Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Freestyle: Author Interview with Katie Alender

It is my pleasure  to introduce one of my very favorite authors.  She's actually a new favorite for me.  And I've been waiting every so inpatiently to be able to post this.  ; )  Not only is she a fantastic author, she's so sweet and nice.  

Please welcome, Katie Alender, author of Bad Girls Don't Die and it's soon to be released sequel, From Bad to Cursed.

Katie Alender (rhymes with “calendar”!) grew up in South Florida. She is the third of four children (three girls and a boy) and the child of three very loving and encouraging parents.

She attended high school at the Palm Beach County School of the Arts, studying Communication Arts. From there, she went on to the Florida State University Film School, which led her to her current hometown, a tiny hamlet on the West Coast known as “Los Angeles.”

She enjoys writing, reading, sewing (especially quilts), practicing yoga, photography, visiting friends’ blogs, and hanging out with her husband (known on the blog as “the husb”) and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Winston.

Her first brush with publication was in high school, when her article “So You Want to Live On Mars?” was published in Sassy magazine in December 1991. More recently, she was the head writer on the 48-Hour Film Project “Best of Los Angeles 2007″ winner, Project 96-B, and worked for many years as writer/producer for the Animal Planet Dog Championships and AKC/Eukanuba National Championship dog shows on Animal Planet. Currently, she is a mostly-full-time author.

She is represented by Matthew Elblonk of DeFiore and Company and is a member of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and ITW (International Thriller Writers).

She does not like scary books or movies, but apparently the books she writes are considered scary by many people. She is also a huuuuge fan of talking about herself in the third person.

To find out more about Katie, please visit her website, blog, twitter, or facebook.  

1.    Where did the idea for Bad Girls Don’t Die come from? 

It came from a daydream I had about two sisters who make up stories for each other, and then one of the sisters starts taking the stories too seriously. Over time, that evolved into the book it is today!

2.   Why dolls?  And do you like dolls?  Or are you like me and think they’re creepy ALL the time.  J

I used to like dolls, when I was little. I never thought about them being universally thought of as creepy until the book came out and people started sending me pictures of scary dolls!

3.   Why did you choose first person as opposed to third?

That’s just the voice I prefer, I guess. I write in first person 99% of the time (when I’m writing fiction, that is… or doing interviews!).

4.   You did a FANTASTIC job with making all of your characters feel real, but the relationship between Alexis and Kasey was AWESOME.  Did you find that hard to do, or did it just write itself?

Thank you! No, I wouldn’t say it was hard to do. I had a very clear sense of the connection between them, the dependence, the loneliness, the annoyance, the antagonism… Writing that relationship felt very organic to me. Maybe because I have two sisters? (Not that either of them is possessed or anything… that I know of.)

5.    Can you give a little hint at what the sequel is going to be about? And (I always ask this ;), how in the world do I get an ARC ;) ?

* The cover for From Bad to Cursed is OMG! Creepy.  I so can’t wait for that book!

The description for the sequel is now available at my website, but in terms of what it’s about… let’s just say that when I finished book 1 (without thinking I was going to write a sequel), I thought I had tied everything up nicely. Writing book 2 was about realizing that I was wrong, in some ways. I really got to know my characters in the second book, that’s for sure.

I love the cover, too! And ARC requests should go directly to the Disney-Hyperion publicity department.

6.   How many books are planned so far for the series? 

Three—I’m up to my neck in book 3 right now, in fact. I think three is the perfect number, especially for the overarching journey I have in mind for Alexis.

7.   When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was in third grade, and we had creative writing time at school. I wrote these long, rambling stories… I was enthralled by the idea that, as the writer, I was in charge and could write whatever I wanted.

8.   Why did you start writing Young Adult books?

When I started writing Bad Girls Don’t Die, I was working in development for TV shows aimed at kids and teens. But I think I would have found my way to YA anyway. In film school, my favorite project was about teens. It’s just a period of life that I feel like I “get.”

9.   Was it always something you planned?  Or did it just happen?

It just happened. I didn’t think about writing YA exclusively until I started thinking about publication, which was well after I’d completed a draft and a few revisions of Bad Girls Don’t Die. Up to that point, I didn’t know writers had to choose a category. (Of course, you can cross categories, but for the most part, when you’re a YA writer, you write YA.) Then, also, I had some ideas for future books, but I couldn’t quite make them work—until I made the protagonists teens. Then everything kind of clicked.

10.     What is the hardest part of writing YA in your opinion?

The hardest part of being an author is trying to stay on top of all of the marketing and outreach stuff. I love interacting with people, and I never want it to feel like a chore. So I have to try really hard to find a balance.

In terms of what’s hard about the writing, when you write paranormal, you have to be very careful to make sure you are honest and consistent with your world. You can make up the rules, but they have to make sense, and you have to follow them closely.

11.What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write all the time. If you’re working on a book, that’s good, but also write rambling, just-for-you stories about people whose lives you want to experience.
Also read as much as you can. And not just YA, although definitely stay on top of what’s happening in the marketplace.

12.      Can you tell us how long it takes for you to write a book and what your work schedule is while writing?

It’s hard to say accurately, because part of the writing process at this point in my life is time I spend waiting to hear back from my editor. I would say I can outline in 2-3 weeks, write a rough draft in 2-3 months, revise in about 2 months, and then polish in 1-2 months.
If I were one of those people who could make myself sit down and treat writing like an 8-5 job, those numbers would probably reduce by half. But that wouldn’t necessarily serve my stories well—sometimes I spend two days not writing, trying to figure out what would make one character do a certain thing in one particular scenario. I need that flexibility.

