Friday, May 28, 2010

NYC Adventures: BEA stalking, meeting Agent Laura, & KidLit Drink Night fun!

All kinds of publishing awesomeness descended upon NYC this week for BookExpo America (BEA), including Frankie's oh-so-fabulous Agent Laura! Of course, Frankie couldn't miss a chance to meet her in person, so she and I took the train into the city on Wednesday.

We had no idea what we were getting into.

10:30am - Arrive at Penn Station. Yay!

10:45am - Walk into BEA lobby. Moment of awe. Books! And... book people!

10:46am - Wait for Agent Laura at Hudson News stand in lobby.

10:50am - Donna suggests playing "Find YA authors/editors/agents" game while we wait. Two seconds later, Frankie spots Kody Keplinger. Donna fail.

11:05am - Realize there are many lobbies and even more Hudson News stands. The search for Agent Laura commences!

11:10am - Agent Laura found! Squee!
Frankie and Agent Laura go off to plot Frankie's world domination of the YA literary scene (or so Donna assumes), while Donna wanders (ahem, stalks) the non-nametag-needed areas of BEA for an hour, hoping to get a whiff of literary awesomeness.

11:40am - Donna hasn't recognized anyone of note, but she's acquired various BEA swag, such as a tote bag, Swedish Fish, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid bookmarks.
[BEA signage showing places Donna couldn't go.]

11:45am - Success! Donna sees Janet Reid, agent and Query Shark extraordinaire. Recalls being sharked; has involuntary shiver.

12:10pm - Frankie returns! Immediately spots MG author Violet Haberdasher and HarperCollins editor Molly O'Neill. Donna fail... again.

12:15pm - Frankie has photo op in Penguin car, which will be touring cross-country, spreading book love.

12:30-1:40pm - Hike miles upon miles across the city (in humid, sunny, 93-degree weather) for raw vegan smoothies at One Lucky Duck. Donna contemplates murdering Frankie, then changes her mind upon tasting the chocolate-y (caocao-y) cold goodness.

2pm-3pm - Further wandering to explore and relax in nearby indie bookstores. Epic fail. One is closed, one only has travel books. Find world's ugliest Barnes and Noble. Run away. Find much more acceptable Barnes and Noble. Read for two hours. (Donna chooses Spirit Bound; Frankie chooses My Soul to Keep.) Ahhhh, bliss.

5:15pm-6:30pm - Hang out in Books of Wonder (superawesome indie kids' bookstore where magic happens, for real) with Frankie's friend Allary, a BoW employee. (Top secret info: Frankie may or may not have purchased some amazing signed books for her personal blog's 500 followers contest...) Meet Khy from Frenetic Reader. (Blogosphere in real life FTW!)

6:30pm - Hike to Houndstooth Pub for KidLit Drink Night. Who do we see on the way but Pam Gruber (editor extraordinaire at Little, Brown) -- who Donna met at the RUCCL One-on-One Conference in October and who charmed the FNC at a KidLit Drink Night in January. We convince her to swing by the Houndstooth later. (Hi Pam! We heart you!!!)

7:00pm - Arrive, and it's packed! Time to grab a beverage and mingle. First, we chat with Cheryl Klein, the super-friendly/incredible Arthur A. Levine Books senior editor/hostess of KLDN. She and Frankie had met two years ago at a different KLDN, so it's fun to talk again.

Then... oh, the rundown of awesome at these nights! It's this mix of squee-worthy KidLit celebrity (well, celebrity to us!) sightings with the knowledge that, hey, we know some of these people by name and hey, they're just people. But they bring amazing books to life!!! And they're in one room!

Anyway... we say hi to agent Elana Roth, who we hung out with at the 2010 Pocono Retreat. Ditto with agents Joanna Stampfel-Volpe and Suzie Townsend, who we met/had a rambling hourlong conversation with when we got query sharked in February. Ditto again with Alvina Ling (Senior Editor at Little, Brown), who remembered us from the January KLDN. And again with MG author Violet Haberdasher, who Frankie met at the Sourcebooks launch party this spring.

We see Kody Keplinger for the second time that day and decided to introduce ourselves. SHE'S SO AWESOME! She had her first big signing that day at BEA for The DUFF and was totally funny and down-to-earth. She even recognized Frankie from the blogosphere! Kody introduces us briefly to HarperCollins editor Molly O'Neill and agent Colleen Lindsay, who are at the table.

And then, flushed with the great end to the day (plus, it was pretty hot in that bar), we say our goodbyes.

8:15pm - Dinner at Fresh & Co.

9:07pm - Hop on the train home, exhausted! But it was SO worth it.

Day's total walking distance: 7 miles
Current status: Our feet still hurt.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Makes Me Cry

A confession: I am a really easy crier. I cry at most things. I cry when I'm frustrated, stressed, overjoyed, upset, angry, tired...and probably a few other times too. It's just my body's default mode of expression. (Sidenote: I don't generally cry when I get physically hurt. That, for some reason, is no biggie.) Crying easily was one of those things that in elementary school was often embarrassing for me, so I learned to get better at controlling it. But still, it happens a lot. On the occasion that my husband and I will have a disagreement, the tears usually start rolling before the fight's even close to being a useful resolution to something. The tears make my husband stop, because it makes him feel bad, which in turns leads me to get even angrier and yell something melodramatic like "Ignore the tears!! I'm still angry at you!!" because really, the tears have nothing to do with what's going on. It's just a reaction.

Movies and TV especially get to me. Hallmark commercials? Forget it. The girl I wanted to win won on America's Next Top Model? Pass the tissues. And don't even get me started on the last Lord of the Rings movie. I saw it three times, and by the the third time around I started tearing up when Faramir's father says he wishes it was him, not Boromir, who died, and I couldn't even see the screen by the time they make it back to the Shire.

Case in point: here is a terribly unattractive photo from my wedding, which I'm sharing with you, my 630 and so best followers. It might have been taken at the end of my Maid of Honors' speech. It might have been taken in the first 30 seconds. I can't really tell, because I was bawling before they even started talking.

But there's one exception: books. A book has to be just right to make me cry. If I get to the emotional climax and I can feel that the author's forcing it, or rushing it, or that it's just a little bit off or pre-programmed, I'm a no-go for launch. I'll still enjoy it, of course, but there be no tears staining the page. And over the years, I've kind of embraced my tears as an emotional meter of much things are effecting me. So if I'm not crying, I feel like the book is missing a little something (or, perhaps, was meant to be fluffy in the first place, so in that case, no harm done.)

Recently I've felt like a lot of the books I've read have made me cry, so I wanted to give a shout-out to them, in case you're looking for something to make you a little weepy. In no particular order:

Pedro and Me by Judd Witnick. This is a graphic novel written by one of the cast members of the Real World: San Francisco. It's about Judd's experiences living with Pedro, another cast member who had AIDS and was an AIDS educator. Need I say more? Tissues, for sure.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This is the third in the Moon Series, following Life as We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone, so you'll need to read the first two to get the full effect. No worries, though, because they suck you in and go by so fast. Hopefully Donna & I will have a co-review of this series coming soon, because I can't tell you how highly I recommend it. Like, I will never think about the moon--or canned goods--the same way again. As in I'm still have moon-related dreams, 2 months after the fact. As in, read them RIGHT NOW but have tissues.

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. Again, this is the last in a series--the Percy Jackson series this time. So you'll need to commit to reading five books for the full force of the finale, but once again, it's enjoyably worth it. I had several different people (adults and kids) recommend this series to one before I started it, and it was totally worth it. It's like a faster, historically-based Harry Potter, with lots of funny bits to break up the action. But once again, tissues.

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. Donna and I tried to co-review this one, but it's kind of a book that goes beyond words--straight into awesomeness. I think of it like Wizard of Oz meets Norse Mythology meets The Everyman meets the Apocalypse meets a Kevin Smith movie. But, like, a Kevin Smith movie with some serious sniffling at the end. Also, did I mention it won the Printz? Cause yeah, it did that too.

Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater. Now I know this one isn't out until July, so maybe it's not fair of me to put it on this list and say "go read this!" when chances are most of you can't...but...go read this! Or, read it as soon as it comes out! I'll even own up and say: I was skeptical about Linger. I liked Shiver, but after reading it, I wondered about its emotional staying power. While I read it, I was totally into the moment, sucked into Sam & Grace's world, but I felt I could distance myself after I finished. Linger, on the other hand, is definitely going to be giving me some wolf-related dreams for some time to come. I thought of this snappy little comparison: both books do exactly what the title says. Shiver made me shiver, being in the moment and worrying about the cold along with them. But's staying with me.

