Monday, October 31, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon

Yesterday I spend the day cheering on the runners of the Marine Corps marathon, and more specifically a few close friends. I'd love to say I ran it but my bragging rights are limited to half marathons (and I've really only done a couple of those).

It was an amazing spectacle. There were over 35,000 runners weaving through the nation's capital. When fans, security, and volunteers are factored in, that number jumps to 100,000 people in attendance.

Many of the runners are soldiers or ex-military, some are even participating in wheel chairs or a prosthetic leg. They run through Arlington Cemetery and end the race up a heartbreak of a hill but with the Iwo Jima Memorial at the top.

It was an emotional event.

There were, of course, moments of hilarity like my friends sharing this marathon runner comedy spoof with me the night before:

What I took away from the event was that we're capable of completing whatever we want if we put our minds to it and never give up. Having a cheering section whether in running or in writing is essential. Sharing advice never goes out of fashion. And everybody wins when they all encourage each other's success.

These are very much the things I've been so impressed with in the writing community and after experiencing what's deemed "the people's marathon," I can see the same is true in running. They both take dedication and daily training but whether crossing the finish line or typing out "the end," there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment once it's complete. All those long days and nights become so totally worth it. So here's me cheering you on and encouraging you to share your advice and adventures with others! Feel free to start right here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Trailers

I know I've done several cover love and title love posts but to a lesser extent, book trailers so I thought I'd share some fabulous ones I've come across lately.

1. Crossed by Ally Condie
Here's what the book is about: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Here's what it's about: Lena Haloway is content in her safe, government-managed society. She feels (mostly) relaxed about the future in which her husband and career will be decided, and looks forward to turning 18, when she’ll be cured of deliria, a.k.a. love. She tries not to think about her mother’s suicide (her last words to Lena were a forbidden “I love you”) or the supposed “Invalid” community made up of the uncured just beyond her Portland, Maine, border. There’s no real point—she believes her government knows how to best protect its people, and should do so at any cost. But 95 days before her cure, Lena meets Alex, a confident and mysterious young man who makes her heart flutter and her skin turn red-hot. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure.

3. Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Here's what it's about: Kenyon, whose paranormal adult novels include 50 New York Times best-sellers, brings characters from her Dark Hunter series to teens with a new YA series featuring Nick Gautier, who appears here as a 14-year-old. After arriving at school and discovering that the football team members have turned into classmate-eating zombies, Nick sets out to stop the attacks, and in one unforgettable night, he learns that he has a pivotal role to play in an unseen world.

Have you seen any good books or book trailers lately?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

While I Edit

I've signed up for the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC this coming November 3-4. I've never been. I'm super excited and anxious and scared and a million other things. I think mainly I'm just interested in what it will be like, all the writer types I'll meet, and what I'll learn.

You can be sure I'll be posting updates when I get back. The structure includes some general informational panels about publishing but also critique sessions on query letters and two-page writing samples.

I'm a veteran when it comes to receiving constructive criticism. Most criticism I've received in the past, however, has been restricted to assignments in college or graduate school and then writing assignments at work. This will be the first real time I'm receiving criticism on my WIP.

I have posted on Query Tracker Forum and had some alpha readers* take a look but this is a whole new level and I'm not really sure what to expect. I know it's subjective but there's a certain anxiousness that's part hope, part anticipation of the worst possible scenario. As such I've been busying myself with edits and using this conference date as a good motivator to work on some scenes I've been procrastinating.

You can be sure that where I'm typing, my trusty Lab Molly is always lying by my feet encouraging me along--or falling asleep when I read aloud to her :-)

And while my Molly is growing a very unfashionable gray goatee at the moment and is all grown up, I thought I'd share this blast from the past of baby Molly and today's Tuesday morning moment of zen:

Have you had any moments of zen lately?

*Alpha reader is my term for close friends or relatives who get to read your WIP before the beta readers come in.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Breaking Dawn

Is the Twilight Series the best written YA series around? I don't think so. Is it the best adaptation of novels to screen? Not in my opinion. Am I still terribly excited for the new film? You bet.

The forbidden love story that became a national--and international--phenomenon (read: bestsellers) has that special hook, or as the French say, "je-ne-sais-quoi." There is that special something about the characters and their connection that is pure literary crack. You can't put it down or, in the case of the movies, you can't help but drop $10 every time another new one comes out.

As a lead-in to the next installment, I thought I'd share some recent news I've stumbled upon.

