Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Five!

1. This weekend is the LA Times Festival of Books! It's on Saturday and Sunday, but I'll only be there on Saturday, since my bff's wedding shower is on Sunday. Is anyone going? I'll be lurking around the YA stage or stalking Dave Eggers, so if you see me, come say hi!

2. I've been working on an outline, and I ran my major idea by my writing group. They said it still needed something, so I started brainstorming. Well, one of my CPs suggested writing a query for the book, since I discovered plot issues with my other project once I started trying to pitch it or put together a query. Well wouldn't you know, that was an awesome exercise. Just writing those two paragraphs really showed me where I needed conflict and where my plot was weak. I've been fiddling with it a lot, and I really think I'm getting somewhere! I'm so excited for this new project.

I know we think of the query as that thing we do once the book is totally finished, but I have to say, it's also super helpful as an outlining tool!

3. I'm officially registered for SCBWI LA! YAY. I'm seriously going to start crossing every day off of my calendar until it gets here. YOU GUYS...me and Heather and Shana hanging out for an entire weekend. I can't even. Add that to all the awesomeness I have in store for the summer...my bff's bachelorette party in Austin and then her wedding, another wedding in San Diego, and a vacation with my family to Costa Rica. Man, is it summer yet? These last few weeks of school can't go by fast enough.

4. It's been HOT this week in Southern California, and I couldn't be happier. I know some people like WEATHER and SEASONS, but I am not one of those people. I would be perfectly happy if the temperature hovered around 85 all the time. I get very cold very easily, and I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so a warm Jess really is a happy Jess. And this week I've been remembering how nice it feels to have the sun on my skin. I hope it keeps up and a chill doesn't slip back in. I'm so ready to retire my boots and put my flip flops back into rotation for good.

5.
Doesn't he look so regal? My little dog looks wise beyond his 3 years.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! And local people, hopefully I'll see you at the Festival of Books tomorrow!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Love - Clarity

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.



And a curse.



When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?


I didn't know much about Clarity when I started reading it. Ok, I didn't know anything about it. Just that I'd heard that it was good. So I didn't know it was a murder mystery with psychic powers. Yeah...murder mystery PLUS powers. So awesome, right? 


I have to admit, I'm finding myself loving mystery stories lately. I like trying to figure things out with the narrator, discovering the clues, questioning the suspects, following the leads. Clarity had all of this, and it was so much fun. The murder victim seems totally random at first, but it all gets more and more relevant to Clare as she discovers the clues, and I like the way the whole story kept building and building. 


There are some awesome boys in this book, too. Clare's brother Perry, her ex-boyfriend Justin, and the smoldering new boy in town Gabriel who is all hot and mysterious and has a tattoo. (Obviously her brother wasn't interesting as a love interest, but he was a fun character to read about and I enjoyed his antics.) 


Then there was the addition of the powers, which wasn't distracting or annoying at all. It added an interesting layer to solving this mystery, and it was cool to see that Clare's powers are both a positive and negative force in her life.


If you feel like your reading list has been missing an awesome YA murder mystery, then you need Clarity in your life now. It's something different than everything else that's out there right now, and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - If Your WIP Were Music

It's been awhile since I've had a chance to participate in Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway. The timing just never works out for me. But it works today...and it's a totally perfect topic for me!

This week's question:
If your WIP or favorite book were music, what song(s) would it be?


I'm sure it's pretty obvious to anyone who has been reading this blog for any amount of time that I LOVE music. So of course I have songs for my WIPs. They have ever evolving playlists, even. I know I just did Tuesday Tunes yesterday, but I will always take any excuse to talk about the music that inspires me. 


Ok, my SNI is currently in the outlining stage, which means the details are still up in the air. But so far, this song sort of sums it up. 

This is the studio version with lyrics


This is the live version with Jesse Lacey <3 <3 <3
(Yes, I included two versions of the same song...would you expect anything less from me?)


This could change, obviously, since I just started working on this one. But right now, this is the song. 


Oh, also sorta this one. 





Then there is my novel that is ON PAUSE right now. I love my MC too much to leave it be...and this is her theme song.

Aww, just listening to this song made me miss her. 


And I think I mentioned before that this is the song that inspired that book

Yeah, yeah...more Brand New. What can I say? I love them. They are a continuing source of inspiration for me. 


