Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TBR Tuesday: Some Quiet Place

I have to admit, the first thing that grabbed me about SOME QUIET PLACE was the cover.  That's right, I'm a cover whore lover.

But then I read the synopsis, and some of the advanced reviews, and I really thought I'd have to get my hands on this book when it releases on July 8th.

What do you think?

I can’t feel sadness, anger, or fear. I can’t feel anything. I’ve grown talented at pretending.
Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them in human form. Longing hovers around the shy, adoring boy at school. Courage materializes beside her dying friend. Fury and Resentment visit her abusive home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, except beautiful Fear, who sometimes torments her and other times plays her compassionate savior. He’s obsessed with finding the answer to one question: What happened to Elizabeth to make her this way?
They both sense that the key to Elizabeth’s condition is somehow connected to the paintings of her dreams, which show visions of death and grief that raise more questions than answers. But as a shadowy menace begins to stalk her, Elizabeth’s very survival depends on discovering the truth about herself. When it matters most, she may not be able to rely on Fear to save her.

Amazon  |  IndieBound  |  Goodreads

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's My Next Line?

For this edition of Whoseywhatsit Thursday, I thought we could play a little game.

Image Credit
You've all heard of that campfire game where someone starts a story and with each consecutive person the story grows, right? Sure you have. It always amazed me what stories came out of that silly game. In actuality, it wasn't silly, but creative. We were all inspired and didn't even realize it.

So, want to play? *You are very important to us here at the Oasis.* Okay, I'll go first, then each of you can add the next line in the comments. Can't wait to see what we come up with! And if we write enough, I'll put it all together and post it back here. :)


The splintered deck railing pressed into his chest.

Your up!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TBR Tuesday: Storm & Siege, Charm & Strange, Winger

It's Tuesday - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack.

I just ordered 3 books from Amazon, so I'm definitely excited for these :)

Storm and Siege by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Synopsis:
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. 
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
Charm and Strange by Stephanie Keuhn

Goodreads Synopsis:
No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself ...of the wolfish predator within. But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him. A deftly woven, elegant, unnerving psychological thriller about a boy at war with himself. Charm and Strange is a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos.

Winger by Andrew Smith

Goodreads Synopsis:
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy./span> 
With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Girl Power - an open letter to girls from Queen Rania

