Monday, May 31, 2010


Memorial Day has become somewhat of a sanctuary for most of us, has it not?  I mean, a three day weekend, often spent barbecuing, boating or hitting the beach.  Relaxing with family as we welcome summer with open arms.

Not to be a downer, but I'd like to remind everyone that Memorial Day wasn't founded to give hard-working American's a day off.  It was established as a day to recognize the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  I love the title of an 1867 poem: "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping," about women of the South who may have been the first to recognize a day of remembrance.    

I, myself, am guilty historically of letting the day pass without taking the time to remember our nation's fallen heros.  And for the first time, I just realized that our country has a national "Moment of Remembrance."  At 3 p.m. local time, all Americans should stop and either "informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."
Photo from
So I encourage you, whatever else you are doing this Memorial Day to bring a bit of sanctuary to your lives, pause for just a moment at 3 p.m. to remember the fallen.

Have a safe & happy holiday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

FRIDAY FREESTYLE DOUBLE FEATURE: Eric Luper Releases a Love Manifesto!

Today we are celebrating with Eric Luper on his upcoming release of Seth Baumbartner's Love ManifestoFor our readers, here'’s the flap copy:       
Seth Baumgartner just had the worst day of his life.

His girlfriend dumped him (at Applebee's), he spied his father on a date with a woman who is not his mother (also at Applebee's!), and he lost his fourth job of the year. It's like every relationship he cares about is imploding, and he can't figure out what's going on.

To find answers, Seth decides to start an anonymous podcast called The Love Manifesto, exploring "what love is, why love is, and why we're stupid enough to keep going back for more." Things start looking up when Seth gets a job at a golf club with his hilarious and smut-minded best friend, Dimitri, and Dimitri's sister, Audrey. With their help, Seth tracks down his father's mystery date, hits the most infamous bogey in the history of golf, and discovers that sometimes love means eating the worst chicken-salad sandwich you can ever imagine. 
If that doesn'’t make you want to run out and buy the novel, you'’re not a true YA fan!

Eric is one of those brilliant and elusive authors who writes for BOYS.  (We know, gasp!)  

OY: Eric, did you set out to start writing for male readers, or did it just happen that way?

EL: First of all, I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with the word 'brilliant' when it comes to writing for boys. I just got back from Book Expo America (BEA) today and I spent time with R.L. Stine, Lemony Snicket, Jon Scieszka, David Lubar, Mo Willems, Jeff Kinney, Adam Rex, and oodles of other 'authors for boys.' Those guys are brilliant and I really don't consider myself in their league. Plus, somebody brilliant probably wouldn't use the word 'oodles.'
As far as making the decision to write for boys, I think it is second nature for a male to write a male protagonist. So, I suppose it just happened that way. However, I'm giving some thought to writing a novel with a female protagonist soon. Stay tuned...

OY: Ok, we're all really jealous that you were at BEA.  But changing gears, we don't want to be too presumptuous, but we're sure you wanted to describe your settings as accurately as possible.  So how many times did you eat at Applebee’s while writing Love Manifesto?  Like, does the wait staff know you by name now?

EL:  Ha! I only went there a few times, but while I was writing the book Applebee's underwent a uniform change and a menu change so I was faced with making some last-minute decisions. The good thing is that I was able to write off my visits to Applebee's. Perhaps for the next book I'll get brillianter and have scenes for my novel at Tavern on the Green.

OY: Tell us a little about the characters in Love Manifesto. Do they drive the plot, or is the other way around?

EL:  That's a tough question to answer. The characters in Love Manifesto are quite colorful. Each one amuses me for different reasons, but it's really the characters in a certain situation with certain stresses put upon them that drives the plot. Different characters would certainly lead to a very different plot.

OY: This is your third published novel.  Bug Boy - a historical novel about a young jockey set in Depression-era Saratoga - and Big Slick - a contemporary about growing up, gambling and tough choices - all seem very diverse.  Where do your ideas come from?  

EL: My ideas come from different places, but usually I have what I've heard other authors call an 'aha' moment where an initiating situation sparks in my head. Not a plot, necessarily, but more of a challenge or a 'what if' question. Then, I conceive of the characters and decide what they would do presented with that challenge. As things go on, my job is to type and to periodically make things harder for everyone.

OY: Bug Boy did incredibly well.  I remember hearing about it on national news coverage and it drew acclaim for drawing in reluctant male readers.  Are you looking to do more historical fiction?

EL:  Historical fiction was really an accident. I'm not what you would call a genre writer; I set my books in a time, place and world that suits the story I'd like to tell. I love to explore human nature and to play in that realm where young people realize that the world is made of many shades of gray rather than black and white. I knew I wanted to write a horse racing novel and in learning about the industry I discovered that 1934 was not only an interesting year in the sport, but it also served my story best.

OY: We dipped back into your blog archives to find that you aren’t necessarily an advocate of the advice: write what you know.  You would amend it to: write from where you know about what you’re passionate.  You obviously had an interest in certain “soft underbellies” when writing Bug Boy and Big Slick. What sparked your interest for Love Manifesto?

