Friday, October 29, 2010

Nanowrimo 2k10!

So, I may have made a questionable decision.



(This is the image that came up when I google image searched "questionable decision.")
 In fact, I KNOW I've made a questionable decision.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Let's take a quick trip into a day in the life of Sara.

6:30am: Wake up. Feed animals, feed self, make lunch, clean litter box, wash dishes inevitably left over from last night's dinner, get dressed for work.

7:00  7:20am: Leave for work.  If it's a good day, I'm on time and I catch the train.  Train = reading, yay!  Or drive.  Driving = audiobooks, yay!

7:45am to 3:30pm: Day job with small children.

4:15: Arrive home.  Walk dog, pay attention to cats, catch up on email, start prepping dinner.

Then, things get interested.  If it's Monday, I'm off to the gym (ugh) for my hardcore rowing class.  Tuesdays means it's time to take the dog to school.  Wednesdays and Fridays means my second job, coaching swimming.

Oh yeah, we also just bought a house.  Did I mention that?

And now I've convinced myself that in the midst of all of this, I'm going to manage to pull 50,000 words out of thin air.

Sure.  Right.  No problem.

Riiiight.

I actually have completed NaNo twice: in 2003 and 2004, when I was in college.  I was pretty busy in college too--full course load, swim team, working two jobs.  But I also didn't have class until 10am and I used to take naps on an almost-daily basis.

But it feels important to do this.  Now, technically I'm cheating a little bit, since Nanowrimo is meant for people who are beginning a project on November 1st, and I'm in the middle of a novel.  But I say I'm only cheating a little bit, because I really only have the first part of my novel figured out, and I've written pretty much all of that, so what comes next is a big, foggy mystery.  So it's kind of like starting a new project because I'm moving into the phase of my story where I don't know what's going on.

To prep, I'm trying to plan out dinners and things for husband to make, so I'll have some more times in the evening to write.  I also went out and splurged on a whole bunch of new books, which I'll be reading along the way.  I find that reading books in my writing genre is v. helpful, and helps keep me in that epic fantasy mindset.  I purchased Erin Bow's Plain Kate, Leah Cypress's Mistwood, Cinda Williams Chima's  The Demon King, Janice Hardy's The Shifter and Diana Peterfreund's Rampant.  I'm currently reading Alison Goodman's Eon, and I have Tamora Pierce's Bloodhound and Ellen Jensen Abbott's Watersmeet on hand somewhere in TBR piles.

So.  That's me.

What about you?

Are any of you doing NaNoWrimo?

Do you have any other book suggestions for me?  My story is epic fantasy with a political plotline and a female protagonist, and that's what I'm looking to read right now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comfort food, meet comfort book. What's yours?

We all have our favorite comfort food -- the one item in the fridge or pantry that we beeline toward whenever we feel sick/sad/bored. Or like, if it's a particularly long Wednesday. 

I realized yesterday that the only thing that makes comfort food better (besides eating it in my PJs), is eating it while reading a comfort book.

My official comfort book is The China Garden by Liz Berry. My copy is yellow and soft with use, and I disappear into its world every time I need to escape. The Roswell High series is my favorite comfort series (to be used during an especially lingering illness). And there's one author I can always, always count on to make me feel better -- Meg Cabot.

I picked up an audiobook of hers this week -- How to be Popular, which I'd never read before -- and within the first five minutes of driving and listening, a silly little contentment filled me. I love Meg's voice. No matter the book, it shines through. She is hands-down my comfort author.

Actually, now that I think of it, I have a whole arsenal of comfort favorites. My next crappy day, you can find me snuggled on the couch in my PJs, eating a meatball parm sandwich (made by my Italian grandmom), and reading a Meg Cabot book -- with Beauty and the Beast on mute on the TV and Coldplay playing in the background, of course.

I feel better already.

What's in your comfort arsenal?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PARANORMALCY co-review!

No book is perfect -- but when a book comes super close or makes us forget to even notice flaws, just carries us along in its amazing-ness and makes us beg for more and gush about it to each other ... that's when we co-review.

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White 

Summary from Goodreads: 
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal. 
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 
So much for normal.
The (Spoiler-Free) Co-Review!
(Courtesy of G-chat.)

