Monday, February 28, 2011

A2A Teen Years: Who Were These People?!

Tip of the Day: Check out the argument on Harper Collins' decision to limit the number of times a public library can loan a copy of an e-book to a mere 26 (?!) before the library has to purchase it all over again. That's insane!

This week on Author2Author, I'm not really going back to my teen years. Looking at my senior yearbook is no time machine. My three besties never even signed it. Why would we sign each others' yearbooks? We were going to be together forever, so we'd never need a yearbook signature to remind us of each other. Duh.

But here's an inspirational writing from my English teacher, senior year, the wonderful Ms. Vahey: "I hope you continue writing so the rest of the world can get as much enjoyment as I have." Awww.

And then there's this intriguing line from a guy named Kevin: "We had some good times and some bad times but all in all we're still friends." What's intriguing about it? I went to high school with like 25 guys named Kevin. Which one was it? I have no idea! The one I found out in college was a total creep? Or the one I see on Facebook all the time but never friend? Does that mean we're not "still friends"? Grr, how did I think I was going to remember all this in the future?

Seriously, teen girls, make every guy write his last name when he signs your yearbook. I don't care how well he likes to think he knows you, I don't care that in his little brain, he daydreams that you'll remember his machismo for the rest of your life with happy sighs. Make him write that last name. Also, make your best friends sign it, even though they'll tell you you're a dork because you're all going to the beach tomorrow, so they have nothing to write other than "Bring sunscreen this time, lobster girl."

Hey, they should print that advice on yearbooks! I wonder why they don't?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fun Friday: Interview with New Author Ruta Sepetys!

Tip of the Day: Ruta's novel was one of my top three books that I read in 2010.

From the official book website:
In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina is preparing for art school, first dates, and all that summer has to offer. But one night, the Soviet secret police barge violently into her home, deporting her along with her mother and younger brother. They are being sent to Siberia. Lina's father has been separated from the family and sentenced to death in a prison camp. All is lost.

Lina fights for her life, fearless, vowing that if she survives she will honor her family, and the thousands like hers, by documenting their experience in her art and writing. She risks everything to use her art as messages, hoping they will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive.

It is a long and harrowing journey, and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

Between Shades of Gray is a riveting novel that steals your breath, captures your heart, and reveals the miraculous nature of the human spirit.

I was lucky enough to attend the 2010 YALSA Symposium this past November where I scored not only an ARC of BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, but also face time with the author, Ruta Sepetys. Later that weekend, I attended her session on historical fiction and wow, she is a compelling storyteller in person and on paper. (Check out her cool website here. A fascinating video interview with Ruta about her research in Lithuania is available!)

Ruta was also lovely enough to let me interview her for A2A. Welcome Ruta!

1. When did you start writing novels with the hopes of one day having one published?
RS: I wrote my first novel in 2005. It was a humorous middle-grade mystery. Unfortunately, I was the only one who thought it was funny so now it's in a box in the attic!

2. What was your first paid writing gig?
RS: When I was eight I entered a contest to write a birthday message to the Jolly Green Giant. I won and received a set of plastic Green Giant mugs. I was over the moon and thought that was a very handsome payment!

After the Green Giant bonanza I didn't get another paid writing gig until Philomel bought Between Shades of Gray. So I had a thirty year dry spell.

3. Did you have an agent when you sold your novel?
RS: Actually, Lindsay Davis at Writers House began working with me when I only had a synopsis and ten pages of Between Shades of Gray. She was such a champion for the book and I am so grateful. I wrote the novel and then revised many times for her before she shopped and sold it. She was an incredible agent and much of the novel was based and revised on her initial input. She left the business shortly after the book sold and we all miss her terribly!

3a. Can you tell us a little about how the sale went down?
RS: I went through eight rounds of revision with my agent before she shopped the novel. The initial submissions went out in July and we received a dozen rejections. Most of the comments were that the book was simply too sad and the events too horrific and dark. And then in October, suddenly three publishers wanted the book and it ended up going to auction. It was incredibly exciting! I couldn't sleep for days.