EL: The concept of love is something we all take for granted. We all know it when we feel it, but does anyone understand what love actually is? Why do we fall in love with one person and not another? Why does one love last for sixty or more years and another fizzle out in weeks? Scientists are just beginning to study the topic and have already identified eleven distinct types of love. It turns out your brain dumps different hormonal cocktails into different parts of your brain depending on the type of love: love for a spouse is different than infatuation. Love for your dog is different than love for a parent or sibling. And different stimuli can change how we perceive that love. And one type of love can change over time into others. It's a fascinating subject and one I wanted to explore.

OY: For those of us still striving toward publication, what’s the absolute best part of being a published author who’s no longer amongst the starving?

EL:  Before I was offered a contract on BIG SLICK, I racked up more than 100 rejections on various pieces I was working on. In retrospect, the work was not good enough. I was not ready. After awhile, I began to feel as though I was tossing my manuscripts over a ten-foot fence only to have them tossed back over with a rejection slip clipped to it. That is a tough feeling when you want something so badly. My best advice is to learn to grow a thick skin and take the rejections as a signal that the piece isn't quite there yet. Keep honing your craft: take classes, go to conferences and get involved in critique groups. Getting feedback is the only way you will grow as a writer.

OY: Okay, before you get too proud of yourself, we see you posted a YouTube video about the biggest fails of 2009.  Got to love the #fail.  If there was an Eric Luper fail, what would it be?

EL: It would probably be in third grade. I was new in town and it was my first time in gym class. We were playing basketball and some kid I didn't know was shooting a foul shot. He missed and when the rebound came down, it landed in my hands. I started dribbling and running to the other end of the court. I heard shouting from behind me, shouting I was certain was the cheering of my teammates. I was destined for new-kid glory. I took my shot and made the two points. When I turned around, the captain of my team called me stupid and snatched the ball away. I had scored a basket for the other team... #LUPERfail

OY: Very funny!  On a more serious note, it’s obvious from your website that you are committed to giving back to the community.  Was there any defining moment that made you get involved?  What would you tell people who don’t think they have the time or the means to help?

EL: I feel like I don't do enough. So many of my friends are on the boards of different charities or donate their time to different causes. I believe the efforts of a few people can change the lives of many and I like to come up with ways to do that. I'm in the process of rebuilding a dilapidated library for a not-for-profit residential and therapeutic school for at-risk girls age 12 to 18 called St. Anne Institute. I've already collected over 600 books from authors, friends, publishers, agents, and librarians, but these girls need so much more. If you want to help out or learn more, check out my blog entry at:

To the people who claim they do not have the time or means to help, take it from a guy who writes a book each year, has two small kids, another full-time job and a house to maintain: you have the time.

OY: We see you’ve sold your fourth novel - a middle grade number - which as of April was in title Limbo.  Congrats!  Please tell us more about it, including a name if you have one now.

EL: The current title for my next novel is JEREMY BENDER VS. THE CUPCAKE CADETS. It's a middle grade book that can be described as Bosom Buddies meets the Girl Scouts. The book is about two 6th grade boys who are in a financial pinch when they accidentally destroy the engine of an antique boat. After exploring other options, they finally decide to enter a competition held by the Cupcake Cadets by masquerading as two female scouts. The trouble starts when they discover they have to earn several Achievement Badges and sell a slew of cupcakes before they can enter the competition.... and being a girl is a lot harder than it seems! CUPCAKE CADETS is slated for publication in Spring 2011.

Oh my gosh!  This sounds absolutely hysterical.  So love that concept!
BONUS QUESTION:  If you were stranded on a desert oasis and could only have one artist or band on your iPod, who would it be?  Is that the same selection Seth Baumgartner would make? 

EL: Seth and I both have quite eclectic tastes when it comes to music. My iPod has music on it that ranges from classical to hip-hop. It would be really hard for me to pick one artist or band because what I want to hear changes depending on my mood. If I had to pick one single artist and I was going to be stranded for longer than a week or two (assuming I had an unlimited battery), I would have to pick Beethoven. That music has such a broad range of moods that I could listen to it over and over. Also, there are long stretches of quiet parts when I could listen out for the hungry pumas that were likely stalking me.

Thank you, Eric.  We've enjoyed having you visit our Oasis.  We hope you'll drop by again soon.

Thank you for having me!!

And don't forget, it's still not too late to enter to win a copy of Beth Fantaskey's Jekel Loves Hyde.  Hurry!  We'll select a winner on May 31st.

FRIDAY FREESTYLE Presents Acquiring Editor Heather Howland

She's a wife, a mom, a student and an ACQUIRING EDITOR for Crescent Moon Press. The Oasis is super excited to present, Heather Howland. (*roar*)

Wow, it’s so exciting to have our very first editor here with us at the Oasis. We want to know all about what you do. But first, please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi girls, and thanks for having me here at the Oasis. What a great resource for up-and-coming YA authors!

