Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: Anna Dressed in Blood

My favorite day of the week! The day we share or To Be Read list and hope maybe we might hit someone else's fancy. Lately, with my rewrites happening, I've slipped off the edge and plummeted into the dark. So...if you're into the dark and creepy like I am, this will be right up your alley!

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the
deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

“Anna Dressed in Blood is easily one of my favorite books of all time and is exactly what I'd hoped it would be: Gorgeous, brutal, heart-breaking, merciless, and cool as Hell. This is the kind of book I've been dying to read!”—Courtney Allison Moulton, author of Angelfire

"I loved Cas! And the world he inhabits is terrifyingly vivid and utterly compelling. Get ready to sleep with the lights on because this book has teeth. Sharp ones.”--Stacey Kade, author of The Ghost and the Goth series

Anna Dressed in Blood is a dark and intricate tale, with a hero who kills the dead but is half in love with death himself. By the end of the book, you will be too. Spellbinding and romantic. --Cassandra Clare, NYT Bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series

Book's page on the author's website.

Monday, May 30, 2011

GIVEAWAY: Autographed Copy of Flawless + Bookmark

It's Monday Sanctuary time, but after my insane week at BEA, I'm going to do a giveaway instead. Because my sanctuary is catching up on emails and taking a nap :)

Did you check out our Interview with Lara Chapman - YA Debut Author of FLAWLESS last Friday? Well now we've got some swag to giveaway!

You can win an autographed copy of Flawless + a bookmark. You can check out a teaser from the book too.

To enter:
  • You must be a follower of the site.
  • You must leave a comment below as your first entry.
  • You can tweet about the contest for an extra entry (leave a comment below with the 2nd entry).
  • Contest ends Friday, June 3rd

Good luck and thanks for being a fan!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Interview with Lara Chapman - YA Debut Author of FLAWLESS

I'm very excited to welcome debut YA novelist, Lara Chapman, to the Oasis today. Lara's first published novel, FLAWLESS, was released on Tuesday by Bloomsbury. I'm sure her stomach is still aflutter from all the release-day excitement, but she's been gracious enough to swing by our little resting place and answer a few questions. But first, let me tell you about her novel -- in the perfect one-sentence pitch.

FLAWLESS is a modern retelling of the Cyrano story in which a senior-class salutatorian with a notable nose agrees to help her perfectly gorgeous best friend catch the eye of the new hottie at school, only to discover he’s actually the perfect guy for her.

Before asking Lara to do an interview with us, I took up the offer on her website to read the teaser from FLAWLESS. It was so easy to fall right into step with the characters, that I wanted to read on and had to know more about this author's journey to publication. If you love a retelling and/or contemporary YA romance, go check her out. (We'll wait if you want.)

Okay -- on with the interview!

Is this your first novel? How long would you say it took you to perfect it?

FLAWLESS isn’t my first novel. I began submitting adult contemporary romance to contests and getting a lot of comments like “your heroine sounds like a teenager,” so I decided to try my hand at YA. It was a perfect fit for my voice – I can’t imagine writing anything else.

FLAWLESS didn’t take me long to write. I spent about a week storyboarding and wrote the first draft in about six weeks. That’s just how I write… total focus until it’s done! Lots of all-nighters and emailing my awesome critique partners. I took about another month to revise before submitting

Retellings are pretty popular right now. What do you think sets a retelling apart from the rest of the pack?

There are some truly timeless stories… Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, etc. Sometimes, a retelling is a reader’s first experience with the storyline. I know that, for some, the thought of reading Shakespeare is intimidating – a retelling is a good introduction to that storyline in a more accessible format.

FLAWLESS is already scheduled for release in the UK, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey. Can you tell us a little about how those sales happened and what it means to you to go international with your debut novel?

First of all… how crazy is it that FLAWLESS is being published internationally?! I can’t even wrap my head around that. I know very little about how those sales took place – Bloomsbury handled all of those sales. The news of each of them was in an email and it floored me every single time!

