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Friday, July 30, 2010

Review - The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss Heart, Hatter Matigan, Bibwit Harte, The Cat. Do these names ring a bell? Sort of? That's the whole idea behind The Looking Glass Wars, a re-telling of Lewis Carroll's famous children's book, Alice in Wonderland. It's kind of a flip on the old story - instead of Alice falling into Wonderland, she falls through the Pool of Tears into our world, five years before Lewis Carroll wrote his story (and you can guess where he got it from). Alyss can either make her way back to Wonderland and fight her evil Aunt Redd for the Heart throne or she can stay in 19th century England and marry a British Prince. Which do you think she chooses?

Reader's crit: I'm not entirely sure why this book appealed to me, maybe because it was on sale or maybe because I have a soft spot for re-tellings of old fairy tales, but it did, and I don't regret it. I loved the creativity that went into re-inventing my favorite characters. That goofy Mad hatter? Well, he's a martial arts expert who can slice people in half with the blades that he swings from his hat, and The Queen of Hearts? Alyss's evil aunt Redd who kills Alyss's mother and father and spreads Black Imagination throughout Wonderland. Bibwit Harte? Move the letters around and you've got the White Rabbit. (I posted the cover that has some of the card soldiers on it so you could get a feel for this "new" Wonderland). There were some new characters too, a love interest and some devoted friends. I know, I'm giving too much away now. Although it didn't move me to tears, I really enjoyed the way Feddor turned things around. I don't think that I would go so far as to buy the second and third book, but I'll probably look for them next time I'm at the library. And, I do have the original by Lewis Carroll now (got it at Target for a buck!), so I'll read that sometime soon. Hate relying on   Disney for my background. Score = 4

Writer's crit: I suffered from a bit of confusion when I started this book because I wasn't sure why it was categorized as young adult. In the first half of the book Alyss is a child, then her adolescence moves very quickly and before you know it she's 20. That age range is a little uncommon for YA, and I found myself wondering why Feddor chose to make Alyss so old until I got to the end and saw a timeline. Feddor apparently tried to mirror Alyss's "new" adventures to major events in US and European history. And that's cool, but I still think the book would have been better if Alyss had remained a teenager. The characters themselves were a bit two-dimensional, especially Redd and Hatter Mattigan, but Alyss herself was well-developed and her love interest had a bit of a struggle at the end too, making him more realistic. There were a few parts that dragged for me, but just when I thought it was getting a bit tedious, a colorful character would come in to spark things up. And as already mentioned, I loved the imagination that went into re-creating this familiar world. Score = 3.5

My question for the day: Do you have a YA re-telling of an old classic that you really liked? Did it live up to the original?

Also, don't forget to subscribe to my blog. I'll be having a contest soon and you'll get extra points for being an old follower!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Year of Secret Assignments - by Jaclyn Moriarty

Before getting into the review I want to take a moment to direct your attention to the end of this post, where I'll talk about a fun little "special assignment" related to the book. So even if you get bored halfway through (you won't will you?), remember to go to the end to have your curiosity quenched.

Back cover blurb:
Three Girls. Three boys. Two rival Schools. This could get messy.
The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the two rival schools in a spirit of harmony and "the Joy of the Envelope." But when Cassie, Lydia, and Emily send their first letters to Matthew, Charlie and Sebastian, things don't go quite as planned. What starts out as a simple letter exchange soon leads to secret missions, false alarms, lock picking, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the schools -- not to mention some really excellent kissing.

