Saturday, December 31, 2011

From All of Us to All of You ~ Happy New Year!

Facebook comments, images & graphics

I'm not sure we can count all of the great things that happened here on Oasis for YA during 2011. Larissa joined our ranks in September and we've been loving her posts. Nikki, Jessica and I all got to meet in person, which was a rare treat, considering Jess & I live on the east coast and Nikki lives on the west coast. (Yes, that is an iHop in the background. That's just how we roll.)

We've participated in several blog hops or blogfests, and even had the honor of co-hosting a blogfest with Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer.  We've seen our readership grow this year, and been blessed to have loyal Oasis Seekers return week after week.

So, as we leave 2011 behind, we just wanted to say "thank you" to each of you! There'd be no point in anything we do if it weren't for you.  We value your comments and feedback.  We appreciate that you take time out of your busy days to stop by here for a moment of sanctuary.  We wish you nothing but the best in 2012!

Speaking of 2012, we want to announce that we'll be hosting the second annual That's YAmore Blogfest  in February.  You can get all of the details and sign up to participate here.  The synopsis version is this: you post 250 steamy words from your YA WIP; you read others' entries; you could win a prize from us.  Sounds awesome, right?  We had a blast with it in 2011 and we hope to have even more of you join us in 2012.

Until then, whatever your new year's plans, stay safe and happy writing!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Nailing Your Synopsis

I know we've talked about tips for writing a query, and the outline of a synopsis here at Oasis For YA, but I wanted to delve a little further into my personal tips for nailing a synopsis. Now, by no means am I an expert, but I've done several synopsis critiques ... and of course have written a few myself :)

Writing a synopsis is daunting and overwhelming to most people. How do you possible condense your monstrous project into a page? Or five pages? Hopefully these tips will help.

In no particular order ...

  • Your synopsis should be written in third person, present tense ... irregardless of how you actually wrote your novel.
  • The first time you mention a character, BOLD their name.
  • Begin with your hook!
  • You want to hit all of your major plot points, climax, and reveal the ending in your synopsis.
  • Synopses should be tight. Make every word count.
  • Include active verbs, not passive ones.
  • Stick to the essentials, side plots aren't necessary in the synopsis.
  • Along with the above point, stick with your main characters. Supporting characters aren't necessary to include, and just serve to confuse the synopsis reader.
  • When you're done, reread and revise, and then do it again. Get someone to critique your synopsis. It's an important part of your submission process.
  • If your synopsis is less than a page, it should be single-spaced. More than a page, it should be double-spaced. Yes, I realize there is a gray area where if you double space a single-spaced page - it will bounce to two pages anyway! But, go with your gut on this one.

Of course, this applies mostly to the short synopsis (less than five pages). A longer chapter synopses (usually included as part of a proposal) will include more characters and depth.

Good luck and feel free to share your synopsis tips below!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TBR Tuesday: The Year in Review and the Year Ahead

Did everyone have a lovely Christmas?  Or do you celebrate something else?  Did you have a lovely that?

Since it's the last Tuesday of 2011, I thought it would be nice to both reflect on our favorite books of 2011, and look ahead to what's exciting for 2012.

Today is the last day to enter the Mid-Winter's Eve Giveaway Hop and win one of OUR favorite books of 2011.

My personal favorite was Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins.

 I also loved Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake,

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer,

Firelight by Sophie Jordan,

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare,

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but those were the ones that stuck out.

So, for 2012, clearly, I'm excited for the sequels of all of these (and they all have sequels, YAY!).

But I'm most excited, (and you should be, too) for my good friend, crit partner, and Oasis Sister J.A. Souders's debut, RENEGADE.  Read more about RENEGADE here.  You guys, this book is going to BLOW YOUR MIND.  It is so amazing.  AND, a little bird told me that Jessica is getting ready for a super amazing cover reveal in January! SQUEE! 

So, what books did you LOVE from 2011?  What books are you drooling for in 2012?  *waits with with pen poised over wishlist*

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid-Winter's Eve Blog Hop

Thank you SO MUCH for coming by our blog for the mid-winter's eve blog hop.  We are so excited to be co-hosting the hop with the amazing Kathy from I am a Reader, Not a Writer
 If you're here, chances are, you're looking to win something reading related. Well, have we got a fabulous prize for you. The winner of our internationally-open blog hop will get to choose from our favorite YA reads of 2011.  You get to pick ONE of the following titles if you win:

A.E. - Divergent or Die for Me
J.A. - Anna Dressed in Blood
Jessie - Where She Went
Larissa - Demonglass
Nikki - Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Sheri - If I Stay

Just make sure you qualify for the rules in the official entry form below.  The only requirement is that you follow the blog through either GFC or Networked Blogs. You can get an optional extra entry for following us on twitter.  Easy-peasy.

Thanks for entering and we hope to see you back here each week on the Oasis. If you read or write YA, this is the sanctuary for you.  And don't forget to check out the rest of the hop stops, now through December 27th (see linky list after the entry form)!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Do I Want 2 Read???