Do you have songs for your stories? Do songs inspire you like they inspire me?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Tunes (13)

I've been trying to figure out which Bon Iver song to feature on here. I honestly love so many of them for different reasons, and they all really love me, so it was hard to choose. This one, though. This one is my very favorite. And then I heard this live version and, oh my goodness, you guys...I DIED. I can't stop listening to this live version. It's amazing.

Skinny Love is one of my Very Special Songs, and I actually haven't listened to it in a long time because it gets me too emotional. This song is just too raw, and it breaks my heart over and over every time I hear it. And watching this video and seeing Justin's face when he sings this song...ugh. I am obviously feeling what he wants me to feel when I listen to it.

If you're familiar with this amazing song, you need to check out this gorgeous video.



Skinny Love - Bon Iver


Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order's tall

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And in the morning I'll be with you
But it will be a different kind
And I'll be holding all the tickets 
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love, what happened here?
Suckle on the hope in light brassieres
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full, so slow on the split

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And now all your love is wasted
And then who the hell was I?
And I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goals For the Week - 4/25/11

I swear, I don't FEEL like I'm that busy. But when it comes time to put one of these posts together, I look back at my week and realize I was running around so much that I never actually got anything done. I hate that.


Goals for the week of 4/18

*Finish Snowflake Outline

*Share outline to get feedback on it now. I don't want to get super far in the process to realize I have a broken/boring plot


I totally overestimated the amount of time I would have to work this week...as usual. Tuesday I worked all night at Job 2, Wednesday I worked all night at Open House, Friday I was exhausted after my first week back at work, Saturday I worked all day and hung out with BIL and SIL the second I got home, and Sunday was Easter time with the family. I got a lot of work done on my outline, but I didn't finish it / get it to a sharing point like I wanted to. 


But I did read a book!


I know in my heart that if I want to make progress on my writing that I need to start cutting back on social obligations. But it's so hard because spending time with the people I love is super important to me. I can't say no to BIL and SIL who just got married. I can't NOT hang out with my parents and grandparents on Easter. I'm thinking of this coming week...I have friends from my writing group coming in from out of town for the LA Times Festival of Books and I have my BFF's wedding shower. Obviously I'm going to do those things. And it's not that every thing that I do is on the level of BFF's wedding shower and out of town friends, but every thing I commit to is still important to me in its own way. 


How do you decide what to do and what to say no to? Am I just too social for my own good? I honestly feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do all of the things I need and want to do, and it makes me so sad. 


It also makes me sad that it seems like every goal recap is just a list of excuses for me not making my goals. It makes me feel like such a failure.


Goals for the week of 4/25


*Finish the outline!


Like I said, my coming weekend is pretty much shot. It's all for GOOD stuff, but I won't really have any free time to write. I also have to do a lot of shopping for the shower (luckily I'm not hosting it...my whole week would be blown), and we have state testing at work, so things there will just be weird. So keeping all that in mind, I really just want to finish my snowflake. I hope I can do it...I'm going to put a lot of emphasis on this goal so I can go to the next level with this new WIP.


Good luck to all of you with your goals this week. And wish me luck learning how to prioritize! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Last week I went to LA and auditioned for a game show. You can read about the experience over on my buddy Wan's blog if you are interested. I was super stoked that Wan invited me to attend the audition with her, and I was even more stoked that I was on Spring Break and could spend an afternoon in LA without any worries. There were THREE book questions on the initial trivia quiz (one about Harry Potter, one about Moby Dick, and one about Stephen King) and then quite a few in the part of the audition where they had us playing the trivia game one on one against each other. One of the questions was even about The Princess Diaries...the book not the movie! Go YA!

Hopefully my random knowledge of strange things will get me on this show...mama needs some money! Keep your fingers crossed for me! (And for Wan!)


2. Speaking of random knowledge of strange things...the other day a song from my childhood popped into my head. Suddenly I found myself singing the entire chorus in my head, even though I haven't heard it in well over 20 years. (OMG, that makes me sound so freaking old. *sob*)

I decided to Google it to see what it was from. I typed some of the lyrics into Google and...nothing. NOTHING. The only thing that came up was where someone quoted it to someone else in a myspace comment from 2007. THAT'S IT.

And it made me wonder...if you Google something and nothing comes up, does that thing actually exist? Did it ever exist? If this song isn't mentioned anywhere on the internet, did I ever really hear it?