Reader's crit: My first Jaclyn Moriarty book, and let's just say, I'm hooked. It was truly awesome. Cassie, Lydia and Emily are the type of friends you wish you had in high school. They'll do anything for each other - these are the types of friendships were the kind that makes you go ahhhh... The guys, well two of them anyway, were tough but sweet. I wanted to fly over to Australia and take them home with me. The characters were so colorful (even the parents!!), and most of the book is just hilariously funny. The best chuckle I had was Emily's Dad's inquiry into his missing wine. I won't say anything more so I don't spoil it, but I loved, LOVED, the way it was presented. Poor Dad. :) But the book is not all fun and games either though. I shed a few tears at one point in the novel. Yes, I'm a bit of a cb as this was not the type of book where you would expect to get all weepy, and the fact that it did make me feel that way is one reason for it's high score.
It made me laugh and smile and cry, and I wanted to finish it all in one night but I was just too tired to do so. Score = 5.

Writer's crit: As mentioned this was my first Moriarty experience, so I was a little unprepared for the format of the book. It's done mostly in a series of letters and diary entries and jumps among the three female characters and later also with the male characters. It took me a while to get into the style, and I had to go back and remind myself who was who, but once I got into it that confusion went away and I really enjoyed the writing. The characterization, as mentioned, was stellar. The plot was a little on the vague side at first. It takes a while to understand what the book is about, but the voice of each of the characters is so fresh that I didn't mind drifting for a bit. I wanted to learn more about these three friends and what they meant to each other and eventually I did, so it was all well and good. Taking everything into consideration, I understand why the author chose the format she did and why it was told in the manner that it was. So even though I had those little moments of confusion and where is this going?, I can't think of how it could have been improved upon because it all came together in the end. Score = 5.

Now for something a little different. This book was given to me by my good friend Nomes, who is a very big J. Moriarty fan, and I know that she would love it if I were to spread the word about all things Moriarty. Soooo I have decided to do a book chain! This means that I have given the book to another good friend who has taken up the "secret assignment"* to read it, take a picture of it outside her favorite Manhattan restaurant, do a mini-review, and then pass it on to someone else. Hopefully the trend will continue. I have even set up a special blog for the book chain so that we can track where it goes and read all the reviews. If this sounds interesting to you, you can sign up to be a part of the book chain. Just click on the link here and it'll take you to the blog for further instructions.

P.S. I'll be having a blog contest soon and I think I'll be going on one of those "extra points" systems, so old followers will get 2 points, new followers 1 etc. So if you find my blog interesting, follow now for that extra entry point. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - Bettina post 4

Another Bettina post. To update you, Erik was about to steal out of the cash register at the diner where he frequents, but Jessica came in just at the last minute and now they're trying to look for whatever was jamming the drawer. Erik has a bit of a crush on Jess, but he knows they're not a good match. She's (in his opinion) too innocent for someone like him, and because of what's happened in his past life, he doesn't want to corrupt her - he's a little full of himself. :)

“Tada!” Jessica sings as she pulls the tongs out. There’s a piece of paper wadded up between the metal clamps - a piece of paper that looks very familiar.

I snatch the bill and smooth it out. It’s greasy and has a bit of gum stuck to it, but otherwise it’s in good shape. No, it’s much better than that. It’s beautiful.

“This is a fifty,” I whisper.

“Where on earth did it come from?”

She’s right to be curious. People don’t walk around Granite Falls with bills this large in their pockets. Not to pay for lunch at Mel’s Diner.

Something in my memory stirs, and I snap my fingers. “Senator Humphrey.”

“What about him?”

“Remember, he was here back in September, showing his support for Andersen in the governor’s race. He and his crew ate here. They paid with a fifty-dollar bill. This fifty-dollar bill.”

“You actually went to that campaign rally? You can’t even vote yet.”

I frown. I expect more from Jessica than a glib response like that. “That doesn’t matter, Jess. In a few years you and I will both be able to vote. You can’t stand by and ignore what goes on in this country just because you’re too young to do anything about it. What happens now shapes our future. You can’t be so complacent. Especially you.”

“Why especially me?”

“Because you’re a woman!”

She blushes at my outburst, and for a moment I go blind to everything except the color flaring up her cheeks.

“Jessica, do you like it that every person in this town expects nothing more of you than that you should get married and pump out a few kids?”

“I...I like the idea of having kids, and not everyone expects that. My father doesn’t. He wants me to go to college.”