You're represented by the super-awesome Holly Root and I loved reading your "how I got my agent story." But the last part of your interview was the most inspirational for me. (In short, Lara queried Holly, didn't hear back from her, and learned a year later that the query had been lost in her inbox. When she finally read it, she requested the full and six weeks later, Holly offered representation.) WOW!! How did you fill that year-long wait period and convince yourself not to give up?

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? I couldn’t believe it when Holly emailed me and said she’d just found the partial of FLAWLESS in her spam folder and wanted the full. What’s even more surprising is that I didn’t follow up with her – that is the exact opposite of how I normally work.

The secret is to NEVER quit writing. My critique partners were so awesome – they held me accountable for chapters even when I didn’t feel like writing. By the time I’d heard from Holly on FLAWLESS, I had completed another novel and a half!

Any advice you'd like pass on to your fellow aspiring debut YA novelists?

Two things: 1) Don’t give up! If you’re feeling like you aren’t making any progress or your writing seems stale, try your hand at something else… poetry, novellas, or a different genre. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make something click and get you fired up about writing again. 2) Keep learning! Writers spend an untold number of hours (and money) on workshops and conferences. Sometimes, what we learn sticks long term. Other times, we need to hear it again and practice it or tweak it to make it ours. If you quit learning, your writing can’t improve and that’s the key building a long-term career.

How did you celebrate release day and do you have any continuing celebratory plans?

I didn’t get to celebrate too much on the actual booksigning day… regular day-to-day life kept demanding my attention! I’m signing with a group of Texas YA authors through the month of May, so I plan to celebrate repeatedly in each town we visit! You can check out our tour schedule at www.chillsandthrillsteenbooktour.wordpress.com.

BONUS QUESTION: You're going to be stranded on a desert oasis and you can pick to bring with you either 5 books or an iPod/MP3 player, but not both. Which do you choose?


If you want to pick up your copy of FLAWLESS, head on over to Amazon, B&N, Book Depository or drive on down to your local Indie. Thank you, Lara, for joining us and we look forward to following your career!

And there you have it... learning new or inspiring today?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Meme: All About the Senses

Our Oasis Meme was created to ponder, encourage, and mostly celebrate all that is Young Adult. Each week we post a question about writing, publishing, and/or young adult topics/issues and the next week we answer it. 

We'd love for you to grab our Meme Motto, join us every Thursday, and connect with other Oasis Seekers and the YA community at large.

This Week's Topic: Which of your five senses do you most appreciate and why?

This is an intensely tough question for me. I am Sense person at heart. I love the eyes, and am a true believer they are the windows to the soul. Smells are interesting and can be used to create scenes from serious to humorous. Sounds and tastes can do the same, creating a unique world or setting. But for today, I guess I'll go with touch. This is probably because I just wrote an intimate scene between my two main characters where they do not kiss--only touch, mere butterfly touches that cause internal reactions and growth in the characters. I love the subtle that ends up erupting in the powerful.

So there you have it. My take on Senses. Share yours. 

 Here are the rules to participate:

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

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

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

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

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

This Week's Topic: Of all the high school groups or clicks, which do you enjoy writing the most? 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writer Wednesday: How I got my editor (the slightly long version).

I know published authors rarely make a ton of money,but this pic was too funny to pass up!

**I wrote this at midnight, so please forgive my numerous grammar and spelling mistakes. :) **

Okay, my Oasis sisters wanted me to write a little bit about how I got my publishing deal.  And, silly me, went “oh sure! That’ll be easy!”  Then I sat down to write the post and I realized, I didn’t know where to start. 

However, like with any story, it’s best to start in the beginning, when things changed for the MC, so this might be a bit long. 