Anyway, here are the lyrics I remember, just in case someone out there has heard it and can solve this mystery for me. I had it on a cassette and I think it had a storybook that went with it...it was almost like a little audio book. The song is from the POV of a dog, and I think he was on some sort of adventure with his master. It also may have been from my church, but I don't remember for sure.

I don't growl, I don't bite
I just do what is rrrr-ight (this sounded like a little bark)
I keep a-waggin' my tail
I keep my nose on the trail
If I'm a-runnin' along and
I'm a-barkin' my song
I won't have to growl the blues no more

The song OBVIOUSLY exists because I remember these lyrics and this person in England posted them on myspace. Does this ring a bell to anyone else? It's such a huge mystery to me right now.


3. Thanks for all of your comments yesterday about my question about blog replies. I'm currently replying to all of my comments via email...this works for me because I like to reply to blog comments at work during down time and gmail is an easy way to do that. Plus most blog platforms are blocked at my school, so visiting other blogs is impossible when I'm there. I do need to get to everyone's blog more often, though...especially because not everyone has an email address attached to their Blogger profile.

I just like interacting with the people who come over here to say hi. That's the best part of blogging, IMO. Hopefully I'll figure out the best way to do it!


4. I haven't read a book in almost a month. I'm so ashamed. I have SO MANY good books surrounding me, and I just look at them and keep sitting on the couch. I guess my other WIP wasn't the only thing I needed to take a break from this month. Hopefully I get back in my groove soon...I have some ARCs here that I need to pass on to my friends. Don't want to keep them waiting.

What do you do to snap yourself out of a reading rut? I really need to shake this off.


5. I've had this window open for hours, trying to come up with a #5. I started to talk about Jason Segel, Greg Laswell, Glee, my dog, and work. I deleted all of them, thinking that something better would come up. But nothing did, and #5 remained empty. (I even moved #5 up to #1 and moved everything else down for a hot minute there.) The crappy thing is, I wanted to finish this post before I moved on to writing, so NOTHING HAS GOTTEN DONE as I waited for inspiration to strike.

I seriously hate this about myself. My focus on tasks is SO WEIRD.

So, here we go. Jason Segel is #1 on my laminated celebrity freebie list, I saw Greg Laswell at a bar down the street from me last week with my girlfriends and I took a picture with him, I never blogged about the live Glee Q&A I went to awhile back and I still need to do that, I love my dog and sing to him often, and my problem 6th period has seemed to have a strange turnaround and has suddenly become...not bad.

THERE YOU GO.

Now I'm off to write.

HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nothing To See Here

Two late nights have left me no time to blog this week! Sad! I figure this cute pic of my pup will have to do until I don't have to work Job 2 or have Open House after work and can actually sit down and type up a proper post.

Look at that face! Don't you just DIE?

I will leave you all with a blogging question, though. Gunner wants to know...do you respond to your blog comments? How do you do it? Do you reply in the comments? (I wish Blogger would let you properly reply to comments. Get it together, Blogger!) Do you email replies? Do you visit the commenter's blog in return? And as a commenter, what kind of reply (if any) do you prefer? I'm just curious.

Have a fantastic day everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Congratulations to Melissa!

You know what I love? I love when great things happen to my awesome friends.

I'm so excited to share the news that my friend and writing buddy Melissa Landers has landed an agent!

YAY MELISSA!

Melissa signed with Nicole Resciniti with The Seymour Agency and I couldn't be happier for her. Melissa has a hot romance AND a YA sci-fi...both of which I can't wait to see on the shelves.

You know what you get for this, Melissa? Yeah, that's right. This guy:
He comes out when I'm really excited about things

Head on over to Melissa's blog if you have a chance to read her agent story and give her some love.

Melissa is now the second person in our little writing group to snag an agent. I can't wait to see what amazing things are in store for the rest of us!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Goals For the Week - 4/18/11

Well, my Spring Break is over and I'm officially back to work. I didn't have the restful or productive Spring Break I was hoping to have. I don't know why...I guess I just worked a lot at Job 2 and had crap to do that I didn't anticipate.

Excuses, excuses, right? I don't know why I never get the things I need to get done all taken care of.

Goals for the week of 4/11

*Read two books
OMG, I didn't read ANYTHING. I am such a failure at reading this year. I truly don't know what my problem is.
*Outline New Idea (I really like the Snowflake method of outlining, and I'm going to give that a try)
I got through the first 4.5 steps of the Snowflake Outline (The link to the Snowflake is here in case you aren't familiar with it). I spent a lot of time at Panera one day and really pounded a lot of it out. It felt good. 