Well that's an easy question to answer, although it could take a while.

Nope. I won't do it to you. If you're anything like me, you still have too many errands to run before the big present-unwrapping-morning. I am so far behind this year. Can I hear an AMEN??

I decided to give you two reads that I've been wanting to read. And guess what? I just WON both books on the author's blog!! Too cool and just in time to say "Merry Christmas to me!"

I'm talking about Hilary Wagner's awesome tale about rats. Yup, and both are some awesome storytelling. Although these are MG in nature, I believe most YAers will love this tale.

Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, the kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Juniper and his maverick band of rebel rats have been plotting ever since the Bloody Coup turned the Catacombs, a once-peaceful democracy, into a brutal dictatorship ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman, Billycan, a former lab rat with a fondness for butchery. When three young orphan rats--brothers Vincent and Victor and a clever female named Clover--flee the Catacombs in mortal peril and join forces with the rebels, it proves to be the spark that ignites the long-awaited battle to overthrow their oppressors and create a new city--Nightshade City. View the trailer on the Nightshade City website!

Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles begins three years after Juniper and his rebel band liberated the Catacombs from Billycan's vicious control and established the democratic Nightshade City. A sense of peace has settled over Nightshade, but it is a false one. Billycan, the White Assassin, has been found deep in the southern swamps, where he now rules a horde of savage swamp rats eager to overrun Nightshade City. With the help of an ancient colony of bats and an uneasy alliance with the swamp snakes, Juniper and his council set out to thwart Billycan's plans. When a shocking secret is revealed everything changes. The fate of Nightshade City and the life of Juniper's only son depend on Juniper's decision: should he help his mortal enemy? The past resurfaces with devastating impact in this sequel to Nightshade City, a dark tale of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.

Do they not speak for themselves?? 

You still have time to pick up both before the holidays arrive. Amazon & Amazon, or visit Hilary's website to find out more.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Writing Prompt!

It's time for another Whoseywhatsit writing prompt, from yours truly. This week's topic (no surprise) ...


That's it. Just something to do with the holidays. Whether it's a tradition you celebrate, a shopping trip gone wrong, or something else together.

You have up to 250 words to get your character traveling - develop a flashback, write a poem, try something new, whatever you want. Post those words below and then comment on at least one other person's writing. (You don't need to necessarily critique it, this isn't polished writing people!)

Ready. Set. Go!

(And here's mine ...)

Rayne stomped her feet on the mat outside their Manhattan high rise. She'd hardly had a chance to step in dirty snow between the cab and the swinging glass doors, but the doorman would pitch a fit if she didn't at least make a show of cleaning off her boots.

He held the door open and she tossed him a grin. One that would never reach her dimple, much less her eyes.

The lobby looked like a Christmas tree lot gone wrong. White and green trees made a half-assed attempt at a pattern throughout the room. Twinkling lights blinked at her from every direction and were bound to give a senior citizen a stroke. Each tree had some sort of unique decorative theme, probably an attempt at an employee contest.

Rayne hitched her backpack further up her shoulder and clip-clopped her way across the marble lobby.

She nudged the button for the elevator and listened to instrumental carols as they filtered into the small, mirrored box.

It was almost a relief to step into the barren penthouse suite, devoid of any holiday ornamentation. Devoid of her mother, who was off in Europe on a ski vacation. Or something.

It was almost a relief.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: The First 250

This post has been brewing in my mind for awhile.  There are so many contests and critiques and blog posts about the first 250 words.  So much EMPHASIS on them.

I'm going to be totally honest.

I think it's kinda ridiculous.

Yes, agents and editors are SUPER busy and make snap judgments based on very little sample.  Sometimes the first 250, sometimes less.  Sometimes more.

And, yes, SOME readers will look at the opening pages of a novel in the store to decide whether or not to buy it.  But not all.  (I personally have never done this. I decide whether to buy a novel based on the jacket copy and/or recommendations from friends.)  And I'm not aware of anyone who reads the first 250 words utterly blind.  An agent will have read your query; a reader will have seen the cover and title at the very least, and likely read the jacket copy.

I'm not saying the first 250 words aren't important.  They are.  But I think a little too much emphasis is put on them sometimes, and I DEFINITELY think people have wrong ideas about what should or shouldn't be in them.

If you weren't on vacation or hiding last week, you are aware of the Miss Snarks First Victim Bakers Dozen Agent Auction.  In the critique portion of the auction, I saw lots of comments about starting in the middle of the action, or having paranormal or fantastical elements if it was a paranormal or fantasy entry. 

Look at the first 250 words of THE HUNGER GAMES.  I'm not sure how much I can post, so you can do the Look Inside thing at Amazon if you don't have it (why don't you HAVE IT?!).  Did ya look? action.  Waking up (which we are all told is a no-no).  Only one sentence, that, in my opinion, raises interest: "This is the day of the reaping."  And while that's intriguing, it could be completely mundane.  "Reaping" could refer to actual reaping of crops.  The reader probably knows it means something ominous because they've read the jacket copy.

