IT, that's 2.5 hours that I could have actually gotten something done. 


I'm so embarrassed. This is terrible. 


Goals for the week of 2/7


*Finish reading this book. I have someone waiting for it, I need to stop lagging
*Take even small opportunities to write. Even if I have only a few minutes, that's still enough to revise a few paragraphs
*Continue with my goals to revise and send out ch 1-11
*Outline revisions for the rest of the ms


Hopefully these are doable goals. I have been realizing that everything I want to do takes at least twice as long as I anticipate, so I need to keep that in mind. 


Do you have any big goals this week? 


*If I never again mention the MFA program again, please don't bring it up. That will mean I didn't get in, and I won't want to talk about it, kay? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bye Bye Book Blog

I just did something that was really difficult for me...something that I have been hemming and hawing about for months and months now, but I haven't been able to fully commit to.

I just said goodbye to my book blog.

For real this time.

I started my book blog two years ago. It was never supposed to be a book review blog...in fact, I didn't know anything about book blogging at the time, and I certainly had no idea there was such a large community of book bloggers. I really just started it as a place for me to talk about the books I was reading and share them with the members of my online book club. I never "reviewed" books or gave star ratings, I just talked about what I liked or didn't like about a book and that was it.

Somehow it grew. It took on a YA focus. I started participating in memes. I started getting ARCs from publishers. I started getting followers. It was so exciting! I had a real blog with a real audience! I made it pretty, I bought a domain, I felt like a legit member of the YA community.

But from there it became a lot of WORK. I somehow started posting every single day. Seven posts a week. That was a LOT of reading. And a LOT of typing. I was participating in ARC tours, which was awesome, but those come with reading deadlines, and I was putting off my writing so I could read/blog in time. I still loved my blog, but it got so involved that it wasn't really fun anymore.

Then I started hearing advice from out in the world about writers/aspiring authors publicly reviewing books. As in, they shouldn't do it. It can be a liability for many reasons.

I'll make it clear, I have ALWAYS been professional when discussing books. I have never bashed an author or talked trash on a book. But I had posted about every single book I had read, and I didn't love every single one of them. I didn't have a glowing review for all 200+ books I've read in the past two years. And suddenly this was a liability.

I couldn't stand the idea of giving up my blog! It was my baby! I had worked so hard on it! But the more people I asked (writers, authors, agents), the more I heard the same thing. If you want to be published, you shouldn't be reviewing books.

There were two major things that helped me make the decision. Back when I first brought up this issue on my book blog I got lots of comments from both sides. However, one piece of advice stood out more than any other.

Tahereh said: i think maybe you have to ask yourself what your main focus is -- are you more of a writer or more of a reader? are you hoping more to cultivate your career as a writer or a book blogger?

Well, duh. I don't want to be a blogger for the rest of my life. I want to be a writer! So that's where my focus should be, right?

It wasn't that easy for me, though. I still thought and thought and thought about it. I couldn't just GIVE UP 500+ followers. I couldn't just give up my ARC tours. I tried to throw myself back into my blog but...it just wasn't there anymore. I read two highly anticipated new releases and I just didn't like them that much. But I couldn't bring myself to say that on the blog anymore. But I didn't want to lie, either. So I just said...nothing.

My posts went from daily to maybe once or twice a month. I wasn't reviewing every book I read anymore, because I didn't always have glowing things to say.

Then came the second major thing that helped me decide. I had read many blog posts and followed many twitter conversations about this writing/reviewing issue, but it was
this post by Susan Dennard on Regan's blog that made me realize that it was really just time to let it go.

So tonight I made it private. You can't see my book blog anymore.

I'm sad about it. I'm sad about losing the little community that I created over there. I'm sad about not being able to talk openly about every book I read like I used to. I'm sad because I know the ladies on my online book club really counted on my blog for YA recs. And worst of all, I wrote my blog address in the book my friends and I gave John Green and now he has no way of finding me online!

But in other ways I am glad. It had stopped being fun awhile ago, and it was feeling more like a job. My time has been stretched so thin lately that having two blogs in addition to two jobs and everything else I have going on was just silly. I was actually feeling stressed out by being contacted by publicists and publishers. I started to dread signing on to blogger.

So, while it's sad, it's also a HUGE relief. It's something big off of my plate. It's one less thing possibly keeping me from my dream. IT'S KEEPING MY PRIORITIES IN LINE. Because I want to be a writer, not a blogger, and I need to remember that

You'll never get me to stop talking about books I love, though. I'll have to designate a day here on this blog where I do book raves, because if there is one thing I love more than anything it's spreading the word about books I'm in love with, and not having a dedicated book blog is not going to stop me.

So, what do you guys think about the whole writer/reviewer debate? Do you think I did the right thing?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (6)

Back in November I had a chance to see one of my favorite bands, Cold War Kids, play a bunch of their new stuff for a live audience for the first time. I knew back then that their new album was going to be FANTASTIC, and, well, it came out this past Tuesday and I was right. It's amazing. I haven't been able to stop listening to it.

If you have never heard Cold War Kids, or if you're not sure about them, please go get Mine Is Yours right this very minute. This album is different from their other stuff, but it is total perfection.

As a writer, what I've always loved about Cold War Kids is that they have so many songs that are standalone stories with fictional characters and plot arcs and everything. We Used To Vacation is about a father with an alcohol problem (OMG that acoustic version! I die!), St. John is about a man who is in jail for killing a guy who was attempted to rape his sister (this video is so fun!), Passing The Hat is about a man stealing from the church offering plate so he can buy a ticket the heck out of America. I love these songs as stories and they really remind me of the creativity of some songwriters. They can tell so much in just a few minutes.

They don't have the same type of story songs on the new album, but, oh my goodness, am I in love with it! This album is everything I love about Cold War Kids multiplied by a thousand.

I'm trying to pick a favorite song, and it's tough. Right now the one with the highest playcount on my iTunes is this one:



Royal Blue - Cold War Kids

Why would I make that face?
Oh, why would I?
Why would I test my faith?
Oh, why would I?

Oh, woah, I see that rain cloud comin' right for me

Why would I say my name?
Oh, why would I?
When I'm so far away?
Oh, why would I?

Oh, woah, I guess I've always been a bit of a fighter

From now on, wear my love for you loose
From now on, I am just passing through
From now on, just my feeling is true
From now on, call me Royal Blue

Why would I stick around?
Oh, why would I?
Why would I get burned out?
Oh, why would I?

Oh, woah, for me, I'm always waiting in shadows
Oh, woah, for me, I'm always looking for a way out

From now on, with the sky as my roof
From now on, let the risk lead me, too
From now on, somewhere I never knew
From now on, call me Royal Blue

From now on, fly as high as I want
From now on, I'll show my weak spot
From now on, in all that I do
From now on, call me Royal Blue

From now on, wear my love for you loose
From now on, I am just passing through
From now on, just my feeling is true
From now on, call me Royal Blue
 


Oh, and here's a little bonus for you...Florence and the Machine covering Hospital Beds, one of my favorite (heh, that's all of them) Cold War Kids songs! (I'm such a fangirl. I swear.)