So, there you go. Five books that have made me cry recently. What about all of you? What books made you shed a few tears?

(Btw, be on the look out for a co-review of Linger, as well as a give away of our much-cried over ARC! (Don't worry, we didn't cry on the pages.))

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 573 followers giveaway! Win FOUR signed books from NYT Bestselling Authors!

We hit 500 Blogger followers in April, and to celebrate this milestone, we're having a major giveaway!

Except, um, now we have 573 followers. Squee! But we only delayed because we needed to compile four AMAZING (and SIGNED!) books from NYT bestselling authors.

Without further ado, we give you...

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
(Vampire Academy book 5)

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
(Wicked Lovely book 4)

White Cat by Holly Black

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Did we mention they're all SIGNED? Plus, we have swag! The winner also gets rubber wristbands for each of the Wicked Lovely faerie courts AND a Vampire Academy temporary tattoo. Eek! Are you as excited as we are?

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form below by Tuesday, June 15th, 11:59pm EST. (We LOVE comments, but know that comments on this post will not count as entries.)
* Since this is in thanks to our loyal followers, only followers of our blog (via Blogger or Facebook) can enter to win.
* Because of the shipping expense, this contest is only open to U.S. residents --- sorry international followers! We love you!!!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Richelle Mead Spirit Bound Signing Recap!

Yesterday, Frankie, Sara, and I drove down to Borders in Newark, DE to meet Richelle Mead, on tour for Spirit Bound, the fifth of six books in the awesome NYT Bestselling Vampire Academy series.

She's one of our favorite YA authors, so we couldn't have been more excited! Richelle's plane was delayed, so she arrived an hour late, but the huge group of fans of all three of her series [Georgina Kincaid (Succubus) and Dark Swan (Eugenie Markham/Storm Born) are her two adult series] had no problem waiting!

After Richelle read from Spirit Bound, she did a Q&A with the audience. Of course, we took fabulous notes for you, so check out the recap below to learn Richelle's take on Team Dimitri vs. Team Adrian, naming her characters and the books, what's next on her writing list, and plenty more!

1) In the Dark Swan series, will there be more of Dorian?
Yes—there are at least two more books left in the series. Richelle also went off on a side note about how both Storm Born and Vampire Academy are going to be made into graphic novels, due out in 2011. She told a story about how the art directors for Vampire Academy were afraid she’d be offended by some of the “racy” scenes in Vampire Academy (like the make out scenes), so they sent her that art first—they sent her a giant picture of a shirtless Dimitri!

2) What’s next, now that the Succubus series and Vampire Academy are ending?
Georgina’s story definitely has a concrete end to it. She thinks that after these two series end, she’s going to stick to writing one adult series and one teen series, because while she loves writing three series at once, it’s just too stressful and too much to handle in the end. For Vampire Academy, while Rose’s story is ending, Richelle said she is planning on writing a spin-off series set in the same world. She’s planning on taking peripheral characters from the VA series and bring them into spotlight. She said Rose will have a walk-on cameo or two.

3) What is Abe’s power? Can a dhampir ever have powers?
No, there is no way that dhampirs can have powers. Abe’s power is air. He had a scene where he used air in Blood Promise, but it ended up being cut.

4) What characters are supposed to be on the cover of Spirit Bound?
Richelle explained that the girl is Rose. She explained that they actually did a model search for the girl who is Rose on the covers, and every time it’s time to do another Vampire Academy cover they do a photo shoot with the girl. Richelle said she doesn’t know who the guy is supposed to be, that it was a photo from the shoot that everyone liked. She said that most people decide if it’s Dimitri or Adrian after they read it, and she likes that it’s kind of a mystery.

5) How do you pronounce Lissa’s full name?
Richelle prefaced this answer by saying that she doesn’t speak Russian or Serbian, and that she has a Midwestern accent, so this is just her own best guess. She pronounces it Vah-sih-lee-suh Drago (like the beginning of “Dragon”)-meer.

6) Who is your favorite character in Vampire Academy?
She said she’s obviously partial to Rose, because she’s spent so much time in her head. The most entertaining character for her to write is Adrian. With Adrian, she said, the dialogue just comes naturally, and she feels like she could just write him going off on Adrian-type things for pages and pages. She admitted that her editors often have to cut down her Adrian scenes because she writes so much!

7) Will Rose and Dimitri ever be together?
Richelle laughed and said that of course she can’t answer that question! That’s why there’s a book six, after all. She told a funny story about one of her friends who has a plan to make a “Team Steven” shirt and start coming to all her signings for Spirit Bound, telling people she had read Last Sacrifice and there was a new guy named Steven that Rose ends up with.

8) How do you make Dimitri and Adrian equally appealing? How do you get readers to be indecisive about who they like better?
Richelle explained that that’s the job of a writer. She tries her hardest to make the characters balanced—when one screws up, the other one does something nice, and vice versa. She makes sure that they each have something big, but different, to offer to Rose. Richelle also said that she knows she’s a little off when after reading a book all the sudden everyone has gone onto one side.

9) Will we learn more about what Abe does? Do YOU know what Abe does?
Yes, we will learn more about Abe’s job. Richelle explained that she knows what he does, but she’s still working out the logistics of it and the best way to write it.

10) Will we see Dimitri’s family in the last book?
No, and Richelle didn’t realize that so many people liked his family so much! She had never planned on having them come back, and they won’t reappear in Last Sacrifice. She did hint to them maybe showing up in a future spin-off, though!

11) How do you name your books?
Richelle said that with the Succubus books, it’s really easy. She just finds a good noun to stick behind succubus, and poof!, it’s named. With the Vampire Academy books, it’s a lot harder. Vampire Academy was originally titled Kissed by Shadows, but her editor didn’t think it was marketable as a series title. Her editors are really tough on titles, and pretty much every original title gets thrown out. (Sidenote: Spirit Bound is the only title that was accepted on the first go-around.) Then they spend two months mass emailing back and forth, thinking of words that are relevant to the book/series and sound good together, until something clicks for everyone.

12) Who do you like, Dimitri or Adrian?
Richelle said this is another question she can’t answer. She likes them both equally, but for totally different reasons.

13) Are ending the books on cliffhangers your idea or your editor’s ideas?
She is in charge of the overall plot of the story, and she likes ending her books on cliff hangers. She likes to leave people wanting more—like in Shadow Kiss, a lot of people wanted the book to end on a happy note and have the next three books be all frolicking in fields and playing with unicorns, but she knew she needed to end it on a pivotal, more heart-wrenching moment. She said a lot of people ask her if she likes happy endings, and she says she does, but she wants to make people work for them.

14) Richelle recently wrote a short story called “Blue Moon” for an anthology called Immortal. Will that short story fit into her Vampire Academy world at all?
The short answer is no, she doesn’t have any plans on continuing with the short story. She says she doesn’t like writing short stories because she doesn’t like being contained to just thirty pages—she likes to sprawl. She created a new vampire world for this short story, but she said she lost interest in it and doesn’t plan on continuing with it at this time. Even though she doesn’t like short stories, Richelle told us that she did get roped into writing a short story about Lissa’s parents, how they met and fell in love. It will be in an anthology called Kisses From Hell, due out in fall 2010.

After that, everyone lined up in groups to get their books signed. This process took hours, but Richelle had a smile for everyone and took the time to chat with each person and even answer more of her fans' burning questions one-on-one. Of course, we got our books signed, and we even got one signed for you guys! That's right, the FNC is giving away a signed copy of Spirit Bound, along with three other AMAZING signed books from bestselling YA authors for our 570 followers contest! We're announcing the contest officially tomorrow, so stay tuned for your chance to win!*

What's your favorite Richelle Mead book or series? What did you think of Spirit Bound? (Check out Frankie's review on her personal blog HERE.) And are you Team Adrian or Team Dimitri? Leave it in the comments!

* We love love love comments, but NO comments on this post will count as entries in our 570 followers contest. You must enter tomorrow on the official contest post. Thanks!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

There's Something About Mary: A Pride & Prejudice Character Study

I bet a bunch of you, just like you heartheartheart Disney movies, also heartheartheart Pride and Prejudice. And other things involving bonnets and turns about the garden and going "La!" instead of "Sweet!" when something exciting happens.

Yeah, me too.

So this character study is going to veer away from the normal Disney-fied version and into the world of Pemberly, Pride, and Prejudice. Today, I'm wondering....what on earth ever happened to Mary Bennet?!

Let's check out the facts. What do we know about Mary Bennet?
  • She's the only Bennet daughter with no romantic interest or involvement in the book.