Look at the first 250 words of HEX HALL (and let me just say, I kind of worship Rachel Hawkins, and DEMONGLASS is my favorite book of 2011).  Again, nothing earth-shattering going on, and no hint of the paranormal element. (And it's a prologue, which we're also told is a no-no.)

My point is, there is no one way to do the first 250 words.  There's no formula.  There's only THIS WORKS and THIS DOESN'T WORK.  Get some good, trustworthy critique partners and let them help you figure it out.

And don't try to apply weird arbitrary "rules" to the first 250 words of your project or anyone else's.

(In typical weird hive-mind fashion, both Agent Jill Corcoran and Authoress herself have recently blogged about this as well.  Their posts are definitely worth reading, so check them out.)

What do you think about the first 250 words?  What do you like to see or not see in them?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse

On January 3rd, be on the lookout for Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by debut author, Lucas Klauss. This book will be here before you know it.  And while the cover doesn't necessarily grab me, the title and trailer certainly do.  If you haven't seen the trailed yet, it's definitely worth a watch.

A male perspective on sorting love from loss, faith from fear—brimming with humor and romance. Phillip’s sophomore year is off to a rough start. One of his best friends ditches him. His track coach singles him out for personalized, torturous training sessions. And his dad decides to clean out all of the emergency supplies from the basement, even though the world could end in disaster at any moment...and even though those supplies are all Phillip has left of his dead mom. Not that he wants to talk about that.

But then Phillip meets Rebekah. Not only is she unconventionally hot and smart, but she might like him back. As Phillip gets closer to Rebekah, he tries harder and harder to turn himself into the kind of person he thinks she wants him to be. But the question is, can he become that person? And does he really want to? 

So --- what do you think? Will you be adding it to your TBR pile?

Thursday, December 08, 2011


No, I'm not talking about the way we're all feeling between Thanksgiving and New Years. Cookies and pies, candy, turkeys and hams, partypartyparty. I know I always get to feeling a pinch in the waistband... This isn't about food-induced pants spreading, though. This is about the Squishy Middle Syndrome.

Some writers fall prey to it in their books, others in their series. I know I've read some right awful stinker sequels lately.  Like "never going to read another book in that series" AWFUL. As far as I'm concerned, publishers really have no excuse for foisting off squishy-middle books on their buying public. Sequels should be as good as the predecessors. Yes, dammit. I did just rattle that saber. They expect way more of our writing when reading submissions.

So how do we avoid becoming victims of Squishy Middle Syndrome?

  • Get a good group of trusted peers to critique your work. I know my CPs and beta readers amaze me with their brilliance. You could join a writer community like YALITCHAT where there are many peer critique groups.
  • Know what your story is about, not just who. Yes, there really is a difference. Sure, a girl with a sad life meets a boy with strange powers that makes her heart race is nice, but what happens after, and what is the story really telling us? Where's the Hook? Having a hook makes avoiding SMS that much easier.
  • Plot. Don't groan and grumble at me. I know lots of people are 'discovery writers' but if you put some thought into figuring out points A, B, and C you're one step closer to avoiding SMS. I used to be a serious Pantser with only minor Plotitudinal tendencies. But the more points in the loose outline I filled in the fewer corners I wrote myself into, and the less middles I had to revise within an inch of what they were.
  • Read. Read books that work, that the industry loves (even if you don't), so you know what works in a plot. Then read your own work. Put it aside for a little while, then read it like a reader would.
That's about all I've got for ideas. If you have tricks for escaping the dreaded SMS that will push readers like me away, please share!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Depth in Streets, Avenues, & Alleyways

Characters can be so much fun to work with. That's my favorite part of writing. I tend to get a flash of an idea for a plot, and where that comes from no one knows. Do-do-do... Usually, immediately after that, an image pops into my head. Sometimes it's detailed, while other times it's not.

I may see hair color or a simple crook at the corner of said character's grin. A scarf may suddenly appear around the character's neck, or I may get the sense of shyness or even a tendency to back away as if he/she is hiding something. Maybe running or avoiding.

There are many ways in which a writer can add depth to a character. I'm going to focus on dressing the character as if he/she is a blank mannequin. We'll leave story, plot and other elements for another post.