I was drafting a post on "voice," when I saw this letter from Queen Rania of Jordan.  It is truly inspiring  and reminds me why I love writing for teen girls -- they are powerful and conquer any obstacles set before them.  In case you haven't read it, I paste it below.  Enjoy ... and then go help a girl achieve her own potential.  Whether it's through your time or your writing.
Dear Girls of the World,
Some of you will be familiar with the childhood rhyme, "What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice, that's what little girls are made of."
Marketing and stereotyping combine to have us believe that you're also made of pink dresses, pigtails, dolls, ringlets, ribbons, bows and tiaras. That you like cupcakes. That all you will want to be are wives and mothers. That you're more "inclined" to the arts and "better suited" to caring professions like teaching and nursing.
And, maybe, that's true for some. But my daughter Salma teaches me every day that there's so much more to you -- and for you.
Salma is 13, and I can count, on one hand (in fact, on one finger!), the occasions she's worn a dress -- and they've never been pink! Dolls always stayed on the shelf. She's happiest dribbling a soccer ball past her brothers and scoring goals or building model airplanes with her father. She dreams of being an engineer. That's my Salma; that's why I love her.
So, when I think about girls rising, I think of girls like her and her sister, Iman. I think of the millions of courageous girls all over the Arab world and beyond who, every day, summon inner strength, surmount barriers and make a difference in their communities.
Let me tell you about 16-year-old Wafa Al-Rimi.
Some days in Yemen, there's less than one hour of electricity, so studying is tough.
"We were tired of darkness," Wafa said in an interview.
Rather than accept defeat, though, she built foundations under her dreams. With help from business mentors, she formed an all-female company that created solar-powered lights. They won INJAZ Al-Arab's Best Company of the Year in November.
Wafa and her friends are part of a new generation of independent-thinking Middle Eastern girls: torch-bearers and trail-blazers.
Today, almost as many girls as boys attend primary and secondary school. In the majority of Arab countries where there's data, women outnumber men at university, and more women than men study science.
I see and I hear that determination to succeed every day in Jordan.
Recently, I visited a girls' school in the south of Jordan where 12-year-old Noor told me about her grandmother, a famous storyteller who narrated other people's stories. Noor was proud of her "teta," but she had her own dream.
"I want to be mayor," she said. "I want to build a library full of books; I want to build a park so that children can play safely."
Noor wanted to write her own story. I knew then that she, and girls like her, would write a new chapter for our region.
It won't be easy. We have a long way to go. Increases in girls' attendance at school and university are not yet reflected in politics, the job market or society's mindsets. And there are still 5 million girls out of primary and secondary school across the Arab world.
But as the political, social and economic plates shift and settle around our region, there's never been a better time for girls to rise up and share their talents with society. And, girls! Society has never needed you more.
We know that in every country around the world, healthy, educated girls can play a crucial role in stabilizing societies, resolving conflicts, bolstering democracies, strengthening economies and nurturing healthy and educated children.
But they can't do it alone.
Role models can inspire. Campaigns can motivate. But if we want all girls everywhere to rise up, then we must find them, befriend them and support them.
That means going outside our comfort zones. Maybe they're recovering from civil war in Sierra Leone, like Mariama -- now educated and a popular radio DJ. Maybe they're trapped in servitude in Nepal, like Suma -- now an activist working to free others. Maybe they're living in slums in India, like Ruksana -- now strong and in school. (Find out more about their stories.)
And it means using our voices to speak up for those who cannot yet be heard. Lobbying for girl-friendly policies. Working with governments, non-governmental organizations, U.N. agencies and the private sector to create momentum for change.
Will it be easy? No.
Will it be as hard as studying in the dark or sleeping on a pavement? Enduring slavery or rebuilding a life after war? Going to school hungry and still achieving good grades? Certainly not.
And if we falter in our resolve, let's remember the strength and dignity of Wafa, Noor, Mariama, Suma, Ruksana and girls everywhere who, every day, fight for their right to education and opportunity.
If one girl with courage is a revolution, imagine what feats we can achieve together.
-- Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

YA Lit & Social Attitudes

Fashion to hairstyles. Sexual orientation to lifestyles. Racism, bigotry, prejudice, bullying, and even rape. How does social attitudes affect YA literature? 
 (This is a repost from my personal blog. I felt it was such an important topic in YA literature that it deserved a second look, even a third if you'd like to write a post on this subject yourself.)
I recently came across a video showing a young man taking a stand against a fashion mogul. Some of you may have seen this video or read the post. I've posted links to both at the end of this article.

The gist of the story is that Abercrombie & Fitch - huge young adult fashion icon - has publicly stated they want to cut off the not-so-cool-kids from purchasing their products. Uh-hmmm. Excuse me? This is just as bad as the recent admission from Starbucks that traditional marriage lovers should stay home. Dude, I'm cool with however someone wants to live their life, but I'm thinking that being married to the same man for over twenty years kind of makes me a traditional marriage lover.

Apparently, Starbucks believes those who've been in a traditional marriage are against anyone else's views. Or maybe they think we might be allergic to their coffee or that it causes teenage acne; teens do drink boatloads of coffee today, do they not? That must be the reason, yes? And it looks like A&F has developed a perfect description of the not-so-cool-kids in America and around the world. So, who exactly is this group of kiddos?
  • the teen boy, who wears hammy-downs from his cousin because he works two jobs to help his family buy oil for the winter?
  • or what about the sophomore girl, whose eyeglasses are too big for her face but her parents can't afford to buy her more expensive ones?
  • maybe it's the high school senior unable to afford college or simply feels that school is not his/her thing?
  • could it be the teenage cashier or bus-boy, or babysitter? 
Another issue A&F has decided to go public with is their opinion of overweight people, woman in particular. A&F will not make large or extra-large clothing for woman, wanting only the fit or lean woman showing off their brand. 

What I want to discuss today is how social attitudes such as these affect young adult literature and how much responsible should rest on those larger entities for influencing our YA population. Do young adult authors include such dynamics in their stories. If they do, how much responsibility is theirs--ours?

Now, I'm not a bible toting person and I rarely refer to religion here. But the later half of the above sentence brought to mind a life lesson I've learned over the years, which just happens to be a biblical truth: Do well in the smaller things and you will be entrusted with larger things.