For me, this day would be the day I sat with my leg in a cast, my infant daughter asleep next to me, and nothing but time and worry on my mind.  I was staring at a blank TV screen and thinking about the dream I’d had the night before of my uncle, who’d passed away 6 years ago, telling me to write it.  At the time I had no idea what he meant, but then it hit me.  He meant to write a book!

So, that’s what I did.  I wrote in a flurry of sleepless nights, and a month later I had it.  I took 2 months to edit it, and then I sent it off, confident that it was the next best thing.  I got my first rejection and I started laughing. “Everyone gets rejections, it’s fine,” I thought, with a smile.  I tucked the rejection in a drawer and subbed it to more agents.

In the meantime, I continued to write.  A whole SERIES of books based on the first one.  I was still confident that I would find an agent pretty quickly.  It wasn’t until I’d reached about 30 queries that I realized it wasn’t that great after all and maybe I should get help.  I joined critiquing site after critiquing site.  

In the meantime, I wrote a contemporary category adult romance and, I found a beta reader to read it before sending it out.  I waited patiently for her to read it; positive she’d love it.  What I got instead, was someone who pointed out ALL of the flaws, right down to those darned dangling participles.  : P

I cursed her (in my head), yelled at my husband when he didn’t feel sorry for me, pouted, then, finally, agreed with her. I emailed her back and asked her to please continue tearing it apart, being as “nitpicky” as she could.  (She doesn’t know all this, because I never told her, but now she will.)

This person is now my best friend and fabulous crit partner, Liz Czukas.  (<3 you!) 

Feeling more confident than ever, I queried again, but only sent about 5 before I realized I just didn’t want this book to be my debut.  I wanted to write Science Fiction Young Adult. 

So, I wrote another book, had Liz tear it apart as I was writing it, then gave it to my other best friend/beta reader, then finally about 5 more beta readers (people I didn’t know) before querying again.

I started with small batches of carefully picked agents, and immediately got requests.  Already I was doing SO MUCH better!  But I wanted even better, so I joined YALITCHAT.ORG, where I took advantage of the first 5 pages and query crits, and where I met my other best friend/crit partner, Larissa Hardesty.

In the meantime, I was scouring absolutewrite.com for the perfect agent.  And then, I found her.  She was a new agent, at a fantastic agency and she was looking for exactly what I had.  So I flipped over to her site, and it was like being hit by ice water.  They only took snail mail queries and the proposal needed to include the first 50 pages not to mention they only respond if interested.

I knew I couldn’t do it. I was on a tight budget and really couldn’t afford to buy a ream of paper or the postage to send it.  But I just couldn’t get this agent out of my mind.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It was like when I met my husband for the first time.  He got into my head and I just couldn’t get him out.  : P

So, I talked to my husband who looked at me as if I’d grown a second head.  He was astounded that I hadn’t sent it out already.  He pulled me to his office, where his boss let me print out the query and partial, then shooed me out the door, telling me to “just do it.  You don’t want to wonder ‘what if’.”

So I sent it and forgot it. 

A few weeks, and a bunch of really exciting things, later, Natalie Fischer offered representation!  (My blog has a slightly more detailed version of the whole agent thing, if you want to know more.)

After that we revised for about a month, and then went out on sub. Our first round eventually ended in rejections, and in the meantime I’d had another ready to go.  She decided instead of going on another round with that original MS, we’d go out with this 2nd book. Unfortunately, the market was flooded with that type of book, and while we had some good interest, that round came back with rejections, too.

In the meantime, I’d written a third book for her.  My favorite.  I couldn’t get the characters out of my head.  I finished it in September 2010, gave it to my CPs all 4 of them at that point, then betas, then, finally, in November I gave it to Natalie.

A few tense weeks (compounded by her move) rolled by while I waited for the determination of yay or nay. Finally, I got the email stating she LOVED it and couldn’t wait to start working with me on it.