First and foremost, I'm an aspiring YA author just like the rest of you. I write contemporary romance and dark contemporary under the pseudonym Katie Ellyson. Several years ago, to appease my overactive internal editor and obsessive need to immerse myself in as many new stories as possible (my critique partners and I all belong to WIPaholics Anonymous), I started freelancing as a developmental editor. I took that job to the next level a few months ago when I signed on as the acquisitions editor for Crescent Moon Press, a boutique publisher of all things paranormal, fantastical, and futuristic in romantic fiction. We're in the process of revamping and rebuilding and I've gotta say, some of my recent acquisitions are quite exciting.

Paranormal is my favorite! Loved vampires, faeries and angels. What do you see around the corner in paranormal?

I honestly don't know what the next big thing will be. When it crosses my desk and my jaw drops, that's when I know I've found it!

I *can* tell you what I'd like to see more of. Though my press specializes strictly in adult fiction (and I'm looking for all subgenres!), YA is my passion. There have been some incredible paranormals that I've read recently that I wish I'd find more of in the slush. THE DARK DIVINE has to be my fav. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY are also unique. What do these books have in common? They offer very different takes on the tired and overused myths we see so much in paranormals these days--especially in YA--or offer us new mythologies altogether. Also, well-developed futuristic/dystopian worlds like in HUNGER GAMES and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH fascinate me and quite a few other industry-types I've talked to. It's an exciting time for YA authors !

*image borrowed from*

What should newbie authors know about the acquisitions process?

Getting from query to submission to decision can take a long time, which is an awful thing to digest for writers. Let's face it--most of us refresh our email inboxes every 2.5 seconds when our books are on submission! Even when I'm uber excited about a book someone has pitched/queried, I may not have the chance to look at it, let alone read the whole thing and write a response, for a week. Sometimes longer.

All of us wanna be writers have “dream agents” in mind. What’s your idea of a “dream author”?

Because I've been on the writing side of the business longer than the editing side, I've got to say the whole "dream agent" thing is a bit of a myth. Your dream agent is whichever one adores you and your writing, and eagerly champions your book while it makes its rounds in the publishing industry. Those are dream agents. Look for them!

As an editor, my dream author is one who understands that every book has room for improvement and is open to suggestions and ideas that could make their book stronger. I personally love authors who like to brainstorm with me. It's so much easier to hop on the phone during the revision process to see where they're at and come up with a plan that satisfies both what they want and what I need. Saves time and builds a relationship between editor and author. We're here to make your book as awesome as it can be. Use us!

What are the top things an author can do to get your attention when submitting?

First and foremost, a killer pitch/hook/query. I want to be shown (<-- key word) what makes your story special and get a taste of the book's voice and tone in your query letter/pitch. Clinical dissertations explaining what themes your book explores need not apply.

Second, equally killer sample pages. An agent/editor looking to acquire your novel can make up their mind by the end of your first page. Less, if your manuscript isn't as clean as it should be. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you have an excellent first line and that your opening scene is enthralling--whether that be a voice I can't stop reading or intense action or a mood that sucks me right into the story. Lay it all out there in the first pages and I'll keep right on reading until the end.

What are the biggest things you see authors doing to shoot themselves in the foot?

Querying a book that isn't finished, not understanding that a query letter's sole purpose is to SELL your book and should therefore be riveting, submitting manuscripts that aren't clean enough to be making the rounds yet, and writing to a trend. I can always tell who's read what when I go through slush. Don't write what you just read.

Also, giving up before they've put in the time. Not many authors are lucky enough to sell their first novel within their first 20 queries. I've heard of countless big name authors who first sold the eighth + book they'd written. That's not time wasted--it's an opportunity to really get to know the market and to hone your craft. Keep in mind that your debut novel will be much more attractive if the publisher knows exactly where it will be shelved, who the target audience is, and how they'll market it. All with a killer hook.

We know you’re an aspiring author yourself. Can you give us a hint about what you’re working on?

Thank you for asking! Contemporary YA is my favorite thing to write, both sweet romances and darker stories. I have one of each out in the world.

IMPURE is a contemporary YA romance about a 17 yo girl whose entire life--hobbies, faith, future career, and even her future husband--has been decided by her powerful, ultra-conservative father. Everything changes when she meets a nobody boy whose unconditional love sparks an insatiable need to break free.

FLAWED is a dark contemporary YA about an abused 17 yo who is only alive because of a pact she and her older brother made--he'll protect her from their violent father if she swears never to leave him behind. When she tries to escape, she realizes he's far more unstable than their father ever was.

Both are with agents who are extremely interested, which is awesome!

From your perspective as both an editor and aspiring author, where do you think the market is going with regards to e-books?

As e-readers and cell phone apps get better (and cheaper), I think the e-book market is going to explode. Just wait until teens have immediate, kid-friendly access to books online and can take store them easily on their phones! The generation reading our books right now is so incredibly tech savvy. If they're our future, e-books are definitely the next big thing.

