Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cover Reveal: Brenna Yovanoff's Paper Valentine

I have a terrible writer's crush on Brenna Yovanoff.

Her first book, The Replacement, drew me in as much for its creepy cover as for its subject matter. It's one of the few YA 1st person male POV books out there, in a genre where there are so few male perspectives that I almost consider it a crisis. I loved it for that alone.

And then came her second book, The Space Between. And oh my. Did I ever love it. Hell, demons, Lilith's oldest daughter, an attempted suicide, and a love story holding it all together.

Now, apparently, she's coming out with a third: something called Paper Valentine, and the fact that its existence slipped past me is a big sign of just how screwed up my life has been lately. Because she is awesome, she is giving away an ARC for posting the cover reveal. Because I am a hopeless fangirl, I am posting the cover in an attempt to win said ARC. I never win anything, though, so it helps that the cover is pritttyyyy enough to warrant a post all on its own.

What is Paper Valentine about? I had to do some digging to come up with a description, as during my searches I turned up nary a blurb. Here is the announcement of the deal as it appeared in Publisher's Weekly, which contains the only bit of content I've been able to find:

NYT bestselling author of THE REPLACEMENT and THE SPACE BETWEEN Brenna Yovanoff’s PAPER  VALENTINE, in which a girl haunted by the troubled ghost of her best friend finds herself sucked into a darkly mesmerizing string of murders, in which a serial killer who leaves a paper-heart ‘valentine’ on his victims’ bodies draws ever closer, again to Ben Schrank and Jocelyn Davies at Razorbill, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2013, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).

 So I suppose that means there will be a sequel? Interesting, as she's only written standalones before now. I can't wait, and may I say, PICK ME!!!! PICK ME!!!!
You can find the original post and contest on Brenna's blog, along with a series of posts about High School Brenna's adventures, told from Adult Brenna's POV.
Brenna's Blog:
Brenna's FaceBeast: (Wow. I'm already her FB friend. Cool.)
Brenna's Twitter: (And now I have a new Twitter friend!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midweek Update

So I finally got to start the new book today. It's totally new, unrelated to any ongoing series. I've been really excited and enjoying the hell out of planning, which I've been engaged in all week (and before). But naturally, when I sat down to do the roll-up-my-sleeves part and actually put fingers to keys, the momentum slowed. Still fun, but work, you know? Still. I'm very excited to be starting something new.
So far this week I'm at 1k. Quite a bit to do tomorrow, unrelated to darling New Book, but still vital.
I'm also no longer a full time editor with CQ. In some ways this frees up more time to write, but in other ways, not so much, since that means I am back on the job market in an area where unemployment routinely runs 12-15%. We'll see how it goes. I'm still doing freelance if anyone knows of someone who needs a reasonably priced editor. Beyond that, things are crazy as ever, full of platform building and networking and drama. Oh! And writing. Lots of writing. Because that is, after all, the point, right? Hope everyone's having a good week!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Late ROW80 Update

Late with the update. It's been rather a weird week, and not in a good way. I missed updating on Wednesday, mainly because I hadn't done any writing yet, and didn't feel the need to write a post saying I'd done pretty much nothing. Okay, not nothing. I did manage 300 words, but the rest of the writing took place after Wednesday. I really think my mood is affecting my creative output and I hate it when that happens. The inverse of that is that focusing on my writing will probably have a positive effect on my mood, and that's what I'm aiming for this week. A good solid foundation of back-to-basics writing. Do any of you out there experience that? Mood affecting creativity? Or are you more of the "buckle down and do it no matter what" variety?

On the plus side, I managed to get 3200 words in this past week- one whole chapter. That puts me at Chapter Fourteen in Blood Redemption, well over halfway there. Threads are coming together, characters and relationships are developing nicely, and most importantly, I can see myself typing "the end." When that happens, I will have a whole trilogy under my belt. It's been a long time coming, but it looks like the finish line is in sight, and that's pretty cool.