4. How has your writing/writing process changed since selling your first novel?
RS: The main change would be that now I am working with an editor and that has been an incredible experience. My editor, Tamra Tuller, is beyond talented and insightful. She helped me step outside of the story and shape the book into something I would not have been able to do on my own. We're now working on my second novel for Philomel and Tamra gave me a revision suggestion for a scene that was so fantastic it blew my mind. What hasn't changed about my writing process is that I still run all my drafts by my writing group first. We've been together over five years and they're all much better writers than me. I'm very lucky!

4a. How about since it hit the shelves?
RS: The book hits the shelves on March 22nd and I don't imagine anything will change. I'll still work 50 hours per week at my day job and then write as much as I can in-between.

Bonus: What are you working on next?
RS: Philomel just bought my next book. It's set in New Orleans in the 1950's and is in the spirit of Good Will Hunting meets What I Saw and How I Lied. I'm so excited about it!

RS: Thank you so much for having me here at Author2Author!! I post updates and news on my website and Facebook page so please join me there as well!

Thank YOU, Ruta, for bringing this incredible story to the world.

Readers, make sure you pick of SHADES OF GRAY on March 22nd!
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just Quirky

Tip of the Day: The new Jennifer Aniston/Adam Sandler movie, JUST GO WITH IT, is hysterical! Loved it.

Well, if there is one thing I've learned about writing quirks this week is that we tend to share similar ones! Like Em mentioned in her post, I too use the word "smile" waaaaaay too often. Seriously, you'd think my characters were borderline delirious at all times. So I need to remember to go back and cut out some of the smiling.

And like Deena, I also overuse the word "just". A LOT. I had no idea until we were doing line edits on my second book and my editor pointed it out. So I went through the book and took out as many as I could. And really, they weren't as needed as I thought they were. So it was a good thing. Funny thing though, right after doing this we were brainstorming titles for my third book and I threw out there, "Just Your Average Princess" thinking it would make my editor laugh that I wanted to put "Just" in the title too. But she loved it! So sometimes using "just" does make sense. But lots of times I just need to get rid of them.

One last thing I've noticed about myself and my writing only recently, my characters almost always don't have siblings. What's up with that? The MC in the book I'm writing right now has a sister. But the first 7 books I wrote? All only children. I have no idea why I do this! I have three brothers myself. So I'm familiar with the whole sibling thing. But I never want to write about it I guess! Very weird.

Do you have similar writing quirks to mine?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writing Quirks (or What Line Edits Tell Me)

Tip of the Day: Newest procrastination device: Wii Jeopardy!

After my last round of line edits on my YA from my agent, I learned of a couple more writing quirks that I have. Keep in mind, these are in addition to the ones I already know of, namely:
--too many "justs"
--too many "blah blah blah, BUT etc etc etc..." phrases
--too many "backs"
--long dialogs that don't go anywhere but are fun to write

So the new things that I must find/replace in future manuscripts:
--brand names (oh my gosh, I am a marketer's dream), including foods, TV shows, clothing companies, store names, etc.
--overuse of a funky term that my character likes
--extended dialogs for the sake of them being fun for me to write

What did we do before find/replace?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quirky Writing

Tip of the Day: last week we posted cover photos, just wanted to briefly mention that I agree with Tina. I like covers that are fun and light, probably since that's the time of books I enjoy. And since the cover should give a good idea of the book type, that's probably why I'm drawn to those covers. Our library had a used books sale last week and all I needed to look for was a pink spine label and I figured I'd like the book!

This week we are talking about writing quirks. You know those weird things we tend to do while writing: use the word smile 50 times in two pages, give all our characters one blue eye and one blown eye, etc.

For me, my writing quirks often aren't deliberate. But there are a few things over the years that I've discovered from book to book, just by coincidence.

1.) I love main character's names that are named after cities. I've had a London, Aberdeen, Alexandria, and even an Allegan, named after a city in Michigan that has several antique stores.

2.) Further more, I like characters who have shortened names: Lon, Deen, Lexi, and Ally (for example).

3.) My characters constantly smile, walk towards things, and argue with others.

4.) My books often take place near water. Though I never grew up near water myself. But the water rarely plays an integral role in the plot.

5.) I LOVE bad boy love interests. (Though this one wasn't a surprise for me).