1. Bruno Mars' song "It Will Rain" is announced as the first single on the forthcoming Breaking Dawn soundtrack.

2. New photo stills are starting to be released from the film.

3. The actors discuss the momentous occasion in the series: the wedding.

I can't embed the video and even the hyperlink function on blogger is hating on me right now but it's worth checking out. So here's the link to copy and paste if you're interested:

So tell me, will you be checking this movie out? Why or why not?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writing for Young Adults

If you missed the National Book Festival earlier this fall, then you missed the opportunity to hear YA author extraordinaire Sarah Dessen discuss her journey and what it's like to write for young adults. I've uncovered this video from the event and wanted to share. Enjoy!

If you were in attendance, what was your favorite part?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blown Away

Sometimes I'll come across an idea, project, or book that I am sooooo blown away by I desperately wish I was ingenious enough to think it up myself. So is the story of The Girl Project. O.M.G.

You have to read this article about it and come back here:

Here's what the jacket says about Please Read (If At All Possible): The Girl Project. Female adolescence through the eyes of teenage girls for a teenage-girl audience. This empowering volume introduces the reader to an insider’s view of teenage girlhood. Through their participation in The Girl Project-created in 2007 by Kate Engelbrecht to explore the personal realities of modern female adolescence-teenage girls contributed intimate, heartwarming, diarylike text entries and photographs that capture their personal and private moments. To date, over 5,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 18 have sent in photographs, along with anonymously completed questionnaires that communicate their view of themselves and the world around them. This collection of images and text details the private and personal lives of adolescents, which together reveal an amazing narrative communicated as only teenage girls know and understand. The girls touch upon universal issues, such as their struggles with self-confidence and body image, relationships with peers and family, and their dissatisfaction with how they are presented by the media and in popular culture.

Teen readers will be rewarded with a wonderful set of sincere, deep messages and the reassurance that they are not alone.

I often watch "teen" television shows like Gossip Girl and 90210 but these teens are not the teens I knew when I was in high school. They might be cast as teens but their attitudes, worldviews, and access are far different. This was, in fact, the impetus for the book. It came about as a simple question that author Engelbrecht posed to herself: Are girls really that much different than when I was a teen?

To answer that question she embarked on a phenomenal journey and sociology project known as The Girl Project, and the book is its summary--it's tale of the real teenage girl's life today.

In many ways the project and its findings didn't reveal anything necessarily shocking, at least if you were to poll my teenage self. Girls are self conscious about their bodies, about how to communicate in relationships, they strongly value friendship, and are afraid of being alone. It's not sex they're after but love. Sound familiar?

I think what's shocking and groundbreaking about this novel is that its text reflects real girls. It's not an escape like so much of YA but rather a comfort to say, "We get it. There are others just like you."

I think that's why I devoured Sabrina Ward Harrison's book Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself. I was just going into college when that book came out and something about it just...clicked. It was one of those divine moments in literature where you read something and you think, "Yes, exactly. How did you know?!" Where it feels like someone is right inside your head plucking your thoughts, writing down your feelings.

We need more books like this whether non-fiction like these works or fiction novels with realistic characters. Not everyone is being fought over by two gorgeous guys and navigating the terrain of their first (or more) sexual encounters. Lots of girls--and guys for that matter--are just trying to figure out braces and pimples and body image issues along with how to talk to their crush and how to fit in.

We need to let teens know there are others like them and I think this book is a really great start.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Swagger Song

Happy Monday! Here's a new swagger song to get you moving today and right on through the week. It's by Sara Bareilles whom I love and is the directorial debut of funnyman actor Jonah Hill. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Amazing Fan Art

I had to share this AMAZING, very graphic novel-esque fan art piece from Date A Girl Who Reads blog ( I've seen fan art before but this one rocks! It's also such a huge ode to the author and the work, in this case Harry Potter.

What good fan art have you seen lately?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

We have a winner!

Thanks for all the entries; there were a lot this time! Understandably so. These are such awesome books I'm excited to share. However, there can only be one winner to the fall book giveaway.

And that winner is *drum roll*


Congratulations Linda. Be sure to email me your mailing address and which book you pick. If you don't win I still encourage you to pick up these books, and I'll be doing reviews of them over the coming months.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cover Love

All These Lives by Sarah Wylie looks beautiful. I've followed Sarah Wylie's blog for a while. (You should too; she's awesome, witty, and hilarious!) The book has been compared to Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper! Yeah, I know, amazing right?! On top of all that Sarah is represented by uber-agent Suzie Townsend at FinePrint Literary and her debut novel is already generating lots of buzz.

Here's the description: Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away. To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.

Sounds awesome, right?