  • She's openly described by Jane Austen as being rather plain looking (versus Jane, who is quite beautiful.)

  • She prefers books over balls.

  • She's the third of the Bennet daughters.

  • She's pretty much in the background the entire novel, although she often will make pleas for attention.

  • Her only moment of being in the spotlight is when she performs at the piano forte & sings at Netherfield, which goes horribly and is embarrassing to herself and the entire family.

So, the question is: what's her deal? And why does Austen look down on Mary so much?

(poor Mary. Why does she have to wear the ugly sea foam green dress? Where are her delicate necklace and elbow length gloves?)

Every story needs an ugly duckling. Mary's issue is that she never transforms into the swan. Let's see how things go for the other Bennet girls.

Jane: gorgeous, woe-is-me story of possibly unrequited love, but ultimately lives happily ever after.

Lydia: scandal scandal scandal! Even though she goes about it the totally wrong way, and ends up with the questionable Mr. Wickham, she loves the bad boy and gets what she wants.

Kitty: the other background-type character in the novel, Kitty doesn't do a whole lot in the story other than giggle with Lydia over cute soldiers. But we know she's cute, and considering who Jane & Lizzie marry, the reader can rest assured that things will turn out okay for Kitty.

Lizzie: she bucks tradition, is selfish enough to refuse a marriage that could secure her family's future, is tempestuous and too-smart and under-qualified in ladylike skills (she can't even play the piano forte, for goodness sakes!), but manages to get the coveted Mr. Darcy at the end, not to mention $10,000 a year.

But what about Mary? It's interesting that Austen dumps on Mary so hard, considering she's all about her female characters (male, even) bucking tradition and doing what is right for them

rather than what is proper in society. So what if Mary's piano forte is sub par and she sings off-key?

Look how awkward-yet-lovable she is!

I think what puzzles me most about Austen's relationship with Mary is the whole Mr. Collins deal. (For those who don't remember, or for the blasphemous few that haven't read P&P, Mr. Collins, because Mr. Bennet has no sons, is the heir to the Bennet estate, as it were. Which means if Mr. Bennet bites it, Mr. Collins can either decide to be nice and let the poor womenfolk stay, or kick them all out to the street.)

Obviously it's important for the Bennet family to have a positive relationship with Mr. Collins, not to mention that he comes to Longbourn with the idea of walking away with a Bennet girl on his arm. BUT, as we've all seen in the many adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is weird/ugly/awkward (and not in that America's Next Top Model way, either.)

Needless to say, Lizzie and Jane want nothing to do with him, and poor Charlotte Lucas gets stuck with him.

Here's my issue: Why not hand over Mary? From a writer's perspective, it immediately creates an issue: the tension of the underlying issue of what man will care for the Bennet women is fixed, which means that technically, it doesn't matter if Jane & Lizzie end up with Bingley and Darcy, as the family is secure. And I guess back in the day the potential of unrequited romance wasn't enough of a page-turner? Maybe?

But honestly, it's not enough for me, and considering how skilled of a writer Austen was, I don't buy it that she couldn't have kept the tension up even with that subplot resolved. And sure, maybe she liked Charlotte Lucas better because Austen wasn't ever able to marry so she wanted to give a fellow old maid some props, but I'm still rooting for Mary.

Think about it: she would have been in a societal proper marriage, with connections with the rich, but remained humble by being the wife of a minister. She could've practiced pianoforte until her heart's content. Sang all those church hymns off-key for the next 50 years. Is that really so much to ask?

So what do you all think? Why was Austen so harsh on Mary? Didn't she deserve a little love, too?
I'll end with this picture. This is Mary from the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice. This is, by far, the loveliest imagining of Mary I've come across (with the exception of the graphic novelization of P&P, which, if you find it, is hilarious. Even Mary got size F boobs in that one.)
I feel like this moment of Mary thinking really sums up how I feel about her--I feel like she was the one character that Austen couldn't get into the head of, and so she just assassinated her instead.

But maybe I'm totally wrong. What do YOU all think? And are there any other characters that you've been similarly frustrated with?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yes, I'm jealous of Frankie.

How many of you wondered if I was secretly bitter about Frankie getting an agent first? I won't think any less of you, because I would've wondered the same thing. We're writers, or at least we've all read enough novels to imagine the mean little thoughts behind someone's smile and enthused "Congratulations!"

Or is that just me, picturing the dark side of people's nature? Oops.

Anyway, I wanted to tackle your unasked question head-on: The vast, vast, vast majority of me was absolutely hopping with joy over Frankie's news. Honestly!

But a tiny percentage was, in fact, jealous.

[Found this on Google image search. Am in love. Anyone know who it's by?]

There, I said it. But Frankie knew first.

Every time she told me an agent requested her full (ahem, eight times), I shrieked so loud that only dogs could hear. But yes, it stung a tiny bit because hey, I wanted that, and she had it. And in between incoherent squees, I told her I envied her. And heck, that was before her first (of three) offers.

Frankie could've freaked out, but she knew what I meant. We're both super-motivated, competitive overachievers, so me admitting I'm jealous was like, a compliment of the highest order, especially since I knew exactly how much she'd sacrificed to get to that point

Plus, happiness wiggled through me so enthusiastically that I couldn't sit still, and I boasted to everyone how MY critique partner HAS AN AGENT! And a super-agent at that. That's a holy cow moment.

Paragraph of cheese: The FNC has worked so hard on each other's novels that they've become surrogate novel babies, and we only want the best for them. And Frankie's victory became a group victory, too. That unwavering support is the benefit of our friendship.

Anyway, I bared my soul with this post because jealousy can be a nasty little bugger. It pulls your insecurities front and center, shines a spotlight on them, and says, "Here's where you're lacking." It highlights fear, doubt, and maybe even a little self-loathing.

But it doesn't have to.

Frankie being agented -- being pulled from Laura Rennert's slush pile -- has motivated me beyond belief. She queried first, and with great success, so now I get to tackle the process with a sliver more hope. Instead of my jealousy damaging our relationship, it's made it stronger.

Oh crap, I forgot to warn you that that paragraph was going to be cheesy. Forgive me?

I figured it was worthy of mentioning because there's such a large, friendly group of aspiring writers in the blogosphere, and as much as we cheer each other on (yay!), no one should be ashamed of that tiny (and sometimes not-so-tiny) twinge of envy. Denying it causes drama, and no one needs more drama.

Anyway, I'll leave you with a scene from the ever-so-relevant Friends, in which single ladies Rachel and Phoebe discuss Monica and Chandler's impending engagement. Thank me in the comments, because it's hilarious and oh-so-true.

Rachel: I’m so happy for them!
Phoebe: Me too! So happy for them!
Rachel: I’m so happy and not at all jealous.
Phoebe: Oh no! No God, definitely not jealous!
Rachel: I mean I’m probably 98% happy, maybe 2% jealous. And I mean what’s 2%? That’s nothing.
Phoebe: Totally. I’m like 90/10.
Rachel: Yeah me too.
Rachel: We’re gonna find love!
Phoebe: Definitely!
Rachel: Yeah, I’m pretty confident about that. That’s what makes it so easy for me to be 80% happy for Monica and Chandler!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PART TWO: Melissa Marr's Radiant Shadows Signing/Talk Recap

Yesterday we brought you part one of the recap of Melissa Marr's book signing, and part two is filled with even more insider details on writing graphic novels, juggling multiple projects, the Wicked Lovely movie, what a super agent can do for you, and fun facts about Melissa.

To continue with the Q&A part of the signing...

5. How was the process of writing the Wicked Lovely graphic novels different? How much say did you have in design?
With the novel, she first writes basic dialogue and movement, then adds in poetic language and details. For the graphic novel, it's similar to those early stages, but she expands it without thoughts, etc.
In terms of the design, she had a TON of say, which she attributes to the amazing negotiations from her agent, Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House. She picked her artist, and she approves the content and breakdown of each panel about four times.

6. Currently, what projects are you juggling?
She's on tour for Radiant Shadows. Right before she left, she received revision notes for Darkest Mercy. Mid-tour, she received revision notes for Graveminder. She's writing a short story for an anthology that Charlaine Harris is putting together. She's beginning a new novel or two. The week before the tour, she finished going over the art for a manga, and she's also editing an anthology with Kelley Armstrong.

However, this is her job. She enjoys having three projects (minimum) staggered simultaneously, and it's how she works best -- though she has a critique partner who can only do one project at once, start to finish.