  1. Physical Features: this is an avenue that can take all sorts of directions and usually is one of the first to direct a reader as to who the character is. There is so much fun to have here. Take chances with these. We never know the links we can create throughout the story by adding a simple nose ring or maybe blue eyes.
  2. Chosen Physical Appears: basically I'm referring to a character's fashion sense. Each of us has individuality when it comes to our choice of attire. Think carefully about putting those combat boots on the debutante girl and why she'd wear them. Is she trying to tick off her parents. Or maybe she's involved in some secret society. Either way, risk it but have a reason.
  3. Background: this is the simple one, yet hard all in the same thought. We can do anything with our character's pasts as long as it leads the reader to the beginning of THIS story, the one you're writing right now. Some information you dream up might be the most fantastical and interesting elements to a character, yet it does not fit or add to the story. It does not move the story forward. Leave it out, but make sure you save it for another story. You never know when it might come in handy.
  4. Likes and Dislikes: just like each of us, our characters need to enjoy and/or avoid aspects of their world, whether you've created a new world or not. Give them a dislike that's challenging and bounces of their world, making it harder for them to move forward. 
  5. Emotional Baggage: I HEART this part of deepening a character and could write a series about it! You can take the psyche of a character and intertwine it within the plot, subplots, interactions with secondary characters, their world, and all four of the above elements. The choices you make here to deepen the character will have a profound affect on the entire story. Emotions move, motivate, and inspire plot.
How do you imagine your characters? Does it come in a flash? Do you outline their characteristics or do a character interview?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up was one of those books that sat on my ARC pile for quite a while. The cover seemed cute enough, but the premise was not one that sucked me in. A character whining about why she broke up? Really?

But I was sooo glad I picked it up and read it. Min has an amazing voice and I adored all the references to old films. I've seen some people complain about the run-on sentences (and they can sometimes go for a page) but I actually enjoyed them and felt they fit the character. I could easily picture this girl, her heart broken, sitting in the car writing a letter to her ex. THIS is how I would write it.

So go add Why We Broke Up to your Goodreads account and pick it up when it comes out!!
And while you're waiting, head over to the Why We Broke Up project and share your stories. Or head over to Daniel Handler's alter-ego, Lemony Snicket :)

Goodreads Synopsis:
I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Crit Style

It's the first Thursday of the month (actually, the first DAY of the month--OMG can you believe it's DECEMBER?!) which means it's time for another critique sign-up!

This month, I thought we'd explore EMOTION.  Have you ever had your heart speed up while writing a scene?  Start bawling to the point where you had to stop writing because you couldn't see the screen?  Feel sick to your stomach when your character got into a sticky situation?

Have you ever then sent those scenes to beta readers or critique partners and gotten a response like, "Eh, I'm not feeling this."  "I don't understand why she's crying here."  "I'm confused."

If you have an emotionally heavy scene (could be anything: romantic, scary, embarrassing, whatever), here's your opportunity to see if it works.

If you are interested in a critique of up to 500 words of an emotional scene from your YA novel, please comment with your email address.  We will draw a name after noon on Sunday, email the winner, and post our comments next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Where in the World are Crit Partners?

On my own blog Monday I wrote about how awesome my crit partners are and how it's essential to have a good working relationship with your crit partners because they tend to do much more than just critique your work. 

Well, throughout yesterday, I got a few emails and a comment on the post asking me where I found my CPs and is there anywhere I recommend going for them.  And it got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to do a post about that. I know when I was looking for CPs, I was at a loss to where to find one.  So, I hope you'll bear with me with this post.

First some upfront caveats, I'm sure there are many, many other options than the ones I'm going to be listing, but I've personally used each and everyone of these websites and had good experiences with them, so that's why I'm mentioning them.  As with all things personal, your mileage may vary. 

Tred carefully with finding new partners.  Make sure you're a good fit and be very explicit of what you're looking for.  Also, it's a good idea to find out how thick your skin is and what kind of crit you're ready for.  In the beginning, my skin was really thin and the tiniest bit of criticism hurt, but I gritted my teeth and now i'm fairly certain I can take a harsh crit.  Although, I will admit, I've had crits recently that have made me cry.  So, know your tolerance level.

Okay, that being said, lets get into the good stuff. The list of websites I used to find my own crit partners. is an excellent place for learning the ropes about all sides of publishing including finding beta readers and crit partners.  They're also great for researching agents/publishers and everything in between.  They DO have a place to "show your work," but make sure you're ready for all kinds of critiques.  I have found that while they're intentions are in the right place and most have great advice, they tend to be a bit harsh in their crits. 

YaLitchat--a lot of you already know about this website, but for those of you who don't. it's a website designed specifically for writers of YA. They have a wide range of members there. From newbies to NYT best-selling authors, agents, and editors.  They're a great resource for finding writing friends and CPs, (which is where I found all the lovely ladies on this blog.  :) ) and they have places to help perfect query letters and synopsis', not to mention the first few pages of your MS.  They also have actual teens willing to read and give feedback, among many, many more things. I'm still finding my way around there, but even with only the free membership you get a lot of great things.

Verla Kay's blueboards--It's similar to absolutewrite, but stricter on what is allowed there and what's not.  Which is excellent, IMHO, because you won't run into some of the train wrecks that can take place on the AW boards.  But this, like yalitchat is only for children's books writers. The people here are again from all aspects of writing.  From newbies, to NYT bestsellers, agents, editors, and everyone in between.  And EVERYONE is awesomely nice.  You really coudln't find a greater group of people. 