Goals for the week of 4/18


*Finish Snowflake Outline


*Share outline to get feedback on it now. I don't want to get super far in the process to realize I have a broken/boring plot


Oh man, you guys, plot is SO my weakness. I really need to get this nailed out before I get knee-deep in a hot mess like last time. 


I'm not putting a book on my list this week. It's my first week back at work, I have Open House (why on Earth did they do that to us), I have 2 shifts at Job 2, and I really want to finish this outline, so I don't want to put it on the list. But, knowing me, I'll probably pick up a book just to procrastinate on my list. Haha. I'm so predictable. 


I hope you all have a great week ahead of you...kick the butt of all of your goals!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Countdown Is On!

It's the last day of my epic Spring Break, and I couldn't be more sad about it. I still have the weekend, of course, but two weeks off is long enough to get used to it, and believe me...I got used to it. There's nothing better than sleeping in, snuggling with the dog, and putzing around the house every day. Now I just have 10 weeks left of the school year, and, man, the end of the year always goes by SUPER fast. This is the time of year where I get out a big calendar and start crossing off each day until I get closer and closer to June.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I adore my students. I laugh with them every day, which is the best thing about what I do. But we all get pretty squirrely toward the end of the year, and we are all desperate for a break.

So...the countdown is on! Summer here I come!

And the highlight of my summer is going to be the SCBWI LA conference. Registration opened today...is anyone going?

I seriously can't wait for this conference. Two of my very favorite writer buddies are coming along with me, and we are going to have a blast meeting up with everyone. Seriously, I love learning new things and all, but I REALLY love meeting up with all the other writers there, some of whom I "know" through Twitter but have never met IRL, and just talking shop. So much fun.

And then there's this:
KEYNOTE SPEAKER JOHN GREEN FTMFW!

Do you guys know how much I love John Green? Well, yeah. I do. And he is also fond of me. I have proof.


I swear, my posture isn't usually so bad. That backpack weighed like 7,000 pounds.

Due to many unforeseen expenses this year, my conference budget is drained right now. So I won't be able to register for a few weeks. I had really hoped to do one of the Author Intensives, but it sounds like they are filling up pretty quickly already. So we'll see if they are still available when I finally get to register. If not, oh well, I can save that money for drinks in the lobby bar.

If any of you are going to be at the LA conference, please let me know! I'd love to meet up!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Rocked The Drop!

Today is Teen Lit Day and the lovely ladies at Readergirlz have helped promote Rocking The Drop!

I took Gunner out to Rock The Drop with me and we headed across the street to the local high school...where I was met with a totally empty parking lot. Dang, they were on Spring Break. I thought I had seen a bunch of them walking home from school, but I guess that was last week. I didn't want to drop my book on an empty campus, so I needed a Plan B.

I had already been planning on grabbing lunch at this gathering of food trucks that happens every Thursday. I never get to go because of work, so I wanted to take advantage of my time off and hit it up. I went last week and got a bacon grilled cheese sandwich, and I really wanted to try something new today. I figured I would try to come up with Plan B while I was nomming on my food truck food.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find the food truck gathering crawling with teens! I guess they had the same idea as me...use Spring Break to hit up the food trucks! Since I was there, I decided it would be a perfect place to Rock The Drop.

Gunner was a little confused about what we were doing...and he couldn't figure out why I kept trying to get him to pose with a book.
He's usually really good about posing...I guess there were so many smells at the food trucks that he just couldn't concentrate on much else.

Of the eight food trucks there, I figured the French Fry Truck was the one most likely to attract teens, so I snuck up to it, dropped my book, snapped a quick picture, and then took off.


And, in case you're wondering, I ate at the crepe truck today...I got a savory crepe and a Nutella crepe! YUM!

Did anyone else Rock The Drop today?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Signed Book Giveaway Winners

Thanks everyone for entering my signed book giveaway! I'm excited to share these signed books with you!

The winner of a signed copy of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is
JENNIE

The winner of a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick is
EMILY

The winner of a signed copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is
JACKI

The winner of a signed copy of Evermore by Alyson Noel is
AMARIS

The winner of a signed copy of Burned by Ellen Hopkins is
CHLOE

Yay winners! I'll be emailing you guys for your addresses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teen Lit Day: Are You Going To Rock The Drop?

Last year I participated in Teen Lit Day and dropped off three Sarah Dessen books around my community where teens could find them.