Her writing works on a "Stew Theory" -- her start-to-finish process is about three years for any given project, and she'd already begun writing Ink Exchange (#2) and Fragile Eternity (#3) before she sold Wicked Lovely.

7. How much freedom do you have in the revision process?
All of it. Some friends of hers don't, but she attributes her freedom to her agent and to having editors who believe it's their job ot help her tell the story she needs to tell. Her editor saves revision silver bullets for the important points --- so far, some of the biggest contentions were regarding Seth's implied drug use in a scene, a "corpse negotiation" over a scene's body count, and a specific decision Aislinn had made.

In Melissa's opinion, an editor's job is to make your book shine. (The same goes for your critique partner.) She's not cool with an editor who pushes changes for no reason. The reason? "At the end of the day, it's your name on the cover."

8. What was your agenting process?
She queried her first novel to 40-something agents and was rejected. Then she wrote Wicked Lovely, and she got multiple offers from her query and was able to interview agents. The agent she chose sold it, but the book and Melissa's career grew too big for the agent's (and agency's) experience, so Melissa had to switch agents. It was a tough decision, but it's business, and she had to be practical.

That's when she queried Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House. Melissa doesn't believe in networking, so even though she had a big-name author friend connection, she didn't mention it, because she wanted to get Merrilee on her own merit. The basic query letter she sent mentions the titles she'd sold, but didn't even go into her NYT bestseller status, etc. Merrilee offered representation, and the rest is history.

9. How much say do you have in covers?
Again, thanks to Merrilee's amazing agenting, she gets a ton of say. She picks the models, and she also chooses the type of vine around the title and the iconic image. She has much less say overseas.

10. How much input do you have with the Wicked Lovely film?
She has a killer film agent, also, and she's been in very close contact with the film people. They've kept her very involved, and she's even read the screenplay and been to Hollywood. It all came about because Vince Vaughn's sister discovered her books and read them all, and she told Vince to buy the rights for his production company. Melissa doesn't really watch movies, and she actually didn't know who Vince Vaughn was!

Fun Facts About Melissa:
- She's been carded signing her own books at a bookstore. Now she must resist the temptation to sign other authors' books ... specifically, Stephen King's.
- Her favorite color is purple, and she wore a pair of awesome purple boots that we envy.
- Her love and admiration for Laurie Halse Anderson is so deep that she's too intimidated to meet her. (We have an author-crush on Laurie too!)
- She used to teach English lit (calls herself a "recovering lit teacher") and she can't break herself of some teacher habits -- for example, she has to stand when she talks, and occasionally gestures to a chalkboard that isn't there.
- She's a stickler for punctuality, but loathes boredom.
- Before she goes on tour, she rereads the book she's touring for, because she's working so far ahead that she's afraid she'll accidentally give spoilers for a future book (which she did once)!
- She LOVES punctuation, specifically commas, colons, semi-colons, and em-dashes.
- Wicked Lovely was originally called "Finding the Summer Queen."
- She's very willing assist/give advice to authors starting out on the publication process because so many established writers helped her out when she had no idea what she was doing. Yay good karma!

After the talk, we got our books signed, and Melissa had some great swag to give away -- signed bookmarks and rubber bracelets for each of the faerie courts. And we may just have gotten her to sign a copy of Radiant Shadows for part of our upcoming 500 followers giveaway...  Stay tuned!

Whew! The recap is over! Beyond loving Melissa's writing (she single-handedly destroyed my aversion to faerie novels), I absolutely respect her as an author and kinda sorta think she's super awesome. Yay new author crush! Thanks for a great signing, Melissa!

If you have a chance to meet Melissa Marr in person, definitely go for it... but for more Melissa online, check out her Livejournal and Twitter!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Melissa Marr's Signing/Talk Recap - Part One

On Friday, Frankie and I returned to Chester County Books for another amazing signing --- this time we met Melissa Marr, author of the incredible Wicked Lovely series, on tour for book four, Radiant Shadows.

Seriously, the signing was so chock-full of insider details, we had to split this into two posts! For this one, we're sharing what we learned about her writing process, her preference for rule-breaking, her character names, plus we're dishing on our sneak peek of Darkest Mercy, the final WL book!

(If you're unfamiliar with Melissa's books, the Wicked Lovely series focuses on a group of faerie and mortals whose lives intertwine, showing their individual stories. One book sets in motion the events of the next book, but there are many different points of view.)

Melissa came to CCB partly because our honorary FNC-er Joanne (of My Brain on Books) is an employee there, and Joanne has the honor of having written the first review of Wicked Lovely!

She was casual about the whole thing and left it in a Q&A format, and since there were a lot of aspiring authors in the group, the questions were writing focused. Yay for us!

Melissa is refreshingly honest and practical and has this low-key sense of humor that kept us totally engaged. And her inner rebel is alive and well, ready to push back against publishing authority to maintain the integrity of her novels. I just wish I could translate that for you guys in this post!

1. How do you (or do you) plot?
She doesn't plot. All books start from one of two questions: How did we get here? or Where do we go from here? Wicked Lovely sprung from "aisling," a Gaelic word meaning "dream" or "vision." While writing Fragile Eternity (#3), she saw where the series would end and wrote the final pages. She saw the beginning of Radiant Shadows (#4) while writing Ink Exchange (#2). The first part of Wicked Lovely she wrote ended up being chapter 6 or 7 -- she had to work backward to find the beginning of the story.

* Melissa stopped here to note that everything that ANYONE (teacher, author, editor, etc.) tells you about writing is an OPINION. It's not absolute truth or fact. What works for her or anyone else won't work for everyone.

She doesn't write linearly for this series, but weaves the pieces of the story together. However, her first adult book, Graveminder (1/11 release), is a mystery, and she realized during the process that it had to be written in a linear fashion. This felt odd for her, but the mystery made it necessary, so she had to break from her non-linear pattern.

Graveminder continued her love affair with multiple points of view -- it began with three primary characters, but then she added in two- or three-page points of view for side characters, adding up to about 15 POVs total. That was how the story made sense to her. Like the WL series, it began with one question, inspired by an Irish folktale she discovered while traveling. Besides that and the multi-POV, this book was unlike any other. (Link to her livejournal entry about this.)

2. Do you have the same editor for you adult book?
No, she has a different editor --- actually, multiple editors are working with her on Graveminder.

3. Where do your character names come from?
They're all plot clues, and they all have specific meanings. When she writes, she needs a character to have the right name before she can move forward with the story. She even collects Post-Its from book signings (with names for personalized signings), and when she sees a unique name, she asks the etymology.

4. What differences did you find in writing your adult book vs. your YA novels?
Oddly enough, her adult characters swore a lot less! Primarily because of who they are: a mortician (works with people in grief, so wouldn't curse), a priest, a priestess, a rabbi. Also, Graveminder's writing is less lyrical than in her YA novels, primarily because of the characters. In the WL series, she's writing dialogue for faeries who are hundreds of years old. Plus, a gritty mystery is a less poetic story! She didn't realize the difference until after she wrote it.

* On characters:
Melissa urges writers not to force characters to do things that aren't natural, even if their choices annoy you. (Sometimes she hates Aislinn's whining.) Readers will recognize it.

* On critics:
Don't believe critics when they say you're brilliant or you suck. You're neither as good or as bad as they think you are.

Things we learned about Darkest Mercy, the final book in the Wicked Lovely series:
- It's a sequel to all of the Wicked Lovely books, bringing together all the stories.
- It has a squee-worthy prologue.
- She wants everyone to tweet @harperteen to help her campaign for an earlier release of Darkest Mercy. (Right when she said that, thunder and lightning cracked outside. Oops!)

Check out part two, which has even more insider details on writing graphic novels, juggling multiple projects, the Wicked Lovely movie, what a super agent can do for you, and fun facts about Melissa.

Friday, May 14, 2010

If the Bronte sisters were action figures...

Boomerang Book-Throwing Action! hahahahaha love this.

Thanks to Grace Lin at the Blue Rose Girls for the link!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WINNER of Hand-Me-Down by Lee Nichols

Congratulations to 

Elizabeth S.
(of the Swords for Fighting book blog)

for winning Hand-Me-Down by Lee Nichols!

Thanks to all who entered, and thanks to Lee for offering the giveaway and for doing a fabulous interview with us!

Make sure you all check out DECEPTION, Lee's YA debut, which comes out this June!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I can has blog facelift?

Don't be alarmed, loyal readers, but the FNC got a much-needed facelift. Yep, we spritzed on some Wrinkle-B-Gone and let the magic happen. It was very official.

* BTW, Stefan Salvatore is bound to need Wrinkle-B-Gone one day, because eternally furrowed brow > eternal youth, hands down.