“To do what?”

“Become a teacher,” she says, so quiet I have to lean forward to hear her.

“A teacher? Not an astronaut, a scientist, a lawyer, or a doctor? A teacher, a fall back trade.”

“That is not true. Teaching is a wonderful profession.”

“A profession that you chose?” She pouts, her bottom lip jutting out so that the pink flesh underneath is exposed. It’s adorable, sweet and sexy, and I have an urge to...conflabbit! A string of more colorful curses sprint through my head, but I don’t say them. Instead I decide to end the whole nasty business once and for all.

“Uh-huh. I see. Not that I expected anything more from the great Reverend Hughes.”

That should do it. If insulting her father doesn’t stop her from looking at me like that, then nothing will.

Well, maybe something.

With the money still in my hand, I grab the drawer and slide it back into place. I don’t walk to the kitchen to show Mel what we’ve found. Rather, I turn in the opposite direction and walk back to my booth, collect my books and newspaper, and throw a quarter on the table. I head towards the door with the fifty-dollar bill wadded in my fist.

“Erik, aren’t you forgetting something?” Jessica asks.

“Nope.” I stuff the bill into my pocket. “See you around, Jess.”

“Erik, you can’t just...but that’s stealing!”

She’s horrified. Innocence shattered, crush gone.

Good riddance.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meter Monday - no news is good news

Hello Monday!! I didn't have a good title to add, hence the goofiness up top. What was I up to this week?
1. I got all the way through my manuscript adding changes to my villainess and a few other various things, so that's round one of revisions done!!
2. I started round two which I'm calling The Mother Mission - basically it involves bringing my main character's mother more to life and revising the plot arc in the story involving her. This may take me a while as it's a pretty big plot arc, but I have a good feeling that it'll make the story stronger.
3. Read two books - The Lookingglass Wars by Frank Beddor and The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty. Look for reviews (and maybe a surprise) soon.

Well, that's about it for this week. May not seem like much but actually I feel like it's progressing along quite well. Also, I'm putting in a little plug for Vee's awesome 100 followers contest, cuz you know I like to get extra entries and all. She's offering up a book and a 50 page critique!! She's a newly agented author so I think both prizes are highly valuable - be sure to take a look at her blog.

Now for my question of the week - I've been reading many many reviews lately, and I feel bombarded with all the great choices out there, so I'd like to hear your opinion. If you were to recommend any one YA book to someone, published within the last two years, which would it be?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Query letter is up!!

Feeling a bit masochistic today, so I posted a new page (see pages on top) with my query letter. It still has to go through QLH - I'm not feeling that masochistic yet. I'm also debating whether to post my first chapter on the blog. I have heard of instances where people get agent hits off of their blogs, and that chapter is definitely my best writing and I would like to showcase it, but I have these weird issues of protectiveness going on in the back of my head. Any thoughts??

Also I will be looking for a couple more beta readers in the near future so if the premise interests you, send me a message (email to the right).

Thanks peeps!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Newsletter sign up and contest!!!

So I just saw that YA author, Alissa Grosso, is doing a monthly newsletter - and she's giving away a 50$ gift certificate from CSN stores to one lucky winner!! Sign up and gets lots of great writerly advice and possibly win something!!

Review - Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Goodreads summary:
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Reader's crit: Having already read Summer's second book, Some Girls Are (review here), I was prepared to fall in love with this newbie author all over again, and well, CUTB fell just short of my expectations. This is partly my fault because I read half of the book during the day and then had to go to bed, but I was so curious as to what had actually happened to Parker that I read the ending before turning out the light. BBBAAAADDD! I cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye that I will never do that again! Basically, I ruined it for myself because after I knew what had happened, I kept thinking "Why on earth would she do that?" and it didn't make sense to me until I read the rest of the book. Then it did make sense and I did buy it, but not as easily as I would have if I hadn't skipped ahead.