13.   What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That most writers can’t quit their day jobs when they sell a book! I was floored when I read that. But I liked my day job, so it was okay.

One thing that continually surprises me is how much overlap there is in current YA writing in the language, concepts, etc. I read a book last year that had a paragraph of description that was almost identical to one I’d written into book 2, so I had to remove it. It kind of freaked me out. And that’s one reason you need to read a ton. You never know when your perfectly original plot twist is going to be somebody else’s perfectly original plot twist in a book that comes out eight months before yours.

14.   As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an author and artist and marathon runner and caretake for otters at the zoo. All at the same time.
Then I wanted to be Catwoman. Then I wanted to be a director.

*Catwoman!  I wanted to be Catwoman, too!  

15.What’s your favorite book you haven’t written?

Do you mean my favorite book written by somebody else? I think I’d have to go with Pride & Prejudice or Atlas Shrugged.

Or, if you mean MY favorite book that I just haven’t gotten around to writing yet, then… I can’t tell you. But I have the first chapter written in my head. ;-)

16.      Which of your characters is your favorite?

Naturally, I have a lot of sympathy for Alexis. What’s interesting is that I like different characters in each book. There’s a character in book 2 I find really intriguing, and a character in book 3 I really dig right now. But those are just fun to write. As far as my loyalty goes, it’s got to be Alexis.

17.     Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

I was lucky in that reviews for Bad Girls Don’t Die have been overwhelmingly positive. But now I’m waiting to see how people respond to book 2, because I know it’s harder to please everyone with a sequel.

My review-reading policy is: NEVER Goodreads. Avoid Amazon if I can force myself. Other than that, read everything 3 stars and above. I read thoughtful critical 3-star reviews for the first book and actually learned from them. But anything with snark I click away from immediately.

Most book bloggers are really out to share their love of books. But some people consider their reviews a comedy routine, taking shots at an author and book without realizing there’s a human being out there.

What really bugs me are negative reviews where the reviewer gets the facts wrong. They say, “and XYZ in the story doesn’t make sense,” and they’re not representing the story as it actually happens. And there was one reviewer who took issue with something Kasey said (and remember, Kasey is childlike and possessed) and acted like I, the author, was dumb for thinking such a thing! As if authors believe everything their characters think or say. That really bothered me because the review was written as a comedy piece. And that was the last time I let myself read a negative review.

It used to be, well, don’t read any reviews; turn off your Google Alerts. But the thing is, to combat book piracy, authors pretty much have to get Google Alerts now. So we’re going to see the reviews, and in some cases be hurt by them. My preference would be that the first line include the star rating, so I know which ones to ignore right off the bat.

Whew! Sorry for the soapbox.

*LOL. That's all right!  It's great to see how other authors see reviews and reviewers and great to know what NOT to do.  :D  

18.      Which question are you most sick of answering in interviews?

I don’t know that I’m sick of any specific question. I definitely appreciate interviews that ask unique questions. But I’ve never sat down to do an interview and thought, “Oh, here we go again” or anything like that.

And our most important question, if you were trapped on a deserted island which author would you most like to be trapped with? 

Ooh. Gosh. I think I’m going to have to go with Joelle Anthony. She has serious skills (like making butter!).

*Ha!  Great answer!

Katie's books:

Bad Girls Don't Die


(Book 1 – in stores now!)

When Alexis’s little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.

Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey’s shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?

(Book 2 – coming June 14, 2011!)
Alexis is the last girl you’d expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs–an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized.

Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs. It’s strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey’s in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn’t to destroy Aralt…why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We're Starting a Meme!

Okay, today I'm really excited because I get to introduce you to our Thankful Thursday meme and unveil the meme logo.  I love it... don't you just love it?

For those of you scratching your head and going, "umm, yeah, that's cool and all, but WTH is a meme?"-- I'll enlighten you.  (Because as of a few months ago, I didn't know myself.)

If you've spent any time in the blogosphere, you've seen other memes.  Waiting on Wednesday.  In My Mailbox.  Follow Me Friday.  To be technical about it, meme is pronounced like it rhymes with cream, not like men with an "m."  (Yeah, I never say it right either.)  According to wikipedia, a meme "identifies ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another. The concept comes from an analogy: as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena." 

So why are we doing this?  Couple of reasons. We know that the surest way to get good things in life is to be thankful for what you already have.  So why not encourage a group thankful-fest once a week in which we send out good energy and hope to get some back in return?  (And even if you don't believe in all that karma stuff, taking a minute to appreciate what you've got will make you feel better.  Honest.)

Another reason is that we want to help our Oasis seekers connect with one another.  We know most of you are each on your journey to publication and there's every reason to be a team and support each other.  When you participate in the Thankful for Thursday meme, hopefully other Oasis Seekers will seek you out and you can do the same.  See someone who's thankful for the same things you are?  Follow them!  You never know what friendship may come of it.

So without further ado, here are the rules to participate:

1.  Do your own blog post on what you're thankful for today.  It doesn't have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!)

2.  Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.

3.  Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.