Now we have a shiny, clean layout with pages beneath our heading for easy navigation to our top content, a fancy new color scheme, and ... well, the rest is pretty much the same.

But keep an eye out for tweaks here and there, specifically with the pages, and feel free to leave your input/suggestions/opinions in the comments!

Hope you enjoy!

Q&A with Editor Arthur Levine, Part 2

Editor Arthur Levine, head of the incredible Scholastic imprint Arthur A. Levine Books , stopped by Arcadia University (the FNC's alma mater) for a talk last Friday, and we covered it all for you.

* So why should you want to know what Arthur Levine says? Besides him being a super editor, his imprint has brought us AMAZING books -- some you may have heard of (ahem, Harry Potter, anyone?) and some you may not have -- but they're AMAZING. Trust us.

Click here to check out notes on his presentation about love and reading, and below is a recap of the Q&A part of the day!

1. How often you accept art and text together?

Very rarely, unless the artist and writer are the same person. Part of the fun for an editor is matching artists together.

2. Are you against regional books/stories?

No, regional stories are published all the time, but it seems like the key is there has to be something in the story that will speak universally to everyone even if its about one specific area or event like Hurricane Katrina.

3. How do you feel about receiving art notes from an author?

You can include art notes with your text, but only if it's really relevant--like you describe someone as happy, but it's a joke and the picture should show someone sad. You have to have faith that you're writing in a visual enough way to evoke the right images.

4. Is it better to have an agent?

Arthur Levine Books is one of the few publishing houses that still accepts unsolicited, unagented manuscripts. He really loves working with authors. But he feels that an agent isn't necessary if you're willing to negotiate and handle all the contracts yourself. If you don't want to spend time on that or don't understand it, then an agent is a good idea for you.

5. Is it hard to get into publishing?

Arthur got into publishing in 1984 and knew he wanted to be a children's editor. Getting into the industry is tough from all angles, but doable as long as you do your research and keep trying.

6. Has there be a rise in books about autism since more kids are being diagnosed?

No, but publishing tends to lag behind and so eventually when there are more people who can write about their personal experiences with it, there probably will be.

7. What's the rule with your MC's age versus the reader's age?

People tend to read about characters that are their age or a little older. You shouldn't worry about any of that, just write the story you are going to write which whatever age/style grabs you. An example was given from the audience of a woman writing about a 13 year old boy who curses a lot because that fits his character. The language is YA and but the MC age is middle grade. Arthur won't censor an author, but he'll really look at whether or not the language is effective and necessary. In the end it could affect how your book is marketed and how many people read it, but that's not a bad thing, just a choice you have to make about the story you want to tell.

8. Do you publish series like Gossip Girl?


9. Do you read through to the end of a manuscript when you've requested the full?

He only reads as much as he wants to--there's too much to read to keep going with something he doesn't like. He either loves it or thinks it has potential or wants to see how things play out, but if he isn't enjoying it or the MS annoyed him, he'll stop. Though he at least tries to give shaky starts the benefit of the doubt and get through at least 25 pages.

10. How has the recession affected publishing?

It's been pretty bad, especially because it's affecting it in indirect ways. Like a lot of schools are cutting bac on their library programs and firing librarians. Well, librarians buy books, so less people are there to buy. He also mentioned that he is totally rigid about only shopping at Indie Book Stores where he can have recommendations and have books hand sold to him--this is especially important because he feels that many of his books need to be hand sold. But he also believes things are turning around.

11. How do you feel about the idea that girls will read books about boys but boys won't read about girls/boys don't like to read?

Arthur totally rejects orthodoxy, doesn't believe in stereotypes. He likes to push against beliefs and fully believes that boys read and you need to consider the individual reader, not just boys, or any other kind of "group."

12. Is it better to be published or self-published?

Published! Because they pay you. But he says self-publishing can work too if you're very organized and/or feel the need to be in charge of every part of the process. You also need to fund everything and do your research and get your book in front of book reviewers and do marketing and your own editing, etc.

Publishers take care of a big chunk of that for you, plus they have distribution. So it really depends on your goals and what kind of person you are.

And that was the talk. Afterwards Sara and I were lucky enough to go to dinner with Arthur plus two of our writing professors at Arcadia, including Gretchen Haertsch who taught the Writing for Children class that brought the FNC together. Dinner was much more casual, but throughout the whole thing Arthur was highly entertaining, enthusiastic and sweet. He is definitely a dream editor in every sense of the word.

Hopefully this recap brought the experience to you if you couldn't be there and that you enjoyed reading about Arthur as much as we enjoyed listening to him!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Conversation About Love With Editor, Arthur Levine Part 1

So last Friday was the big day--Arthur Levine was in the house! Or...castle rather. He spoke inside the castle at Arcadia University which both amused him because it looks a lot like Hogwarts and intimidated him because the last person who spoke there was Obama. Hehe.

Anyway here's a run down of his talk.

Publishing Love
The focus of his talk was love, which was so fun and refreshing to hear. It can get tough when you're going to a lot of conferences and hearing all sorts of horror stories about authors and books and editors and publishing houses not making it because of the economy or focusing on marketing--but Arthur is like a breath of fresh air because his biggest factor in publishing a book is whether or not he loves it.

He clearly loves what he does and opened by saying "Art becomes business through love." Don't you love that?

He said that there is no scientific formula or business model for which books become published and then which books become successful. The publishing industry isn't orderly and it definitely isn't predictable.

Basically for him, love drives the process. When he's looking at a submission, the main question in his mind is "do I Love this?" Sometimes he says he just knows it in his gut as he's reading, sometimes it takes a little more.

Will I Ever Love Again?
One of the pitfalls he mentioned was when you're going through a period of sometimes months reading submissions and not loving any of it. It's in those times that sometimes a project that is just "liked" but not loved could come through and those never do as well as the ones that are loved, that everyone is 100% behind.  For a book to really be a success, the editor needs an emotional reaction to the story.

Love=Arthur Levine Books
The focus of his imprint has always been love. He wants to publish those books that you loved as a kid and now keep a dog earred copy of on your night stand--the book that you can pick up and enjoy any time at all and never ever get sick of.

Some of the ways he measures this, or the love for the books is:
-Gut feeling
-Feeling Unapologetic--(remember they have to go in front of a whole slew of people and sell it before they can get the go ahead to publish)

Arthur also discussed his own book categories that he created. While there are specific kinds of marketing categories like: 4-8 year olds: SciFi: Contemporary: Middle Grade: etc... He has his own, and whenever he's in the mood for a particular category, he wants to read the best book of its kind.

1. Books with a Convincing and Appealing Voice
When you want to read a book where you just like the main character's voice and you believe in them and want to be them, or be in their mind for awhile.
Example: Marcelo In The Real World

2. Books that Make Me Laugh
Arthur loves to laugh, but he made an important distinction for what he will enjoy. A book that is funny must also have an overarching theme, and an emotional journey--he has to feel like he got something out of it, otherwise if the story was just full of funny moments without any depth behind them, he will feel like he wasted his time and didn't get anything out of the story.
Example: Millicent Min: Girl Genius

3. Books that are Emotionally Fearless
He loves books that make him feel (seeing a pattern here?) and appreciates it when a character isn't comfortable with their emotions, yet the author finds a way to portray this to the reader so you understand what the character is feeling even if they dont (I think Suzanne Collins does this brilliantly with Katniss in The Hunger Games). Sometimes these books don't have a lot of plot, but the emotions are so strong they draw the reader in. It's difficult to reveal things about yourself and so it should be difficult for your characters to reveal themselves, but it has to be done--we need to be able to read and see that.
Example: Cedar B. Hartley Who Planned to Live An Extraordinary Life

4. Books that Reinvent or show Inventiveness
These books take something that you're familiar with, like the classical world, or a fairy tale, or a type of story and put such a fresh new twist on them, so that you're mesmerized. He mentioned when he first read a galley for Harry Potter on a plane from the Bologna festival and immediately was taken with the emotional story of Harry's struggles, but also with the contrast of the dark humorous voice that invoked Roald Dahl. He read a passage from Harry's first Christmas at Hogwarts showing how fun she made the world and all the little inventive details. J.K. Rowling wrote about the kind of magic you wished could exist.
Example: A Curse Dark As Gold (retelling of Rumpelstilskin)

5. Content and Form
Arthur also talked about content and form and how interested he was in telling stories in as many ways as possible, through graphic novels, like The Arrival, where the main character is an immigrant and literally has no language for this new world he's arriving in, and so the story itself is told without language. He also mentioned how unorthodox this novel was--it broke a lot of rules and wasn't supposed to be successful, but it was such a piece of art, he couldn't refuse it. The Arrival then went on to be his most successful picture book--which confirms the gut feeling of love he gets in his stomach.

