Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Writers Like Us - Jessica Warman

Jessica Warman writes an amazing contemporary story. I absolutely loved BREATHLESS. I love Jessica's ability to write heartbreaking characters who terrify you one moment and you want to hug the next. So I was thrilled when she agreed to be this week's Writers Like Us!

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Jessica like you in the comments.

Jessica on Writing

  • I've written 7 number of books, and 4 have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene, character, and setting to write is I usually gravitate toward small-town settings, and I love to write about young people who are trying to figure out how to become adults without going crazy. The teenage years are so different from any other time in life, and I think people tend to dismiss teenagers far too easily. We were all there once. It was hard – hard enough that I definitely wouldn’t want to go through it again. So I like to create characters who I would have related to as a teenager, in the hopes that my readers will find ways to identify with them, too.
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with transitions in my writing. I’ll read another author’s book, and they make it look so easy! But I constantly struggle to move my characters from one scene to the next. I never know if I’ve wrapped things up enough, or if I’ve done it too much… I’ve been dealing with this issue for years, and it hasn’t gotten much easier.
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is to watch my sentence lengths. I had a critique partner point out once that I’d written a sentence that was, I think, 108 words long.
  • The book I wished I wrote is “Flight” by Sherman Alexie. It is SUCH a gorgeous novel, and I never could have pulled it off in a million years. I read it in a single sitting one afternoon, and I immediately started reading it again.

Jessica on Getting Published
  • If my agent (or editor) really knew how crazy I was, she would find out that I feel like a scatterbrained mess about 98% of the time. Sometimes I look at my books and I just cannot believe that I actually managed to write them. It’s surreal. I feel quite incompetent most days, with rare bursts of confidence that manage to sustain me long enough to keep going, somehow.
  • When I was querying, I felt terrified. 
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was I started sending out query letters before the book I was seeking representation for was actually finished. It all worked out okay, but I would not recommend that for anyone else – it made for a few very stressful weeks once I got some interest and had to come up with an ending ASAP! 
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is I cannot believe I get paid to do this.
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was: I’m not even sure I remember. I was just freaking out. I’d been working on getting published for so long, and I’d been rejected so many times, that I couldn’t believe it could possibly be happening for real. (And it doesn’t get any less exciting – I still freak out whenever I sell a proposal.)
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I bought every copy they had at Barnes and Noble.

Jessica on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a I’ve always thought about starting a crime scene cleanup company. You know, the people who go in and clean up the gore after someone dies in an unpleasant way? I know I would love it. I love cleaning, and I love gore, so it seems like a great fit.
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of sloths. Everyone thinks they’re so cute, and I just don’t get it. They’re so slow… maybe TOO slow? There’s something suspicious about it. Plus, have you taken a good look at their eyes? And those claws? Nope.
  • My secret girlfriend/boyfriend is Louis CK, the comedian. Sometimes I send him tweets, offering to bake him a pie or give him a hug on a bad day. He is my celebrity fantasy husband. 
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I watch Law and Order reruns all day, and then claim that I did something really worthwhile and productive with my time. Last week, I told my husband I spent all day reading “A Brief History of the Middle East,” when I was actually watching the “21 Jump Street” remake. 

Jessica Warman is the author of the young adult novels, Between, Where the Truth Lies, and Breathless. She studied at prep school and Seton Hill University, where she earned her MA in creative writing. When she isn't writing, she likes to run, read, and spend time with her husband and two daughters. Jessica lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can visit her website at www.jessicawarman.com

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Writers Like Us - Rachel Harris

Welcome Rachel Harris, author of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century! This one looks so cute--a little time travel, a little romance, and a lot of YA. I've put it on the top of my TBR stack and am so excited to have Rachel here to give us all her publishing secrets!

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Rachel like you in the comments.

Rachel on Writing
  • To this day, I've written 4 complete books, 1 of which has the light of day so far, and the rest to be released either this year or next. I also have 6 additional books that will be written this year or early next to be released either later this year through 2015.
  • My favorite type of scene to write is one that combines romance and humor and allows me to dive into scenery description, filtered through my character’s unique personality, and hopefully one that involves food (he he). I love writing my characters eating, I have no idea why. 
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with my endings. Not planning them—I always know what is going to happen as I plot like crazy before I begin—but actually writing them. It’s like my brain starts to lock up when it realizes I’ll soon be parting with these characters I’ve lived with and fallen in love with, and it’s just a struggle to get it right. The last few writing days of any project is filled with lots of “I suck” thoughts. Thank goodness for awesome writing friends!! 
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is: Honestly? I get a lot of “LOL” or “bahahahahha” in the pages my girls send me back (*grin*). But critique wise, the biggest thing is my girl Trish Wolfe always reminding me worse/worst, blond/blonde, gray/grey, into/ in to, toward/towards…As often as she corrects me, I still fail to get it right! 
  • The book I wished I wrote is IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman. 