Dropped at the local community center, a bike parked at the local high school, and a table outside the local frozen yogurt shop.


This year Teen Lit Day is on Thursday. I've been so excited to Rock The Drop again this year! I don't know what book(s) I'm going to drop, but I'm already planning my strategy. Are you going to Rock The Drop?

If you're interested in participating, check out the info over on Readergirlz. It's a fun way to share the love of YA lit with teens in your community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Goals For the Week - 4/11/11 (And A Pretty Big Decision)

Week One of Spring Break is in the books. It wasn't as relaxing as I had hoped it would be, but I did get to do some fun things. Yay for fun!

Ok, let's recap.

Goals for the week of 4/4 
*I'm behind on critiquing manuscripts. I have one that has been sitting in my inbox for awhile now, so I need to get on that!
I started...and it's awesome! My friends are so talented. 


*Read at least one book...but with the extra free time, I'd really like to read more. I'm only at 14 books for the year, which is really behind where I'd like to be.
Let's not talk about it.


*I don't even know what goals to give myself on the WIP...I literally have no idea what I'm going to be able to achieve and what I am capable of getting done. This is such a non-goal, but I just want to MAKE SOME MAJOR PROGRESS. 
I didn't do this. I didn't open it once. I made excuse after excuse. So this led me to a decision that I'll detail more below. 



*Get started right away in the morning and/or don't feel bad about leaving the dog home alone and go work at Panera. 
I tried. Oh lord, I tried. I packed up my computer and drove to Panera. But on the way I realized I forgot my headphones. I can't work there without music. So I stopped by TJ Maxx to pick some up. But then I thought, ugh, why spend money on headphones when I have 2 perfectly good pairs at home. But I couldn't go back and get them because that would make the dog sad. And then I thought about the sad look the dog gives me, and, really, I could do work at home just as easily at Panera, so I went home instead and snuggled with the dog. 


I am such a sucker for that little guy, I swear. 


*Start going to yoga this week. 
I did this! I went twice and I really love it. It's been on my mind lately to start something active again, and I think yoga is going to be the perfect fit for me. I got a cheap month at this studio through LivingSocial, then I have a free week at another studio. We'll see which one I like better and decide to start going to regularly. 


Yeah, I did a pretty crappy job with my goals this week. 


Ok, so my big decision. 


I decided to put my WIP away for awhile and start something new. 


I didn't want to do this AT ALL. I made a promise to myself that I was going to take this novel as far as I could take it. I was going to polish it to the best of my ability and query it to 100 rejections. I wanted more than anything to get this thing written. 


But the thing is, it's just become...I don't know. I can't really explain it. It started out as one thing, but I didn't feel like that one thing was good enough, so I added this and that and this and that, and all the adding has taken it so far away from what I wanted it to be. It has gotten to the point that it is so far from the thing I started that I don't even want to work on it anymore. I know that writing is hard work, but this one isn't even fun anymore, and I'm finding ways to justify to myself not working on it. 


So I'm taking a break. 


Maybe I'll go back to it, maybe I won't. I've always felt in my heard that it's not going to be the one. And as soon as I made this decision (while I was getting a massage on Friday...heh) I felt so full of inner peace (yes, I'm aware at how crunchy and new-agey that sounds) that I just knew this was the right thing for me to do right now. It was like a weight had been lifted. 


It kills me to take 2 years of work and put it away, but I feel like it's such a hot mess that I don't really have a choice. 


So, I'm going to put all of my energy into drafting the idea I've been poking at for awhile now. Yay! I'm glad I have a whole week of Spring Break left to get started.


Goals for the week of 4/11


*Read two books


*Outline New Idea (I really like the Snowflake method of outlining, and I'm going to give that a try)


Keeping the goals simple so I don't get discouraged. I'm feeling so good about this!


What do you have in store for this week? 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Giveaway Chain Continues!

Remember my The Sky Is Everywhere giveaway?


Well, Jacki, the winner of my giveaway, is now continuing the giveaway chain by hosting a giveaway on her blog, Lovely Little Shelf.

If you entered my giveaway, or even if you didn't, go enter over on Jacki's blog! I really love this giveaway chain (started by the lovely Casey McCormick) and I want to see it continue!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Love - Stay

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is--and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.


Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....


I always forget how much I love Deb Caletti's writing. I really need to get off of my butt and read every single one of her books.

This newest one of hers was excellent.

