Wednesday, December 28, 2011

OMG I Want to See This!

Beautiful actors, chemistry, falling in love (and doing it again!), tension, uncertainty, high stakes, and pacing. This movie promises to have everything a great storyline should. Plus it's Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams, people! I love these two and deep down, I'm a sap for a good romance. I think anyone who enjoys the genre can agree that part of you is a hopeless romantic. Isn't that why we're attracted to these storylines? We find some hope or excitement in experiencing what feels like real life individuals stumbling upon an extraordinary love. So excited!

What movies or books are you already anticipating this New Year?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I adore the movie Love Actually so I thought I'd steal a scene from there. Happy holidays and happy reading this year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

We Have Winners

Congratulations to Cat and Stephanie Haefner, the winners of the Christmas book giveaway!

Please email me at with your mailing address. For everyone else who entered, thanks so much and I hope you have a great holiday season. I look forward to sharing with you all of my favorite reads in 2012 and hearing yours as well!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Title Love and Cover Love

I just recently stumbled upon the books Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Distasters and The Fine Art of Truth or Dare , and had to share.

Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters: I am absolutely in LOVE with this title. So many YA novels seem to examine junior and senior year so I'm interested to see a book that's just crossed over from MG and features a slightly different YA protagonist. I'm curious to find out if the voice reads younger and, of course, to hear about all of the interesting hurdles that a new high school life can bring! Unfortunately it doesn't come out until March of 2012, though that's one more reason to be happy about entering a New Year--new book releases!

Another release in early 2012 is The Fine Art of Truth or Dare and, really, how can you not love this cover? It has a little of everything: art history, romance, mystery (because you know you're curious who is behind that canvas), and intrigue (because nothing good really comes from truth or dare).

What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

This was too awesome not to share

My husband and I are big fans of "How I Met Your Mother." Barney, of course, is such an amazing character and one of the reasons we love this show. In writing we so often talk about "voice." Well Barney has that voice thanks to great writing and amazing acting execution. So happy Monday folks. Take Barney's advice and embrace your awesome!

Who are some of your favorite characters with a unique voice?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Giveaway

I'm in a festive mood because of the holidays and I wanted to celebrate by sharing some of my favorite--and most anticipated--books.

Below are some of my top picks from my reading list this year as well as a couple that are on the top of my drool-worthy TBR list to ensure it's a happy reading New Year indeed.

Here are the noteworthy books:
1. The Help

2. Before I Fall

3. Let the Great World Spin

4. Divergent

5. Sarah's Key

6. Original Sin


7. The Paris Wife

It's an eclectic mix but all great fun. Since I'm feeling particularly giving, I'm going to have two winners in this giveaway. Each winner will have their pick of one of the books above. Good luck!

Rules of the contest are as follows:

1. You must be a follower of this blog.
2. Extra entries if you blog, Facebook, or tweet about it (including @SCookRay in the tweet so I can find it)
3. Extra entry if you leave a comment about your favorite book read this year.
4. To enter, email me at, subject line "Christmas contest"

Contest closes at 11:59 pm EST on December 22nd. I'll announce the winner on December 23rd. Good luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Young Adult

Have you guys heard of the new movie from Diablo Cody (author of Juno) called Young Adult? It looks pretty awesome and is based on a young adult novelist and ex-mean girl (Charlize Theron) coming back to her hometown to rekindle a romance with her high school flame. The tag line? "Everyone gets older, not everyone grows up."

What do you think? Will you go see this? If not, what holiday movies are you looking forward to this month?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Book Trailer for Every YA Book

I'm a little late to the party in discovering this video but it's hilarious so I had to share. It summarizes the major plot themes in much of YA. It's a great parody book trailer. Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

On Revisions

I was convinced my story started at the right point. I was dropping my character off in the drama. I was writing everything that needed to happen to propel the story forward. This was it...

Only it wasn't.

I learned two valuable lessons recently. 1) Most writers don't start their stories at the right moment, and 2) sometimes we need to write scenes even if they never make "the cut."

I had an opening scene that helped explain to me the order of events. I thought this would make readers really feel for my character. I was wrong. As the author, I already know my character so, of course, when something tragic happens I'm emotionally invested. The reader, however, doesn't know my character at the start of the book. They're still giving him an audition. They can't possibly feel true emotions because they're not familiar with anyone in the storyline yet. The answer? I needed to start my story later. What I had wasn't quite working.

Finding where to start isn't an easy thing but, rather, a delicate balance. How do you start late enough that the readers don't feel they've missed anything yet not too early that it all sounds like prologue? It's tricky.

While that scene wasn't right for the beginning of my story, it was right for me as an author. I had to write my initial opening scene. It allowed me to understand everything my character had been through leading up to the beginning of the story. This was important background information. It ensured I had a thorough knowledge of my MC, and it helped me to find that right balance. My old opening didn't make the final version but it helped my outlook.

So don't feel discouraged if in your revising stage you're hitting the delete button. Sometimes those words aren't meant to be there but were important exercises all the same.

What writing tips have you learned lately?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cover Love

You all know I'm a sucker for a good book cover. It grabs my attention and, at the very least, gets me to read the back jacket so bravo to the marketing departments because I discovered two more that I'm in love with.

1. Slow Motion by Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro, a young woman from a deeply religious home, became the girlfriend of a famous and flamboyant married attorney-her best friend's stepfather. The moment Lenny Klein entered her life, everything changed: she dropped out of college, began drinking, and neglected her friends and family. But then came a phone call-an accident on a snowy road had left her parents critically injured. Forced to reconsider her life, Shapiro learned to re-enter the world she had left. Telling of a life nearly ruined by the gift of beauty, and then saved through tragedy, Shapiro's memoir is a beautiful account of how a life gone terribly wrong can be rescued through tragedy.

I love this because it's simple and strikes that line between straightforward and abstract. Slow motion typically suggests proceeding with caution and yet this is juxtaposed by the blurred car lights (ie. car accident).

2. Fracture by Megan Miranda. Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

Fracture is downright beautiful. Growing up in Upstate New York I love a great wintery scene. What really drew my attention, however, is the girl. Right away this tells us she's the main protagonist. We see her reflection under the ice, the two versions of herself staring off at one another. The curvature of the reflection reminded me of a circular earth with each version of the girl stuck on the other side, almost like a ying and yang. After reading description you see how right on this cover really is with the book's main themes. Love it!

Both of these books are being added to my TBR list, but what about you? What book covers do you love?