Managed to get some reading done. I read Abbi Gline's Because of Low, and liked it pretty well. I've been on a contemporary kick, and thought I might see about writing something on that front, but so far just straight contemporary doesn't seem like something that will hold my interest long enough to finish a whole book on it. Nope, my stuff needs to be darker. So I'm thinking along the lines of college aged kids with problems- the kind of thing I mention in my post about the Cinderella Syndrome. Maybe I'll actually have time to work on that book Stacey Wallace Benefiel and I have been planning. That would be cool.

I did read an awesome paranormal series- V.J. Chambers (of whom I am a raging fangirl) just released a new series- The Helicon Muses, and wow, is it ever awesome. The first book is called Dancing Days, and it's like if Hogwarts was a bohemian collective and you realized your boyfriend might be turning into Voldemort. But so much better than my pitiful description. Hopefully I'll get to have her on here for an interview soon. (Inner fangirl goes "squee!") Hope everyone is having a good, creative week. By next update hopefully I'll be back to rocking along!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Books For A Sick Friend

Well, actually, she's not so much sick as recovering from a rather nasty surgery. She's going to be out of commission for weeks, and asked me for book recs. I know she has a Kindle, and I can do e-book recs all day long, but I especially wanted to ask if anyone knew of any print books that were good. If you do, please leave some comment love!

Fabulously Free E-Books on Amazon:

One of my all time favorite Indie books, this novel had a lot to do with me deciding to write again. Yep, it's that good. It also helped me decide to give this Indie thing a try, which may have been one of the smartest things I've ever done.

Blurb:  Jason races into Azazel's life--sweaty, tortured, and hunted by covert forces. Even though her football-player boyfriend doesn't like it, Azazel is drawn to Jason. He's so complicated. He gets in fistfights, but always wins them--efficiently and thoroughly. He reads Plato and argues with their AP teacher. But he's also quiet and serious, haunted by a past he won't talk about. Azazel feels obsessed. She can't let anything get in the way of finding out Jason's secrets, not even her boyfriend, her friends, or her parents. Most importantly, no matter how dangerous Jason claims it is for her to be near him, she can't let him leave. As menace begins to surface from even the most trusted and familiar places, Azazel finds herself flung into a whirlwind of sinister motives and clandestine proceedings. Though Azazel evades each escalating danger, her feelings for Jason may prove to be the greatest danger of all.
Download free from Amazon here

Jenny Pox is maybe one of the best books I've ever read. It's certainly one of the best Indie books out there. It blends a touch of horror with romance and fantasy, and although it was popular as YA for a while (and still is, I suppose), it's definitely geared towards an older audience. 

Blurb: Eighteen-year-old Jenny Morton has a horrific secret: her touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague, the "Jenny pox." She lives by a single rule: Never touch anyone. A lifetime of avoiding any physical contact with others has made her isolated and painfully lonely in her small rural town.
Then she meets the one boy she can touch. Jenny feels herself falling for Seth...but if she's going to be with him, Jenny must learn to use the deadly pox inside her to confront his ruthless and manipulative girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.

Cheap/ Indie Books on Amazon:

Really great action/adventure and paranormal romance. One of my faves. And sexy, too. (Liz, I'm thinking of you because a lot of this takes place in a hospital setting.)

A woman of science. 
A man of magic. 
Hunted for their HeartsBlood. 
Dr. SalistaCalon knew that she worked in a bad part of San Francisco, but nothing could prepare her for the horror that awaited her at the hospital. 
After her best friend is slaughtered, Salista’s only clue is a mysterious man dressed in leather. A man who claims 
to know not only the secret behind her best friend’s death, but the key to controlling a force that could rend both their worlds... 
Blood Magic. 
Drawn into a world beyond her comprehension and control, Salista must choose between science and magic. 

Loved this one. A fresh take on college age romance and family bonds. 

Blurb: Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.
When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

Traditionally Published Books on Amazon:

This book has it all: Action, adventure, repelling off the top of really tall buildings...  

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

My second favorite book of 2011, the writing style reminds me a lot of Robin McKinley's Sunshine. It's also won a bunch of awards.

Blurb: Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Okay, this is my favorite book/series of all time. I have a series book crush going here, and meeting the author, Melissa Marr, was one of the highlights of my writing career. 