Rachel on Getting Published
  • When I was querying, I felt like I wanted to throw up. But that was only when I thought about it, or got a response—it didn’t seem to matter if it was a pass or a request for more, I still felt all nervy. Mostly I kept my brain busy by writing my next book at that same time, which ended up being the book that sold first (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century). The book I was querying at the time has just been retitled and is coming out Fall 2014 (The Fine Art of Pretending). 
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is: Have I made them hungry enough, or do I need to add more Andouille?? (this was while drafting my adult romance debut, Taste The Heat coming this summer and involves a chef) 
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace: This never changes…I always get completely giddy when my agent or editor sends me the screen shot and then I stare at it at least a bazillion times in the coming week. Even if the contract was written way before that, it isn’t until that announcement that it feels REAL, you know? I’m getting all happy just thinking about it.

Rachel on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be: well, I’m a homeschool mom so I’d be doing that while making up really crazy stories to keep them entertained. 
  • My secret boyfriend is well, it used to be Adam from the If I Stay series, but I think my official secret boyfriend (don’t tell Kiera) is Kellan from S.C. Stephens’ Thoughtless series. Seriously, now that the series is over, I’m gonna go through withdrawals. 
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I make up really random songs, like about muffins or what my characters are doing in a scene, and sing them. Okay, I do this when people are around, too….

As a teen, Rachel Harris threw raging parties that shook her parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels. As an adult, she reads and writes obsessively, rehashes said embarrassing fodder, and dreams up characters who become her own grown up version of imaginary friends.

When she's not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find her homeschooling her two beautiful princesses, hanging out with her amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.

MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is her debut novel. She didhave her own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn't televised.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Writers Like Us - Tara Kelly

If you haven't read Tara Kelly's AMPLIFIED yet, you must! Tara can write really great characters with lots of attitude who you just fall in love with and want to see succeed so bad. Her love of music is so apparent in this book, and the band dynamics are complicated but fun. I really loved this book and am so excited to have Tara here this week!

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Tara like you in the comments.

Tara on Writing
  • I've written 4 books, and 2 have seen the light of day.
  • My favorite type of scene/character/setting to write is:
    • Favorite scene: Two people who are into each other and totally don't want to be for whatever reason. Ohh, the tension. 
    • Favorite character type: Sassy, broken misfits. 
    • Setting: Places you want to visit, not live in. :) 
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with finishing what I start. 
  • A typical comment from my critique partner is: Your character development is great BUT that MC of yours is so guarded/bitchy/cold, etc. (I like my MCs complicated)
  • The book I wished I wrote is: There are no books I wish I wrote, BUT there are talents I wish I had (or didn't have to work so damn hard for). 
    • Courtney Summers' ability to make 'unlikable' or 'prickly' MCs sympathetic. 
    • Stephanie Kuehnert's ability to make you FEEL on every page of her books. This girl knows how to write emotion, let me tell you. 
    • Trish Doller's amazing male narrator voice and rich settings. 
    • CK Kelly Martin's beautiful way with words. 
    • A.S. King's ability to write a book that is dark, smart, humorous and everything in between (Please Ignore Vera Dietz). 
Tara on Getting Published
  • If my agent really knew how crazy I was... my agent is already well aware of how neurotic/crazy I am. Thankfully she likes my writing, so it works out. 
  • When I was querying, I felt like I was never going to hear the word 'yes'. 
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was querying the first book I ever finished. It didn't even have a real ending!
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is I suck at this. I need to quit. The thing is..I can't quit because my characters will yell at me. In my head. When I'm trying to sleep. 
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was oh, shit. Wait…what??? 
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I felt the good kind of heebie jeebies. 
Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a school counselor. Which I'm going to school for as we speak :) I'm also a Creative Director and a Musician. I keep busy. 
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of balloons. 
  • My secret boyfriend is Dean Winchester's '67 Chevy Impala.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I sing my heart out.
Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She's a YA author, one-girl-band, web designer, video editor, digital photographer, and literary agent intern. She lives in Portland with her ten guitars, supercool bf, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

Friday, April 5, 2013

For Your TBR Pile - Dare You To

New Blog Series--so it turns out that since I am officially "a book blogger," publishers started approving me for galleys! Me? Little old me?? YES! So since I get to read all these awesome stories, I wanted to start a new blog series letting you know which ones are worth putting at the top of your TBR stacks.