We've seen YA literature of the past address racism, prejudice, and teen gangs. To Kill A Mocking Bird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn came out in a time when racism was outwardly prevalent. Did writing about such a social issue during its modern height add to social awareness or simply poke a stick at it, giving haters the nod? The Outsiders released later, but also dealt with racism, gangs, acceptance or the lack of it. Did that story open new views about such issues?

Now writers have no control over how their audience will react to the social issues they choose to explore through their work. However, they can control the manner in which it's delivered. It is my opinion that To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Outsiders did open new views on those social issues. Countless other young adult stories, whose authors had the courage to explore such social thorns and expose them for what they were/are, have done the same.

How did these authors and these particular stories open new views? Was it timing, delivery, character & story setting, a combo of both, or something more? Does society have to be ready for the challenge to change?

Granted, there are more pressing issues than the one raised here about A&F. But we, as young adult authors, are in a unique position. We can stand up and shed light on such issues. And in doing so, we can lean to the right or the left, weaving our opinions through our characters, settings, and overall arcs. We can remain neutral and thread both sides of a social attitude through our stories, letting the reader form their own opinions. We must always remember--as A&F and Starbucks have obviously forgotten--that we're dealing with impressionable teenagers. We have the ability to make a difference, change wrongs of humanities' past, and pave the road for a brighter mankind.

But on the other hand, we are merely writers. Each of us living in our own space and time, towns and ideals--social attitudes. Where do the young adult readers fit into this? My three teenagers would be the first to tell you they know it all or that they can handle it. They've even told me that I've raised them to know better. Although that is encouraging, the world is much bigger than me alone. Then you alone.

With today's social media and technology being merely a fingertip away, teens are inundated with social opinions and attitudes. So many of these are delivered by retailers through products or services attractive to young people. Just look at the Homecoming or Prom gowns of today. Most of the gowns I see make me ask "Where the heck is the rest of it?" Retailers airbrush amazing images of high school girls draped in gorgeous gowns, coxing teen girls to want whatever they are selling. Once again, how does this simple act of buying a prom dress affect YA literature?

Laurie Halse Anderson spotlighted the topic of teen rape in her amazing book SPEAK. The gripping story of a young girl, who was raped yet feared to tell anyone, created a great stir among teen and adult groups alike. As most of you know, that book was placed on a band book list years ago.

Let's talk about branding and platforms. As authors, we all want to sell books. For the most part, authors say they write because they want to share stories with the world, love to create and explore, and simply enjoy writing. But let's be honest, we also have to make a living. So that lends to the subject of platform. What content do I use on my blog? What topics do I steer away from? What social attitudes am I willing to include in my work, and will any of those alienate a group of readers, marketers, publishers? I'm not sure about you, but even though I write for kids/tweens/teens, I'd love for my books to be read by everyone regardless of age, race, status, etc.... The question we have to ask ourselves here is "Am I willing to sellout my personal ideals, morals, and opinions to sell my books? If not, how far am I willing to push the envelope of bucking-the-social-system?"

So why would A&F cut off certain buyers? Is it solely for appearances? Social status? Do authors do the same thing?

How do young adult authors incorporate these social attitudes in our stories without preaching? How do we deliver material in such a way that gives the young adult reader the freedom to form his/her own attitudes and feel courageous enough to stand up for them?

My answer to those two questions is simple: I will remain true to myself in all things, even if it goes against the grain of accepted social attitudes. What is your answer? 

Here are the links:
 ARTICLE - VIDEO. (I would love it if you'd share this article. I'd really like to start a discussion about this, maybe make a difference. THX!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

WHOSEYWHATSIT THURSDAY: The Importance of Book Reviews

I love reading book reviews.

Actually, let me restate that. I love reading honest book reviews. Not the "this author was so mean to me at a book signing" jaded ones. Not the "I'm the author's best friend, therefore I have to write a glowing review" gushing ones. Not the "I hate the cover, but I've never read the book" non-applicable ones.

I like the honest, in depth reviews. Whether it's on a blog, Goodreads, or Amazon, I read reviews before I invest in a novel ... and sometimes I will read a review after I finish the book too. I like to glean new insight and find like-minded readers. It's what I love about Goodreads. I can find a similar reviewer, and easily pick out new books based on the ones they rated highly.