Blurb: Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twnety-first-century faery tale.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who I'm Stalking Lately

NOTE: I do not, in any way, "stalk" people in the creepy sense of the word. Having been on the receiving end of some of this kind of behavior in the past, I would never, ever do anything to violate someone's privacy or sense of self. That's just sucky.
Now, disclaimer aside, here's a writer who has really caught my attention- and even more importantly, my imagination- lately.

Abbi Glines
Not only is she a bestselling author of both paranormal and contemporary YA and New Adult, she was recently picked up by Simon and Schuster for her "Vincent Boys" series. I always want to shout when this happens to an Indie author, let alone one as good as Abbi.
Plus her books are just wonderful. I'm still working my way through her catalog, so I haven't read everything, but what really got me stalking her is the fact that she sets a lot of her books in the fictional town of Sea Breeze, Alabama. I currently reside in South Alabama, and am always thrilled to discover a fellow regional author. Plus I used to live in Gulf Shores, just around the bay from Fairhope, which is (I'm almost dead certain) the original setting for Sea Breeze. I also have a Southern town in which I set almost all my books, and the characters interconnect across books, too. So to find another author from the same region who does this too is just awesomesauce.

Where To Find Her::

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On My Bookshelf

For the first time maybe ever, contemporary YA beats out the paranormal on my TBR list. If I ever get the chance to read again, here are a few of the titles that have made it to the top. (Plus they're pretty):

Monday, August 20, 2012

ROW80: Plenty of "Hand" Action

A late ROW80 update:
1. I hit just under the upper tier of my goal by writing 3500 words this past week. I got my chapter turned in and was mortified to discover that I had 40, yes 40!!! instances of the word "hand(s)" in my ms. Talk about a lot of hand action ;) But thank god my editor has the patience of a saint. Between the two of us, we managed to knock it down to about 13 occurrences. I am now "hand" phobic. Here are the final results: 

2. Once again I failed at writing on more than one project at once. I am giving myself two weeks to correct this issue before I look at changing my goal on this permanently for the rest of the round. I hate to do that, but I also hate posting "I failed at this" every single stinking week. This is the writing challenge that deals with real life, right? So no point  in making it a wish list for the life I don't have. I have to deal with what's actually happening. So we'll see if I can turn it around. 

3. I read this week, and felt terribly guilty about it. But really, (and I probably say this about every book I read these days) it was genre research! I pinky swear! See, I wrote this post about changing trends in YA fiction (The Cinderella Syndrome), and decided I wanted to know a little more, so I've been checking out the bestselling Indie YA contemporaries lately. I read Easy by Tammara Webber, and liked it pretty well. I think I'll move on to Abbi Glines next, since she's so darn popular AND she's from Alabama too. Or at least she writes about it, setting the majority of her series in an Alabama coastal town. Didn't know we had a coast? ;) Well, we do, and it's da** beautiful. We used to live there, hurricanes and all, and my youngest was born there. So it'll be nice to return.

4. Actually squeezed in an extra post this week! Hurrah! It was the aforementioned "Cinderella Syndrome in YA Fiction," and I was pretty pleased with both the traffic and the subject matter. Apparently other people have had their fill of the paranormal too. Tune in later this week when I work in another blog post- Dark SciFi writer Michael Shean will be visiting, discussing his latest release Bone Wires and chatting about serialized fiction and other interesting things. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Cinderella Syndrome in YA Fiction

So I've noticed that popular YA novels are taking a new direction lately. For so long we've been inundated with paranormal "creature" books, where 1. the boyfriend is some kind of werewolf, ghost, fairy, vampire, or Other (I've even heard of harpies); 2. The main character, almost always a girl, discovers she has "powers;" 3. The girl discovers she is a "creature" too.

In the last few weeks I've noticed a definite trend towards realism. And not just "real life" kind of stuff, like boyfriends and high school drama, but a gritty realism that leaves me reeling. These books feature girls with problems, including abuse and other types of trauma, but almost always have a happy ending in which the MC is saved by a boy. I call this the Cinderella Syndrome, because the boys who save them tend to come from perfect families with plenty of money. There are exceptions to this, of course; Fisher Amelie's Callum and Harper comes to mind, in which both the boy and girl are unwanted orphans. Chelsea Fine's Sophie and Carter is another example. Told in alternating POVs, both the MCs come from troubled, poor families. But these books still follow the same basic premise of the Cinderella Syndrome: the boy saves the girl from a terrible life.