Finally, in March, it was ready to go and we went on sub.  Almost immediately we got interest and a month later, after a few R & Rs, a terrifying and nerve-wracking phone call with an editor about the first book I went on sub with that also included
a huge spider deciding to plop down on my notebook while I was writing down notes making me stifle a scream and I dance around not hearing a thing she said while I tried getting away from the gross thing, I got news I was going to acquisitions at another house.  I’d been there before so I just went on as usual, knowing anything could happen, but silently crossing my fingers. 

Then, the day before I was supposed to go to acquisitions, I got THE CALL.  Well, actually, it was a voicemail because I’d lost my phone and the battery had died.  When Natalie couldn’t get a hold of me, she DMd me telling me she needed to talk.

I immediately went into panic mode and tore apart my room to find my phone, which I did and promptly called Natalie, who told me that I had an offer from Melissa Frain at Tor Teen.  There was more to that call, but since I started crying after hearing that, while also trying to stop my daughter from trying to steal the phone and scold Natalie for making me cry, I don’t remember much about it.  J

Then there was a bunch more stuff that happened (that I don’t really know a whole lot about and, probably, can’t talk about) and now I’m here, telling you how I got my book deal.  :D

That was a lot in such a short space, amiright?  But let me tell you, all the stuff I went through from that very first rejection two years ago to now is COMPLETELY worth it.

I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I’m ready to take it on, because I know all I need is perseverance, a thick skin, a good attitude, patience and a good support system.  If these last two years have taught me anything, it’s that I have all of those.  Well, except maybe the patience.  That I’m not.  But I’m working on it.  : D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TBR Tuesday: Imaginary Girls

So, after reading and LOVING Where She Went, I've become more of a contemporary YA fan.  That's why I'm so excited that this novel -- Imaginary Girls -- will be coming out soon.

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away—away from home, away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept.
Imaginary Girls will be published in the US and Canada in hardcover and ebook on June 14, 2011.

You can read an excerpt here.  Go ahead, we'll wait.

So, you want to read the full thing now, right? I'm really into that cover too.  Come on, June 14th, hurry up and get here.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I'm sure I've talked at length about my favorite sanctuary hidden deep in the woods of Wisconsin. This year the annual May visit to Polly Falls is not to be mine. I've walked around in a funk, smelling the lilacs in bloom and thinking, "I should be packing." The cool mornings remind me of mornings at the Falls, creeping to the coffee pot so I don't wake the others. The smell of bonfires bring me back to the fires we had beside the river.

Part of me is aching for my sanctuary. I keep trying to console my pouty self with the fact we are going in the fall. But, it just feels like now is the time.

What do you do when you can't find sanctuary, or your escape route has been cut off? Do you have a back up? Is writing a sanctuary for you? Is reading?? Please share: I need a substitute.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

THANKFUL THURSDAY: Teacher Inspiration

Join the Oasis thankful-fest once a week - sending out good energy and get some back in return!

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

This Week's Topic: What teacher most encouraged you to grow as a reader or writer?

This topic was chosen by AE last week, so I'm going to answer it by saying I honestly don't think any of my teacher's inspired or encouraged me to be a reader or writer! At the crucial ages where I was learning to read and write, learning language arts, and even taking AP English in college - I had horrible teachers who squashed any sort of creativity I might have had. My mom, who is an avid reader, instilled a sense of reading and writing in me at a very early age - so I have to thank her instead :)

Here are the rules to participate:

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

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

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

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

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

This Week's Topic: Which of your five senses do you most appreciate and why?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Wednesdays are specific to picking up tricks, insights, or advice geared to the YA writer. So as I pondered what great wisdom I had to share on said subject, I thought about my life. As it is now. As it was when I was a teenager. And appropriately so for this time of the school year, prom came to mind. It also helped that I just hosted a prom dinner for my oldest, his date, and their friends.

You may have been a prom-junkie who longed for the dress shopping and hair appointments or the tuxedo sizings and the after-party planning. Then again, you could have seen prom as a waste of time, money, and a heartache waiting to happen. Despite your personal experience, prom is a reality for the upper half of our specifically-targeted, YA audience.