E-books have their benefits--immediate access, easy to acquire often with a single click that sure doesn't feel like you're spending money ("Honey, what's this $120 charge to Amazon? And this $80 one a week later?"), go everywhere I go (I have a netbook that's always with me for work, plus my nifty HD2 cell phone with its ginormous screen), and take up zero space in my tiny house. Can't beat that!

BONUS QUESTION: If you were stranded on a desert OASIS, which supernatural creature would you want with you?

Any supernatural guy with cool eyes and a great personality who can poof us both to and from said deserted oasis at our leisure! I'd take Cupid from Jessie's book in a pinch, though :-)

Aww. She's clever and sweet! Heather, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your insights and advice with us. This information is truly invaluable. We can't wait to see what wonderful new fiction you're responsible for getting into our hands

And hey, Oasis Seekers, have you entered our contest to win a copy of Beth Fantaskey's Jekel Loves Hyde? The winner will be selected next week. We know you want to read this book.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday: HIJACKED

**Image found in Scarlettletters gallery on**

That's right, I'm hijacking Thankful Thursday and turning it into *drum roll please* TALKING WITH TEENS THURSDAY.

Oasis for YA is comprised of YA writers, and for the most part our visitors are too. And who are we writing for? Teens. Well, as my last week Wednesday's post says, I mentor a local teen writer, and I've found teen input and commentary to be invaluable while writing Foresight. So, I thought, every now and again, we could take issues of writing for teens to teens and get their feedback. Well worth a hijack, right?

For my first take-over, I posed two basic questions about the YA genre to some of Oasis's teen betas. The consensus on answers may surprise you, might make you rethink a WIP your working on...

The questions:
1. What would you like to see MORE of in YA?
2. What would you like to see LESS of in YA?

The answers from two guys who chime in:


1. The one thing In would like to see more of is some new ideas. Not really themes, but plotlines and such. I can only read about so many bloodsuckers before I want to shove a stake through my own heart. Same with Werewolves. I haven't read that muny Angel/demon books but I'm sure if I looked I would find a lot. YA also needs more first person books, and those first person books need to be more realistic. Teens these days aren't goodie-goodie-two-shoes. Teens have more of a darker side to them than we'd like to admit. Give them a choice between their own life and somebody else's, and most of them will undoubtedly choose their own. Also, and I can't stess this enough, YA needs more bad-assery. Incorporate sarcasm, humor, and acts of violence. School fights is a good example. You could have a bully go up against the MC, and have the MC kick the shit out of him. That's a daydream that most teens love to share.

1) I would personally love to see more YA/adult crossover genres, just something a teenager can grow up with and each book matures as the reader matures. I'm experimenting with something like this myself. I would really love a book that starts out with a teenage character than grows into their twenties and really discoveries themselves, and the content in the book becomes slightly more adult oriented as well. I'm also looking for a "boy book" with a great, supernatural/paranormal twist.

2. What we need less of is third person. Don't just show teens the roller coaster, put them in it. Trust me, it's a lot more fun than just looking at it. Also, the redundant I-fell-in-love-with-a-vampire thing has got to go. That plotline has been pummeled into the ground with a jackhammer. And speaking of vampires, if you still want to do vampires, DO NOT MENTION DRACULA! Oh my god I feel like I'm getting bashed in the head with dracula! Vampires have been around far longer than Vlad Dracul. A better substitute is to make them an Immortal, and then find your own reasoning as to why they're immortal. One last note, keep the romance. Teens love sexual tension, it on our minds a lot, and you cannot sell a book without romance. Especially not in the YA section.

2) People might expect me to say less paranormal/supernatural YA books, but I'm not, lol. I personally write these types of books myself and, contrary to popular belief, some of these books have more to say than just your typical Twilight-esque books. I would like to see the trend lessen a bit, though. The whole I-love-him-but-he's-a-supernatural-creature thing is getting a little overdone, but it's a trend so people want to follow it. If I read a book like that something has to be original about it, because it's like watching a rerun in my head. Annoying.

And now for a few girls' comments on the same two questions:

1) I would love to see more action and romance.

1) My favorite genre is fantasy, but I often find that the genre forgets about character. There's no character development, and it's more often than not plot- not character-driven

1)I’d like to see more unique topics, perhaps an unusual setting or abnormal characters. Vampires and werewolves are getting old rather quickly.

2) I would definitely want to see less vampires and werewolves.

2) Cliches and perfect characters. cliches are boring and often predictable. perfect characters just grate your nerves. I find it interesting when a character SEEMS perfect, but isn't. Furthermore, it's annoying when near the end of the book, there are tons of twists and you suddenly find out that fifty things you thought throughout the whole book are wrong.

2) I’d like to see less of what I like to call “teeny bopper fluff”. Of course the typical boy meets girl story is cute but unless you introduce it in a very unique situation and have some captivating subplots it will feel as though you’re reading the same story over and over again.