And lastly, weBook.  Now I know this is a display site, so there are more caveats with this one than the others.  I got a really great reaction to the parts of stories I had placed here when I was first starting and so in that regard, it was really great for me because I needed the boost to my self-esteem.  I also found my best friend and first CP who showed me the ropes of writing. I found a lot of great writers there actually, but they've made some changes to things since I left after getting my agent. And I don't agree with a lot of them. There is something there called agent-in-box. I HIGHLY recommend NOT using that service if you're querying. There's no need.  Everything you'd be paying them to do, you can do for free on your own.  Also, if you do place some of your work online, be careful.  There are a lot of things that can go wrong with that, so just keep that in mind.

Okay, this post has gotten a bit long, so I'll end here, but feel free to leave me any questions you have in the comments.  I'll be more than happy to answer them.  And if I get a lot of the same questions, I'll probably do a post on it, so please feel free to ask me anything.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TBR Tuesday with Kelley York and HUSHED

I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Kelley York's HUSHED from Entangled Publishing, and let me tell you, if you like dark, upper YA, you do NOT want to miss this debut. (You can read my review here.)

He's saved her. He's loved her. He's killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn't protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he's never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn't matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another - Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who's ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer's committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn't get what she wants...And what she wants is Evan's 
death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

'Kelley York delivers in this impressive debut. I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next! Bottom line, this was unputdownable!!!' --- YA Fantasy Guide ---

Now that you're pumped to read the novel, we have the honor of posting a short author interview with Kelley York.  We're so pleased she was able to stop by and answer a few questions.

 Hi, Kelley. Thank you for joining us today at the Oasis.  We know you must be slammed with all the pre-launch publicity, so we want to keep your interview short and sweet. Cut right to the chase, as it were.  Just like your opening.  Let me start by saying that this opening grabbed my attention and never let go.  Without giving away any spoilers, how did you decided you wanted to start with such a gritty scene?  Were you worried that readers would dislike your MC, Archer, by picking a starting point that portrayed him in a less-than-flattering light?

At the time, I didn't think about it. Later I did contemplate starting elsewhere. At one point, I tried reconstructing the second chapter to make it into my first, hinting at events from chapter one. Ultimately, though, I wanted people to see Archer in action at the start of the story. I thought if readers sympathized with him right away, then seeing that side of him later would be jarring. 
As writers ourselves, we are always curious about where other authors come up with their ideas.  How did the idea for HUSHED come about?
It all started with Archer! I never think of plots first. Or, should I say, I never finish anything that started as a plot idea! I do better creating characters and letting them tell me their stories. So I had the idea for Archer, then Vivian, then Evan...and I put them all together and let the chaos ensue.
I really admired that while HUSHED isn't an "issue" novel, the MC has to come to terms with his sexuality.  Did you set out to try to write a novel that would portray this decision in such a positive light, or was it just a natural part of the story that had to be told?
Completely natural. I never wanted HUSHED to be a coming-out story, because Archer—much like me when I was a teenager—doesn't have any problems realizing he's attracted to someone of the same sex. Honestly, he's more surprised he's attracted to anyone other than Vivian. 
What's the one thing you want readers to take away after reading HUSHED?
I really, really wanted to write something different. If nothing else, I'd like people to walk away from HUSHED (whether they loved it or hated it) thinking 'I haven't read anything quite like that before.'
We're also looking for advice to share with aspiring writers. What's your best tip for developing three-dimensional characters (like Archer, Evan and Vivian)?
Question everything! Anytime your character does or thinks something, ask yourself why. Why are they shy, selfish, clumsy, oblivious? Why do they have the quirks they do? Why and how did they build the relationships in their life? It doesn't have to be information you include in your story, but keep it in mind when you write. Knowing every motivation of your characters opens up a lot of new doors as to what you can do with them. 
BONUS QUESTION:  You're stranded on a desert Oasis and you can only have one other author there with you. Who would you pick and why?
Oh, oh! John Lennon wrote books, so can I choose him?! ...Granted, he's dead, so I'd be stuck there with an urn, but..
So there you have it.  Be sure to check out HUSHED on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  
Author Bio:

Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides
with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she
does fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a
fascination with bells, adores all things furry - be them squeaky, barky
or meow-y - is a lover of video games, manga and anime, and likes to
pretend she's a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real
unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.

Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres
from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers,
paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character
development takes center stage.

Kelley's website:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful What???

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving Day than to think about all we are grateful for?? And here, on Oasis for YA, we have lots of reasons to give thanks.

  1. We share a joint love for Young Adult literature, which, I believe, can change the world.
  2. We welcomed a new Oasis Sister this year, Larissa!
  3. The publishing world is ever-changing, giving us more say in our futures.
  4. Collectively, we belong to YAlitchat-the most amazing YA writing community.
  5. Each of the Oasis Sisters has gained ground in the writing/publishing/marketing/platform world.
  • Jessie just celebrated her release of DESTINED!
  • Jessica is fast at edits for her book deal!
  • AE is out on sub with eleven publishers!
  • Nikki is hard at work on her stories and has material out with agents!
  • Larissa is working on her stories and is as much a ray of encouragement as ever!
  • And me, one of my short stories was just published in a collection of short stories. (Yeah, in a real book!) I have material out with agents and am hearing positive responses.
Mostly, we are thankful for YOU, our devoted followers. Thank you for choosing to follow us and join in on YA discussions, as well as sharing our love and journeys in the publishing world.

