Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Book vs. Show
Ultimate Vampire Diaries Survival Guide
Season 1, 2009-2010
Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: The Comet
Episode 3: Friday Night Bites
Episode 4: Family Ties
Episode 5: You're Undead To Me
Episode 6: Lost Girls
Episode 7: Haunted
Episode 8: 162 Candles
Episode 9: History Repeating
Episode 10: The Turning Point
Episode 11: Bloodlines
Episode 12: Unpleasantville
Episode 13: Children of the Damned
Episode 14: Fool Me Once
Episode 15: A Few Good Men
Episode 16: There Goes The Neighborhood
Episode 17: Let The Right One In
Episode 18: Under Control
Episode 19: Miss Mystic Falls
Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks - Lauren Myracle
The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Ballad - Maggie Stiefvater
Beastly - Alex Flinn
Cara Lockwood overview
Deadly Little Lies - Laurie Faria Stolarz*
How to be Bad - E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick*
Lament - Maggie Stiefvater
Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater*
Storm Glass - Maria V. Snyder
The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting*
The Dark Divine - Bree Despain*
The Shifter - Janice Hardy
The Sweet Life of Stella Madison - Lara Zeises
Holly Schindler - Guest Post
Maria V. Snyder - Guest Post
Janice Hardy - Guest Post
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Laurie Faria Stolarz - Guest Post
Maria V. Snyder
Maria V. Snyder - Guest Post
Theresa Martin Golding
And they're in pretty categories! (I love categories.)
20 FNC Originals + 09 Real World Recaps = 2009!
YA Character Studies
The Perks of Being a Fictional Character
The Quarreling Couple
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Charming vs. Philip (Disney Princes Smackdown)
Gaston (The Villain in YA)
Plot Studies and Topics
Oh. My. God. - Religion in YA
Rounding the Bases in YA: Kissing, Sex, and Everything in Between
"Once Upon a Time" is SO Last Season...
*You Can Teach an Old Plot New Tricks:
The Hunger Games
General Writing Goodness
Epic Critique Groups
Do you Outline, take this Writer to be your Lawfully Wedded Storyteller?
Quick and Entertaining Inspiration
Saving the Scraps
The Voyage Home: Loop Writing
On the road of writing, avoid the GIANT POTHOLES.
REAL WORLD RECAPS
Adventures in Author Stalking
Maria V. Snyder Storm Glass book signing
Lara Zeises Release Party for Stella Madison
Sara Shepard Pretty Little Liars signing
Jay Asher 13 Reasons Why signing
Epic Night in NYC: Kristin Cashore, Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Libba Bray, and SUZANNE COLLINS!!!
AMAZING Weekend: Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, T.A. Barron, Steve Kluger, Justine Larbelestier, David Levithan, Lauren Myracle, Scott Westerfeld, and Jacqueline Woodson!
Notes from a Writing Conference...
RUCCL One-on-One Conference Part One, Part Two
SCBWI-EPA Poconos Conference
And last but not least for 2009...
*FNC WIPets! (Snippets from our WIPs)
Donna 1, 2, Magnetic Kama Sutra
Frankie 1, 2
Janine 1, 2
Sara 1, 2
(We're also cleaning up our lefthand sidebar, so stay tuned for more posts today highlighting our author interviews and guest posts; book reviews and co-reviews; and Frankie's Vampire Diaries recaps! We couldn't pick favorites, but feel free to tell us yours!)
2009 By The (Semi-Official) Numbers:
4 - FNC members
194 - total posts
17 - authors interviewed/guest posted
14 - book reviews
5 - conferences attended
16 - authors met
35 - books signed
5 - blog contests since September
340 - followers (and counting!)
23,000 - page views since September
1 - mini kits published
1,000,000 - words written (mostly Frankie's)
3 - complete first drafts finished
216 - books read (collectively)
23 - agents and editors met
15 - FNC critique meetings
3 - average length (in hours) of critique meeting
89 - books purchased
... and we loved every minute of it!
Onward to 2010! We can't wait to see what the new year brings! (Did someone say "Query Wars"?)
What's your favorite post or feature on our blog? Any requests for a topic / plot point / character / author / book / etc you want us to cover in the New Year?
Monday, December 28, 2009
I still have 10 chapters to go and finishing this challenge is kind of....well it's going to be a miracle if I complete it. And of course there are stakes involved....