And then some over all commentary from a couple of the girls:
I have a few comments of my own: In YA people want things that they can relate to in life and they can't relate to warewolves and vampires, people and young adults want something new and interesting not something that's already there and boring now.

Overall I’d like to see some new ideas and have someone break from the norm.

So, there you have it, something we as writers CAN be thankful for on this Thursday, the input of our target audience! IN summation, the teens polled say they'd like MORE romance, action, unique topics and characters, and character development. And, they'd like LESS vampires and werewolves, less cliche plotlines and character, less 'fluff'.

Thank you to Sheri Larson, for wrangling her betas! Thanks to Austin Robhran, Kat Rought, and Riv Re for giving us an insight into the wants of our teen readers!

WEDNESDAY WRITING: Writing What You Want To Know

I've heard the expression Write What You Know more times than I can count. To an extent, I can understand the reasoning behind it - it's a good launching point for writing, it's an easier path to follow, and it may be more authentic than writing what you don't know.

But, if every author only wrote what they knew, there would be no science fiction, no urban fantasy, no Harry Potter or Twilight or Pet Sematary or Lord of the Rings! Because these plot lines are certainly nothing that the author knew.

I say Write What You Want to Know. Write about a subject you are passionate about, and willing to research extensively. Look at photographs and maps, search the Internet, talk to experts, and read every book you can get your hands on. With the current state of technology, you can pretty much find an expert on any topic, detailed specifics on a hobby or product, images of remote locations, and much much more. If you throw your heart and soul into learning about something, you WILL know it. And you will be able to write about it.

In both of my novels I did a vast amount of research - on Greek mythology, Maine, boating, wiccan rituals, and 1940s Central Park! Because believe me ... if I wrote what I knew, nobody would want to read it. My life is pretty boring and I'm the first to admit it.

Image Credit: SXC

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TUESDAY TUNES: Lazy Summer Days via TRAIN

Breathing in the warm rays while lounging by the pool. Sandy beaches washed in the mist of the ocean breeze. A cool drink, hotdogs on the grill, and kids running around the yard. 
A wonderful change of venue, especially for those of us who live in a four-season State. We need summer. And what better way to seek that Oasis than to enjoy some rock, pop, and alternative music. 


Here's our picks for some summertime writing...and relaxation.

Probably showing my wild side with this one... Summer makes me think of road trips listening to Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Nickelback. For me, Nickelback's Figured You Out screams "summer" because of the outdoor concert I went to with my friends. Cool shadows had finally chased away the hot sun, and we were having a blast hollowing along. ^_^ I love to mix nightclub and concert scenes into my books, and actually started one just the other day in the sequel to Foresight. The inspiration? Seeing Nickelback, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and Sick Puppies play live. ~_^

Jason Mraz's I'm Yours.  :D  The music itself is so upbeat, it's makes me think of being on the soft white beaches of Jamaica, watching out over the blue sea.  A margarita in one hand and a book in the other as I lay out under the hot sun.  I listen to this one, whenever I need a pick me up.  :D


Growing up in south Florida, true summertime music only came from one artist: Jimmy Buffet. I can still picture myself swimming with my friends while Buffet blasted through the outdoor speakers (cleverly disguised to look like rocks). It's hard to pick just one of his songs, but I've always been partial to Fruitcakes: "I want a 12pound Nestle's Crunch for $25!"

This summer, I'm hoping for lazy summer days by the pool, listening to steel drum music and typing away on the patio. But really... That's a pipe dream. The pool and steel drum music will be there. I'm afraid the lazy writing will be replaced by active parenting. And that's no so bad either.   

I’ll go with Black Eyed Peas: I Gotta Feeling (which is also my ring tone!).  Anything by the BEP puts me in a good mood!  As for summer writing, we’ll have to see how the process goes.  I probably won’t do a major start of one of the new thoughts floating through my head, but will definitely be doing revisions.  Having 3 kids home, and working full time, means writing sometimes has to be squeezed in when help is around :)

And for me, I'm the girl who loves "I GOT YOU" by TRAIN. This song makes me want to walk barefoot on the beach or twirl my toes in the grass. I can see myself lounging on the deck, watching the kids swim in the pool, and then wonder why I live in a cold-climate State. LOL. Really, I love it here. 

Each time I hear it, I'm time-warped back to high school and how desperate we were to hit the beach. Yeah, I've been swimming in the Atlantic at around 45 degrees. Brrrrrrr.....but we were young.  

Enjoy your long weekend Oasis Seekers

Monday, May 24, 2010

MONDAY SANCTUARY: The Music of the Night

My muse is the quiet darkness and the sounds of the night.  When my daughter was born and I would nurse her, I coveted these moments when it was just she and I, roaming the house or rocking in the glider. My humming, and her cooing, the only sound.  It was peaceful. Calming.

Now that she’s older and sleeping through the night, I find myself alone in these times, but only on the outside.  Inside, my head is teeming with life. 
My characters lives, that is.