Use your experience. Don't want to. Then use the experience you wish you'd had...or hadn't had. Dig deeper into an old friend's prom experience and mix it up a bit. Draw from it and build on it. It doesn't have to be sweet sixteen and blowing out the candles. It can be out of the ordinary. Different.

Prom can be a plethora of misgivings, mishaps, and mistakes, or pleasures, pretty prose, and proposals. If appropriate to your story, don't be afraid to use it or other typical high school events to draw more from your characters and your story. Add a new spin or twist to the prom. You can do anything. Now go write it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Passion by Lauren Kate

Did you love Lauren Kate's novels, Fallen and Torment?  Well get ready, because on June 14th, you're in store for some Passion!

This is the trailer from Australia and Lauren says on her website that she loves it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Sanctuary: Kindle + App

Technology often makes us so connected that we're reachable anywhere. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages.  Every form of communication finds its way to us almost instantaneously.  Sometimes that makes it difficult to unplug and unwind.

But for all the privacy downsides associated with technology, I've found some technology that brings me true sanctuary.  So I thought I'd share just in case you weren't aware of this super-cool reading tool.
Sure, you've probably heard of Kindle.  Many lovers of traditional, paper-bound books have been reluctant to exchange the smell and feel of a new read for an electronic screen.  Here's why you should reconsider that decision.

For me, reading is a HUGE sanctuary.  When I can get lost in someone else's world, I don't have to worry about my own.  This past week I had to travel on business and I was pretty keyed up about the argument I had to make in front of a three-judge panel.  When I arrived in Atlanta, I scouted out the courthouse (so I'd know EXACTLY where it was in the morning) and on my way back to the hotel, swung into a diner.  So there I was, sitting alone in a restaurant, with nothing but my iPhone to entertain me.  But, I also had my kindle App on my phone.

Using the App, I was able to pull up a novel from my Kindle library, download it to my phone and read my way into oblivion instead of feeling really alone.  THE BEST PART??  (I think this is so cool!)  The App knows where I left off reading on any other device.

So, when I got to the airport and wanted to read on the larger iPad screen, the App picked up right where I'd left off reading on my iPhone.  And then I got home and went back to reading on my Kindle.  Sure enough, the device syncs right up.  Not having to find the last page or chapter you read (which happened to me on the same trip when I dropped the paper book I was reading and my book mark fell out) is just really cool. Plus, I'm pretty sure you don't even have to own a Kindle to use the Apps.

So there it is.  Amazon should totally pay me for this endorsement. Sadly, they have not. Which is even further proof that I'm just plain smitten with this gizmo.

And in case that info wasn't enough to brighten your Monday, I'll share an embarrassing story from that same trip.  I kept my nose in some form of technology the whole time I was in the airport and apparently didn't spend enough time looking at my actual paper boarding pass.  I ended up almost missing my plane because I'd been sitting (and reading) at gate C11.  Turns out, 11C was actually my seat number.  My plane was boarding at gate C22.  *facepalm*  See -- I obviously needed more sanctuary!
  So, are you sold on the Kindle App yet?  Already have it and love it like I do?  Or better yet, have an embarrassing story to share too?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: To Prologue or Not To Prologue

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of prologues. I have one in my last three manuscripts (each from a different POV character than my Main Character). My current one does not.

But some people do not like prologues, agents included. At several conferences I've heard agents suggest you to rip it out of your manuscript. A select few don't seem to mind.

As Nathan Bransford says:

What is a prologue? Typically it is 3-5 pages of introductory material that is written while the author is procrastinating from writing a more difficult section of the book.

Ah, I'm kidding.

The most common question I get about prologues: are prologues necessary? Personally I think the easiest litmus test is to take out the prologue and see if your book still makes sense.