If I complete the challenge, we're going to make a vlog of Donna attemping to bake me a vegan cake-something she's never done before (also she can't bake) and so I'm sure it'll be hilarious--also hopefully tasty. If I don't complete the challenge :( I have to film myself completely acting out a scene from Clueless--like I do all of the dialogue for everyone, voice overs, etc....
SO, I'm here to offer a challenge to Donna in return! Yay!
So Donna (who just recently completed her draft of her WIP) needs to finish revising by midnight on January 5th.
This is tough because Donna just started revisions.
But not so bad, because Donna's rough drafts are really really clean!
So to offer a little incentive and excitmeent...if Donna completes her challenge, I'll perform an interpretive dance of her novel (never thought I'd say this but I hope she fails).
AND if Donna fails...I'm going to videotape her totally acting and singing her favorite scene of Beauty and the Beast--hehehehe! This shall be endlessly entertaining!
Ok so wish Donna lots of luck (because she's awesome and because you want to see me make a fool of myself dancing) but if you really want to see her reenactment of Beauty and the Beast---you know what to do.
Either way someone wins! Someone is entertained and WIPs get revised!!!
Challenge has been issue--now GO!
Step Two: Passionate First Kiss.
Step Three: Super Duper Passionate Second Kiss.
Step Four: Sex.
As much as I love a great romance in YA -- and there are plenty -- I can't help but question the progression of many relationships. Can sex be something that happens quickly in a high school relationship? Sure. Does that always happen? Nope.
There are multiple "bases" between kissing and sex (yes, as an adult, I still think of them as "bases"), but where are they in our novels? Or even in TV or movies? We've been conditioned to understand that, once two people are "meant to be" and all obstacles to their Happily Ever After are removed, the next logical step is the sex scene.
But do they do a whole lot of other stuff before or in addition to sex?
* FYI: I'm going to mention a couple specifics in the rest of the post. Nothing gross or gratuitous, just matter-of-fact, but if it's not up your alley, feel free to stop reading!
One reason I think authors and scriptwriters shy away from the "in between"/foreplay stuff is the difficulty of describing or indicating it without being too explicit, clinical, or vulgar. (Writing Magnetic Kama Sutra showed me how tough that can be, except that I actually HAD to be explicit! Plus, notice how I dance around some things in this post.)
We're experts in the "fade to black" (see Breaking Dawn) and the words or phrases used to say that people are doing the deed -- without giving the nitty-gritty details included in adult novels.
But there aren't pretty shortcuts, at least in writing, to hint about oral sex or various fondling South of the Border.
But here's the problem -- that in between stuff? It's a big deal. Teenagers hear about it ... watch porn that includes it ... but don't necessarily know a lot. They'll do it anyway. (Oh, raging hormones.)
I have read mentions of "touching" below the belt during hot and heavy scenes, but despite plenty of sex-centric convos in YA, no one talks about the other stuff. And in high school, when you don't know something, don't you go to Google, your best friends, or a cool older sibling? I want to see those conversations!
(This also ties in to the lack of masturbatory references in YA -- a topic on which Rhiannon Hart wrote a lovely post.)
On the scary side: If someone's not comfortable with sex, they're pressured or guilt-tripped into doing these "other things" that supposedly don't have the emotional weight or consequences of sex. But they do.
Here's the deal: I thought about this topic because I debated with myself (and Frankie) about scenes in my novel -- one of which occurs in chapter one -- that involve or discuss "in between" things. I felt like maybe I should find a way around them. (After all, my mother will one day be reading this novel!)
But then I remembered WHY I first chose to include "in between" things: they're a part of high school -- even if teens don't do them, they know they exist! But all teenagers have questions or doubts about these topics. Reading about them -- in thoughtful, honest, or funny scenes -- makes teens feel less alone and helps them understand what they're comfortable with, and what they're not.
Will I get hate mail from parents (if this ever gets published, fingers crossed)? Yep. They'll probably also mention how much they disliked my three or four well-placed f-bombs. (Lisa and Laura Roecker wrote a great post about that one! And Rhiannon just did too!)
But my duty as a writer is to be true to my readers and to my story. And so it stays.
Have you read novels with "in between" stuff? How do you think "the bases" and such should be approached, if at all? If you're a teen, what do you want to see in YA?