Stay tuned for part 2 and the Q&A session!

11 Mini Reviews! (Like normal reviews, but pocket-sized.)

Here's a quick (now-expanded!) list of books I've read or listened to on audiobook recently -- and why I recommend you try them out yourself!

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
- Engrossing, disturbing read that will stick with you long after you've finished.
Audio Notes: The narration is amazing, and I'd recommend the audio version.

Gone (Dream Catcher, #3) by Lisa McMann
- Because you have to know how the trilogy ends!
Audio Notes: The narration worked for me, though it wasn't spectacular.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
- Fun take on vampire romance, considering they start with burning hatred, plus there's snarky, satirical humor woven throughout.
Audio Notes: Alternating male/female narration, worthwhile since I couldn't have imagined Lucius's Romanian accent half as well as hearing it. But the female narration was a little too theatrical for my taste.

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
- Amazing characterization underscores this unconventional mystery. A refreshing literary read with a slow buildup to a satisfying end.
Audio Notes: Alternating male/female narration, both well done, but I preferred the female one.

Prophecy of the Sisters (Prophecy of the Sisters, #1) by Michelle Zink
- Creepy, creepy story. Left me eager for the sequel!
Audio Notes: Eliza Dushku (Faith on Buffy, Echo on Dollhouse, Missy in Bring it On) is the narrator. I couldn't help but want to listen!

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
- Hilarious, quotable, with a totally appealing main character. I had so much fun reading this one.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
- For those who like their zombies scary and their stories dark.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
- Emotional and heartfelt (the title is deceiving), and the complex friendship makes it well worth a read.

Paper Towns by John Green
- My first foray into the awesomeness that is John Green. I now understand all the commotion. I also love characters that need to be called by their full name. (I'm talking about you, Margo Roth Spiegelman.)

Fat Cat by Robin Brande
- Finally, a science-loving female main character! A unique take on overweight protagonists... but what really stood out to me was how one betrayal can shape a person for years.
Audio Notes: Solid narration, no complaints.

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
- Entertaining and light, with just enough absurdity and a fun cast of characters. The unique plot kept me hooked.
Audio Notes: It took me a bit to get used to the narrator's style, but she's spot-on for Mrs. Amberson's dramatic flair.

And that's it for the mini reviews! Add yours to the comments!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frankie's BIG NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (cross posted)

So I have an agent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SQUEEE!!!!!

I've been going crazy, squeeing with this news--and I'm so excited to share it with you guys!

And of course, pictures!

Signing my contract!

Hugging my contract!

And then hugging Donna who was AMAZING throughout the whole process (and took the pictures)--as were my other awesome FNC chicas, Janine and Sara!!!!

I also need to give MAJOR shout outs and THANK YOUs to my Querying Support Team. For an entire month, these ladies dealt with all manner of crazy emails from me, obsessing, questioning, sharing news and excitement, and replying to some emails that just didn't make any sense. Thank you sooooo much:

Shannon also gets double duty thanks for being an amazing beta reader! And serious thank yous for fabulous beta reading as well as putting up with strange emails from me in the last month go to:
THANK YOU!!! You were all awesome and I just want to hug everyone!

And ok, you're probably wondering who I signed with, right?

The answer:

Laura Rennert
Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

I am so happy, and excited, I don't even know what to do with myself. But the best part about this entire thing...I'm off my writing break! YAY!Along with my contract came my editorial letter--squee! So I'm back in the game, doing what I LOVE best--writing and revising. And this time, I'm working with Laura!

Stay tuned because next week is AGENT WEEK--I'll be fulfilling my deal with the universe, having an epic contest and sharing what I can with you everything I learned about the querying process:-)

Also, this post needs just one more squee.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Amazing Writing Advice from Other People

I always save links to writing blog posts I find especially helpful, and when I'm stuck in a certain area while writing or revising, I go back to this completely disorganized list of posts to help get un-stuck.

The past couple weeks have offered some seriously awesome posts, so I figured I'd share my favorite links with you!

From The Blood Red Pencil - written dialogue vs. real life
From The Other Side of the Story - revising dialog
From Writer Musings - guest post on when/how to tag dialogue

From Laini Taylor's blog - Part I of a three-part post... covers just about everything

From The Bookshelf Muse - ways to describe characters
From The Other Side of the Story - how to show goals/motivations, not tell

This epic list from Cynthea Liu runs the gamut of writing advice.

From Write to Done - landing guest posts to build your blog

And don't forget to check out the FNC's epic list of recommended blogs (broken down by category) to see more of our favorite and most useful reads!

Leave your fave posts from 'round the blogosphere in the comments! Or, like, tell me how the weather is where you are. It's sunny and in the 70s in Philadelphia -- gorgeous!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vampire Diaries: Episode 19 Miss Mystic Falls

The Opening Credits...

Stefan drives to school in his nice newly running red vintage car (courtesy of Matt's mad car skillz) wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, with his hair slicked back. Aside from the happy-boy music blasting from his stereo, he is the picture of sexy-centuries-old-vampire-who-attends-high -chool-perfection. And oh yeah, Stefan goes to high school again. I guess the scene when he re-enrolled was cut because...well who needs to see that twice.

Elena, wearing her matching vampire-jacket approaches.

Elena: So does this mean you're no longer into drinking human blood.

Stefan: Totally! I'm so over that phase. I mean, ew! It's all squirrels and bunnies for me now.

Elena: Hmmm, yeah I probably didn't need to know that.

Stefan: BTW thanks for being the best girlfriend ever! And trust me, I have no desire to bite you or anyone AT ALL. So go ahead and I'll catch up with you.

And Stefan opens his trunk and it is FULL of Blood! Stefan, you liar!

Founders Hall:

Officer Forbes, Damon and Uncle John pow-wow. More blood is being stolen from hospitals. Yeah! All the blood that's been stolen is in Stefan's trunk! Look there! Look there!

Mystic Falls High: Alaric's History Class

Alaric: Although you're going to need to know about WWII for your SATs, Mayor Lockwood has declared I only teach about the history of Mystic Falls for all the Founders Day events.

Bonnie: YES! I am IN this episode! And I am pissed about it.

Elena: OMG Bonnie! We missed you. Where were you?

Bonnie: Budget cuts. Too many extras.

Stefan: Sup Bonnie

Bonnie: Don't talk to me I hate you. Whatever.

Caroline (Offstage): Crap, Bonnie will you get over yourself? At least you're in this episode!

Bonnie: *dramatic witch sigh* If you'd actually read the script you'd see you are too.

Caroline (Offstage): I am? OMG! I am in this episode. Yay! I hope I get a love scene.

Bonnie: Sorry, Matt's not in this episode. Looks like your flying solo.

Caroline (Offstage): FML

Alaric: Ummmm, can I start class now?

Salvatore Mansion:

Anna: Yo, so like my mom is really sorry and stuff that our minions kidnapped your brother and tortured him and almost killed him and then turned him into a raving blood-hungry lunatic after his girlfriend forced him to drink her blood. We like, totally didn't mean for any of that to happen.


Anna: Also, all the vampires but me and my mom and Harper left. So we're not stealing blood from the blood bank.

Damon: *stares off to side* OMG all the blood's in Stefan's car!

Outside Mystic Falls High School:

Elena: Bonnie, so like what's up with you?

Bonnie: If you'd gotten cut from 3 episodes for no reason, especially after you acted out this killer crying scene of doom to the soundtrack of a Snow Patrol'd be pissed too!

Caroline *rushes to Bonnie and hugs her* OMG Bonnie! You were right! I am in this episode, it's awesome and now since we've both been the victim of budget cuts, let's be bffs forever and ignore Elena.

Elena: Um, you can't ignore me. I'm the star of the show.

Caroline: Bonnie and I are going to totally prepare my awesome outfit for the Miss Mystic Falls Pageant.

Elena: The what, what?

Caroline: Ummm you know...that thing... *whistles*

Bonnie: Don't worry, Elena, you're in that scene, you'll wear a dress, and the camera will focus on you the entire time.

Elena: Oh thank goodness.

Caroline: What! Are you sure?

Bonnie: Seriously Caroline, read the script.

Caroline: *pulls out the script* Ugh!

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon: You're looking mighty happy today.

Stefan: So?

Damon: It's because your drinking human blood.

Stefan: Nope.