So what about you, is there any trends you've found from book to book. That you didn't realize you were doing at first.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Friday Winner of TRIPLE SHOT BETTY:

And the random number generator says the winner is.....

I Read Banned Books

Congratulations! Please email your snail mail address to AT

Thanks for reading and entering!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cover Attraction

Tip of the Day: Borders is closing 200 of their stores. :-( Check out my Ode to My Local Borders.

I looked through thousands of book covers on goodreads last night. And my finding is that I am an odd ball and do not like what the rest of the world likes. It might be easier to tell you what I'm not attracted to:
  • anything dark
  • anything where there's just an object in the middle and I'm supposed to know from that that I want to read a book. Like just an apple and a plain background. I mean, what is that about?
  • Not so into the backs. So many covers are people walking away these days. Maybe if they have on a really good dress but I'd kinda rather see the face.
  • anything that implies werewolves, vampires, unicorns, killer whales, rabid gorillas etc. I like books with humans.

So what do I like? You guys already know! Girlie books! Give me some pink and hearts and let's call it a day. I like bright, colorful, fun book! And it looks like I'm the only one since the first thousand or so books on each list is dark, dark, gloomy, dark books. Come on people, lighten up! Ok, here are some that are brighter:

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Attracted to Art (or *Ohhh, You're My Cover Girl)

*With apologies to New Kids on the Block

Tip of the Day: Two days left to enter to win CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE SHOT BETTY! Just comment on last Friday's post!

Like Kate, I am drawn into cover art that features gorgeous costumes, particularly period pieces.
(I haven't read VIXEN yet but it's been on my radar since I saw the cover on an ARC this past fall.)
(THE LUXE books are just fancy fancy!)

I also have a thing for creepy covers. (I can't wait for zombie book #3 by Carrie Ryan!)

(I'm reading DEAD MAIDS right now.)

(Have you read THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST? Check it out -- and the sequel!)
(I read this book based solely on the cover.)
(Also read this just based on the cover. Not disappointed.)

What cover art attracts you?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Love those covers!!!

Tip of the Day: did you know it's random acts of kindness week? Show someone kindness this week for no reason...the best kind!

Well I completely forgot yesterday was Tuesday. I'll post more book covers next week, since I spaced in posting this week...but to give you a sneak's a book cover I like. Next week I'll tell you why.

--Emily (Miss Forgetful)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cover Lover

Tip of the Day: Happy Valentine's Day! Don't forget to enter our Feel the Love giveaway for Triple Shot Betty right here by Thursday!

It's all about love on Valentine's Day. Love, attraction, lust, cravings. Like ... like how I feel in a book store!

Although some of these book covers are getting me down lately. All that gray and black. All those pictures of people with their heads out of the frame. I love color. Look at the incredible use of color in MATCHED by Ally Condie. I totally want to pick up this book just looking at it.

I also love gorgeous period dresses. I check out books if I like the dress on the cover; if I like the dress on the cover, I will always, always, always stop to read the blurb. I don't mind so much if someone's head is cut out of the frame if it's to show off a dress.

After looking at those covers, you may agree with me that clothes make the cover!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feel the Love GIVEAWAY!

Tip of the Day: *Blatant A2A Author Promotion* Buy your besties a paperback copy of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST and their favorite coffee drink for V-Day. The perfect pair!

In the spirit of coffee and book love, today's Fun Friday is a giveaway! Just leave a comment on this post between now and next Thursday to enter a drawing for this book:

Open to continental U.S. residents only. Winner will be announced next Friday.

Happy Valentine's Day!
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Writer’s Block Cause #4: Obligations

Tip of the Day: Check out the February Scholastic Bookclub Bestseller list! My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours is #4 in Middle Grade! Woot!

I kinda hate to call them obligations but I can't think of a better word for my little darlings. They're not like a sink full of dishes that I can walk right by and ignore until later (and oh yeah, I do that a lot). But dang, I have this book that I need to write and every time I think I can get to it there is something else I need to do! Like, boy scouts, girl scouts, ballet, karate, ice skating, class trips, lunch mom etc. It never ends. Here are the little darlings now:

(Obligation #1, #2, #3, and #4. Ok, I'll stop calling them that right now I swear. At least they're well read, right?)