I'm not going to do that for the people who only give 5 stars, or 3 stars, or 1 star for that matter. The best reviewers are the ones who dispense a variety of ratings, who give reasons behind their review, and who are objective.

Are you a reviewer? Feel free to post your blog URL or Goodreads username in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Realistic vs. Believable

This week, I'm revising an old manuscript. And I've been thinking about a piece of writing advice I heard some time ago at a conference (SCBWI Florida--the next conference is coming up next week!!!!): Your characters/their actions/dialogue/plot have to be BELIEVABLE but not necessarily REALISTIC.

I've heard this before, and it's usually emphasized when discussing dialogue. You know, the whole, "Real people talk with lots of ums and uhs and stops and starts. No one wants to read that." (Which is completely true, by the way. Great dialogue is believable without being truly realistic.)

But I've also run into this as an issue in my manuscripts as it relates to character actions/reactions. It seems there is a fine line between realistic behavior and believable behavior. Particularly when it relates to information the reader knows and the protagonist doesn't.

For example, in one of my old manuscripts (a paranormal), there is something strange going on. The protagonist doesn't like it/has a bad feeling, but REALISTICALLY, there is no reason for him to be truly alarmed. It's weird, but he has no reason to think that anything really bad is happening--until it gets really bad.

At least, that's how I want it to come across. But I've had readers question why he doesn't do something sooner. And the only reason I can think of for this is that they, as the reader, have read the description of the book. They KNOW something really bad is happening. So they want the protag to act sooner, and they have trouble BELIEVING that he wouldn't.

Anyway, I'm struggling with this line in my writing right now. Have you ever run into this problem? Have you ever read a book and had trouble with believability because the character was perhaps too realistic?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

TBR Tuesday

I hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day!

With the end of the school year this week, I'm in the mood of a fun summer romance read.  When I read the description for this one, I knew it was a must-read for me.  What do you think?

THE RULES OF SUMMER by Joanna Philbin

There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. 

But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's stink

Okay y'all, have you seen today's stink in the writing world?
Amazon has released it's platform for making bank on fan-fic. 
Suddenly my Twitter and FB feeds exploded with people reacting to the news. You can find all the info on KindleWorlds HERE
Fan-fic writers will be able to upload and sell their stories based off other licensed authors/creators characters and worlds. So far, the major liscensor is Alloy Entertainment, the people behind The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and more. We all know how Alloy cut LJ Smith out of the series she'd been writing, so this kind of a move doesn't surprise me from them.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. If you want to write fan-fic, more power to you. To each their own. Have a blast. I know lots of writers that do. I never have, unless you consider Broken fan-fic of Frankenstein.
Some camps say any publicity is good publicity. Others are saying mine-mine-mine! Others have so many thoughts and concerns they're hard to voice. I'm in an odd position to look at this now, and once I figured out what KindleWorlds is, my brain went into a tangled mess of what-ifs, and what-about-the-authors, and would-people-really-pay-for-its. Then, Fifty Shades came to mind, and I though Yep, lots of people woul pay for it. Which drags my brain further down the rabbit hole of. it's based off SMeyers world/characters, shouldn't she get a cut? It's going to be a film, shouldn't the CREATOR OF THAT WORLD get something out of it? KindleWorlds is opening up a big wriggling, gritty, can of worms.
You can read a great look at this issue, and some fab feedback on Chuck Wendig's blog HERE
A business-y look at itcan be found on John Scalzi's blog HERE
And a post by the brilliant Gwenda Bond HERE on how the properties in question so far are "packaged."

So what do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Are you into fan-fic?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


When people find out I'm a writer ... that I've written several manuscripts ... they always ask a slew of questions. And somewhere in the midst is the question "where do you find the time?"

These people know me. They know I have three insanely busy children, that I'm the incoming PTA president, that I'm on the board for my daughter's cheer squad, that I work as an editor.

My first answer is that I'm a bad mom. When they laugh at that response - I adjust the answer a little and tell them that I steal time.

You see, for me to write - I need complete silence and I have to know I will have a significant chunk of uninterrupted time ahead of me.  I can't write when my husband is upstairs taking a shower, because inevitably he will come downstairs with a question.  I can't write when I know my kids will be dropped of in 10 minutes, because I don't want to be in the middle of a scene.