4.  Go forth and share your gratitude!  (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

And there you have it -- come on out and tell us what you're thankful for today!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Querying tips repost

Yes, these were posted once before, but the information in this post definitely bares repeating, especially because we are well over 200 followers now, and this will be fresh for many of you.

The majority of our Oasis readers are also writers, many of us struggling to land representation or that Holy Grail of a book sale. We get ya. We're all in some form of 'pre-published'ness. Well, we of the Oasis are here to uplift and support you. So, today I'm sharing my agent, Gina Pannetieri's tips for query writing.


1. Get right into the story. Agents and editors often make a decision as to whether to keep reading a query within the first few lines. This isn't because they don't want to give every writer every possible chance, or don't care about your book, it's just due to the volume of work they have in front of them. So if you start out with a long explanation about how it's always been your dream to be a writer, you're not going to really capture someone's attention and stand out from the pack when there's a tall stack of queries to get through before a meeting and a decision has to be made. So get right into the meat of your story. What's your hook? What's the most intriguing element you can lay out there?

2. Don't ever say that because of the success of Harry Potter, or Twilight, or whatever mega-popular book or series you're likening your story to, your book is destined to be a huge hit. Every agent and every editor gets at least a few queries a week that boldly proclaims 'My book is going to be the next Twilight!' or where the author proclaims herself the obvious successor to J.K. Rowling. And quite a few of my colleagues have confided to me that's where they stop reading.

3. Now, while I've just told you not to stomp around in great big boots declaring you're going to be the next Really Big Thing, it is a good idea to mention solid, reasonable comp titles. This demonstrates you're aware of your market, gives the editor or agent a better idea of your book's 'literary family' and your style, and (done properly) suggests the potential for success. It gets the wheels turning. This works best when you've done a little research into the agent's or editor's history and you can draw any parallels between your work and something else they've sold or shopped. This is where PublishersMarketplace is a handy-dandy tool since it lists an agent's or editor's projects even before they hit the shelves. You obviously don't want to tread right in someone else's footsteps but if you know what someone's taste is, you can aim your queries more accurately.

4. Mention the word count and genre of your book very clearly in your query, and be sure it's an appropriate word count for your genre. There's nothing more disappointing to me than being excited about a query I'm reading but not seeing a word count in it, and having to email the author only to have her write back and tell me the word count's 13,000 words for a YA and she considers it a full-length complete novel. If you're confused as to what the range is for your genre, many of the publishers post guidelines on their websites to help writers.

5. Don't include positive remarks about your book that you've received in rejections by publishers or by other agents. It may seem like a reasonable thing to do, and I get quite a number of queries that include quotes like 'Susie Q of Agency X felt my novel was compelling and well-written, with a truly sympathetic heroine' or 'Editor Billy Jean stated she throughly enjoyed reading my book and loved my fast-paced action'. You might feel warm and fuzzy about the positive feedback, but ultimately, the next person receiving these comments is realizing that the commentary was given in the course of a rejection, so that info is best kept to yourself. For all intents and purposes, let's all act like this is the very first go 'round for all of us, shall we? No editor or agent wants to feel like they're number 13 on your list of people approached with this book, and you definitely want to avoid your book getting a shop-worn feel to it. The only exception to this rule is when an editor or agent reads it and actually recommends you send it to someone else because it's perfect for the other person and typically you'll get a letter of introduction in that case.

6. Don't just include one form of contact. If you're doing an e-query, don't just include your email, or worse yet, rely on the agent using the 'reply' button to get back to you. Several times a week, I hit 'reply' and I get an error message for some reason. The recipient's mailbox is full, or her system is mal-functioning or some other funky problem is keeping me from communicating with her that way. So be sure to always include street address and phone number. If you make it difficult for someone to get ahold of you, you may slip between the cracks. Same holds true with snail mail. Provide the email address and phone number, even if you're using hard copy. The agent may want to get in touch faster.

7. Keep your query brief. I want all the info I need in a page to a page and a half. If you're emailing me, you can feel free to cut and paste the first ten pages at the bottom of the email, which I can read if I'm so inclined, or skip if I figure it's not really something I work with, but not all agents allow for that, so you really have to be able to get a lot of 'ooomph' into that brief query. You should be able to tell me enough about your story in just a couple of paragraphs to make me want to read it. If you find yourself trailing on for three pages, cut, and cut again.You can do it. And don't cheat by using little tiny font and single spacing and big margins. Ask for friends and critique groups to help. What is the bare bones essence of your story? What is the most important thing about you that you must include, since the writer is an essential element of the query?

8. It's okay to multiple-query agents and editors. We expect that, so just mention it in the query and it's fine. That's different from multiple-submissions. I can tackle the sticky topic of the exclusive submission another time.

9. If you're e-querying, use a subject line that states it's a query, gives the genre, word count and title. Don't just use 'Query' or the book's title or your name as the subject (unless the recipient knows you!). Agents and editors get a staggering number of queries every day, so the more help you can give her sorting the stack out, the better. If she's really hot for a new YA urban fantasy, and your subject line is 80k word YA urban fantasy, you're a step ahead!