            Their voices. Ideas. Wants.  Needs. Tears and laughter.  It’s all there, bursting out of me. 
            I could never figure out why this was my best writing time, until I realized it was because of how loud the night actually is.  It’s brimming, overflowing really, with inspiration.  There are so many unknowns in the dark.

How often as children did we imagine the clothes under our beds or in the closets as monsters?   Or think the tree tapping on the windowpane was witches or goblins coming to take us away?

            And, when we turned on the light, we realized how silly we were, but were we?  Really?  What if that tree really was the witch?  Or the shirt with its sleeve carelessly draped over the back of the chair really the arm of a monster? 
            Or on the brighter side, the starlight that twinkles through the branches of the tree, thousands of fairies sprinkling their fairy dust to make the flowers grow.  The whisper of the wind, actually the voices of angels as they watch over us.

            The dark is unknown and limitless, an excellent source of infinite inspiration.

            If nothing else, the quiet, or perceived quiet, alone is enough to relax you the way a warm bath with scented candles does.  Or an hour-long massage.  It allows you to unwind.  Let go of the stresses that hound you.  If only for a few minutes.

 So even if it’s only ten minutes, take some time tonight to really listen to what the dark has to offer you.  You just may be surprised at what you hear. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Freestyle Friday, This just in: We're under attack by...Killer Cows?

The Oasis is under attack by Killer Cows and this man is to blame. Father, husband, and educator of Middle schoolers in Oregon.  Let us welcome author D. M. Anderson and his…cow.

                        (Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is which.)

How long have you been writing? Was it always a passion or was it a craft you slowly grew to love?†

I've been writing most of my life, really. It's always been a passion, but it took me a long time to appreciate the writing process itself. Before, I wrote with the hopes of getting published. Now I write the types of stories that I would personally want to read. If someone else does, great! If not, then I've gotten in some good practice.

Any insider tips for stress-release after a grueling day of writing, editing, or waiting for news? †

Yeah. For one thing, don't ever wait for news. When you submit a query or manuscript, try to forget about it (which is almost impossible, by the way). If you are good, know you are good on your own terms, not by someone else's gauge. Worry about pleasing others later.

As a husband, father, and middle school teacher, how do you balance that part of your life with writing?

       I'm lucky that my family understands that there's a certain portion of my life set aside for me, and I wish to use it writing. They are respectful of that, and in return, I have changed my routine from trying to get a certain number of pages written to quitting after a couple of hours, regardless of how much I've completed. And to be honest, sometimes being forced to quit right in the middle of something helps make it easier to return to it the next day, because I can't wait to get to it again.

Do your students know you’re a writer? If so, are they your test subjects?

They do, and when I complete manuscripts, I do ask for a couple volunteers to read them and offer honest opinions (for no grade...just a favor). And I try to select the students least interested in me as a person, and more into reading in general. I often gauge how long it takes for kids to read the book to determine its worth. If a kid takes weeks to read it, then I'm convinced there's some work to be done on the manuscript. If they return it the next day, having read the whole thing, then I feel like I'm onto something.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

       I try to write a few hours each day, whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes something cool develops; sometimes I end up hitting the delete button. I seldom start with an outline for a story, preferring to see if I want to follow the characters I create. If I personally like the premise and the characters, then I'll start mapping out the whole thing. That's where the fun begins.

Any writing advice for aspiring authors?

Write for yourself, not a market. Write the kind of stuff you would want to read, even if you think no one else will. And remember, almost nobody's first novel is ever published...very likely, the only person who will ever enjoy your first novel is you. And that's okay. My first novel was a violent, dumb and vulgar piece of garbage called "Bunnies from Hell." It sits safely hidden from the world in my desk drawer, and every now and then I'll pull it out and re-read it and thank God it wasn't my first published book, because some of what I wrote was embarrassing.

Congratulations on the recent release Killer Cows.  I’ve read the whole thing and I was hooked! You have an amazing voice for the YA genre, how did you find your style?†

       I didn't find my style. It found me. I was once trying to be the next Stephen King, and would never have pursued the YA genre if I wasn't a teacher first. Only after teaching did I realize that YA fiction is the most diverse of all genres. I mean, look at the diversity out there...Stephanie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Gordon Korman, Jerry Spinelli, Meg Cabot. The one thing they all have in common is their style of writing, which appeals to young adults because they do more showing than telling, something lacking in a lot of 'adult' writing. I found that my own personal 'style' was more conducive to YA fiction. Maybe, through the years of teaching, I subconsciously changed the way I wrote my stories. Or maybe, and this is how I like to think of my work, I was always meant to write for young adults, simply because I never really grew up myself.

Of all the docile creatures you could have chosen, why cows?

Because cows are funny animals, the way they look, stand, stare, chew cud and essentially do nothing all day. To me, there's something amusing about that. And even though they are the last animals you'd think would try to take over the world, God knows there's enough of them that they could if they wanted to. Besides, someone beat me to the punch in the 70s by making a horror film about killer rabbits.

You’ve said that you wanted this book to have a “B” movie flavor to it, is there any reason for that?