If you can take out a prologue and the entire plot still makes perfect sense, chances are the prologue was written to "set the mood".

I thought I'd take a glance through my bookshelf and take note of the YA novels that have a prologue ... and those that do not:

  • Red Glove (Holly Black): No
  • Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare): Yes
  • Across the Universe (Beth Revis): No
  • Blood Magic (Tessa Gratton): No
  • Like Mandarin (Kirsten Hubbard): Yes
  • Divergent (Veronica Roth): No
  • Between Shade of Gray (Ruta Sepetys): No
  • Starcrossed (Josephine Angelini): No
  • Twilight (Stephenie Meyers): Yes
  • Fury of the Phoenix (Cindy Pon): No
  • Paranormalcy (Kiersten White): No
  • Hex Hall (Rachel Hawkins): Yes
  • Enchanted (Heather Dixon): No
  • Fallen (Lauren Kate): Yes
  • Incarceron (Catherine Fisher): No
  • Cryer's Cross (Lisa McMann): Sort of

I could keep going, but you get the point. Does your favorite book have a prologue? Do you write prologues?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: The Mephisto Covenant

This Tuesday, I bring to the forefront a story that completely enamored me when I first heard about it. I can't wait to read it in it's entirety. And if you are a paranormal junkie or romance freak on any level I think you'll want to add it too.

Title: The Mephisto Covenant
Author: Trinity Faegen
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: September 27, 2011

So, yeah...I'm in love with the cover. And check out this blurb:

Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and 
Eryx’s biggest threat. 

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks 
for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find 
peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally 
found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha. 

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and 
win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal 

You need it now, don't you??? Make sure you pick it up when it's released. 

For now, find out more on Trinity's WEBSITE or her BLOG.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Sanctuary: Crit. Partners.

I’ve been blessed in my writing life to have wonderful crit partners and beta readers and I never to seem to have a shortage of people willing to read.  In fact, I have a lot who’ve been asking since they finished my last MS to give them more (sorry, guys!). 

But for me, these people aren’t there just to read my stories and point out the flaws—though they do that, too!  And there’s never a shortage of errors.—it’s the support they give.

Writing is tough--even when the words are flowing—and it’s essential you have what I’ve termed as “back up.”  People who know what you’re going through and can help you not only celebrate the happy times, but also carry you through the awful times, and, believe me, there’s plenty of both.

My CPs tend to be everything from shoulders to cry on to muses.  I don’t know how often I’ve brainstormed with one and came up with a whole new way to look at the impossible and come up with a solution or even a brand new story line. 

So, peeps, I’m curious.  Do you have crit. partners?  If so, what do you use them for?  Are they your muse? Your shoulder to cry on?  Both?  Something in between?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Freestyle Friday: Book Review - Paranormalacy

I know we've all probably already read this book, but I've been crazy busy and this review was already finished.  Besides, it's a really good story.

Title:  Paranormalacy by Kiersten White
Publisher: Harper Teen (August 31, 2010)
Paperback: 352 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 4 of 5 palm trees
Source: Trade

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

     REVIEW: This is another book that I picked up mainly because of the cover (it’s so PRETTY!), but also because of a the hoopla surrounding it. I first learned of it during my own agent hunt last year when I was researching her agent, Michelle Wolfson. And Kiersten did a blog post on how her first book didn’t sell. After that I started stalking following her. ☺

     The story is a little slower than I would have liked, but I did enjoy it. And I have to admit the romance wasn’t at all what I had expected (from other reviews I’d read), but there is some there. Other than those things I didn’t really have any expectations for it. I was hoping it would keep me entertained and it did.

     It starts off with Evie, who carries a pink tazer she calls tazie (isn’t that cute?!), being “attacked” by a vampire. Pretty typical of the recent paranormal stories, but then Evie completely kicks butt and turns the tables on him so she can put some kind of ankle bracelet that acts like those police trackers, but instead of tracking them, it monitors their “vital signs” and if they break the law they are “neutered,” which, has a more literal meaning later in the book, but in the beginning it just means depending on the creature, they are killed.