The book is goes back and forth between Clara now, hiding from Christian, and Clara as she gets to know him and fall for him. Because of this structure, you really get to see what led her into this dangerous relationship and why she stayed in it for so long. You see the slow progression of Christian's obsession as well as the result...Clara and her dad far away from their home to keep Clara safe. The other cool thing about the structure...you just know that the two stories are going to intersect. You just don't know when or how, and I SWEAR, my heart was beating overtime while reading this book. I was so scared for Clara. I was scared to turn the page. Just like her, I didn't know what to expect from Christian.

As for the writing, Deb Caletti really has a way of capturing a pitch-perfect teen voice in a literary way. Her teen voice is never a shallow one, never a stupid one. This book is full of gorgeous writing, but Clara never seems inaccessible or older than her age. She seems like exactly what she is supposed to be...a smart teen girl who is struggling with an impossible situation. I read this book on my iPad, but had it been an actual ARC, my copy would have been sticky noted and highlighted because there were so many fantastic metaphors that I just drooled over.

Stay is such an honest portrayal of an obsessive relationship, and it's also an honest look at the relationship between a parent and a child who is almost an adult. I loved the relationship between Clara and her dad, as complicated and real as it was. If you're looking for a contemporary YA with a little more depth and some awesome writing, this is your book.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for the e-galley

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bookshelf Cleaning and Signed Book Giveaway

On Sunday I innocently mentioned to the husband that I wanted to organize our larger bookshelf and get rid of some books I never read. It's something that had been on my mind for awhile, but actually pulling all of the books off of the shelf and going through them seemed like such a daunting task that I would just look at the shelf, shake my head, and go back to the couch.

Well, I should have never mentioned my thoughts to the husband. He keeps our house amazingly clean because he's insane about clutter, and I suspect the bookshelf had been poking at his sensibilities for awhile now. As soon as I mentioned the possibility of organizing the shelf, he was all over me until I actually did it. (Note to self: Never mention these things to him in the future.)

So, on Sunday afternoon I found myself digging through my shelves and making them look pretty.

Awhile ago we got this small shelf, and I put all of my pretty YA hardcovers on it. It's so organized and clean...see?

The big shelf? It's not so pretty. In fact, it's a bit of a disaster.

I decided I needed to give it some order, so I pulled everything off and put it into piles. Classics, adult hardcover, adult paperback, YA hardcover, YA paperback, travel books, finance books, etc. There was a pretty large pile of books I needed to accept that I would never read, so I put them all in a box to donate to the library. I also realize I had quite a few duplicate books in there...oops. 

Then I put them all back on the shelf in some sort of order. 

The only major problem I came across was that this shelf is DEEP. There's actually room for THREE rows of books on each shelf. I kept each shelf to two, but it was hard deciding which books would be on the outside shelves. I have some books I didn't mind hiding...like the personal finance books and what-not. But a lot of my pretty adult hardcovers ended up getting hidden, and I couldn't really figure out a way around that. For me...my bookshelf is like my trophy case. The books I choose to keep and display are books that I love or books that say something about me. So it was easy to keep some hidden, but hard for me to hide others. I think this just means I need more shelving so I can show off all of my pretty books!

Anyway, here's how it turned out. Does it look better?
What I really need is a bigger place with more shelving, but this will do for now. Of course, I currently have SEVEN books on order from Borders.com and I have no idea where those will go when they arrive. The husband and I are looking into more shelving, but our place is so tiny we are running out of room. I guess some of his stuff will have to go!

Well, as I was going through my shelf I found a stack of signed books that I gathered to give away on my other blog, but I never did. I don't really have room for them, so I guess I will give them away here!

These are the books I have available (all of them are paperbacks signed by the author)
  
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Evermore by Alyson Noel
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Just fill out the form below if you want to win one of these signed books. Sorry, international friends, I can only afford to ship these to US or Canada mailing addresses. I'll pick winners on Tuesday, April 12, so you have a week to enter. 

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Monday, April 4, 2011

Goals For the Week - 4/4/11

I'M ON SPRING BREAK! FOR TWO WEEKS!
Yeah, you could say I'm a little excited. 


My life has been so unbelievably busy and just HARD for the past month. I haven't been able to make progress on anything, and I feel like I've been losing sight of my goals and losing my focus on what I want and what I'm trying to achieve. 