So without further adieu...my first recommendation for your TBR Pile is...

DARE YOU TO by Katie McGarry

When it will be published: June 17th, by HarlequinTEEN

From GoodReads: If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....
Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.
But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....

What I liked most: Katie McGarry writes incredible romances. The writing is steamy and tension filled. I love the whole I-hated-you-since-the-moment-I-met-you-but-am-so-wildly-attracted-to-you thing. Her characters are always broken in these beautiful ways. I loved the contrast between Beth's poor, trailer park upbringing and Ryan's upper-class, high-society life, and how they could relate to each other anyway. 

Why you should have it in your TBR: I love companion novels, but they rarely measure up to the original. It's awesome to see the characters you loved the first time around come back for a second story. With DARE YOU TO, McGarry creates an entirely new story for Beth, a secondary character from Pushing The Limits. Beth is taken away from Noah and Isaiah in the city and is forced to move to her uncle's farm. Unlike most companion novels, DARE YOU TO completely stands alone.

The one scene I'm dying for you to read: The rain scene. I can't say anything, but there's rain. And ribbons and bottles. And kissing.

Also, I totally pictured Channing Tatum the whole time I was reading as Ryan. And Beth has always reminded me of Mandy from the Showtime series, Shameless.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Writers Like Us - Vivi Barnes

I'm super excited to welcome Vivi Barnes, author of OLIVIA TWISTED, to the blog today! Even though Vivi's book doesn't come out until November, she's brought along a sneak peek at the blurb to share (scroll down past the interview). Make sure you put this one in your TBR pile.

Her answers are below in bold. Let us know what makes Vivi like you in the comments.

Vivi on Writing
  • I've written 4 books, and 1 has seen the light of day (but I'm debut, so I hope more see the light!)
  • My favorite type of scene to write are kissing scenes, esp. with the guy who's sweet on inside and badass on outside! 
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with repeat words. Repeat words.
  • A typical comment from my CP is to up the stakes! 
  • The book I wished I wrote is Harry Potter because it is just plain brilliant and lovely and all the great adjectives!

Vivi on Getting Published

  • If my agent really knew how crazy (or any other adjective here) I was, she would find out -- okay, my agent already knows how crazy I am (and Pam van Hylckama is just as crazy) - but this probably would be that I dressed as Honey Boo Boo for the last SCBWI conference (and won a prize).
  • When I was querying, I felt confident, then not confident, then confident, then not confident. Rinse, repeat.
  • The biggest mistake I ever made querying was sending out my manuscript before it was truly ready. I think many writers make this mistake. But at the time, of course, you think it's ready.
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while writing is (very early on) that all I need to do is get an agent and everything will fall into place. LOL
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was "OMG OMG OMG," then "She probably just wants to tell me I suck over the phone." (I got an email asking for "the call.")
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I did a screen shot and pasted it in a document to keep forever and ever!

Vivi on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a Best Girl in film production, mostly because I always thought "Best Boy" was sexist. ;)
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of spiders, and it is NO secret. And why do they have to have spiders in every show I love!? WHY?
  • My secret girlfriend/boyfriend is my husband, because he's my badass hero. If fictional, that'd be Captain Hook from Once Upon A Time.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I sing as loud as I can, and badly, too.

Vivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. Now living in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, Florida, she divides her time writing, working, goofing off with her husband and three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes.


He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.
At least at this moment, I don’t care.
Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…
I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.
It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.
Except that she’s not.
Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Currently Reading - April 2013

February's reading did not go as planned. I had hoped to read EVERNEATH, LOST VOICES, TIGER LILY, and NOBODY BUT US.

But then Agent Lauren tweeted me and told me I had to drop everything to read JELLICOE ROAD (which was soul shattering and worth every moment). And then I got an ARC of Amanda Sun's INK (THE PAPER GODS). And then I realized I wanted to read Rebecca Serle's WHEN YOU WERE MINE.

Then GoodReads started nagging me that I was behind schedule and wasn't going to make my reading goal for the year AND OH MY GOD!!! I can't read all the things! I shouldn't be this stressed about reading books!

Oh, and did I mention I also knocked out a revision on my own manuscript? Booya!


We're going to try this again...

  • EVERNEATH, Brodi Ashton
  • NOBODY BUT US, Kristin Halbrook
  • TIGER LILY, Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • and I'm throwing in THE RAVEN BOYS, Maggie Stiefvater just for good measure.

What are you reading this month?

PS-- Make sure you put INK on the top of your TBR stack. It was sooooo good.

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Valerie has read 11 books toward her goal of 50 books.
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