     We then follow Evie as she’s transported back to IPCA, where she works because of her ability to see through glamours and see the paranormal creatures for what they are, by a faerie, Rath, who Evie has a strange romantic history with and plays a fairly large part in the story as he puts Evie in an unwilling love triangle. We also meet her best friend, who happens to be a mermaid who lives in a tank in IPCA and talks to Evie through a computer and eye movements.

     Then we meet the hero, a shapeshifter named Lend, who borrows the “skin” of several of IPCA’s staff to break in. Evie puts a stop to it and attaches the ankle tracker. She develops a friendship, then later a romantic involvement with him and learns a prophecy about herself. Throughout the rest of the book Evie’s internal conflict is between her duties and the want and need to be a normal teenage girl where she goes to high school and has a locker—which she’s apparently quite fond of. ☺ ( Having once been a normal teenage girl, I don’t see why, but I guess if I remember wanting to ride the bus to school when I was younger and I suppose it’s about the same feeling. :D)

     I have to admit, that the major appeal of this book for me was its uniqueness. It wasn’t just like every other paranormal out there and kept me reading because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. I highly suggest it if you’re looking for a good read that’s different than what you’re expecting.

     CHARACTERS: Evie is a strong character, but is made stronger by her weaknesses. Her longing to be normal is something that every person who remembers high school can relate to. Lend is sweet and while he pretends to be strong around the adults, through Evie you can glimpse some of that naïveté that makes him the perfect hero and perfect for Evie. Reth on the other hand, even though I’m seeing him through Evie is not a character I liked. Although, I’m pretty sure this was Ms. White’s intention. He was selfish, uncaring, and cruel. While I could see sparks of why people may like him, I just couldn’t get past all his negatives to like him.

     COVER: I think it’s perfect for this book. With the beautiful pink dress on the kick-butt beautiful girl and, the storm brewing in the background, sets the mood of the story wonderfully.

     If you’re looking for a unique story, that’ll keep you reading and has a hint of romance that’s perfect for almost all ages, then this is the perfect book for you.

Find Kiersten White

Purchase Paranormalcy

Paranormalcy book trailer

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thankful for Thursday: Websites

Join the Oasis thankful-fest once a week - send out good energy and get some back in return!

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

Here are the rules to participate each week:

1. Grab the Thankful prompt from below and write a post about it. It doesn't have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!)

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

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

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

Topic this week: What writing/reading website are you most grateful for and why?

Goodness, this week's topic almost seems too easy! I'm thankful for THIS VERY WEBSITE/BLOG because I have my wonderful Oasis sisters for support, advice, crits and everything else requiring a shoulder to lean on.  Plus, I'm thankful for YOU -- OUR WONDERFUL OASIS SEEKERS -- you leave us comments, read our posts and just generally help to inspire our lives.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the YALitChat site -- the place where we all met. If you write YA, you really should be a member.  There is so much support, feedback, and information available... not to mention access to agents and publishers. Truly, I can't say enough good things about it.  It's well worth your $30 investment (and it's free to students 18 and under).

So what about you?  What writing/reading websites do you most appreciate?

And to get you thinking ahead -- next week's topic will be: What teacher most encouraged you to grow as a reader or writer?   

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: Never stop learning

I don't remember which artist this piece came from
but it is from DeviantArt.

In the writing world:
Never get complacent. If you're complacent, you don't strive to improve.
Never think you're 'good enough.' If you're good enough, you'll never strive for greatness.
And never, ever think you're the sh*t. Because, believe me, a badass book will come along and shame you.

In the writing world:
Read read read. Evolve. Strive. Learn. Teach. Learn some more. Go back to old works and make them better.

