Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What I Wish I Knew #2, Plus Gretchen McNeil's Amazing Cover Reveal, aka Two-fer Tuesday

You guys get a two-fer today (In Utah talk that=Two-for-one). A double post. A writing tip, plus a freaking awesome cover reveal! If you want to see my first writing tip, go here.

Tip first (saving the best--the cover--for last).

The delete button is your friend! Cherish it. Love it! USE it!

When I started out writing, I was terrified of deleting anything. So I didn't. And if I was forced to remove something from my MS, I'd cut and paste it at the end of the book Just In Case.

Well, that's stupid. The human brain is so awesome, if you delete something, even whole chapters, and then decide to put them back in, chances are you'll write them better than the first version. The brain is amazing. It can remember things and rewrite things better than you've ever imagined. So don't be afraid to delete.

And now, if you want to see something...





And now.......... Drum-roll...................... click to see Gretchen McNeil's Possess!

Monday, February 21, 2011

What I Wish I knew When I Started

The title says it all, right?

I remember sitting down for the very first time to write a novel--this wasn't technically my "first novel" either--well, it was my first. But it was also going to be my only novel! (I'm currently writing my ninth or tenth, maybe even eleventh. I've written enough that I've lost count.)

Anyhow, I was in my mid-twenties, had one small child, was a stay-at-home mom, had no writing experience other than the little bit I'd learned in high school and a year of college. It had been a long time since I'd written anything! I was an infant in the writing world.

I couldn't even type without watching my fingers!

So, I sat down in a dark, cold basement, at my computer desk, and stared at the screen, wondering how in the world to put the images I saw in my head down onto paper. What I wish I knew back then? The first thing I wish I knew is:

LESS IS MORE (especially in YA).

I'd write eight paragraphs about what my character was wearing. Or a page on how the fog looked pooled below frost-covered pines. Instead of writing a story, I wrote a lot of description. And pretty crappy description!

More to come on this subject--there's a lot I wish I knew back then!

And come back tomorrow because I'm helping a fellow Bookanista, Gretchen McNeil, with her mind-blowing cover reveal!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ruby Red::A Bookanista Review

I had the pleasure of reading Ruby Red, by Kerstin Gier, this week. If you are only going to read one book this May, this is the one you should pick (release date: May 10).


Seriously. I could not put it down! I can see why it is already an international bestseller, and why it has been translated from its original German to English.

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

What I liked about this book: The entire story! From the beginning to the end, the pacing was perfect. There's humor. Mystery. Romance. Gorgeous costumes.

The main character: Gwyneth is awesome because she's an ordinary girl with an extraordinary, unwanted ability to time travel dropped unexpectedly into her lap. You like her from her first scene. And she's always being compared to her perfect, gorgeous cousin, so you have a lot of sympathy for her.

The other thing: The costumes! They are divine! Traveling back in time, the characters all have to dress the part. It was like I was the one stepping into a semi-comfortable corset, hoop skirt and eighteenth century gown.

And one more other thing: This book had content suitable for younger teens--no graphic sex and no graphic violence (there is violence, but handled very tastefully).

For more Bookanista reviews, check out the links below.

Corrine Jackson delights in DIVERGENT

Stasia Ward Kehoe celebrates THE LIAR SOCIETY

Matt Blackstone is loving THE HATE LIST

Rosemary Clement-Moore revisits HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE

Sarah Frances Hardy is nuts for THE NINTH WARD

Gretchen McNeil gushes over BLOOD AND FLOWERS

Jen Hayley raves about RAISED BY WOLVES

Shana Silver gets psyched about WITHER

Megan Miranda leaps and shouts for THE LIAR SOCIETY

Carolina Valdez Miller uncovers WORDS IN THE DUST

Beth Revis finds amazing MAGIC UNDER GLASS

Shannon Messenger spotlights the cover of SO SILVER BRIGHT

Michelle Hodkin toasts DEMONGLASS

Scott Tracey is inspired by ANGELFIRE

Christine Fonseca shares her Guestanista Post: The Lost Hero

LiLa Roecker hosts a sunny tour stop for POSSUM SUMMER

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Rest of the Story

You guys make me laugh. I can imagine the stories you're making up to fill in the blanks about the conclusion to my terrible Valentine's Day, posted about here. The sad truth is, the guy was a jerk and got a better Valentine's Day offer (in his obviously flawed opinion)--night snowboarding--so ditched me. He didn't do much to make it up back then (But he has since mended his ways!).

I was such a besotted, love-sick fool that, after tearing the petals off the rose I'd gotten for him--and stomping them into the snow, and after he gave me a good dose of puppy dog eyes, I totally forgave him.

Some of you know I got on a greyhound bus days after my twenty-first birthday, rode it across the USA, and married him. What does this have to do with writing? I guess I know how it feels to be so in love that you are willing to risk everything. Makes for a good story, at least.

To this day I have no regrets. I followed my heart and it led me to a really good place.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Truth Time, Valentine's Style

So here is the brutal truth.

Thirteen years ago I met one of those dark, handsome, brooding guys who makes you sweat just by looking at you, who you break all the rules for, who your mother finds undeniably handsome and irreparably flawed, and who your father instantly hates.