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Just wanted to wish everyone of our readers a Happy Holidays (Happy Belated Hannukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Winter Break, Happy I-survived-the-snowpocalpyse, Happy New Year). We've been a little bit slow with posting due to holiday craziness, end of semester catch up, and the exciting news that Frankie, Janine, and Donna are prepping for Query Wars and finishing the final touches on our WIPS.
We do have a few exciting posts planned for you, but things will return to their usual pace after New Years.
In the mean time, check out The No Kiss Blogfest at Frankie Writes.
Writers all over the blogosphere will be participating sharing scenes from their WIPs, scenes they just wrote, or scenes from their favorite books, movies and TV shows that show the almost kiss-- the rising, crushing, excruciating, longing tension that comes from when two characters get oh-so-close to kissing that you can just feel it....and then...they don't!
Writers and readers alike can participate--so come by Frankie Writes to get more info and sign up!
Enjoy the holidays, stay warm!!! (Our southern hemisphere readers should have no problem with that.) You guys are AWESOME!!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
It's as if most YA novels are permanently stuck in "Happy Holidays" mode. Some generic belief in God has an implied existence in every character's life, but not a whisper concretely exists.
Last time I checked (about 10 seconds ago), 95% of Americans believe in some sort of deity or higher power. 83% believe specifically in God.
[I actually looked that one up! (And not on Wikipedia.) Go me!]
Are there novels that mention a character's religious affiliation? Sure.
But here's what I don't see -- characters going to a church / synagogue / mosque / temple. Or even mentioning that they're going. Or praying, like, at night. Or before meals. (Oh wait, they don't eat.)
Did I miss the memo? Is religion one of those things that's supposed to be assumed? Like how characters poop? (Not that we need to see those scenes, but honestly, if they didn't, many more novels would be set in a doctor's office with intestinal-centric plots.)
This is what concerns me though -- belief or non-belief in a higher power is intrinsic to who your character is. How they operate in the world. In fantasy, especially, religion is a key part of world-building.
I'm not saying that a character should go to church in every single novel. Or throw in a well-placed "Funny you should say that. I was reading the Bible last night..." But there's no way that NO ONE goes to church. Even if it's only because their parents force them. There must be some characters for whom religion is a tiny bit active in their lives. And high school is all about questioning and testing the BIG THINGS in life -- authority, sexuality, and
What got me on this topic?
1) I spent 12 years in Catholic school, so religion was a big part of every (week)day in my teen years. (God and I had a very straightforward relationship, but Catholicism and I? Ohhhh it was complicated.)
2) I recently realized that I'd one of my characters, June, was pretty dedicated to Judaism, but in nearly 100,000 words, I never once hinted to her attending synagogue.
Or is religion just a nonissue for most teens?
Or am I overthinking this?
For me, the jury's still out on the topic. The one thing I'm sure of -- even if religion NEVER appears on the page, every author needs to know what his/her characters believe. Religion appears a couple times in my novel -- mostly for June, because it's a source of tension in her family. Maddy, on the other hand, doesn't have religion as an active part of her life at all. Nina's somewhere in the middle.
I'd love some opinions! Would you object to more religion in YA novels, if it were included in an organic way? Are you including religion in your novel? What are some other examples of religion in YA, especially in realistic fiction?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Weeks passed and the leaves began to change. Soon it was time for her grandfather to make another journey to Kyoto. When the cart was loaded with paintings to be sold at the markets, it was time to say goodbye.
“Be good for your mother and father and take care—.”
“I know, Ojiisan,” she interrupted, laughing. “I’ll take good care of Obaachan for you. I promise.”
Jitsuko stood in the road with her mother, father and grandmother and waved as her grandfather drove the little horse into the road. She held Obaachan’s hand and watched until the cart disappeared from sight.
Not long after her grandfather's departure, Jitsuko’s grandmother became very sick. Jitsuko’s father sent a messenger to find Ojiisan in Kyoto. He had only just arrived in the great city, but he returned home immediately.
For days, Ojiisan remained at Obaachan’s side. He did not leave her room even to eat. Then, one morning, he emerged from the sickroom and slid the door closed behind him. His face was gray.
He nodded in response to the questioning eyes of Jitsuko and her mother and father, then he sat down on a cushion on the floor. He inhaled deeply and pulled Jitsuko onto his lap. She could feel his wrinkly cheek on her temple. She laced her small fingers through his and counted the blotches of ink that stained his hands.