So what am I doing about it? Well, I generally need to remove myself from the house/kiddos to write but with all of the stuff they need to do (and side note: Whoever said to get a plant before having kids to see what it's like taking care of something was a certified nutball. They are SO not like plants. They want way more than water and sunlight. And they scream and run in circles when they don't get it.) and how many words I'm trying to get done this month (26,000 more. Ugh. I'm never going to make it am I?) I've taken to trying to do two things at once. Take swimming lessons. The other day I took two of the kids to swimming lessons and sat down at the table with a notebook to hand write a scene in my current project. It's hard to write in a muggy pool area by the way, but I had to do it. As I wrote I made sure to occasionally look up and smile, clap, and give thumbs up. Hopefully those gestures all came at appropriate times. We'll see how long I can get away with this type of thing.

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Writer's Block Cause #3 (or Distraction)

Tip of the Day: Treat shoveling the driveway like a workout. Stretch first, don't strain yourself, stretch after, drink water. Then possibly go for a massage.

OK, my manuscipt is open on my laptop, my tea is beside me, I'm ready to go!

Oh wait! I forgot to start the dishwasher and the washing machine. Be right back.

All right, ready to go for real this time! Except this Wii game is due back to the library tomorrow, so I should play PacMan one more time to get it out of my system.

Eaten by the ghosts. Ah well. Back to the manuscript. Is that the phone ringing? It's the parents, better answer. Might as well noodle around on the internet while chatting.

Ah, yes, Mom and Dad are good. Toggle back to Word from LiveJournal. I was working on my book...or something...right?

DISTRACTIONS! There is no avoiding them...or is there? How about the writer's block that hits me when I have too much else on my brain?

Now that I'm in my house with a self-claimed Writer Room, I found that the best way to get around distractions is to go to the designated writing area, away from the rest of the household, including the phone, the chores, the TV, etc. If I can turn off the internet while writing, even better!

Something about the habit of associating my brain with a certain place and activity keeps me focused on the task at hand, and keeping that momentum can kick me out of writer's block. The challenge is getting off my booty and up to the Writer Room because face it, it's easier to let yourself be distracted and not write. Writing is hard. Fun and in my blood, but it's not easy. But like Em said yesterday, it's like exercise. Train your brain and body to need it in a certain place at a certain time and let the words flow.

How do you avoid distractions that lead to writer's block?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Writer’s Block Cause #2: Lack of Motivation

Tip of the Day: cake shouldn’t just be reserved for dessert. Sometimes cake in the morning is all you need!

This week on author2author we are discussing writer’s block. At this particular time, I can totally relate to this topic, since it’s been…like more than 3 months since I’ve worked on a book. (Wow…I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that on a writing blog).

But what can I say, life has a way of interrupting us and right now writing is not a priority for me. And I’m a firm believer in finding happiness and if you aren’t under contract, then sometimes writing will have to take a back seat.

However, when I’m ready to tackle my work in progress again, there’s a few things that always help me regain my motivation to writing, even if I’m still feeling a small bit of writer’s block.

  1. Deadlines—I happen to be a person that thrives on deadlines. My brain doesn’t kick into action until it’s forced to. So if I want to make any sort of progress I have to give myself a deadline of achievement. The problem with this is that it also works a million times better when the deadline comes from someone else. So if I can have an external goal, such as a contest entry, another request, or having a group such as NaNoWriMo to complete a project, then that’s the best for me.
  2. Forcing myself to sit down. I’ve said this on the blog before but writing is a lot like exercise for me. The thought of it sometimes kills me and overwhelms me. But the second I sit down and start doing it, I have a blast and have no idea why I was so apprehensive to get started. Sometimes getting over the biggest hurdle of actually starting is the key to unlocking the motivation to work.

Happy writing everyone!

--Emily, Miss Trying to Find that Writing Motivation

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writer's Block Cause #1: Uncertainty

Tip of the Day: Andrea Mack has a wonderful blog (called That's Another Story) on MG/YA writing. I loved her recent post on writing emotions.

So you know when you go out to a Chinese restaurant that has like 200 entrees on the menu and they all sound good? Like you could go for something spicy, but on the other hand, this place makes really good Mu Shu Pork, although now that you think about it, it's been ages since you had decent orange chicken. That's pretty much how I feel about my writing right now, and it's leading to a major case of writer's block.