The Oasis Sisters

Now, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving Day?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Writing UP Your Characters

I have a total pet peeve. (Actually, I have several, but this one pertains to reading ... and writing) ... It's when authors dumb down their characters.

Now, I'm not talking about your teen main character. We've all heard that you should talk "up" to your readers and that teens are very intelligent beings.

I'm talking about the little siblings (or the best friend's younger siblings). There's nothing I despise more than the description of a five-year-old running around with a lollipop, sticky hands touching every surface as they shout out "poop."

While that may happen every once in a great while, it's a rarity. My four-year-old asks extremely detailed and thought-provoking questions. "Mom, have those mountains been there millions of years?" My nine-year-old has been doing theater for several years and knows more about Mamma Mia than I do.

And most teens don't look at their siblings like they're complete idiots. The older sister may be annoyed, or embarrassed, of her younger brother ... but she's also normally very proud of him.

I know there's a fine line of making a younger child seem too intelligent, but at the very least, opt for interesting. Give her a hobby (most five year-olds I know are already playing sports or are learning a musical instrument). Have him obsessed with a topic (dinosaurs, trains, geography, or pop trivia).

And yes, your siblings can fight. That's a given. Just don't make it over a six-year-old spilling Kool-Aid on your main character's white dress :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Clockwork Prince

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but when I went looking for upcoming releases to spotlight, it jumped out at me.


It comes out December 6, and I cannot wait.

Here's the description:

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

I have ADORED every one of Cassandra Clare's books, and I cannot wait to read more about Tessa, Will, and Jem.  Plus, check out Cassie's website for information about MULTIPLE special extras in different exclusive editions of the book. (B&N, Book Depository, and Walmart all have different exclusives! Wow!)

So, are you excited for Clockwork Prince?  Which do you like better: The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices?

P.S. If you haven't read any Cassie Clare (OMG what's wrong with you?!), go out RIGHT NOW and start with City of Bones.  You can thank me later.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Book Birthday, DESTINED!

 Today I am SO SUPER excited to have the honor of wishing our fabulous Oasis sister, Jessie Harrell a happy book birthday!  (*also, I have the feeling it’s her REAL birthday, too! So happy double birthdays!)

I know I speak for all of us here at the Oasis when I say we are so excited and happy and proud of you, Jessie!  It’s been an honor and a privilege to get to work with you and know you and to be able to count you as one of my friends!  To many more birthdays AND books! Slainte and Go N-Eiri An T-Adh Leat (cheers and good luck)!

HUGS from all of us!  For you AND the fabulous DESTINED.

And now onto the juicy stuff because Jessie has some awesome stuff happening in conjunction with her release. 
The absolutely GORGEOUS cover.

When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.

Destined is a fresh and heart-achingly romantic retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth from debut novelist, Jessie Harrell.

And as far as juicy things go, Good Choice Reading is hosting a blog tour that has a TON of giveaways and Jessie will be having another awesome giveaway on her personal blog today as well, so don't forget to go check those out.

You can find the fab Jessie Harrel in various places around the interwebs. :) Here, of course.  And her website, blog, twitter, and facebook.  Don’t forget to add DESTINED to goodreads and order it at Amazon.

This is an awesome story, all. You're not going to want to miss it.  :D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Self-Publishing 102: Creating a Captivating Cover

Welcome to another addition of Writer's Wednesday.  A number of you seemed to enjoy my self-pub tips on the last go around, so I thought I'd share the nuts and bolts with you about creating a captivating cover. 
I cannot emphasis enough that you do not want to skimp on your cover. This is the single-biggest marketing investment you will make in yourself.  Unfortunately, if your cover looks unprofessional, readers will tend to assume that what's inside isn't any better.

Let me also point out that if you intend to publish paperback (or hard bound) copies of your novel, you have a lot more work cut out for you.  Just making the front cover is relatively easy compared to creating a whole cover (including the spine and back).  If you, like me, are not tech savvy, you will find you are entirely dependent on your cover designer to get the details right.  Which means -- do your homework and pick someone you want to work with.

But for now, let's just start with the front cover and the artwork or photography that will grace it.  Basically, you have three options: (1) use your own photo/art (un-comissioned); (2) buy stock photos/art; (3) commission photos/art.

Using your own photograph can yield good results if you or your designer have the skills to manipulate the photo well.  The first example that comes to mind is book one in Willow Cross's Dark Gifts series.  The girl on the cover is Willow's daughter and her neighbor was cover artist.  If you can get lucky enough to have a free model and designer, go for it!

The next option -- to which most of us will be relegated -- is using stock photography and art.  Here's my biggest concern about stock photography: anyone else can buy the same picture and use it on their cover.  You'd think with the millions of images out there (check out for example), that this wouldn't be a big concern.  Unfortunately, it is.  Just check out these examples if you don't believe me.
 This this is problem is limited to Indie authors?  Think again. This one shocked me when I saw it recently.  While the dress and hair color had been changed, the girl is obviously the same in both photos.