The other thing with CUTB was that the character wasn't really all that likable, which isn't always a necessity, but I kept asking myself if she was normally this way before the tragic thing occurred or was she always a bitch? Eventually the answer turns out to be that she kind of was always a bitch, and so I had to question whether I really cared if she overcame her problem.

Things that I really liked about the story itself - the guys. Ah, yes. Jake is just yummy and doesn't know when to give up, and Chris? Well, who doesn't love a guy who's still pining over his lost love, even if you're wondering why he liked her in the first place. And of course the voice and the writing, but more on that below. Now, you might think based on this review that I didn't like CUTB, but that's not the case. It just didn't hit the high expectations that I had having read Summer's other novel (review here) *push, nudge read the review* which I gave my highest score. I would still recommend CUTB because parts of it, especially the dialogue, were thoroughly enjoyable. It's worth picking up, especially if you *cough sputter cough* don't read the ending first. Score = 4.

Writer's crit: What I really like about Summer's writing is her voice. It stands out in the same vein that Laurie Halse Anderson's voice stands out. It's not the same as LHA by any means, it's just that it's distinctive, fresh and totally unique to this writer. I really enjoyed the dialogue, and the way that even though the story arc focuses around cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends, it's not at all cliche. As I mentioned above, I didn't really like the main character much. The problem I think is that I didn't see the character growing or changing, which is in sharp contrast to Summer's other book, SGA, where the main character grows by leaps and bounds. I didn't get the same sense of 'I want to change' from Parker. Like SGA, the ending seemed rather abrupt, but at the same time I liked that Parker and Jake didn't ride off into the sunset together. One thing I'd like to point out is Summer's courage in doing unlikable main characters. It didn't work so well for me here, but it did in SGA, and I do give her credit for trying. Also I have to give her credit for piquing my curiosity to the point where I had to read ahead. Overall writing score, weighted for voice, 4.5

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - Bettina post 3

Hi all. This is another short tease from Bettina. I'm breaking it up into 250 word parts to draw it out - because I don't want to post anymore of Nikki's Wish, and I only have up to chapter three written of this "new" draft. I'm so sneaky that way. I think I may have forgotten to mention that this takes place in 1962, so if it sounds a little outdated, that's why. Enjoy!

The spatula is cramping my hand, and I want to give up now, just walk away and say the hell with it. Damned with whatever conclusion Jessica has drawn. But I don’t because the thing that’s jamming the drawer has made itself known.

“Actually, I think I have found something,” I say to her. I move the spatula around some more, but whatever is stuck in there won’t budge. I pull the spatula out and try to slip my hand in, but it only travels about six inches.

“Here, let me try.” She floats to my side, and picks up a pair of tongs. If I were a little less enamored, I may have snuck my hand onto the stack of bills sitting in the drawer next to me and had one wedged between my fingers when she wasn’t looking. But as it is, I’m intoxicated.

Jessica is, in a word, delectable. Her grandmother is Native American, Ojibwa, and the blend with her Caucasian side makes her skin the honey-ripe color of a Georgia peach. She never wears makeup, never poofs or rats her hair. Her beauty is au natural, and no matter what those cosmetics commercials imply, let me tell you that guys really dig that. Every shmuck I know wants to date Jessica Hughes. Every one of us imagines what it would be like to run his hands over that honey skin and tangle his fingers in those dark tresses. But no one dates Jessica Hughes. We dream of her, pant over her, talk about her when it’s just the guys. But Jessica is...untouchable.

Her father is a minister.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meter Monday - I want a wand!!!

So there's this super cute book that I bought for my daughter a couple years ago called Alice The Fairy. It's by David Shannon and if you have a little girl, or niece or younger sister, you should have a look-see. In it Alice says, "with my magic wand, I can make leaves fall from trees (she shakes a tree with her wand) and I can draw pictures on water (she slides the tip of the wand over a pond). Sometimes I use my wand to disappear (she uses it to flip off the light)." It's extremely cute (did I say that already?)- especially when she calls her mom the Wicked Duchess and her dad the Duke of Morningside Drive (and she turns him into a pony).  Ok, I'm probably giving away the entire book now, but the point is that after reading this to my daughter the other night, I wistfully sighed and wished that I had a magic wand. What would I do with it?