10. Simple query etiquette. Once you send it out, give the recipient reasonable time to answer. Don't follow up in just a week or two. Don't get snippy if you don't hear. We do the best we can to answer all queries, but we do get thousands, and have only so much time alloted to reply on them. And certainly don't retaliate with a snide response if you get a negative response. You never know how that thoughtless response might come back to haunt you! Trust me, word gets around. Editors work with numbers of others acquiring in the same genre, and they move around to new publishing houses. Agents talk to each other and to editors, every day. Always be professional, always be courteous. You may just be dying to reply back 'yeah, well, I'll send you a copy when I'm rich and famous!', or 'that book, so-and-so you did wasn't so hot!' Don't. Have you ever noticed how truly successful, confident people are the most gracious? That's the image you always want to portray for yourself.

Your query is your face on the world and your foot in the door. Practice it, polish it and perfect it before you send it out. You know the saying about 'there's no second chance to make a first impression?' Dot your i's and cross your t's. Check your spelling and take the time to read it through several times before you send it out. And then always make sure you are addressing it to the correct person before you hit 'send'! and that you've spelled her name correctly!
Best of luck to all of you!

Gratuitous linkage:
Gina's website Talcott Notch Literary Services

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: Divergent

It's Tuesday again - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack. This week I'm doing Divergent by Veronica Roth. I've actually already read the ARC (it's ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and a MUST READ!) but I can't wait to get my hands on a hardbound copy.

Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May, 2011

Goodreads synopsis:

One choice

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties ... forever.

Or, one choice can transform you.

In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals, and unexpected romance.
Amazon Synopsis:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Make sure to pick up this book when it comes out, and in the meantime you can follow Veronica:

On her blog
On Facebook
On Twitter

Monday, February 21, 2011

The SKY'S Your Only Limit

DREAM ~ believing in something imagined, probable or totally fantasy.

THINK ~ taking that dream and turning it into something tangible, where the heart and mind can touch it.

INSPIRE ~ stirring the emotions of another where they relate and see themselves or a loved one--inner/outer motivations.

CREATE ~ a dream that has moved from a thought to inspiring action which in turn makes a difference for someone else.

These four elements are among many in my Writer's Creed. They are posted in plain sight meant to motivate and encourage me--especially during those times when the ugly doubt monster is lurking around every corner.  

Self-doubt is the road to despair, loneliness, and dark shadows infecting our hearts, souls, and minds. It clogs our ability to dream, think, inspire, and create. It's a disease like no other. But we have power over it...if we choose to.

Accept everything about yourself - I mean everything. You are you and that is the beginning and the end -- no apologies, no regrets. - Henry Kissinger

Reach for every star you see and even those hidden from you. Hard work, due diligence, and perseverance are the elements of success. 

Own them.

What I came up with after writing those four small words, defining them, and then finding that deliciously clever quote from Henry Kissinger, is that WE are our worst enemies. Our lack of trust in our own work, in our own gut is a road every writer travels but should not. 

Is it natural? 


Heck, when you work in an industry as subjective as ours, it's easy to get caught up in the fray of who's liking your work and who's not. Personally, I find myself asking, "Did that reader not like my work because the style or subject matter is not what they are fond of, or is that I totally and completely stink?"

Been there? Of course you have. Like I said. It's natural, but also controllable.

We must find merit in ourselves if we expect others to jump on our bandwagon and believe, too. 

For writing, The longer you write and mingle among peers similar to you, the more secure you will become. 

Let that flow. 

Own it. 

There is a calm, a sanctuary, in believing in yourself--a peace like no other--and it will shrink the monster of doubt. It comes from that first dream you had when you said, "Yeah, that's a great idea. I want to write that."

In the end, we need to find sanctuary in our abilities and in our weakness. They are what make us who we are to challenge our limitless sky.

Where do you see your sky taking you? And can you add any other words to my ladder of writing?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Piece the Title & WIN ARC of DARKEST MERCY!

Recently, our Oasis was given a beautiful ARC - Melissa Marr's final book in the Wicked Lovely series, DARKEST MERCY. It was graciously supplied by Harper to YAlitchat and then was passed on to us.

Jessie read it first. AND she wrote up quite the beautiful review of the story, too. Check it out HERE. Then the book took a journey, crossing a few counties, and landed at Jessica's doorstep. After that, the ARC traveled the full haul up the East Coast, tracing the Atlantic, until it reached my humbled abode.

Being a lover of the first four books, I handled this copy with care--as had the other two ladies before me. My fingers gently fanned each page, lost in the magical touch of Melissa's words, her characters...Do I have to tell you how much I love her characters? Irial is just yummy, and I want to be Donia. Seth is stronger and wiser than I'd ever expected, and Banach...yeah, wouldn't I love to have her around to use as a punching bag.

The ARC laid on my nightstand among Paranormalcy, Across the Universe, The Pack, and my beloved Pride & Prejudice. But it wasn't as quiet as the others. Pages fluttered during the night, waking me out of my sleep. The cover popped open without warning. Lazy rays of sun from outside my window would shine off the cover and blind me. I couldn't contain its restlessness.

And then it whispered to me. Yes. Really. It compelled me to take it with me wherever I went.

Of course, I explained that was impossible. It's shininess must be preserved, the words coddled and kept safe. The book must be appreciated. That's when I realized - it must fly, leave the nest, find it's next home.

I'd like to welcome you to the official Piece the Titles & WIN the ARC of DARKEST MERCY Contest!