The way I got around this with Destined was to look for art on  The image I fell in love with was not for sale (meaning it wasn't a stock image), but I contacted the artist to see if she'd be willing to sell me the rights to use it.  She was not only flattered, but sold me rights at stock price.  This is not always going to happen.  Some artists won't want to sell; some will want exorbitant prices.  But the bottom line is, you won't know if you don't ask.  So what's the harm?

Finally, you can commission the cover art.  That means either hiring an artist to digitally paint your cover or hiring a photographer to shoot a model and then manipulate the image into a cover.  Here are some really stunning examples by Indie authors.
 The most important benefit of spending this extra money is that no one will have a cover like yours.  Plus, you get to pick every last detail.  No worries about manipulating polka dots off pillows and making a dress look less modern (see my example above).

Don't forget when designing your cover that you will oftentimes need to pay for the right to commercially use the font you select (see, but your cover artist should already own the digital brushes or be able to purchase them economically.

Finally, for your spine and back cover, how you format will depend on who you decide to use to print your books. I used Lightning Source and Create Space and both have different formats and templates.  So yes, my designer had to put the full cover together twice (although, since I'm not tech savvy, I have no idea how much work this actually was).  You're also going to need to know your final page count because that determines the width of your spine.  Just some things to keep in mind.

Regardless of which route you take to create your cover, I recommend combing Amazon and Goodreads for covers that you love.  Once you have an idea of what you like, it will make the process of selecting art/photography and a feel for your book that much easier.  Just for fun, here are some of the covers that had me drooling when we created the Destined cover.  Can you tell??

 Have any questions or tips ? Please share!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: A Million Suns by Beth Revis

When I read the first chapter of Across the Universe online all those months ago, I was hooked. Then I read Across the Universe, and was awed and amazed, and the sci-fi nerd girl in me was squealing around on imaginary jetpacks. Well, y'all A Million Suns is due to release in January, and it's probably my most anticipated up coming book.

Look at the cover. How can you NOT love that, covet that, want to stroke the screen and coo to it? *le sigh*

Read this from the author's website:
Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.
*SQUEE* (the squeal is mine)

Also from the author's blog:
When Elder learns harrowing news about the space ship Godspeed, he and Amy must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, all the while dealing with the romance that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart. It all boils down to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Sadly I can't find a book trailer yet. If I'd found It, I'm sure I would've watched it a half dozen times.

If you haven't Across the Universe yet, what are you waiting for?! There is a trailer for that book, and I'm adding it here to entice you to pick up ATU if you haven't already:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Writing Prompt!

We were supposed to do critiques today but Jenny K hasn't emailed me her piece. Jenny, if you're out there, I sent you an email!!

So instead, we're going to do a writing prompt.

The holiday season is almost here, so everyone is gearing up for travel. And that's our prompt this time. With a twist. If you normally write Male POV, switch it to Female. If you normally write Female POV, switch it to Male!

You have up to 250 words to get your character traveling - develop a flashback, write a poem, try something new, whatever you want. Post those words below and then comment on at least one other person's writing. (You don't need to necessarily critique it, this isn't polished writing people!)

Ready. Set. Go!

(And here's mine ...)

Trent stared out the window, the expanse of blue outside the window making him cringe. Growing up in the middle of Tennessee, he hadn't spent much time near an ocean.

Shit, he hadn't spent any time near an ocean.

And yet, here he was. Eyes narrowed, trying to find an end to the damn thing. Because he needed a goal, something to focus on. Even an island would suffice. Maybe Cuba? The Caribbean? But who was he joking.

He couldn't even swim.

His mother slowed the rental car to a halt outside of some military issue gates. A guard stepped over, glared at their IDs and then at the two passengers. With a grunt, he motioned them forward.


“It’s not too late, honey,” his mom said, her accent warm and heavy. “If you’re nervous, you don’t need to go.”

Trent shook his head. It had been too late for far too long. This was his escape. His way out of rural life, away from an asshole coach of a father, and away from his obsessive ex-girlfriend.

Nothing like traveling thousands of miles just to escape.

Image Source

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Writer Wednesday: Echoes

I'm finishing up a revision. *sigh*

And I know you all know what I'm talking about.  But strangely, the last thing I fixed was the most difficult.

I have an echo problem. (Echo problem. Echo problem.) LOL.

Really, I'm sure almost all writers have them.  Anyway, I have a couple I'm working on, but one in particular that was troublesome was STOMACH.

Yes. Stomach.

I know, right?  WHY?  Well, I think it's mostly because that's where I feel many emotions the strongest.  And I do use a lot of other things, but apparently STOMACH stands out the most. *sigh*

So, to fix it, I did a search for the word stomach in my manuscript, and changed a lot of them.  And to come up with a different way to get the same effect, I went to The Bookshelf Muse's Emotion Thesaurus.