1. Wave it over my manuscript, thus completing four weeks of edits/revisions in the blink of an eye.
2. Cast a spell on all agents so they would come begging for my mani - thus killing the need for a query letter.
3. As long as I've got the agents eating out of the palm of my hand, might as well make all those publishers smitten too.
4. Last but not least, come up with the most brilliant sequel ever - you know, just in case they want to do a multi-book deal.

Actually, I'm not one to dream about winning the lottery -  the end product just isn't as satisfying if you don't kill yourself in the process. I'm just wading through the land of headachey edits right now, and I'm getting a little frustrated by my lack of creativity. It could also be that I just read some awesome books and I'm having a little bit of "I wish I could write like that" syndrome. Regardless, here is my wimpy list of accomplishments for the past week.
 - I re-wrote three scenes, thus down playing one characteer and hopefully adding more tension before the big build up. *fingers crossed here*
- I edited about 50 pages since my last update and now have about 100 left to go.
- did a couple book reviews - (look under my reviews tab) Yay for blogging - darn addictive stuff!!

And....that's it. Oh, but I forgot to mention, I had the fun experience of going without electricity for nearly 24 hours. Can anyone say computer withdrawal???Yep, I was lost, but thank the work gods that the U has a back up generator. Yes Angie, there are perks to working for the government.

So how about you? If you had a magic wand what would you do with it? Any progress made this week? Any good reads you'd like to share?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review - Fragile Eternity #3 of the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Goodreads summary:
Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone—but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her—but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined.
In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos. 

Reader's review:  Boy, this is a hard one. I've never done a book review for a third book in a series, and I'm finding that what to say and what not to say is far more challenging than I thought it would be. Since the books in this series need to be read in order for them to make sense, then I guess it all boils down to one question: If you've already read #1 and #2, should you go for #3? I'm going to give a hesitant yes with this one. The world Marr creates is one that I thoroughly enjoyed in the first book, and with this third installment of the series we come back to that - more so than is seen in Ink Exchange. Her writing is just beautiful and I kept finding myself lost in all the splendid and beautiful details of the faerie world. This book again is about choices and about deceit and mostly about what it means to love. I enjoyed the conflict from each viewpoint and the ending, while not what I expected, will resonate with younger readers. There's a different sort of love triangle in Fragile Eternity than those most commonly found in other YA books, it's a conflict not between loving two guys, but between loving one while lusting for the other. Yet it's not in anyway made trivial. Again, I'd have to say that it's worth it to read the third book and sometime this year - after I get through my other two-foot high stack of books-  I'll probably pick up the fourth book just to see how it all turned out.
Reader's score 4.

Writer's review: If you love beautiful prose, then this book is definitely for you. Marr's talent for description is out of this world, and I think it was this that really pushed me to keep reading. The descriptions of winter and summer meeting and making love was done so vividly (and differently even though it was seen multiple times) - I loved it. And I love all things flowery, viney, and earthy so I was in heaven during most of the book. I've heard that Wicked Lovely is being made into a movie and will probably see it just for the world-building alone.

What slowed me down a bit was the faerie politics - and believe me there's a lot of it. Keeping it all straight - the motivations, thoughts and feelings of each faerie king/queen/consort/mortal was probably the hardest part of this book, and a lot of it was done by telling rather than showing which made it all the more difficult. But, when you're dealing with characters whose actions and thoughts don't always mesh, I can see why (some of) this was necessary. Unfortunately the groundwork for all the politics occurred in the first half of the book. Nothing exciting really happens until about the midpoint, so I can see why some might give up on it. I'm one of those readers who has to finish a book once I've invested some time in it, and I'm glad that I did because I loved how the ending sets stuff up for the third book. Score: 4

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Shifter review and Blue Fire contest

The very talented Janice Hardy is having a contest for her second book in the Healing Wars Trilogy, entitled Blue Fire. If you haven't read the first book, The Shifter, then you seriously must correct this unfortunate mistake. I was going to do a short summary of The Shifter, then thought, what the heck, might as well do a full blown review.