Here's how it's going to work:

There are 5 books in the Wicked Lovely series. I'll list the titles. ~ Wicked Lovely ~ Ink Exchange ~ Fragile Eternity ~ Radiant Shadows ~Darkest Mercy


~ please follow us (we'd love for you to be a part of our Oasis)
~ take any two of the novel titles and reorder the words to write up a sentence. Be funny, serious, or whatever!! No holds bard. (For example: The angel was radiant and lovely, nothing like the wicked shadows that lingered around her.)
~ leave your sentence and email addy in the comment section below. (Contest open to US, only.)

Contest is open until Thursday, Feb. 24th. We'll choose the top five entries we feel are deserving and then vote on them. The top five entries will be posted on FRIDAY the 25th and the WINNER will be announced.

Best of luck!! Have fun with this. The ARC is driving me nuts! It needs YOU.

For your pleasure, I've included this video. It's wonderful, covering all five books!! ENJOY!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thankful for Love Thursday

Since it's Valentine's Week, I thought it would be neat to list some of the books we're thankful for that have a romantical element.

Mine are The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare for making me ache for all the turmoil between two characters and showing that love doesn't have to be pretty.  The Soul Screamers Series by Rachel Vincent for showing that sometimes the one we love isn't the one we're supposed to be with and Nightshade for showing that we can't choose the path our hearts take and love can't be pre-ordained no matter how many wish it were so.

Jessie said:  Anna and the French Kiss, The Wicked Lovely Series, and Twilight (sorry, I know it's cliché, but it really did light a spark in me for my own writing)

*I was SO going to post the WL series, but I figured you would, so I left it to you.  :D  Also, I agree that Twilight is a great series for the romance.  It sparked my own writing, too!

AE: I'd have to say MATCHED for teaching me a sweeter romance and not to rush it, THE REPLACEMENT for letting me see it from a guy character's POV, and SHIVER/LINGER for Maggie's sheer brilliance of putting the characters together and then pulling them apart, putting them together and pulling them apart--by the end of Shiver, I ached for Sam to conquer the wolf within.

Sheri:  Pride and Prejudice, Vampire Diaries series, and The Wicked Lovely series.

And Nikki has a great way of viewing the question I posed: "I actually read this a bit differently.  I think all YA books/series have a romance element - so I'd just pick my fave books.  I took it to mean which books am I grateful that there is a romantic element involved - because otherwise it would be too dreary, depressing, or scary!!

So, sticking with that - I'd have to say The Mockingbirds, Before I Fall, Between Shades of Gray."

So, what say you?  What books are you glad you read that have a romance to them?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Can you Plot Without Voice?

**Art from Deviant Art **

At my last SCBWI conference, I heard one of the presenters say: The question isn't what should HAPPEN next, but what would your main character DO next.  Which seems to tie in with a predominant theme Nikki said she kept hearing at her SCBWI conference last weekend - an author must have a solid voice.  If it's possible to combine these two pieces of advice, it means that if we're thinking about what our characters would "do" next, we have to already know their voice. (I mean, Bella wouldn't be Bella if she willingly wore a prom dress and had anything nice to say about it, right? )
**Art found here.**
Which has me thinking... can we effectively plot a novel if we haven't already nailed our MC's voice?  It seems that for most of us, this kernel of an idea sprouts inside our brains and we grow it around the  storyline.  The MC often takes shape by the actions we're forcing him or her into as part of the story arc.  And I wonder - is this backwards?

Do the "pantsers" have the edge in today's market because they develop their MC's voice and follow where it leads?  Or is voice just a packaging for character traits and can be added in or tweaked later?

I wish I knew the answers to these questions.  I can say that writing Destined was relatively "easy" and freeing because the plot was already in place -- I simply drew on the ancient myth and let Sadie's new & improved (IMHO) voice tweak the old story. For example, in the original Cupid & Psyche myth, Psyche waits around for others to help her solve her problems.  In my version, Sadie is proactive and clever.  The end result is the same: Psyche/Sadie completes Venus' seemingly impossible tasks. But her voice changed. Her character changed. All while the basic story structure remained in place.

Which tells me that as an author, I need a basic plot (points A, B, C and D) in place, but when determining how to navigate within those points, that's when I need to let the voice of my character be my guide.  What about you?  Do you heed the siren song of your MC's voice or do you create an elaborate plot and your MC falls in line accordingly?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: A Touch Mortal

Our newest incranation of Tuesday is quite possibly my favorite day of the Oasis week. The day we get to share the books we have in our To Be Read list and/or suggest books for yours. This week, I'd like to suggest you give A TOUCH MORTAL by Leah Clifford a good look. In the world of image heavy cover art--legs wrapped in fabric, dystopians with their keys, shields and the like, or girls with blowing hair or flowing dresses, A TOUCH MORTAL's close-up cover alone is enough to have me reading this blurb on Leah's website:


Death isn't what Eden expected. Where the hell is her release? Her quiet ending? Not that Eden remembers the details of her final hours, but one thing is for sure--becoming a sider, trapped between life and death, was definitely not part of the plan...

For Eden, nothing seems to be coming easy. There's no way of telling what will happen when her fingertips graze human skin. The power that builds inside her, Touch, strips away morals and logic.

Some people only feel a high; others are overcome by their darkest thoughts.

But honestly there's not much time for her to worry about her effect on mere mortals. She's got her own drama. Somehow, word's gotten around that her Touch can kill her own kind. With desperate siders already camping out on her doorstep, the last thing Eden needs is the rumor to spread. Especially since it's true...

