August 31, 2011

Triumph! (And a contest!)

Wow, this post is a long time coming. I haven't been around that much lately, for a few reasons:

1. Scary bike accident. Seriously, potholes are no fun. Neither are huge scrapes across one's back.

2. Camp NaNoWriMo! Now you can churn out lots and lots of (generally crap) words every month! I've been doing that this August, which leads to point three:

3. My WIP. IT. IS. DONE. Well. Not exactly. This particular draft is done, ringing in at 71,598 words. This is a big deal. This is a huge deal. This is an unbelievable deal. First off, I'm a writer, or I'm trying to be. But I'm really bad at finishing things. This is the first full draft of a novel I've finished since...okay, that's embarrassing. But it's been a long time! Right now I'm feeling more exhausted than elated, but one thing I said about today was that if I finished my draft today, I'd hold a contest!

So here it is: a sneak peek of the books you can win:

I am in love with Stephanie Perkins' books. They are cute, fun, flirty, and all-around delicious. And if you enter this contest, you'll have a chance to win a pre-order of her newest, Lola and the Boy Next Door!

Okay, so if I'm in love with Stephanie Perkins' books, I may just be in love with Jackson Pearce, period. Her vlogs are awesome. I wish I were as charming as she is. Up for grabs here: a copy of her hot-off-the-press, just-released book Sweetly, a reimagining of the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. (Also, fairy tales? Awesome. So awesome.)

I have been jealous of those folks at BEA forever, and this is one of the reasons why. There is just something so attractively different about this book -- the title, the cover, the description... If you have been as jealous of me, this is your chance to win a pre-order of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

Here's the deal. There are some awesome books. If you enter this contest, you have a chance to win your choice of ONE. I'm ordering through The Book Depository, so this contest is international! (Well - open to wherever TBD ships. Be sure to check on that!) A winner will be drawn randomly.

To enter, just fill out THE FORM.

*(This event will close at 11:59 PM EST, September 7. The winner will be announced on or by September 10.)

August 22, 2011

Alternate Histories

I tend to talk a fair amount about YA trends I just can't stand, so I thought I'd take a moment to talk about something I would love to see A LOT more of: alternate histories.

I realized this as I was finishing up Leviathan (Scott Westerfeld) last night. What drew me in the most about this book was the alternate history. For those who haven't read the book, I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that the book starts on the eve of World War I (before it was called WWI, obviously, but even before it was termed 'The Great War'), in a world where the British and their allies are "Darwinists," and the Austro-Hungarians are "Clankers". The Darwinists use genetically engineered animals and ecosystems as vehicles and weapons; the Clankers use machines.

I love that stuff. Can't get enough of it. It appeals to the history buff in me, and I'm in awe of the people who can do this well, because to do alternate history well, you need to be neck-deep in research for a very long time if you want to avoid sounding like an idiot. Maybe that's why I don't see more of these sorts of books in the YA market.

But there must be some! I'm racking my brains right now and am only coming up with a few on the YA side (although to be fair, I can only come up with a few on the adult side as well):

Young Adult Alternate History

1. Year of the Hangman, by Gary Blackwood. Possibly the first alternate history book I ever read -- the premise is that the Americans did not win the Revolutionary War.

2. Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest. Haven't finished this one, but the premise is that the Civil War just did. Not. End. (After 16+ years.)

Adult Alternate History

1. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, by Orson Scott Card. This one is a little more complicated, but the premise is that in the distant future, everything sucks (to put it bluntly). A team of scientists believe they have traced the tipping point to 1492, when Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas. So they send a team back in time to stop Christopher Columbus from making his fateful discovery... only to discover that somewhere, somewhen, someone else has already made the same journey.

2. The Eyre Affair and sequels, by Jasper Fforde. Very difficult to describe, except to say that it's an alternate version of Great Britain circa 1985. There's time travel, cloning, and you can, literally, get lost in a good book. Very cool for fans of Jane Eyre.

There are more -- there HAVE to be, right? And I want to read them. So, friends -- anyone have any suggestions for further alternate history reading? My list is pathetic. Help me out!

August 12, 2011

Friday Five

Because Kristin Creative was doing one, and I got lazy.

1. I have 33 books on my nightstand, literally. How is that possible? I need to start laying down the law around here - no more library books until I return the ones I have out! Slightly related: I think my #fridayreads is Entwined, by Heather Dixon.

2. I discovered the pool at my gym this week. Since my knee started bothering me I haven't been running, but maybe swimming is the thing right now? I swam on Monday, and that was tough. I think swimming laps is a lot harder than running, but maybe that's just me. And if I keep this up, I really need to buy a decent pair of goggles.

3. Jackson Pearce rocks. Specifically, her vlogs. (And her live show!) If I were an author I would want to do vlogs like her, but I don't know if I'd have the stomach for it. I'm more of a hide-behind-the-books sort of girl.

4. Downton Abbey. A Donna Hosie (of Musings of a Penniless Writer) recommendation. I LOVE IT! And it's on Netflix instant, for those of you who have that. I watched six straight episodes yesterday (seven total) and now I'm chomping at the bit for January to come around so I can watch the second season. It's so...!!!

5. Denver Publishing Institute. It's a little hard to believe that I graduated from DPI just over a year ago, and that I've been working in my current (publishing) job for almost exactly a year. Wow, time flies. Recently I've been thinking about the newest graduates and wondering if any of them are going to write me up and ask me for all the publishing savvy I've accumulated in the last year. (Hard to think that I actually have some...)

August 4, 2011


I haven't talked about writing in a while, so I thought I'd take this beginning-of-August thing to give you all an update.

For those of you who don't know, I've been working (on and off) on the same book since last November, when I wrote what I like to call the spaghetti draft of my WIP during NaNoWriMo. (At least for me, NaNo is a really good way to get a spaghetti draft of a story down.) A few fun facts: 1. I'd been thinking about this book for about three months before I wrote the spaghetti draft. 2. Spaghetti drafting is my crazy draft. Throwing spaghetti on the wall, seeing if any of it sticks. I wrote a ton of stuff, and a ton of stuff out of order. 3. For those who are interested, my current WIP is a retelling of the fairy tale "The Little Mermaid." (I think that doesn't give away too much -- I mean, take a look at all the mermaid books that are out there right now!)

After that I sat on it for a while, until I opened it back up a few months ago and started chipping away at it again. Right now I'm working on moving all my out-of-order scenes into order, and doing a little bit of light editing as I go along. My goal for this draft is to get every scene in the right place, and fill in the blanks where there are scenes missing.

So, progress. I've been working seriously on this book for the last month and a half, and sometimes it seems like I haven't made progress at all. I know that's not true -- I've figured out a number of plot things and details about the world, and added in characters, and (hey!) written 10,000 words in the last three days... But to me, there's not a lot that's really tangible about that work. It's not the same as saying, "I worked for the last six weeks and now I have a completed draft!" Right now, I'm in the middle of the marshland, putting one foot in front of the other, feeling like I'm working hard and getting somewhere... but that it might just be taking me around in circles.

Fellow writers, do you know what I'm talking about? Are there milestones that, for you, really bring home the progress that you've made? Obviously there are the big ones -- finishing a book, getting an agent, getting a book deal, for heaven's sake -- and there are smaller ones, finishing one round of revisions, finishing a draft (and another, and another). But what about in between those drafts? What about the weeks and months it takes to move from one to the other? How do you keep yourself positive about the work that you're doing instead of getting mucked down in the marshes?

I'm going to take myself out to a (slightly) upscale restaurant when I'm done with this draft, and I already have the place picked out. But it still feels forever away...