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she'd be used as a human weapon against her own people. 

Rumors of another war make Nya's life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she's faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive? 

Reader's review: I read The Shifter last fall as soon as it came out and I was duly impressed. Hardy has created a brave, strong-willed female character in a world that is totally unique. It was imaginative, creative and packed with suspense - one kept wondering just how was Nya going to get out of all this? And although it's a middle grade book, there were some hints at a coming romance - I have to say that I'm curious how that will play out. In all, it kept me reading straight through and I definitely plan to buy the sequel (if I don't win an ARC) *begs the ARC gods to have mercy*. Reader's score 4.5.

Writer's review. The Shifter is engaging from the very first words. Just to prove my point, here's the first paragraph:

Stealing eggs is a lot harder than stealing the whole chicken. With chickens, you just grab a hen, stuff her in a sack and, make your escape. But for eggs, you have to stick your hand under a sleeping chicken. Chickens don't like this. They wake all spooked and start pecking holes in your arm, or your face, if it's close. And they squawk something terrible. 

Don't you want to see what's going to happen now? I love this opening, and I have to admit I'm a tad jealous here. I wish that I could get my openings down as neatly as Janice does, but I usually go through 5-10 versions before I come across one that I sort of like. As for the rest of the writing, I only really have two nit picky things to tell you and these are really nit picky because honestly I can't think of anything else to say about it. The first was the explanatory pages that occurred in about chapter 2-3 that explained what the deal with the healing was and some of the stuff about the war and it's leaders. I understand that it was necessary in order for the reader to ground themselves in Nya's world, but not having read much in the genre, it felt just a little telly to me. The other thing was much further back in the book during a high action scene where I got just a little confused by all that was going on and had to re-read it 2-3 times before I finally figured it out. But, that's it, folks. The rest of the writing is fantastic. The characters are unique, the scenery is descriptive and I loved Nya's little sayings - I'd give you an example but I loaned the book to my sister so I don't have it here. But, they made me smile and I know they will you too. My writer's score = 4.5

Now that I have you all psyched to read The Shifter - go and buy it and then enter yourself for the ARC contest of it's sequel, Blue Fire.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sarah Dessen trio

Some people love her, some people hate her. After having read three of her books in row, I guess that I kind of fall in the middle. Will I eagerly await her newest book with fangirl adoration? Probably not, but if I came across one of her books on sale I'd probably pick it up, especially if I had heard good things about it. So, without further ado, here are my reviews for Dreamland, The truth about Forever, and This Lullaby.

Dreamland. After her sister runs away from home, Caitlin is lost, not wanting to fill her shoes but not quite knowing how to forge her own path. She's looking for anything that will make her feel "special". Unfortunately what she finds is a guy who sweeps her off her feet with his magnetic, and dangerous, personality and then sweeps the rug out from under her. With Rogerson, Caitlin forgets about everything else in her life - friends, family and even herself. And that's when Rogerson gets scary.

The Truth About Forever. After her father passes away, Macy withdraws into herself, accepting the stoic love of her perfect boyfriend and the silent grief of her mother. But when her boyfriend goes away for "Brain Camp", she falls into a catering job with some fun-loving, chaotic characters who bring her out of her shell. Most notably is Wes, a boy with a past, an artist, someone she feels comfortable telling all her secrets to. As summer draws to an end, Macy wonders if the "break" from her boyfriend and her troubles was really just that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - Bettina post #2

It's been a while since I teased from this WIP, and I'm sure that any who read it then have forgotten what it was about. So in his past life, the MC Erik, was a gangster from the thirties and forties, and now he has to fight the inherent darkness inside him or risk losing the girl he loves. Chapter 1 is here. To update you, Erik has just thwarted two truck drivers from robbing the cafe where he hangs out, right before he decides to take a little from the drawer himself. Enjoy!