That leaves me approximately five mornings a week ... five mornings to concentrate and focus and power through my drafting or revisions. And so I have to try to keep everything else off my plate.

I do that by stealing time.

I steal minutes from my kids ... when they are doing homework I put away the dishes while looking over their shoulder.  When they are playing nicely together upstairs, I pay the bills.  I steal hours from my free time ... when I have errands to run, I schedule them when I will be in the area for something else. Or I time them so I can complete everything in one mad rush of a weekend morning.  I steal minutes from my relaxing evenings ... making lunches while catching glimpses of Grey's Anatomy or folding laundry while catching up with my husband about his day.

By getting all my tasks done, I am able to really write during the very few minutes of peace and quiet.

How do you fit in writing?

photo credit: dougbelshaw via photopin cc

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Writing Check-In

Happy Wednesday, Oasis-Seekers!

I don't know about you guys, but the end of the school year is kicking my butt. I have three kids and teach preschool, so ... YIKES. End of year projects, parties, awards, gifts, and on and on.

There's not enough coffee to get me through the next two weeks. *needs coffee I.V.*
Image courtesy of  Scotty00 via WanaCommons

Consequently, my writing has been taking a bit of a backseat lately, but I really want to make some headway on revisions before the upcoming local SCBWI conference.

So, I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a check-in and goal-setting here. I'm going to give myself a lot of leeway, given my ridiculously long and overwhelming To-Do list, but feel free to be as loose or as strict with your goals as you want. Post them in the comments, and I will check back in with you and see how you did.

For me, by the end of the month (May), I want to finish revising TS and send it out, and do at least four more chapters of revision on M. (Eep! That sounds like a lot!)

What are your goals? Or, if you don't feel like setting any, how is your writing coming along? What are you working on? Where are you in the process?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TBR Tuesday

I thought I'd mix it up a little this week and NOT ONLY tell you about an upcoming release I'm looking forward to, but the next book that's getting dusted off and moved to the top of my current to-read list.

First, I just moved CREWEL by Gennifer Albin to the next in line on my personal TBR pile. I know this has gotten some mixed reviews, but it's one I've just got to read.  Should I be excited?

Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.
Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.
Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

And I'm really excited to read... BELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect adornment of plainness.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose. 

Inspired by a short story written by Emile Zola, Belle Epoque is set at the height of bohemian Paris, when the city was at the peak of decadence, men and women were at their most beautiful, and morality was at its most depraved.

It comes out June 11th, so less than 1 months away.  What have you been looking forward to lately?

Thursday, May 09, 2013


I don't know about you, but I like the series I read to look like series. I used to be batty about them being the same size, but I got over that. I figure if I need to read it, I'm buying it no matter what size it is. The cover art, though... It has to look like a series for me. Amy Plum's Revenant series got it right:

These covers go together. Theme, color saturation, font, filigree. All of it. They're gorgeous on their own, and stunning altogether. This is a series done right. Another couple exmples: Leah Clifford's A Touch series, and Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series.

It really makes me cranky when a publisher changes the theme/style for a series' cover in the middle. You expect them to look similar, like the examples above, so you know what you're looking for when you go to the bookstore, so they present a single theme. It really throws me off when covers change, when the cover artists, or marketing department makes a change that really seems to jump the shark. I can't be the only one so nutty about covers, right?

For example, the Nightshade series, by Andrea Cremer:

The cover for the first has a hint of feral wth her eye color, but it's harder to guess the genre or subject matter from the image. Flowers? Pretty blonde? Wispy hair? Intense expression? What is this cover saying, exactly? For me, it's very hard to guess the story content from the image, until I look at her eyes.

Then you have the cover for the sequel:
This one screams paranormal, it has the word 'wolf' in the title, and it has it in the feel of the cover, too. We've gone from just animal eye color to a more agreesive crouching pose, like the model could pounce. The dark background shouts this is a paranormal book. The moon on high behind her cinches it. I would know this is a werewolf book without the title or blurb.

Do the two go together? Not to me. Not at all. It make my image-oriented nit-picky brain kinda twitchy.

How about another example from a very popular YA series?