I define writer's block as "I don't know what to work on, so I feel totally paralyzed." It usually happens to me when I don't have enough time to write. Right now, I'm in physical therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome so I'm supposed to be limiting my typing time. It's putting a lot of pressure on me to pick the RIGHT project to spend my time on. But what is the right project? Revising something I could send out? Finishing the first draft of a novel with promise? Starting something exciting and new?

So now I feel like the waiter is staring at me, and everyone else around the table has already ordered, and I just have to pick something. Aaah, fine, Mu Shu Pork. No, wait, I forgot about the Veggie Lo Mein, why didn't I order that?!

Except there isn't a waiter tapping his pen on his pad or a table of hungry people sighing at me. So I'm just not ordering. And that, for me, is writer's block. Obviously, what I need is for my writer friends to send me nasty notes. WRITE SOMETHING BY THIS DATE OR ELSE. Critique group deadlines motivate me to get past writer's block. There's my first "break writer's block" suggestion: have your beta readers yell at you. In a motivational way, of course. Or with threats. Whatever works for you.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some of my Chick Lit Faves

Tip of the Day: Check my personal blog to see if you won The Espressologist giveaway.

Before I fell in love with YA Chick Lit I loved just plain old Chick Lit. Back then I spent a lot of time driving so I would check out audio books from the library every week. I had a very sophisticated system of book selection at the time. If it had a pink cover, I checked it out. So I checked out 3-4 audio books a week. Not all were great but most were awesome! I love this genre! There were a couple of authors who stood out to me and became faves and once I found an author I loved I had to read everything she wrote. Like Sophie Kinsella.

I ADORE Sophie and her books! I read through each Shopaholic book and then moved on to her others like Domestic Goddess and Remember Me. I also read everything Jane Green I could find. Like,

And I know this comes as no surprise to anyone who's ever met me or read my blog but I LOVE everything Meg Cabot writes as well:

So in addition to reading all of her adult Chick Lit books I also crossed over and read all of her YA Chick Lit. Like the Airhead series!

So cute and fun! And last but not least in my early days of falling in love with YA Chick Lit, there was the Lauren Myracle TTYL series!

I have them all. :-)

So what Chick Lit/YA Chick Lit books are faves of yours?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Realistically Real Recs (Books That Recked Me)

Tip of the Day: Do not turn on your new-to-you Wii if you want to get any writing done. ESPECIALLY do not turn on Classic Pac-Man.

As you saw last week, each of us A2A Misses has a specific interest in writing in certain genres. That doesn't mean we won't ever cross over, but what that does tend to mean is that we LOVE LOVE LOVE some books in the genre in which we write.

As a writer of primarily realistic, contemporary YA and MG novels, I can tell you I have many faves in this genre. But the ones more recently that have made me wish I could write those types of stories That Well are:

1) C. K. Kelly Martin's YA novels. I've read and loved all three (more books coming soon!) for their totally believable relationships and dialog.

2) This latest from Dana Reinhardt. I've read one of her previous novels, HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE, but wow, this 2010 release is fantastic. It had a spot-on brother relationship, IMO.

3) I really enjoyed the MC and the supporting boy character in HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, and although Natalie Standiford's latest release is completely different from her first, it also fully entertained me. The three stories were woven together really well.

Has anyone else read these titles? What recent, contemporary fiction do you recommend?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More mystery books...

Tip of the Day: if you are in an area expecting lots of snow or ice, try to stay warm and safe. Maybe we'll all get a free writing day tomorrow if everything shuts down!

Following along with last week, here are a few more mystery books I've enjoyed in the last few years:

* The Death by...series by Linda Gerber--this is a fun and light mystery series featuring teenager Aphra Connolly. It doesn't hurt that each of the books has a fun setting!

* The Dead is...series by Marlene Perez. Even if Marlene wasn't my critique partner, I would still plug her books. This series is so much fun combining paranormal elements with good old-fashioned mystery. Dead is not an option will be out in May of this year. Yay!

Looks like the "Dead" and "Death" series are a hit with me!

Other lighter mysteries that I've enjoyed are...