“What are you doing?”

I look up to see Jessica Hughes staring at my hand, perched as it is on a stack of five-dollar bills. I know this feeling. The dread, the sweat-inciting anxiety -- the panic. My hand twitches and shifts behind my back, searching for...but there’s nothing there to find. I feel a little foolish and bring my arm back to my side.

Jessica stares, eyes wide, innocent and gullible.

“I was um...fixing the cash register,” I say. “It gets jammed. Won’t close properly.”

She raises her eyebrow. Innocent? Yes. Gullible? I wish.

I take the drawer out completely and set it on the counter. Next, I look around for something to transform into a makeshift tool. Seeing little to aid my impromptu gig as Mr. Fix-it, I grab the pie spatula next to the dessert wheel. I slide it in the empty slot and pretend to poke around for whatever is blocking the drawer. Meanwhile, Jessica crosses her arms over her chest.

“Find anything?” she asks.

She’s laughing at me. I find this both infuriating and enchanting. She’s right to conclude that I’m up to no good. My reputation precedes me. And yet it doesn’t seem to convince her to stay away. For here she is, ten minutes before classes are over in the place where I always hang out. This game we’re playing - it has to stop. Flashback to English, second period. She looks, I look. She smiles, I smile. She bends her head down and pretends to be reading her assignment, I continue to gawk and catch hell for not paying attention in class. Cutesy stuff. Child’s play, and I don’t know why I do it. I’d like to blame these raging hormones everyone keeps talking about, but I don’t buy that. On a normal day, I’ve seen old men with less control than I. But Jessica is anything but normal. She often reduces me to a babbling idiot. Part of me wishes she would have come in just one minute later and then it would be over. Then she’d know exactly who I am, and she could go on with her life and I with mine. But she didn’t come in one minute later, and now I find myself cursing those dimwitted truck drivers for making the set up too easy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meter Monday - and a lesson about computers and tea

Hey all, it's Meter Monday again, where I share what I've accomplished with my writing and invite you to do so too. First though, do you like my new blog design? I thought these pictures were pretty cool and I like being back to the neutral colors instead of black and yellow. And yes, I bit the bullet and went with the addicted to books title - at least I'll be consistent now!

So on to my accomplishments for the week:

1. I've been toning down my "Cruella de Ville" character to make her more 3-dimensional, which surprising wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. All of the elements to give her a reason for being the way she is were already there - I just had to explain things a bit differently. The more difficult part about this that I've been discovering is that now I have to go through the whole manuscript to make sure that her character is consistent throughout and this means looking not just at the scenes that she's a part of, but also at the scenes where she's just mentioned. In other words - I'm running through the whole manuscript again. I'm about a third of the way through already, but the thing is it's so difficult not to focus on other things while I'm doing this. I keep saying to myself, "focus on Maxine", and instead I keep doing little nit-picky changes that have nothing to do with her.

2. I attempted to strengthen my MC's mother, and give her a bit more personality, but I ended up not liking what I wrote and have since erased it all. So a little lost time there, but I know better what I want to do with her now, so I suppose wasted words aren't wasted afterall.

3. I did a little more research on agents and have a list of about ten so far. My big conundrum now - what do you do when agents say that a no from them is a no from the whole agency?? Obviously you're supposed to pick the one that you think is the best fit, so you're not wasting your one shot with them, but how do you really know which one will be best? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

4. I finished The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and I will post a review soon.

So now for my little lesson about computers and tea. I did a bad thing last night and spilled a bit of tea across my laptap. It hit a few keys, but most of it (say about a tablespoon) landed on the tracking pad. I wiped it up right away and I thought the computer was okay. It worked well for about 20 minutes, then suddenly, ack! It started acting weird. I shut it down, restarted it, still acted funny. Then I "confessed" my mishap to my husband - the computer guru - and he just shook his head and told me to hope it's okay when it dries. I'm typing now, so obviously it is okay - well, for the most part. I can't use my right and left click on the tracking pad, although the pad itself is okay. But, I can plug in a mouse and that works. Hoping, crossing my fingers, that nothing else happens to it.