Damon: Yes! You are. You spent the last hundred years being totally emo, except for those two nights when you allegedly partied with Bon Jovi and scored a playboy bunny.

Stefan: Allegedly?

Damon: Pssssh! Yeah...right.


Damon: Anyway, my point is, you're anti-emo now because you're drinking human blood.

Stefan: Nope. Not.

Damon: Oh Stefan, you liar!

So than Stefan calls Elena and agrees to be her escort at the pageant and then gets all twitchy because he IS a liar and is desperate for a blood fix and so he starts searching for his blood supply and then heads downstairs and opens up his icebox of blood and Damon is like right behind him because Stefan clearly has no vampire-stealth-skills and now his secret is exposed.

So Stefan is like ok, whatever so I'm a blood drinker, but so are you. And Damon's all like umm yeah, but at least I don't lie about it. At least I don't hide what I am. And Stefan is like whatever dude. And Damon is like, not whatever, you robbed a hospital! That is sick! People need that blood and Stefan is like yo dude, take a chill pill, I'm still totally the good guy and Damon is like you're so not and somewhere in the corner, sitting on a rocking chair stalking is Edward Cullen laughing because he just swallowed a mountain lion.

Founder's Hall: Pageant Prepping

Mrs. Lockwood. Girls tell me all about the stuff you've done that proves why you should be crowned Miss Mystic Falls.

Caroline: I am the president of the Vampire Diaries Extra's Union

Elena: I'm the star of this show.

Caroline: I express a range of emotions within minutes from happy to sad, to scared to bitchy, all without breaking a sweat.

Elena: I'm the star of this show.

Caroline: I'm the blonde, and we all know everyone loves the blonde, plus I havent gotten any airtime in one whole episode and I deserve this, and I'm even on twitter now, and two episodes ago I had to get stuck in the rain and actually touch Vickie's dead body.

Elena: I'm the star of this show?

Mayor Lockwood: Thank you, ladies.

Salvatore Mansion:

Uncle John: What's up, Damon. You don't call, you don't write.

Damon: I um, hate you?

Uncle John: Anyway, I'm here for some invention that the original Jonathon Gilbert invented and then gave to some woman who turned out to be a vampire whose name was Pearl--ever heard of her?

Damon: Yeah, of course I heard of her, but the fact that you haven't proves to me that you don't know everything like you said you did in episode 18 and that makes you a liar and I don't like liars in this episode, so get out of my mansion or I'll kill you again and keep killing you until you really are dead.

Founders Hall: Miss Mystic Falls Dance Practice

So Mrs. Lockwood is teaching some sort of goofy Jane Austen-like dance where you flirt with your eyes, but not with your hands, and revel in the near-touch, but no actual touching because that would be too scandalous and wrong and Stefan and Elena I have to say are too cute for words right now because well, Stefan is drinking human blood and thus actually kind of fun for a minute and then we get a close up of some girl named Amber who we didn't bother naming in the last scene and suddenly we know now that she is going to become important later in this episode and is also quite possibly the reason behind Matt's budget cut and then Elena and Stefan touch and Mrs. Lockwood is all like no, no, no, this is about near-touching and somewhere in the corner, sitting on a rocking chair and stalking is Edward Cullen thinking, now THIS is dancing.

Caroline: So I've scouted out the competition. And really, the only two people on the court that anyone is even aware of are me and Elena, oh and that Amber girl, whose sole purpose to become a plot point later. So basically, I have a 50/50 chance of winning this thing.

Bonnie: No, it's more like 25/75

Caroline: How?

Bonnie: Elena's the star of the show.

Caroline: Crap!

And then Bonnie is all weird with Elena and Stefan and giving the girl-fight cold shoulder vibe and Elena is like come on, Bonnie, remember I totally called you two episodes ago? And Bonnie is like you're boyfriend is a vampire. I hate him and so I kind of hate you. So just deal.

Mystic Falls High School:

Some dude on the basketball court falls down and scrapes his knee and Stefan goes Crazy and tries to attack Alaric and Alaric is like OMG what IS it with you guys on this show and just FREAKING OUT and Stefan is like chillax, I'm cool, I gotta go and then super dramatic music plays and Alaric looks confused, but we know that deep down inside he's connected the dots and knows that Stefan is turning Eviiiiil.

At the Gilberts:

Alaric shows up to drive Elena and Aunt Jenna to the pagaent and Uncle John is like ummm, I have a car and Aunt Jenna is like, yeah but no one likes you.

Alaric: P.S. Elena, remember in the last episode when I said Stefan was nice, but he was mostly a vampire?

Elena: Yeah.

Alaric: I think he's mostly a vampire now.

Miss Mystic Pageant

Damon: Anna, so Uncle John wants some invention that his great great great great great great great great great great great great Uncle John gave to your mom.

Anna: Ok well you didn't accept our apologies for torturing your brother so I'm not going to tell you anything about it.

Damon: Girlfriend, I will totally kill you if you don't help me. Anyway we hate Uncle John. So you kind of have to be on my side.

Anna: Fine.

Uncle John: So Jeremy, I guess you're the only one who will talk to me.

Jeremy: BTW I read our great great great great great Uncle John's journals about vampires.

Uncle John: Interesting. I've read his entire collection.

Jeremy: Oh really? So what do you think? Are vampires real?

Uncle John: Yes! Duh! Absolutely not!

And then Anna walks by and gives Jeremy an I-love-you-but-you-only-wanted-to-be-a-vampire-for-another-girl-so-I-hate-you look and he goes off to talk to her and Uncle John gives her the once over is all like, yeah....vampire.

Inside the Pageant Prep area:

Amber: I am FREAKING out.

Elena: Why are you nervous about the pageant?

Amber: No, but if I don't do something everyone at home will forget I'm a plot point.

Elena: Ooh, well, carry on then.

Then Damon shows up and is like, BTW your boyfriend is a liar and he's still drinking blood and Elena gasps dramatically. Also, because he spent too much time repressing his hunger, it's taking over him now. He is officially more dangerous than me. Ironic, huh?

Meanwhile downstairs...or somewhere else in the Founders Hall...

Jeremy: Hey Anna, let's talk.

Anna: No! You tried to use me to become a vampire for some other girl that was not me.

Jeremy: Well you tried to kill me 7 episode ago. So we're square.

Meanwhile back upstairs...or somewhere else in the Founders Hall...

Elena: OMG, I can't believe Stefan is drinking human blood. My life is over, my world is ending.

Stefan: What's going on?

Damon: I told Elena what you're keeping inside your icebox. Your welcome. Bye.

Elena: Stefan, I can't believe you lied to me!

Stefan: Are you really that surprised? I lied to you for the first seven episodes about being 17. This is nothing, Baby-doll-face.

Elena: Did you really just call me, Baby-doll-face? Stefan this is not ok! Human blood is making you all different. Squirrel-blood Stefan would never use a lame nickname on me.

So Stefan goes downstairs and he's in a total vampiric rage and locks himself in the bathroom and then looks at his reflection in the mirror and then ....MirrorSmash! And then Amber walks in on Stefan all vamp-faced out and bleeding and standing over mirror bits.

Amber: Crap! I guess this is where my plot point becomes the plot?

Stefan: GROWLS

Amber: That'd be a yes! EEK!

Meanwhile at the top of some staircase at the Founder's Hall:

Caroline: Where's Amber?

Elena: The plot point?

Caroline: Yeah

Elena: I don't know, probably off having a plot somewhere.

Caroline: OMG Are you serious? She's in one episode and she gets a plot and I'm in like 16 episodes and I don't?

Elena: You got to show cleavage in your dress.

Caroline: *looks down and smiles triumphantly* I did, didn't I.

Elena: But where's Stefan?

Frankie: Come on, Elena, put 2 and 2 together, missing plot point, missing Stefan. I give you, the plot!

Elena: Crap, I need to get out of here.

Caroline: Oh no, no, no! If you leave the scene now, the camera is going to follow you and I look too pretty to be off stage.


Caroline:  *sighs* This pagaent meant the world to your dead mother, so hang on for five more minutes and honor her memory or whatever.

Some Pageant Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Caroline Forbes, escorted by her escort, Mr. Not-Matt.

Caroline: *walks down the staircase* Stay on me, Camera, stay on me, look at my dress, look at my smile, look at my hair...

The Camera: Starts filming Mrs. Lockwood

Caroline: FML


Anna: Watch, Elena is coming down the stairs.

Jeremy: Who cares! She lied to me about everything ever. I'm totally mad at her. Although I'm kind of glad she erased the part of my memory where Vickie tried to hurt me.