They sat together for a long time, holding each other close. For some of that time, Jitsuko cried. But mostly, they sat very, very quietly.
That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Jitsuko lay awake. Over the sounds of the night, she heard her grandfather on the other side of the wall. He too was awake, tossing in his bed, sighing. After a while, she heard him rise and shuffle across the tatami floor. He slid his door open and stepped into the night air.
Jitsuko sat up and scooted off her futon. She crept across the cold wooden floor toward her own door that opened into the garden. Her grandfather was standing at the far end of the garden, gazing at the moon.
Jistuko stepped into the garden and walked softly, but the stones crunched beneath her feet.
“Jitsukochan?” her grandfather asked, his back toward her.
“It’s okay to cry, Ojiisan,” she told him.
Ojiisan grasped Jitsuko’s hand and nodded, and a large tear slid down his wrinkled brown cheek.
Why I Write?
I love words--their meanings, sounds and rhythms. I love they way that they, when perfectly placed, sing off the page. And I love ideas. I like to think that I have something to say--something to contribute to the world. I also love the nuances that can be communicated through writing--how, through writing, we can view a moment through a microscope and see every subtlety that we miss in real time. And good stories! And tension! All of this just by stringing words together!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We asked the entrants to comment about ANYTHING ... and we got everything! (Seriously, we love comments. They make our day.) For a sampling of the awesomeness, I present you:
The weather was:
1 - Humid (Miami, FL)
1 - Snowing and windy (Canada)
1 - Pleasant (???)
Stop it, you're making us blush. Ok, don't stop.
12 people thought the co-review was funny/ hilarious/ made them laugh
6 people thought co-reviewing is a brilliant idea
10 people said they were "very loyal" followers
4 people said our blog was one of their favorites
26 people loved the cover, and even said it was why they were dying to read the book!
6 people desperately want that famous purple nail polish
1 person mentioned the stick-like legs of the cover model - I agree!
5 people love the preview chapters on The Romantic Times
1 person was thrilled that TDD had strong characters
3 people love the quote referenced in the co-review (Daniel crush!)
1 person found the religious aspects intriguing
"I can't wait!"
4 people begged to win (sorry, Random.org doesn't calculate begging into the equation!)
5 people are terrified of spoilers
3 people want 12/22 to get here sooner
32 people are SO EXCITED to read The Dark Divine!
And even if you didn't win, you still have a chance to win our Twisted Christmas Contest for Hush, Hush and Fallen!
For more great reads, check out the FNC's Sneak Peek Week, Round 2 - Anniversary Edition! It's FRANKIE's turn today!
Ok--so here's mine! BTW anybody who also follows me at my other blog Frankie Writes knows that I've recently been struggling with what to call my WIP--it's gone from The Seven Sisters Brandywine to Brandywine to Rose Lily to STOLEN at the moment.
So here's an excerpt from STOLEN:
----Sorry guys, I've removed this excerpt as I'm going to be querying my novel shortly---
Why I Write?
I write because I absolutely have to, because I feel compelled to, because I have this feeling deep down in my heart and in the pit of my stomach that this was what I was meant to do and because I have this story to tell that came to me in a dream and if I don't tell it I don't think I'll ever be at peace. I write because its the thing I LOVE to do more than anything else in the world. I write, because that's just what I do.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
* If you missed the first Sneak Peek Week, check out our posts! Sara / Frankie / Donna / Janine
My novel: MULTIPLE CHOICE, contemporary upper YA
Synopsis: Maddy, Nina, and June have always been til-death-do-us-part, epic best friends. But in their junior year, one sexy secret, two destructive sisters, and three little lies leave them fending for themselves -- and for the first time, they might fail each other.
WIPet Setup: June has fallen for Paul a very cute, very chill senior in her AP Psychology class, but he's totally off-limits because he's the best friend of Maddy's ex-boyfriend -- if they hook up, it's not only a betrayal, but Maddy will also be forced to see her awful ex all the time. June's part-time job is across the street from Paul's, and Paul invites her to stop by the pizza place where he works after her shift. Against her better judgement, June goes.
So that's a little slice of June's story!
As per why I write...
When I don't read and write, I get cranky.