Of course, after the fact, I looked up what I should have done. I give this information to you in hopes that it will never happen to you, but if it does then you'll be smarter than I - think liquids + electronics = BAD!! Okay, so I lack street smarts, this is not news. Obviously I should have shut the whole thing down, unplugged the computer and waited for it to dry before continuing to use it. Some sites even advise turning the keyboard upside down so that the liquid doesn't hit those parts deep inside or taking it apart and drying it. Some even advise washing it with distilled water (tea and coffee contain acids and can eat away at those little components inside). So, there you have it. My computer lesson for you from one who is not computer, or electronic, savvy.

If you have a computer disaster to share please do so - it will make me feel less stupid. And of course, let me know what you've done this week!!

Have a good one,

Friday, July 9, 2010

ah dear, procrastination

Yes, I should be working. Yes, I should be writing. But I'm not. I'm...da da dum...PROCRASTINATING!!!
The distraction this time? Sadly, enough my blog. I want to make it sparkle and shine, and while I do love the butterfly above, those block letters are giving me the willies. So I've been looking around at pictures from photo websites that Nomes directed me to (thanks nomes). And I found one that I really like, well a lot that I really like actually. But I don't know if I want to do a whole collage of pictures or just one. I was thinking maybe I could photoshop this one and somehow get butterflies to come dancing out of the book and then add some swirly script to use as a title banner. Thoughts?

And then what of the title - Daydream Believer really is what I am, but then I was thinking maybe I should go with the Addicted to Books thing, make it match my AW name. Any votes for that?

Also, this background color - I like the black but some things are hidden in it - like my number of followers, and some of the letters are misshapen - don't know why. I'm thinking of going back to white.

And my other ideas - to put a bit of a MN theme to it, this is the state flower, mentioned in my WIP, Nikki's wish. The pink showy ladyslipper.  My dad has these growing in his backyard.

And finally, I'd really like to find a format that shows a number of different posts at once, kind of newspaper style, but I'm not sure where to find it or maybe I can make it up on my own - I'm not that blogger proficient so an easy template would be better.

And just for listening to me babble, I'll give you one more picture that I really loved. Enjoy!

P.S. Please leave your opinions on what I should do to make this blog better!!

P.S.S. If you have any links to cool picture sites let me know!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meter Monday- July 5th

What's better than a 4th of July barbeque and fireworks? Sleeping the day after! Yes, that's my plan for this afternoon. I know I ought to be pounding out those revisions or playing with the kids in the backyard. But heck, it's not everyday you get a Monday off and besides, those clouds outside are looking pretty ominous.

Before I get to my weekly progress report, I need to make a plug for one of my favorite adult series of all time - sorry that this slips a bit from the YA theme of this blog, but I really feel that I must share my enthusiasm. The book is called The Land of Painted Caves and is the sixth in the Earth Children series by Jean Auel. Some of you may be more familiar with the first title in the series, The Clan of the Cavebear. I've also inserted the picture for the DVD of the movie (which I don't really recommend as it wasn't all that good, but the picture is cool). The sixth book will be released in March of 2011 - nearly a year away! But I am so psyched for this.  I think it's been like 10 years since her last book came out. I've read this entire series about 4 times. It's almost become a tradition for me to start in the fall when it's just starting to get cold and the leaves are turning and you want to just stay on the porch wrapped in a blanket and read.  The story follows the progression of Ayla, one of the strongest female characters I've ever known, and recalls her trials and tribulations of being a young woman in Neanderthal europe.



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