       Who doesn't love a good (or bad) B movie? There's something cool about sitting down to watch or read a story you already know is ridiculous from the get-go, yet you enjoy it for those very reasons. They aren't meant to be admired; they are meant to be enjoyed. I guess the best recent example I can give is, as much as I admired a film like "Avatar," I enjoyed a cheap movie called "Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus" a lot more. I wanted to cross that B movie mentality with the type of realistic young adult fiction my students like to read.

Do you have any plans for a sequel?  And if so, when do you think we might see it?  (Soon I hope.  (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*))

              I do have at least one sequel planned, tentatively titled, "Apocalypse Cow," which follows the same characters a year later, once again facing these dreaded cows, with a little time travel thrown in. I'd love for it to be my next novel, but that depends on how successful "Killer Cows" is.

Do you have any other works you’d like to share with us?

        I'm trying to place my second novel, "Shaken," with an agent. This one is inspired by the disaster novels and movies I loved as a kid (and still do), only told strictly from the prospective of teenagers. As much as I loved those movies and books, I hated that most of the kids portrayed were either completely stupid, or so obnoxious I wanted them to die. "Shaken" is an attempt to portray teenagers as they really are, thrown into a situation beyond their control.

Did you find it easier or harder to place your work, since it was written in a ale P.O.V.?

       Granted, my experience in placing young adult fiction is limited, but it hasn't been an issue so far. I don't think the P.O.V. is as important as whether or not the characters are intriguing, regardless of who wrote about them.

And one last BONUS QUESTION:

If you could pick one place, anywhere, for an Oasis, where would it be?

       Disneyland. If money were never an object, I'm pretty certain my family and me could venture there every day and be happy. It's also the inspiration for the YA horror novel I'm currently writing, and I wouldn't mind at all revisiting there for further ideas.

The cover of your book is truly awesome!  Giving it that B-movie flavor you strived so hard to create.
(From D.M.'s website and

Killer cows! They’re big! They’re angry! They smell bad! They’re coming!

The only thing standing in their way is a lonely 14-year-old, whether he’s ready or not...

Randy Meyer is the new kid in Satus Creek, a tiny farm town where nothing ever happens, and his days are filled with tedium. Then one summer afternoon, a meteor crashes nearby. It’s just the first in a series of events that will not only change his life, but threaten the entire planet. Soon after, vicious cows are on the rampage all over the country, and they’re not of this Earth!

Armed with a newly-discovered flying saucer he doesn’t know how to fly, and a misfit group of new friends he doesn’t entirely trust, Randy is forced to grow up fast if he’s going to make decisions that will not only help him fit-in with his new peers, but save the world from a fate worse than death!

Thank you D.M. for sharing your time and cows with us on The Oasis.  Good luck and happy writing.
~J.A. Souders, on behalf of the Oasis Team.

Want to learn more of the menace attacking our humble planet?  You can visit D. M. and his terrifying creatures at his blog, or best of all…buy his book.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

THANKFUL FOR THURSDAY: Count The Small Blessings

This Thursday, let's stop and remember to count our blessings.  There are lots of big, bad things going on the world.  Planes have crashed, oil continues to spill into our oceans, and Haiti is still in a state of emergency months after a devastating earthquake.  But today, take a moment to stop and appreciate what's going in your life.  Every small victory counts.  Did you lose a pound?  Get a manicure?  Did your kids spontaneously tell you that they love you?  

We'll share our joys, and we hope you'll share yours.  Remember: "Joy is not in things; it is in us." ~Richard Wagner

A.E. Rought:
for the sun streaming in,
for the husband's calm understanding,
for the teens,
   their noisy life
   their quiet, fierce affections,
for the friends, new and old,
    their honesty,
    their unbridled devotion,
for family,
   here or gone,
   whose love is eternal
   as the sun streaming in

J.A. Souders:

I'm thankful for my family who understands that sometimes the muse won't wait.  I'm thankful for my husband who's love affair with anime and video games has given me some of my best ideas.  And once again, I'm thankful for my agent, who I know is extremely busy and has other clients, but always makes me feel like I'm her only one.  Also, for my best friends, who I met through my writing, without them I wouldn't be nearly as far in my writing as I am and I may have given up.  Thank you all!

Nikki Katz:

I'm thankful for continuing to come up with new ideas for future novels. It's reassuring to know that I have a pool to draw from in hopes of continued success!

Sheri Larsen:
There Are No Words (which I used on my blog on Tuesday) to express my gratitude to my husband for supporting my zany quest to publication. Don’t be fooled, though. It wasn’t all bliss and daffodils swinging from the vine.
I decided two years ago to devote myself to writing. The first year was rough--stated nicely. As always, my timing rocked. I started writing, joined a writers group, and took a few writing classes during the one year my four kids were in different schools. Yeah, stupid. I had one starting HS, one starting junior high, one in elementary, and the baby was in pre-school. I thought I would die. Writing took place at night which encroached on hubby time. My new career pursuit was not welcomed whole-heartedly. Everyone wanted me to succeed, as long as it didn't interfere with them.
But this past year has been a dream. My husband is ‘Da Man’—getting the kids up, making lunches, helping me with laundry and dishes. He believes in me far more than I believe in myself. When I thank him he says, “I’m investing in an awesome product. You’re going to do this. Want to make sure you remember me when you’re famous.”
Hah!! See why I’m thankful for him.