If you weren't aware of it, you need to check it out.  Angela Ackerman has amassed a treasure trove of different ways to show numerous emotions (and settings and personality traits, too!). 

The nice thing is, now that my STOMACH issue has made itself so annoying, I will probably be more aware of it and it won't be such a big issue in my next manuscript.  Of course, something else will just take its place.

Like the word just.  *sigh*

And sighing. o.O

What are your echoes?  And how do you go about fixing them?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

TBR Tuesday: The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers

I just heard of this one last week and it caught my attention right away.  Not sure what that says about me... but the point is, I WANT THIS BOOK.

The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers
By: Lynn Weingarten
Book B-day: December 27, 2011
Publisher: HaperTeen
Pages: 352

When her boyfriend breaks up with her on the first day of sophomore year, Lucy has no idea how she’s going to make it through homeroom, let alone the rest of her life. Enter three stunning girls with a magical offer Lucy can’t refuse. All she has to do is get a guy to fall in love with her in the next seven days, and then…break his heart and collect one of his brokenhearted tears. As the girls teach Lucy how to hook a guy (with the help of a little magic), she quickly discovers how far she is willing to go—and who she is willing to cross—to get what she wants. 

Fans of Lauren Myracle, Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Meg Cabot will love this tale of breakups, friendship, new crushes, and magic. Told with wit and charm, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers is sure to be one of this winter’s most irresistible reads!

Here's hoping for some Amazon gift cards for Christmas so I can download this one on my Kindle right away.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Crit Style

It's yet another Whoseywhatsit Thursday: Crit Style!  Our third, in fact. This is so exciting.

As with our others, we're looking for writers looking for critiques.  This month we're letting it be "winner's choice."  So, let's hear it, what do you have that you want to be critted?

Please keep it within reason, within the YA genre, and within a reasonable length. (Say no more than 500 or so words, but feel free to talk to us if what you want critted is a bit longer.)

Anyone interested in having their work critted by the Oasis Sisters please leave a comment below. will choose the lucky recipient, who will be notified via email. So please make sure to leave your email addresses in the comment section!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


The video is a bit of auditory candy. I mean, come on, Bo Bice's soulful, smokey blues voice is a treat any time, right? Even if it has little to nothing to do with this post... *cheezy grin*

Okay, so what are we talking about today? Plot vehicles. I'm sure there may be another industry term for these, but to me a trope used to push a plot forward is a vehicle. They are plot points, or happenings in a story that when boiled down to it's simplest essence appear in many stories. Now don't fret, I've heard said there are only 7 original stories and everything else is just new packaging. Also heard there's a fairly simple formula for any romance, regardless of paranormal, contemporary, dystopian... Basically, a romance distills to: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. (Or boy/boy, girl/girl if that's your kind of story)

Dead parent/s: This usually sends the Main Character into a new environment where they find themselves/their true love and usually a lot of trouble.
Siblings: The MC finds out somewhere along the way their nemesis or love interest is actually their sibling.
Son/Daughter of the Big Bad Guy: The MC discovers they are the offspring of the big villain.
Misunderstanding: The MC and BF/GF have a misunderstanding that leads to that all important 'time apart' part of the story where they pine for each other.
Dead sibling/Significant Other: The MC lost someone, usually as part of backstory, and that loss haunts them, shaping their choices, or preventing them from finding love, etc, till they get past it.
Paranormal and Human relationship: The MC or their love interest is either paranormal, or human, and their Significant Other is the other. (built in tension of bridging the gap between them, loving despite their "issue)
Amnesia: probably one of my least favorite plot vehicles. The MC can't remember why they are the way they are, or who they are, or blah blah blah.
Kidnapping: Puts the MC in danger, exposes them to a new environment. The MC's often learn to rely on themselves and escape, or are saved by their Significant Other.
There's actually a chat going on tonight about this plot vehicle with two of Egmont's authors and you're all invited to join Beth Kephart (author of YOU ARE MY ONLY) and Kristina McBride author of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES) as they talk about kidnapping in YA literature, their books, and much much more. And bring questions!

Have any other Plot Vehicles? Please share!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

TBR Tuesday: OPEN MINDS - Happy Release Day!!

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading the query letter for this story on YAlitchat. I remember being blown away. So when I heard that Susan Kaye Quinn decided to self-publishing it, taking the story's circulation in her hands, I couldn't wait to chat with her about. And I'm leaving out how excited I've been to get my hands on it!

But the wait is over!

Please join me in wishing a Happy Book Birthday to OPEN MINDS (the first in the Mindjack Trilogy) and Susan Kaye Quinn! Today is release day!

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Susan's book is available in e-book form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, and in print through Amazon and Createspace. ALSO, check out her website for the book - Mindjack Trilogy. It's awesome!

I'm fortunate enough to be a part of the OPEN MINDS book blog tour. If you'd like to know more--and trust me, you want be sorry--head over to MY POST and see what else Susan has to say about a world of mindreaders.
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