Anna: I would never hurt you. Except the first day I met you when your blood smelled so--

Edward Cullen: Appears from behind a rose bush

Anna: I mean...dude, I wouldn't hurt you now. Ok? Stop looking at me Edward Cullen! That wasn't your line.

Edward Cullen: Just making sure...

Outside in the Founders Hall Parking Lot:
Stefan is dragging Amber away.

Amber: Dude, I'm supposed to be in the pageant right now. You're a real genius you know, picking me to no one would notice.

Stefan: No, you're an extra and a girl and pretty. No one is going to look for you. It's guaranteed.

Amber: But I was supposed to be in the pageant.

Stefan: *Vampire Compels her to think she's in the parking lot with him*

Amber: Ok, you're seriously the dumbest vampire ever. You just compelled me to think I'm standing in a parking lot with you. I'm already standing in a parking lot with you. Lamest compulsion ever!

Stefan: Just be quiet. I'm freaking out. I'm drinking the human stuff and I'm not supposed to and now Elena knows and I don't know what I'm doing and ugh!!!

Amber: Any idea how long this plot will last?

Stefan: GROWLS

Back at the Pageant
Elena is announced and she is to be escorted by Mr. Stefan Salvatore and she heads down the stairs and Stefan is NOT there and this is going to be soooooo embarassing for her except that Damon steps in at the last second and he's looking fiiiine, tonight.

Elena: Shoot! You know I'm kind of in love with you now.

Damon: How do you know?

Elena: You were standing at the bottom of the stairs wearing a suit. So now I love you. That's the rule.

Damon: Says who?

Elena: Titanic. And She's All That.

Damon: Sweet!

And then they step outside and they do the Jane Austen dance only this time it's epic and Damon is totally sexing her with his eyes and Within Temptation is playing and SERIOUSLY every scene that involves Damon dancing is FTW.

Ok, I'm officially Team Damon. LOVE!!!!

Meanwhile in the woods....

Stefan is being 110% creepy and going into some overly detailed description of what he wants to do to Amber that is giving me the heebie jeebies and something about an artery that if he bites it just right, he won't make a mess and like seriously, Stefan! You haven't had human in over 100 years. You are SO going to make a mess.

Amber: Ok, so bite me already.

Stefan: No, I can't, this isn't me, I don't do this. I'm the good brother, dammit!

Amber: *rolls eyes* Am I your plot point or what?

Stefan: Oh I just want one taste, just one....VAMP FACE...

Stefan, I hate you!

Back at the Pageant:
Caroline: OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OM OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG I WON MISS MYSTIC FALLS! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! This is the greatest moment of my life! And...hey! Camera! Where are you going?

Camera: Cuts to Officer Forbes and Uncle John in the bathroom where Stefan had his epic temper tantrum and kidnapped Amber.

Officer Forbes: Get me Damon!

And in the woods...
Stefan: I can't stop! I LOVE blood.

Amber: Ok, well keep drinking, this is why Kevin Williamson hired me.

Stefan: No, it's wrong, and I can't but your neck looks so tasty. And why aren't you scared of me right now?

Amber: Because you vampire-compelled me to be all cool with the situation.

Stefan: Ok I take it back. Be afraid of me, be very very afraid.

Amber: You know you're not really that scary. I mean, how much hair gel do you use.

Stefan: VAMP FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Amber: OMFG *and Amber runs like hell*

Back at the ball...
Elena and Damon have discovered the struggle in the bathroom. Little do they know Stefan was really just acting out a scene from Meatloaf's epic video "I would do anything for love (but I won't do that) when he smashed the mirror, but irregardless, he is missing and so is Amber and the plot is on and Elena must accept the fact that her vampire boyfriend, is (gasp) actually a vampire.

Also Bonnie follows them to find Stefan

So they run into the woods and Amber who is not too smart runs right back into Stefan who is like oh screw it, I'm still hungry and he vampirizes her and she's screaming and then Elena, Damon and Bonnie show up and Stefan pushes Amber away and ewwwww, Stefan you have blood all over your chin!

Even Elena is grossed out and that's saying something.


Damon: Dude, get it together.

Stefan: *vampire punches Damon into a tree*

Tree: Grumble, grumble, the casting director asked me to stand in for the Wall.

Damon: *gets into vampire fighting stance*

Stefan: *is ready for more vampire fighting*

Bonnie: *Witch-headaches Stefan*


And Stefan snaps out of his blood lust thanks to Bonnie and Elena is still looking totally disgusted and like she's thinking, dude, you totally need a wipey. And Damon is like, ok, let's chat. Everything's all right and Stefan is like NO! It's not ok! It's NOT OKAY! And then he runs into the woods.

Then we cut to Officer Forbes and the rest of the Mystic Falls police force who apparently took 5 hours to notice Amber was missing because it was totally daylight when they dissapeared and now its really really dark outside and come on, what kind of police force are you! Amber was so obviously missing!

Officer Forbes: So none of you girls saw anything? No vampires nothing?

Elena: *looks at Bonnie to make sure she won't spill the beans* No...just saw her laying there all bloody and stuff and then we called Damon.

Officer Forbes: Excellent, well you all go back to the party and Damon and I will stay here.

Elena: Bonnie, can we talk about this?

Bonnie: Um, no! Your boyfriend is the reason my grandma died and I had to leave for 4 episodes.

Elena: I thought you only left for 3.

Bonnie: You see! I've been gone so long, I'm losing track! Anyway, here's the deal, your boyfriend is a psychopathic killer who never heard of a napkin. And I can't be your friend if he's around.

Elena: Bonnie, stop. You do realize that this will mean you're not likely to be in the episode next week?

Bonnie: Well, rumor has it neither is Caroline so whatever. I'm cool.

Caroline (Offstage): Are you serious!?!?! Ugh!

Back at the pageant:

Uncle John: Who's that girl talking to Jeremy?

Aunt Jenna: Anna, and her's mom's name is Pearl.

Uncle John: Pearl! Quick, tell me, how many women in the entire world right now are named Pearl?

Aunt Jenna: *googles on her iphone* Oh's only one.

Uncle John has found the source to great great great great great great Uncle John's invention.

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon: Anna, Pearl...I'm not in the mood. Today was a horrible, terrible, no good very bad day and I think I'm moving to Australia.

Pearl: Well, Anna said you wanted the great great Gilbert's invention and so here it is.

Damon: *pulls the invention out, and it's come circular thing that looks like a pocketwatch or a compass that points to vampires except that it's not and no one has any freaking clue what it is*

Pearl: This is our I'm sorry our minions tortured your brother and tried to kill him and almost killed you and then almost killed Elena, present. Peace?

Damon: yeah, peace, whatever. We're cool.

Man, Pearl was vicious three episodes ago and now she's all soft.

 Stefan is taking off his clothes and raging around his room like he is the scum of the earth and thinking Why didn't I pack napkins! Why didn't I think to pack napkins!

Stefan: Elena, you shouldn't be here.

Elena: No, that wasn't you before. You're not like that.

Stefan: Yes it is. I've never wanted to kill someone so bad in my life. I'm a monster, a predator.

Elena: I'm not scared of you.

Edward Cullen: *coughs*

Stefan: WHAT?!

Edward Cullen: I just read your mind and you were totally about to use ANOTHER one of my lines.

Stefan: *punches Edward Cullen over the head*

Edward Cullen: *slumps in his rocking chair unconscious*

Then Stefan gets all super ragey and starts screaming at Elena and calling her an idiot and OH NO HE DIN'T! And then he punches the wall around her.

The Wall: WTF! I thought the tree was standing in for me this episode!

Kevin Williamson: *coughs* Apparently he discovered what happened to his cousin, plotted tree and stormed off the set saying he needed to get back to his roots.

Anyway Stefan is like out of control abusive right now and serious Elena needs to dump his butt because his actions are NOT OKAY.

Elena: Close your eyes.

Stefan: *closes his eyes*

Elena: I love you

Stefan: I love you too!

Elena: *Stabs Stefan with Anti-Damon*

Buffy: Oh now you're stealing my season 2 finale, huh?

Elena: Buffy, I really don't have time for this right now.

Buffy: I'm telling Joss!

Stefan: Do you mind? I'm having an epic slump-fest over here as well as the shock of betrayal.

Buffy: Whatever, I'm going slaying.

Damon: Great, you anti-damoned Stefan, now let's lock him up.

Stefan is imprisoned and Elena sits down to wait until he's not such a vampire again and Damon sits down with her and...sigh... rock!

Caroline (offstage): I'd better in the next episode.

Edward Cullen: Oh just shut up.
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