AND, this is what I found on HarperCollin's website:

Eden didn't expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick-up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.


So long, happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.

And that's only the beginning of the end.

A TOUCH MORTAL is the first of a planned trilogy.You can find Leah on:

You can preorder A TOUCH MORTAL at:
Barnes and Noble

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wishing all of our Oasis followers a wonderful and romantic Valentine's Day :)

If you need some inspiration, don't forget to check out the That's YAmore blogfest with over 40 entries swoon-worthy entries.

Friday, February 11, 2011

That's YAmore Blogfest Starts Today!!

We love blogfests.  And we love good YA romance.  So we decided to combine the two in our first annual That's YAmore Blogfest.

We invite you to post 250 romantic, swoon-worthy words from your YA WIP.  Then check out the entries from some of the other participants.  (Just be sure you have a fan and/or a cold glass of water on hand.)  We know your Valentine will appreciate you getting yourself in a romantic state of mind...

To sign up, follow these easy-peasy directions:

1.  Enter your blog name in the Mr. Linky below
2.  Please don't post any erotica or pornography - this is YA!!

**Please feel free to grab our badge and spread the blogfest news**

Thursday, February 10, 2011

FUELed-UP Rejection

Writing can be a lonely place. When an idea first hits you, the thrill is almost exasperating, choking the breath from your lungs. You want nothing more than to share it with someone. Who better than a close friend or relation? Yeah, most of them just look at you like you have three heads with green mist circling your eyes.

Feeling REJECTION #1 - Realize they aren't wired like you. Be Thankful that you are.

You start writing the story. An annoying mind bump throttles you, bringing your thought process to a halt. You call a writer friend and order an intervention. A chat ensues, but your writer friend's observations are not what you expected. "This isn't working because..." You panic. Think you have no abilities.

Feeling REJECTION #2 - If you trusted this particular writer enough to call them, than be brave enough to listen, truly hear what they are saying. Be Thankful you have them.

As a member of a blessed writing community, you upload your query letter for critique. The results catapult you out of your writing space, down the hall, and out the door of your house, sure you'll never touch your laptop again.

Feeling REJECTION #3 - Skim the comments. Sift through what is valid and what is a bit much. Now this takes time. You need to find your gut and learn to be Thankful for it. It's yours, given to you as a guide. Use it.

As a possessor of a now alluring query letter, you muster up the gusto and begin to seek an agent. Skittish at first, you send out seven, maybe ten. You receive a few requests for material, (YAY, you!!), but also some rejections with comments like:

- Your plot is interesting and even exciting to me, but I just don't think this is the right manuscript for me.

- I've enjoyed your query letter, but the state of the market in (said) genre is my concern, right now. Please feel free to query me again at a later date.

- I'm very interested in this, but after meeting with my colleagues at the agency, it's been decided that we will pass. (Of course, I could go on here. And yes, these examples were a bit personal from me.)

REJECTION # 4 - Nothing in the above examples says you're a bad writer or that you should padlock your laptop and close up shop. The agent just wasn't YOUR agent, the one waiting to find you, too. There are words of wisdom in those replies. (Heck, the agent replied.) Tuck them into your heart and soul. See them as a step closer to your goal. Be Thankful for each and every one of them.

REJECTION is not FATAL. When seen with an open mind, heart, and eagerness to jump over that next writing hurdle, it can be fuel.

On behalf of the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, here's an image to make you feel better. Despite where you are in your writing career, know there will always be obstacles set in your path. Challenge them. Grow. Be Who You Are Meant To Be.

In hindsight, what rejection pushed you to grow as a writer, friend, mother/father, etc..?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Twitter To-Don't list or a rant.

Okay, so we’ve talked a bit about social media on here.  Not my post, I think it was Nikki’s. Anyway, last week on twitter, I went on a semi-rant about DMs and self-promotion and, to my surprise, there were a LOT of twitterers who felt the same way I did. One such person even said I should do a blog post.  Since it was a great idea, here it is.  :P 

This post is going to be a “to-don’t” list about twitter.  Some, heck maybe even most, of these are going to be my personal pet-peeves, but I figure if they annoy me, they’re probably going to annoy someone else.

1)   self-promotion: 

Yes, it’s a great idea to promote your book on Twitter, but please DON’T make every tweet about your book.  If someone follows me, I check their stream. If I see that most of it is self-promotion, then I don’t follow back.  Period.  Even if I LOVE the book and have already bought it, I’m not going to follow back.
            In that same vein, if I decide to follow you or follow back and you send me a DM that says something like, “Thanks for the follow. Please check out x, y, z for a list of my books, “ or whatever. I’m probably going to unfollow. If you want to say thanks for following, great. Do it. I do that, too.  But don’t follow that thanks with a link.  Chances are I’ve already followed all the links you’ve provided and have looked at your website, fansite, blog, whatever.  If I wanted to buy a book, I’ve added it to goodreads or went out and bought it.  Don’t make me feel like I’m at a used car lot.

Another thing, don’t fill your stream with stupid stuff, like so and so vs so and so, so it appears you are not constantly promoting your book.  Reach out to your followers.  Say Hi. Tell us about your crappy day at work, so we know you’re human and not just a bot.  Tell us you have a secret and can’t tell us what it is.  LOL. Social media is a conversation. People follow you, because they want to say they “know” you. 