We met in January.

Jump ahead to February, the fourteenth to be exact. Valentine's Day. This guy had no car, so asked me to drive the 45 minutes to his house so that we could be together on such a romantic holiday.

So I did.

And when I got to his house, (I had a wrapped gift for him--a book--and a red rose . . . yeah, I was totally in love) I knocked on the door, and knocked, and knocked some more, and then pounded on the door. No one answered. I tried to go inside. The door was locked.

So, in spite of the really cold weather, I sat in my car and froze my butt off for an hour, (surely I'd gotten the time wrong, right? He must have said 6:30, not 5:30) until someone finally came home. Was it The Guy? Nope. His roommate. Roomie let me into the house and cringed--LITERALLY CRINGED--when he saw the gift and rose in my hands. I tried to ignore the bile and fury and embarrassment surging through me and looked around.

My dear, handsome, mysterious boyfriend was gone. So were his snowboard, boots, gloves, coat, hat, goggles . . . you get the picture.

So, yeah--worst Valentine's Day ever.

Wanna know the funny part? I married him four months later (and we're still married). And I also know exactly how it feels to be stood up--perfect knowledge for a writer, right? But I still have to ask myself . . . was the knowledge worth the price?

What's your worst Valentine's Day? And don't be shy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Conference Made of Awesome

I just found out about a totally awesome conference, Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers! So awesome, I thought I'd give you guys a heads-up. It takes place in Sandy, Utah (between Provo and Salt Lake), just down the road from where I grew up, ironically, and has presenters like:

Ally Condie
Holly Black
Martine Leavitt
Louise Plummer
A. E. Cannon
Editor Alyson Heller (Aladdin Books)
Lisa Yoskowits (Disney)
Agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown)

So if you're in the area, or want to travel, check out the blurb below for more deets and a link. If I'm lucky, I'll see you there!

Registration is now open for the 2011 week-long Conference on Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. This year, the conference will take place at Waterford school in Sandy, Utah, June 13-17. Continuing its tradition of providing helpful instruction from published authors as well as presentations by industry professionals, this year’s conference features a keynote address by author Ally Condie, and workshops by national authors Holly Black, Martine Leavitt, Louise Plummer, Kathleen Duey, Mike Knudson, Claudia Mills, Emily Wing Smith, Sharlee Glenn, Trudy Harris, Kristyn Crow, and illustrator Kevin Hawkes. We are also providing a more intensive workshop for advanced writers led by A.E. Cannon called the Writer's Boot Camp. Several other nationally-recognized authors and illustrators will lead break-out discussions. Participating are editors Alyson Heller (Aladdin Books), Lisa Yoskowitz (Disney), and Associate Agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Agency). For more information, including registration instructions and author bios, go here!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Entice by Carrie Jones::A Bookanista Review

Just in case you have a brain like mine (overloaded with all sorts of awesome nonsense), Thursday is Bookanista review day on my blog. Who/what, you ask, are the Bookanistas/Bookanistos (yeah . . . some guys are in there, too)? The Bookanistas/os are a madly talented group of writers in all different phases of their careers. If you want to know more about
us individually, go check out this page here.

And now, on with the review! First off, AWESOME cover, right? Right. This is one of those covers that you see and don't care what the book is about--you're going to read it no matter what!

Introducing Entice by Carrie Jones:

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla? And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't turned into just any pixie. . . She's Astley's queen.

My favorite thing about this book: Carrie Jones makes Astely, pixie king to Zara's pixie queen, absolutely irresistible. He's flawed yet noble. And wholly devoted to Zara, even though she is sort of using him to save Nick.

What I liked about Zara: She's, well, breakable. Things never go quite right for her and she pays for it with physical injuries as well as the consequence of facing a mad mother and grandma.

The other thing I liked: Carrie Jones works magic with the teen voice. She's awesome at prose, at humor, at description, at making each character quirky.

Over all, this was a great read! Go check it out here!

For other superb Bookanista reviews you must check out (and if you only click one link, click the first one. Beth Revis has planned something top-secret to reveal today):

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Plotting Brilliance

I wish I could say the plotting brilliance referred to in this post's title is my own.

It's not.

I'm one of those people who doesn't know the details of the manuscript I'm writing until I type The End.

Don't get me wrong! I know HOW it will end, just not quite how I'm going to get my characters there. Example: the fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line, right? Not in my writing! If point A is page one, then point B is page 300. And there are about 5,000 different routs between the two.

So I found a couple of really helpful articles, and since I figure (hope?) I'm not the only plot-challenged person out there, thought I'd share.

Ironically, the first is an awesome article my sister, Suzette Saxton, wrote for the Querytracker blog, all about how to more-or-less connect the dots of your plot. That one's right here.

And the other article is a piece of brilliance by Cheryl Klein, and it is right here. (Thanks B.J. Anderson for sending me this one!)

Another spectacular post--Do you ever feel like you're trapped on the outside of the writing world, looking in? Check out Elana's blog.

And that's all for now. Be safe! I hear the weather is CRAZY all over the place!