I'm so excited to have some time off from work to get back on track. Of course, I don't have time off from life in general. I'm working extra shifts at my 2nd job because I can, and I have lots of stuff to do, as usual. But having the extra time to relax is going to make a huge difference. 


Goals for the week of 3/28
*Read a book
Nope. 

*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)
I did this on Monday, and then I took Tuesday off the other job and worked some more. I also did an hour last night. Wednesday and Thursday were spent scrambling around getting ready for Spring Break, quarter grades, and the wedding. It was an exhausting week. I'm crossing this off because I'm amazed that I got anything done at all. 


Goals for the week of 4/4
*I'm behind on critiquing manuscripts. I have one that has been sitting in my inbox for awhile now, so I need to get on that!


*Read at least one book...but with the extra free time, I'd really like to read more. I'm only at 14 books for the year, which is really behind where I'd like to be.


*I don't even know what goals to give myself on the WIP...I literally have no idea what I'm going to be able to achieve and what I am capable of getting done. This is such a non-goal, but I just want to MAKE SOME MAJOR PROGRESS. 


*Get started right away in the morning and/or don't feel bad about leaving the dog home alone and go work at Panera. 


*Start going to yoga this week. 


Ok, so there are my goals. Let's see how I do. I know I'm on vacation, but I can't afford to be lazy. 


Good luck to all of you with your goals this week!

Friday, April 1, 2011

SCBWI Retreat Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my local SCBWI chapter's Spring Retreat at South Coast Winery in Temecula. As I mentioned, I went to this retreat last year, and it was my very first writing event ever.

Friday night was a reception with the four editors. They set it up so everyone there had 10-minute meetings with two of the editors. The meetings weren't solo, but it was just you and one other person, so it was a great way to get some face time with the editors, introduce yourself, etc.

In the time you weren't meeting with the editors, you had time to snack (or, if you were me, wolf down prosciutto like it was the last food on earth), grab some wine, and meet some of the other attendees. I was happy to see some faces I recognized. The ever-present Shannon Messenger was there, and I always love running into her at local events. I also got to meet Dana Elmendorf who I know from Twitter and her blog. After the reception, Dana (who is RAD) and I headed over to Yard House for some late-night drinks, which was awesome. Here are two women enjoying drinks at the bar, but if you got close enough to us you would hear us talking about YA books the whole time. Tee hee.

Saturday was a LOOOOONG day. We had presentations from each of the editors on different aspects of writing, lunch with editors at our tables to chat with, a critique session, and some first pages with the editors. I was so happy that my first pages got nothing but good feedback from the editors, and I got some really helpful feedback from the critique session. The editor presentations were great, too.

My husband brought the dog and hung out with me on Saturday night, which was a nice mental break. We found a Korean BBQ place and I ate like the world was coming to an end. I had been FREEZING all day at the conference (even with a sweater and a scarf) so it was nice to be so close to an open flame. It really warmed me up. I passed out on my hotel bed all fat and happy.

Sunday we had some more first pages, then presentations by some really awesome authors. I was excited to meet Mary Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, the book I'm reading aloud to my students this year. They love the book and look forward to hearing it during class, so it was fun to tell her that.

I was excited that Robin, one of the amazing ladies in my online crit group, won first place for her AWESOME MG story. I'm so in love with this story of hers, and I was thrilled when I heard her name announced. No contest wins for me, but I never really expect that my silly story about geek love is going to win anything. I was just super pleased with my positive first pages comments and my great critique!

After the retreat was over, Husband, Gunner, and I hit some of the local wineries. We got a baked brie bowl at one, did a tasting at another, then headed back to South Coast to have lunch with some friends who live in the area.

It ended up being a super amazing weekend. I always get so pumped at these writing events; they are just so energizing. Now I don't have anything on the agenda until the LA SCBWI conference in the summer. Is anyone planning on going to that one?

Oh, and I'll leave you with a silly confession: Last year I noticed a girl (I love how I call people girls when I am in my 30s and I am talking about people around my own age...I guess I never grow up) who just seemed so confident and like she knew what she was talking about and, I don't know, I could just TELL she was a good writer. And if you remember, I mentioned I was really nervous and intimidated last year. Well, this year, that girl came up and talked to me. Like I knew what I was talking about or something. And it just made me feel COOL. It's funny and ridiculous how those high school feelings never go away, isn't it? I recognize how silly this is, and I couldn't help but laugh at what a YA I am at heart. So, thanks Heather for making me feel like I was sitting at the cool kids table this year. It meant a lot.