The cover for Beth Revis's Across the Universe sold me even before I read the first chapter online. The colors, the design... *covets* You knew it was sci-fi, you knew it was star-crossed lovers, or a story set in space, maybe both in one. I HAD TO HAVE IT. The close, almost-kiss position of the models on the cover says so much about the story, the gorgeous starry sky says a lot about it too.

Then, the sequel cover was released. I was amoung the hundreds waiting, wiping foam from the corners of my mouth. And the cover did not disappoint:
They are BEAUTIFUL together. *contented sigh* The artist did a fantastic job of rendering an amazing sequel into one concise image. Again, you know this is a sci-fi, space, and romance in one novel. The colors are to die for gorgeous. The models say so much, possibly holding hands, his head bowed, her hand reaching for something beyond their bubble of life. Yep. It's perfect with its predecessor, and a perfect summary of the story.

After these covers I was dying for the third. Imagine my shock and, yes, diappointment when the cover for the final book was revealed...
So not like the others, it was almost a smack in my panty-drooly-gimme more face. Where's the wistful colors, the sense of yearning in the models? Wait! Where are the models?? Sure, the vast majority of this story takes place on a planet, not a spaceship, but it's just so DIFFERENT. Nothing similar in composition, style, color, not even font, and no models. Yes, it fits elements of the novel, but I do not believe it fits the story as well as the others fit theirs. (I still liked the story...in case you were wondering. I had to have it despite the mismatched cover)

Now, when you look at all the paperback versions of this series, the three have a definite theme and continuity, all close to the cover above. I feel a tad cheated I didn't get a pretty third cover, and I know if I hadn't seen the original cover, I would've missed out on an amazing series.

What about you? Are you nutso about cover art continuity? Does the cover image matter to you? Do you have examples of cover series gone wrong? 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Writerly Wednesday: Character of Characters

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I was recently asked what drew me to writing in the first place. When I really thought about it, I realized it all boiled down to character - the character of the characters.

For me, people move a story forward. Yes, they participate in scenes, actions, thoughts, and such. Some stories contain so much adventure and mystery that it's easy to get completely absorbed in the world of the characters. But, as a reader, without developing a relatable connection with the who of a character or
characters I lose interest. Therefore, I probably won't care what the story is about or where it's headed. 

This thought process lends lots of positive avenues, when I'm in the mist of developing the who of my characters. Their likes and dislikes, their hopes, dreams, and frustrations are what not only motivate them to progress in the story, but also move me to push them and explore the world I live in as well as the one I'm creating for them. 

So, to begin developing character within my characters I usually ask all or at least a combination of the following:
  1. Conflicts - What is my character going to face that he/she would rather not?
  2. Motivations - What motivates my character to move/change/change way of thinking?
  3. Intentions - What are my characters inner and outer intentions?
  4. Weakness - What weaknesses affect my character? How do these change his/her behavior both inwardly and outwardly? 
  5. Fears - What frightens my character? What fears will not change his/her reaction to the world around them and what fears will? What is his/her greatest fear?
  6. Quirks - What strange or unusual feature does my character possess? Is it a physical feature or an ideal? Maybe both. 
  7. Perceptions - How does my character view his/her world at the beginning of the story? (include both public and private views) 
  8. Foundation - What is the one thing this character will not ever bend on? What influenced them to be so steadfast in this belief that it has helped mold them into who they are at the story's starting point?
  9. Likability - Would I like this character? Would we be friends?
  10. Connections - Does this character remind me of someone in my life? Why and what about him/her does?
I ask that last two questions to help myself become better in tune with the character and who he or she really is. As the writer, I want my readers to believe the character is living and breathing off the pages. To do that, I must believe that as I write.

What questions do you ask yourself, while developing character?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

TBR Tuesday: Reboot by Amy Tintera

It's Tuesday - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack.

Reboot by Amy Tintera actually hit stores today and I'm so excited to delve in!

Amy lives nearby and has been to several local author events. She's SUCH a sweetheart and this book looks amazing.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
Check out the trailer too!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Whatcha Bloggin' About?

I've had blog content on the brain lately.

I used to mostly follow blogs through the reader on my Blogger dashboard, but since I took over the pre-k at my work, I haven't had as much time to scroll through. So now, I mostly read via clicking through on twitter or facebook, or blogs I subscribe to via email.