But Cinderella is an enduring, well loved fairy tale for a reason. I love both the books listed above. They're well written and engaging. I encourage all of you to go out and read them. (And leave a review! Indies depend on those.) In fact, I find myself almost embarrassed by how much I love this new trend. I'm drawn to these books more than any others right now. These Cinderella heroines show their strength simply by enduring. They survive situations that would break most people. So maybe I shouldn't analyze my impulses too much. Maybe it's enough to simply want the fairy tale for a while.

More Must Reads in YA Realism:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wrapping It Up . . .

So I'm at the midpoint of the book I'm working on, and this wave of exhaustion just suddenly hit me. So much to do- my son's open house tomorrow, where we have to do all the official school stuff like rent a locker, meet teachers, and try to wrestle a tuba out of thin air. (Those things are hard to find. Seriously.) Then my daughter has to pick up her school-issued laptop from another school across the city. It's the last possible day to work on my chapter for the week, and I know I'm going to have to cook dinner because Daniel is working late. And I have this editing I'm doing, an apocalypse piece, that's due, too. (Shakes fist at universe.) I mean, I'm glad the kids are going back to school because ultimately it will free up time and give much needed structure back to our days, but wow, is it a bitch getting ready. At least we have the school supply shopping done.

Deep breath. Rant over. I think.

So my point is that I'm wrapping it up for the day thank god, and also thinking about the wrap-up for my book. I'm over half way there. It's hard to believe, because the cliche about "it feels like only yesterday" is really true right now. I like that I've done it in installments. It's been manageable, doing a chapter a week. If I can do that every week, that's like two full-length novels a year, and I can maybe even squeeze a novella or short story in there too. So I'm really pleased with how that ROW80 goal is working out. Not so pleased that I seem incapable of working on two projects at once, because I have a burning deadline on another book I've way overshot. But I've written for more days than I'm used to this week, so that's good. That means maybe there's hope for doing two things at once. Why can I juggle a gazillion things in my normal life, but not manage two in writing? That's been a goal I've been really struggling with. But! I refuse to throw in the towel yet. I am determined to evolve.

Word count? 2200 so far. And I have more to do tomorrow. But it feels good to realize that I've hit the lower end of my goal already, and the week's only half done. Maybe I'll be able to carve out another couple of days of hard writing this week. I'm tempted to keep on going tonight but I'm really hearing the siren song of the sandman. And obviously I've managed to squeeze a post in, albeit a scattered one. That's already an improvement in my goals, since I went so long without posting this past month.

Mmm. I'm going to shut up now, as I seem to be going monosyllabic. Hope everyone is better rested than me! Thanks for stopping by.

Update! 3500 words total so far before bed. Woot woot!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Long Time, No Post!

I don't know why I've had such a hard time keeping up with ROW80 posts this round. Posting regularly is clearly the biggest challenge I'm facing. On all the other ones- word count, progress on my novel/ serial, I'm doing okay.

Well, I guess I do know the reason why I've fallen behind with posts. I've been swamped under with editing this round, which really has been more like a full time day job at this point. But all that editing seems to be sharpening my own writing, or at least making it easier to spot mistakes.

I've managed to make word count every week this round. Some weeks it's been my minimum of 2k, and some weeks I've hit that upper tier of 4k. This week, it was in between, for a total of roughly 3k. I haven't been writing as many days as I would like, but hopefully I'll get a chance to work on that. I envy all my writer friends who manage to make time to write every day. How do you guys do it?

Haven't had a lot of time for reading either, over the last few weeks, but what I have read I've really enjoyed.  Finished the Time Spirit trilogy by Melissa Pearl. Highly recommended. Also read a Regency romance. One of my areas of specialization in school was literature of the Regency period, so it's always fun to return to that time period, although I don't read it nearly as much as I used to. I was a bit disappointed in Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, but you can't win them all.

As for the shred of my weekend that remains, we're having steak for dinner and I've got a date with my hot tub. After I finish editing, that is. :) Hope everyone has a great week!