Jessie Harrell:
I am thankful for these amazing ladies with whom I have the privilege of sharing this blog.
I am thankful that my daughters made it *almost* all the way to school this morning without fighting.
I am thankful to not only be employed, but to have a job where my bosses understand and encourage me to do things with my children - like chaperone the pre-K4 field trip to the zoo on Wednesday.
And I am thankful for my amazing hubby, who loves his family with unwavering devotion and will go to whatever lengths it takes to make sure we are happy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


***picture artfully acquired from an GrbGraphix on DeviantArt***

I've been at this writing game a while now. Big dose of honesty here when I say, I thought my pithy prose was the sh*t when I started writing. I was thoroughly in love with my own words. Then someone came along, seduced me away from the frothy drivel and with gentle guidance and firm coaching proved me wrong. That first editor taught me strong verbs, taught me to cut the passive writing, etc. His teaching chip away my "diamond in the rough" and created a publish-worthy gem.

I've learned so much from the past years of editors, critiques... My writing is so much stronger now for those early lessons. So on Writer Wednesday I'd like to take a few minutes an extol the virtues of mentoring.

Not can only can you warp young minds *cue wicked laugh*, but you can see them literally growing in their craft as their writing samples improve. The excitement in their eyes sparks brighter when a lesson catches, when they see the where's and how's to improve their work. Mentoring also helps reinforce the lessons you've learned, and between teacher and student, you may come upon new ideas for plots, new ways of dealing with Sheri's mentioned Writer's Block, new phrases that ring like beautiful music to your writer's ear.

The best part of mentoring the budding writer for me? Over the weekend, my young Padawan visited, and we were discussing first works versus currents, and he gave me a quiet look heavy with honesty and said, "First person, strong verbs, avoiding passive writing, letting the characters speak... You have changed me."

I didn't cry, but tears did sting and threaten.

If ever the opportunity avails itself to you, I say mentor. It's good for all involved. There are many opportunities to help the budding writers in your life. If you are not a YAlitchat member, you can start the process by clicking on our YAlitchat badge to the right, there you will find many opportunities to mentor and give feedback to other aspiring writers.


This week we've got an eclectic mix (as several of us mention in our descriptions) of songs from our various soundtracks and musical inspirations!

A.E. Rought's pick:
My song for this week is Hero, by Skillet. Echo and Chael are an eclectic musical pair, leaning toward a base of modern rock, with a hint of industrial and a dash of dance house. By quirk of birth, she's the only one capable of bringing balance to the chaos unleashed on the world. The end of the song fits Echo's plight throughout the series.

I'm gonna fight for what's right
Today I'm speaking my mind
And if it kills me tonight
I will be ready to die

Jessica Souders pick:
I'm pretty eclectic in my tastes, but I tend to gravitate toward the songs that make me cry. Just like my stories are designed to do that for my readers.

My song choice for this week is My Skin by Natalie Merchant

It represents the angst my MC, Bree, is in in the beginning of the sequel to THE EXILED, called THE DAMNED. She's lost someone important to her, just as she was learning how to deal with her new abilities. Now she's lost and she doesn't know where to go for help. She's angry with him for leaving, and sad because she thinks it's her fault.

Take a look at my body
Look at my hands
There's so much here
That I don't understand

Your face saving promises
Whispered like prayers
I don't need them
I don't need them

Jessie Harrell's pick:
My pick is Viva la Vida by Coldplay. I'm getting into my new paranormal and the main guy, Chase, is descended from a powerful monster but is living with a curse that leaves him somewhat helpless.

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castle stands
Upon pillars of salt, pillars of sand

Nikki Katz's pick:

I went back to the songs I saved in my iTunes folder specifically for writing Shoreline. One of those songs was Untouched by The Veronicas. I love everything about this song - the words, the melody, and how much it relates to Nate and Maya not being able to stop thinking about each other from the moment they met!

I feel so untouched right now
Need you so much somehow
I can't forget you
Been going crazy from the moment I met you

Sheri Larsen's pick:

I have an eclectic taste in music, and as the coming weeks will show I tend to relish in it's harder side. Call me overactive. ??? These lyrics take an inside look into my main male character's head and heart. The girl whose life he saved becomes his forbidden, saving grace. 'She' is his Mercy.

'What I've Done
' by Linkin Park.

...So, let Mercy come
And wash away...what I've done.


I'll face myself,
To cross out what I've become.
Erase myself,
And let go of what I've done.

Gratuitous linkage:
Linkin Park
Natalie Merchant
The Veronicas

We of Oasis for YA ask that you please download music from artist approved websites.
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