And recently, I've gotten a couple of emailed blogs that have me scratching my head. Like, constant posts about appearances. Now, I'm the first one to want to show up at author or writer events. Seriously. But, I live in Florida. So as much as I love you, I don't care if you're going to an event in Washington state. Sorry. And I kind of don't think that should be a blog post, you know? Add it to an events tab and tweet it or something.

I'm not talking about a recap with pics and tidbits from an event--I love those. I'm talking about "I'm going to TLA, and will be here, here, and here. Come see me!" I mean, that's great, but you've set up for people from all over the world to get your blog content SENT TO THEIR EMAIL INBOXES. I don't know about you, but I already have to spend thirty minutes to an hour deleting junk email everyday. I don't need to get an extra email about your schedule at an event I'm nowhere near.

Anyway, it got me thinking. What kind of blog content are you looking for, Oasis Seekers? What do you blog about? What blog posts of yours have gotten the most attention? What would you like to see more of here?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Writer's Wednesday: Have you been a good CP lately?

As I think back on how I got started in writing, and what made me better, I've got to think that critiquing others' work was huge.  It wasn't because I knew so much and had so much to offer other starting writers.  Not at all.  It was that by examining the work of others, I was able to find flaws that I might would have overlooked in my own work.

Things like the dreaded passive voice, annoying dialog tags, overusing a character's name in dialog, and a deluge of adjectives.  When we are writing, these things can all sound really good in our own heads.  For example, when we say:

"I know, Beth, but this is serious."

"I hear you, James."

We often think we're adding extra emphasis or gravity to our words.  But when we read it in others' work, we realize that all it does is add words that characters would probably never say in real life.

So here's my Writer's Wednesday advice for those of you who aren't regularly critiquing another's work: give it a try!  Join the First Pages group on YALitChat (it's free).  Ask a writer friend if they need another set of eyes.  Or even just pick up the book you're reading and pretend you've been hired to edit it.  What would you change?  What bothers you?

Now... how can you change that for the better in your own writing?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Required Reading

I don't even know if there's such a thing as required reading in our education system anymore and I say this because I have a weird hypothesis floating through my brain when it comes to reading and young people. (If there is required reading in some jurisdictions, I'd love to hear from you)

You see, we've been hearing a lot lately about the fact that fewer and fewer young people are picking up books and reading them. Don't worry, though, I'm forty-five and they were saying the same thing back in the early 1980's when I was attending high school, so maybe it's possible that young people think that books suck? Who knows? Maybe it's an inter-generational fact that no matter what authors and the book industry do, kid's ain't going to read a whole hell of a lot.

I'll get to the hypothesis in a moment, bear with me.

Once upon a time in the days before smartphones, text messaging, and mind rotting reality television that is a harbinger of the fall of western civilization,  I was in the public school system, I can only remember one time, in 1979, when I was required to read a book for class. As I recall, I had a choice between three books: Gone with the Wind, The Hobbit and Fahrenheit 451. (I read Fahrenheit 451, by the way. I was twelve and I do remember this much: I didn't get it. Maybe I should have read The Hobbit.) My son who just turns 23 this year didn't have any required reading in class - I know this because I'm his dad, but also because I asked him this past Saturday and he told me that he didn't recall a required reading project either.

This might be true for you and your kids - or maybe every region is different. But onto that hypothesis that I'd mentioned. I think kids might read if they are given a choice of stuff to read that has a cool factor. (Or possibly a book that relates to their personal life experience.) Cool factor books could be, for example, books that have magic, time travel, superheroes or maybe even a troll or two thrown in for good measure. Or maybe even a book about sparkly vampires that date teenage girls. (I know, I'm going to get hate mail for typing that, but geez, at least the kids would be reading, right?) They might also want to read about themselves and the issues they are facing in their young lives - no it doesn't have to be "issues" based - there is still a market for contemporary middle grade and young adult books. Who knows, it might capture children's imaginations enough to make them want to, I don't know, read another book once they finish the one they've got.