I've been writing since I was six years old -- or at least that's the first time I can remember writing a story. (About a little bird who decided to move out of her family's nest and into her own -- I was an independent first grader!) I kept a journal from third grade through college. Attempted awful poetry in high school. Began and shelved a few novels in between. Went to college and briefly thought I could make a living in journalism, until I realized I hated it. And finally, in my last semester of college, I discovered my calling -- YA. In YA I found my voice and my passion. It's no surprise, since I began devouring YA novels in about fourth grade ... and never stopped.
I love telling stories and creating characters who I want to know, love, and hate. I enjoy letting my favorite characters make awful decisions. Giving them consequences. The power of controlling an entire world of my imagining? Yeah, kind of awesome. I write for myself, because it's a part of me, and I couldn't fathom living without it. I can only hope that one day people will read what I wrote and have it mean to them what YA novels have meant to me.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for Day 2 of our anniversary celebration!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
2) Your first novel, The Swan Kingdom, is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Wild Swans. How is writing a retelling different than an original novel? What's the hardest part of writing a retelling?
3) What were the most difficult and best parts of building the world of the Sedorne and Rua for Daughter of the Flames?
5) How did you know your novel was over?
6) In your novels, are there any characters that gained larger roles than you initially intended for them?
7) When do you know things are working in your writing process? What do you do when you get stuck?
8) What advice would you give aspiring YA authors?
9) You explain on your website that you both write and work a day job. How do you balance the two and find time to write?
10) Which authors have inspired you the most?
11) Lastly, you're stranded on a deserted island for five years. What five books would you want with you?
Thursday, December 10, 2009
[Minor dance party.]
Because I'm about to dive headfirst into the chaos that is revision -- and then headfirst again into the terror that is querying -- I'm taking a moment to bask. Join me?
... Basking ... Basking ... Basking ...
Considering that two years ago I'd never finished more than three chapters of a novel before abandoning it, this is a big deal. Writing isn't a quick process for me. I deliberate in my mind for minutes sometimes before moving on to another sentence.
The Good News: My first drafts are pretty tight.
The Bad News: My first drafts take two whole years.
Brief Timeline-y Goodness:
Months 1-6 (12/07-6/08) --- Turned my first three chapters from short stories into actual chapters that formed the basis of the entire novel. (Reading chapter one still gives me heartburn, even though it's beautiful now.)
Months 6-18 (6/08-6/09) --- Wrote chapters 4 to 9, which finished off the first half of the book. Helloooo, snail's pace.
Months 18-24 (6/09-12/09) -- I wrote the final nine chapters, 10 through 18, between June and now. Drastic increase in writing speed? I think so!
Now that I'm all done basking in the glow, here's what I have: 18 chapters; 99,497 words. AKA at least 20,000 words too many, according to most publishers. (I'm keeping all the chapters.)
My revision plan?
1. Outline the whole thing so that I can see the big picture, then revise via those notes and all the notes I've left myself throughout the writing process.
2. Re-read the fifty or so revision-related blog posts I've bookmarked, to open my brain to all I need to be thinking about. (If I follow your writing blog, you're probably included in this list, so thanks for the inspiration and excellent tips!)
3. Read my novel as a novel, instead of as a bunch of chapters. Revise on various levels -- character, plot, pacing, voice, etc.
4. Send to betas and revise via their notes.
5. Do the obsessive, nitty gritty "Should this be 'moves' or 'pushes'? A period or a comma?" revision.
6. Read it aloud to myself. Revise again.
7. Hopefully send to a couple last betas...
... and then maybe, just maybe, I can start sending it to agents. My goal is February.
(Oh, did I mention I'd also be creating a gigantic agent spreadsheet with all the details and info on the agents I want to query? Plus perfecting my query letter and synopsis.)
Yikes. On second thought, maybe I should've delayed writing that ending.
Anywho, since typing The End achieved a huge goal of mine, here's a lovely relevant link:
The wonderful -- and super-productive -- Maggie Stiefvater posted yesterday about smacking 2010 around with her New Year's Resolutions. If you want some inspiration, go read it!
I Want To KNOW!
What writing (or general life) goal are you working towards? Any achievements lately we can help you celebrate? (We love any excuse to celebrate!)
*I totally only typed "The End" because I needed to commemorate the momentous occasion. It felt so official! No worries, it will be struck from my Word document at some point.