I'm sure you're probably wondering what brought this on. Well, I agreed a while back to help judge writing samples for a contest. The first one I cracked open was rife with rookie writer mistakes like Telling and not Showing, the dreaded Head Hopping, and Trying Too Hard. What did I learn from it? First, I'm must be getting crotchy in my old age because I was tempted to shake my finger at it. o_O Second, with every instance of Telling, of Head Hopping, and obvious stretch of Trying Too Hard I was reminded not to do that to my readers. Lessen I can share with you? Always Show what is happening, Show how it affects your character; keep the POV pure and if you must switch, do it smoothly or give the new POV a scene/chapter break; let things happen naturally and let your character speak, don't speak for them.

The next sample I opened... Well, I'd like to say I learned tolerance, or even perseverance. Nope. I learned I have limits of what I can and cannot stand, and if I want to be a fair judge, I cannot fairly judge something that makes my brain that damn sad. What kind of lesson can I turn this into for others? Well, in the writing world, we often talk about beta readers and critique partners and how important and essential they are in helping us better our craft. If you are working with another writer, be honest, and if their writing just doesn't work for you than you're not going to be able to give helpful feedback. So, be honest.

The third sample started out great, and then things took a lusty turn. After reading so much YA, that almost flip-a-switch horny threw me off and was actually a little offensive with no set-up, no hand-holding, no build-up of emotions, and definitely no "this is an erotic paranormal romance so expect the characters to be hornballs." How can I turn this into a lesson for you? Know your audience, know your genre limits, and for godssake don't try to boil what shouldn't be steaming. And if it is something steamy, give some hints, use tone and internal thoughts to prep your reader for your tortured soul of a character to instantly be contemplating fondling another character's ...

So how does this all relate to the picture up there?
For me, some of the reading has been like sticking sharp pointy things in my skull.
For you? Um...suffer for your art??

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

TBR TUESDAY: Supernaturally

It's Tuesday again - time to talk about a book in our To Be Read stack. This week I'm doing Supernaturally by Kiersten White. If you haven't read Paranormalcy, what are you thinking?!! I have 4 copies on my shelf right now (alright, 3 are to give away, but still).

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 26, 2011

Goodreads Synopsis:

A lot has changed in the six months since Evie escaped from the International Paranormal Containment Agency with her shape-shifter boyfriend, Lend. She finally has the blissfully normal life she’s always dreamed of, including:
1) A real live high school
2) A perfectly ordinary after-school job
3) Her very own locker (and by the way, rusted metal is every bit as awesome as she imagined)

But Evie’s not-so-normal past keeps creeping up on her...and things get pretty complicated when you factor in:
1) A centuries-old, seriously decaying vampire stalker
2) A crazy faerie ex-boyfriend who is the perpetual bearer of really bad news
3) A major battle brewing between the faerie courts where the prize in question happens to be...Evie herself.

So much for normal.

Make sure to pick up this book when it comes out, and in the meantime you can find Kiersten:

On her website
On her blog
On Twitter

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Renaissance of Writing: Part 1

Monday Sanctuary is a theme we explore as writers, giving helpful tips on finding that balance within our writing lives. And with the weekend I just had, a sanctuary is in order. :)

Kate & Me
If any of you follow my personal blog, you're aware that I'm a former dancer aka still taking adult dance lessons (though just for fun now) and my twelve-year-old daughter studies as well. We performed in three shows over the weekend, and yes, I am exhausted.

But being backstage got me thinking about my former life as a dancer and what else, other than dance back then, enhanced and/or brought peace to my dancing life.

Being a writer can take on many forms. We can write short stories, novels, articles, and poems. The list is endless and the only boundaries are the ones we set. So what enhances our writing...really? Life? Love? Experiences?

For me, this weekend reminded me how much dance has molded me as a person ~ to be dedicated and willing to push through any obstacle to reach my full potential and goal(s).

What about you? What activity in your life other than reading, enhances who you are as a person/writer and enables you to bring more to your writing table??
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