Given that books have to compete  XBox 360,  iPads and Facebook - but really, is it possible to use a social networking tool like Facebook to get kids reading and to do it in concert with the education system? I mean, if Facebook is cool  (which it may no longer be ... apparently everyone is leaving Facebook in North America) and say a school throws its lot in with genre fiction and books about them,  is it possible to get kids talking within their social networks about the books they've read? (Or would having schools using Facebook to educate kids suddenly make Facebook itself uncool and would this unleash the wrath of Mark Zuckerberg?)
I'm throwing this out the the universe to consider: are there any educators reading my blog today who think this is doable?

I think we all eventually start to read at some point in our lives, but I just think the school system could probably do a lot to foster a love of reading if they can figure out how to tap into kids interests a bit better. (This means that reading needs to be a pastime as opposed to an assignment or homework. The minute reading smells like homework, I think you're going to lose young people a thousand kinds of fast.) Similarly, is there a culture of reading at home or are parents not reading themselves? We live what we learn, I suppose.

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately and I thought to see what others believe. It's important, too - I mean, with government austerity measures being implemented globally in the fallout of the world-wide economic crash of apocalyptic proportions we've been experiencing since 2008, you just know that libraries are on the hit list for cuts. We've seen it in the UK and they're even talking about it in Toronto, Canada's biggest city.

So ... what's the solution, dear readers? Can required reading be cool? Can it be done? Do schools want to take this on or is there not enough literary merit in books about sparkly vampires or child wizards at Hogwarts.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Whosewhatsit Thursday: UNITY 4 Boston

In the wake of the horrific events that rocked Boston last week, I felt the need to veer from our regular Whoseywhatsit Thursday to give positive attention to the good that rose from those ashes. The following I posted yesterday on my site.

Boston, and our nation, became fully UNITED. Family is family, and when tragedy strikes home, Americans UNITE as a family. And so does our writing community. As always, the writing community saw a need in the world and is stepping forward to make a difference. I am honored to spread word of this valiant cause and, if you feel moved, would you tweet this?

We are helping to spread the word about this amazing book giveaway that was created to aid the victims and families of the 2013 Boston Marathon Attack. Many best-selling authors have donated books  in response to this cause. The books are grouped into bundle packs and a winner will be selected randomly through Rafflecopter for each bundle. Visit the book giveaway site for more details and how to enter.

If you do not want to enter to win a bundle, please feel free to make a donation using this link. It will take you directly to the organization donation site.
The auction will run from April 21-April 30th.

In the Name of Love

SIGNED copies of:
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Easy by Tammara Webber
Fallen Too Far & Never Too Far by Abbi Glines
FATE by Elizabeth Reyes
CRUSH by Nicole Williams
Disastrous by EL Montes

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love

SIGNED copies of:
Slammed & Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
What a Boy Wants, What a Boy Needs and Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn
Sleep My Child by Eyvonna Rains
ebooks: Shark Bait & The Other Fish in the Sea by Jenn Cooksey

Just the Way You Are
SIGNED copies of:
Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase
Inhale Exhale by Sarah Ross
Destined to Change by Lisa Harley
Music of the Heart by Katie Ashley
Wide Awake by Shelly Crane

I Walk the Line
SIGNED copies of:
The Thoughtless Series by SC Stephens
Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Until I Break by M. Leighton-ARC
Collide by Gail McHugh

Stand By Me

SIGNED copies of:
Love Unscripted & Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber
Collide by Gail McHugh
Love Em’ or Leave Em’ by Angie Stanton
On The Island byTracey Garvis-Graves

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

SIGNED Copies of:
Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
Naked, All In by Raine Miller
Collide by Gail McHugh
Signed Wreck Me, ebook Restore Me by JL Mac


SIGNED copies of:
Awaken and Avenged by Sarah Ross
Darkride and Crossfire by Laura Bradley Rede

Whole Lotta Love

SIGNED copies of:
Fall Guy & Perfectly Unmatched by Liz Reinhardt
Lengths & Depths by Steph Campbell
Charade & Freeing Carter by Nyrae Dawn
Destined to Change by Lisa Harley
A Prior Engagement by SL Scott

Maybe I'm Amazed

SIGNED copies of:
A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
Inescapable, Intuition, Indebted and Incendiary by Amy Bartol

Ain't Too Proud to Beg
SIGNED copies of:
The Proposition and The Proposal by Katie Ashley
Chocolate Lovers Series by Tara Sivec
His Perfect Passion and The Undoing of a Libertine by Raine Miller

All the amazing authors who donated their books
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