2. Following people so they follow back.

            This happens a lot to me, probably others, and it really makes me angry.  Someone will follow me for whatever reason.  I look at their feed, their website, whatever they have listed, and decide for whatever reason, not to follow back ( I can’t follow everyone, as much as I’d like to.).  Then a few weeks later, they’ve unfollowed me.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out they unfollowed me because I didn’t follow back.  And honestly, it hurts my feelings a tiny bit.  Not that they unfollowed, but that they didn’t follow me because I was interesting or because they wanted to hear what I had to say, but that they just wanted me to follow them back. 

3. TMI

            Yes, peeps, there is a thing as too much information in Twitterverse.  I don’t want to hear you stink and need a shower, or about your underpants.  I don’t want to know about your sexlife, or how gassy you’ve been lately.
            Sure, I’d love to hear about your kids. In a non-personal sorta way (i.e. don’t use their names. We don’t want them hurt because you shared too much info. about them online.)

            On-line fights with other people.  Take that to personal email folks.  As entertaining as it might be, those things get ugly fast.  If you have a disagreement with another twitterer, keep in mind all this is public.  Everyone who follows both of you will see the whole thing and whatever you say could come back and haunt you or them.

As I’m writing this, I’ve realized this list can go on and on and on, so I’m going to stop here.  But basically, use common sense with all this stuff.  The Internet is one giant Big Brother.  They’re watching you all the time.  You’d better be on your best behavior.  :D

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tuesday TBR

Here's a debut novel that's headed right for the top of my TBR pile.  Based on the buzz it's been getting, it promises to be a fantastic paranormal read for the YA romance fan.

THE IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney
Release date: TODAY! (2/8/11)
Publisher: Flux
Summary: Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic—the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma.

When the darkest outcasts of Faerie—the vicious wood elves—abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend—even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

Order your copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or directly from Flux.  (Added bonus, Karen is a YALitChat member... and we always like to support our friends!)

Monday, February 07, 2011


Here at the Oasis, we try to help support you and your writing career with ideas, tools and the like. Monday's are usually Sanctuary days. I'm not so sure I have a tip or tool for you, maybe more of a discussion on the many levels and types of Sanctuaries.

One crafter friend just simply cannot sleep unless she's wrapped in her husband's arms. She calls that snuggled-up tight space her Sanctuary. I nodded and Mm-hmm-ed while she extolled the vitrues, but my first thought was, "Are you kidding me?!" A little cuddle before I go to sleep, sure, but I like my space and can't imagine someone snoring at me up close and personal all night. And months ago here on the blog, I suggested reading in the bathroom, because that's where I'd escaped to find a little "sanctuary." Well, not anymore. *cue the pouting* My teen daughter thought that was such a fabulous idea she adopted it and now soaks in the bath for hours after school. I have to bang on the door and beg just to use the bathroom now. Sanctuary lost...for me.

So, maybe Sanctuary is what you make of it. Lately, I've retreated to the bedroom, with an extra blanket and my laptop, or a good book. Maybe it's walking on a treadmill and losing yourself in the motion. Maybe it's bouncing blog to blog and just reading. Maybe it's being on Twitter, or FaceBook, MySpace, etc. Maybe Sanctuary is getting lost in writing.

When life barrels at you like a freight train, where do you find Sanctuary?

Friday, February 04, 2011


Normally on Fridays, we do something fun, an interview, a giveaway... Well, today I think the brilliance of one of our girls should be repeated.

Nikki wrote a post on Authors Using Social Media to Generate Book Buzz

In my “free time” outside of BlogWorld, I’m an author. I’ve written three young adult novels in the past two years and currently have one out on submission to publishers. As you can imagine, I spend a good amount of time networking with other authors, agents, editors, etc. Topics of interest include a variety of items – especially the use of social media to foster buzz for an author and their book.

I’ve seen several authors generate buzz using Twitter and their blogs – but the most successful ones are those that develop and foster their brand and voice with social media (in all age groups and genres). My favorite example is Kiersten White. For the weeks leading up to the launch of her debut novel, Paranormalcy, Kiersten used social media to showcase her humor, wit, and creativity – building an audience and buzz that took her to the New York Times Bestseller list the week that Paranormalcy hit store shelves!

So what are some examples of Kiersten’s social media efforts and writing style? For weeks prior to launch, Kiersten took to Twitter with tweets that centered on a hashtag she created (#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy). Here are just a couple (but there were hundreds of them!)

#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy a muggle-born kid gets accepted to Hogwarts.

#everytimeyoupreorderparanormalcy Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella grow a spine, save *themselves*, and head to college.

Kiersten also spent time on her blog – writing posts that featured her book, but also showcased her fun and self-deprecating humor (like this one and this one).

But did this voice translate over to Paranormalcy? Absolutely. And that’s why it worked. If Kiersten’s writing was dark and mysterious, her social media audience would’ve been rather stunned to expect humor and read twisted.

Lastly, Kiersten took time to respond to pretty much everyone who engaged in a conversation – whether it was on Twitter or comments on her blog. She was gracious and caring and never made a fan feel uncomfortable for contacting her.

So my tips for authors looking to use social media to generate buzz for their book: Be Honest, Be True to Your Voice, Be Original & Engage in Conversations

In last night’s #yalitchat (a weekly Twitter chat for the young adult writing industry) we also talked about social media and buzz. Some great tips and thoughts include:

  • @veela_valoom: Social media cannot just be used a “promo-media” should always be a conversation #yalitchat
  • @LauraKreitzer: I noticed that when the social media and reviewers went quiet, so did the sales.
  • @LM_PrestonBLOG TOURs Rock! They are powerful in starting buzz! I’ve bought tons of books from blog tours
  • @AlysonCGreene: ARCS might not sell books, but I think reviews & blog recs do. ARCS allow bloggers and reviewers to read and create buzz pre-pub

Thursday, February 03, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY: What are Your Characters Thankful For?

As I work on my character profiles and collages for a possible new work-in-progress, I decided it would be fun to list what are characters are thankful for!

My middle grade character Ebony Charmed might be a bit ticked being an apprentice witch with a cat who can commune with ghosts better than she can, but she has found something to be thankful for: Cheeze-Its. Yup. She's a cheesy-cracker-aholic. Oh, and she's also in love with the knew lip balm she conjured up. Might not cure that crush she has on Lance McGwyer, the new 7th-grader, but it did clog that hole in her bike tire.

Even though Beneath the Surface is told from Wren's first person point of view, as Wren's soulmate, Chase Regas is unquestionably a MC And Chase is very thankful for the two women in his life. No -- he's not a total cheat! Wren, and his sister Cass, are his support system as he faces the last two weeks of his life. And why not... we all know that women are really the strong ones in any relationship. ;) If you catch him on the right day, Chase might even admit that fact himself.

Zain's greatest joy in ASCOD is Taking Zoe Morgan out on their first date. Too bad they never make it home safely...

Evelyn is thankful for her suitor Timothy and the beautiful wind chimes he made for her--they spin just beautifully in the breeze from the oxygen recyclers. It's such a shame he touched her hand. Because touching by Uncoupled people is against The Law and punishable by death.

Audrey is thankful for her spontaneous best friend (Cali) and Cali's hot cousin (Race) - for being willing to run away from home for a month to tour all the museums on the East Coast during summer break.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

LITERARY TERMS II: Setting the Scene

**  The winner of The Fourth Stall ARC is booktoo.  Congrats! **

The elements available to formulate an ingenious story are endless, as are the roadways to get there. Sure, there are formats we can use. Some use bullet outlining to draw the highway they intend to take the reader on, while others use index cards or a storyboard. A character sketch can be helpful for some storytellers. And still others would rather cut pictures out of magazines, giving more visual insight into their characters as they write.

A while back, we began a journey exploring the differences between Syntax and Diction in our stories. In simple terms, we established that Diction is word choice and Syntax is the arrangement of those words. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Tone and Mood are two constructions within text that are contingent upon choices a writer makes, affecting intimacy with characters, establish an invisible curtain of setting, and even pace, at times. In each literary term discussed in these segments, choice is the ruler.

I'm going to gear this toward young adult literature.

Mood is the heart or spirit of a piece of literature. Some refer to it as ambiance or atmosphere. It's the feeling or emotional flow the reader subconsciously absorbs while reading. We all can recognize a passage, let's say of dialog between a teen and his/her parents. Why? How? Mood is a construct embedded within our sentences, paragraphs, and chapters through Diction and Syntax as well as grammatical tense and basic building of said sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. When we write a scene between a parent and a child we implant mood through those choices. The degree or shift of the mood sways heavily on those choices.

credit for photo
This picture illustrates this idea. Look at the colors. Same items, flat surface, coffee cups, spoons, and even the same swirly design. Here, the mood is impacted by the mere choice of color.

When I cover up the photo, leaving only the green exposed, I get a sense of lightness, hope, and cleanliness. Maybe even a fresh breeze as my character is standing in an open field. I sense relaxation or calm anticipation. That subtle difference in color influenced my perception, my state of mind. The same applies to our choices in writing to establish mood for our audience.

Tone is the alleyway or avenue used to convey attitude or Mood. See how similar the relationship between tone and mood is to diction and syntax? While reading a scene, pay close attention to those choices I was mentioning and gauge their interaction with characters, setting, incidents, and primary plight of the story. In due time, an observant reader can sight the overall tone given off by certain characters and the underlining sense which is intended to enhance and move the story forward.

When thinking about tone, imagine words like playful or silly, formal or everyday, alluring or distant, optimistic or pessimistic.

Take a meet and greet scene at a local high school. One writer creates a story about a naive brown-haired girl, who grew up on a farm, recently lost both her parents in an accident, moves in with an aunt she barely knows and has to attend a new high school where she meets a boy and decides to share her hopes and dreams with him, opening herself up to healing and a hopeful future. A second writer creates a story about a snarky, blonde prom queen, who's normal educational arrangements at an upscaled prep school, just plummeted to the average high school downtown after her father was thrown in jail for money laundering and her mother ran off with the trainer, leaving her to trudge through her new albeit lower-class high school blaming everyone except herself for her misfortune and raunchy attitude.

The main plot line is similar, but the difference here is tone which was created using some of the elements we've discussed. One girl's story expresses hope and thankfulness, while the other gives off a selfish air that is difficult to empathize with. Sometimes we call this Voice. (Yup, that's for another post.)
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