Donna:
I'm always nervous about books with big buzz, especially paranormal YA.... but Paranormalcy really did live up to it.

Sara: It did! And I was unsure of what it was going to be like, since the market is so saturated with paranormal right now. But it was really fresh and new. I think a big part of that had to do with Kiersten's awesome characters. Like Evie, the MC.

Donna: And Lish, her mermaid best friend who could only communicate via a robotic-voiced translator!

Sara: But who was totally awesome anyway.

Donna: OMG it made her MORE awesome. But let's talk about LEND! ---- the shapeshifting love interest.

Sara: Lend was awesome. How many times can we use that word in this co-review?

Donna: And one of the reasons this book was so refreshing was how naturally and normally their relationship progressed.

Sara: Haha, I was just typing exactly what you said! Their relationship was totally mundane.

Donna: No epic-ness. Just the sweetest, "OMG we're watching a movie and he's brushing against my arm OMG what do I do????" kinda romance.

Sara: And that made it work perfectly--it really felt like high school, in the best way possible. And the back and forth teasing-flirting was super cute too. It gave a nice balance to Evie's world, since most of the time she's dealing with arresting paranormal creatures.

Donna: So for the rest of the paranormals --- I loved the idea of the IPCA (International Paranormal Containment Agency).

Sara: Me too! It was a simple idea, but it made sense. And I must admit, I got a little nervous when all these different paranormals starting coming up. I thought, this is going to go overboard and be too much. But I was totally wrong. There was a simplicity to Kiersten's world building that I thought made it feel very clean. Kind of like IKEA.

Donna: hahahah IKEA. Good call. There were some seriously dark elements of the novel, too. Like Reth, Evie's super-creepy ex-boyfriend who keeps trying to steal her heart or something equally insidious and CREEPY.

Sara: Reth was like, your worst ex-boyfriend times ten. But then things got even more complicated with him further in the book, and it was like, agh! What am I supposed to think? I'm just glad there's a sequel.

Donna: Yeah. He wasn't the biggest bad, shockingly. Someone else is killing paranormals by the handful. Or (dun dun dunnnn) someTHING else.

Sara: Haha. That was a cool plot too, because it touched on some of the darker elements of the story. And also brought out some of the gray areas of paranormal-human relations.

Donna: I love that Evie began to question things she'd always been raised to believe.

Sara: And it was great as a reader that you were basically learning the truth at the same time Evie was--it made the book a total page-turner! There was a great balance between scenes that made me laugh out loud and scenes that made me bite my nails.

Donna: Kiersten's sense of humor came through loud and clear, but the tension was there. Unlike many paranormal YAs, the developing romance provided a RELIEF from the tension of the plot, versus the romance being the epic, all-consuming source of tension.

Sara: So true. I loved that the story ultimately hinged on Evie. Not Evie and Lend, or Evie and Reth, but Evie and herself. And can I just say, I loved the lack of love triangle?

Donna: Amen, sister. And that it's the kick-butt girl who has the ability to save the boy?

Sara: She can save everyone! Including herself.

Donna: Ok, so then end ---- knowing there's a sequel, what do you think of Kiersten's choices on how to end Para?

Sara: Just like the rest of the book, I think Kiersten struck a great balance with the end. There was tons of tension that will naturally carry over into the sequel. And plenty of questions I want answered. But at the same time, this book definitely has an ending.

Donna: Agreed. I got a contented little sigh when I read the last sentence, so I knew the first novel felt complete to me. But whew, Kiersten didn't hold back on the tough stuff.

Sara: True! Which only made the novel better. More tears, but in a good way.

Donna: I'm smitten with Paranormalcy, and Kiersten wrote a first novel to be very, very proud of. Yayyyyy honorary FNC-ers being awesome!

Sara: Yay! Now go buy Paranormalcy!


Your turn!
How's life? Have you read Paranormalcy, or is it on your TBR? What book should we co-review next? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, October 25, 2010

WINNER of BLUE FIRE by Janice Hardy!



The lucky winner of our BLUE FIRE giveaway is.......


Congratulations, April!


Click HERE for our BLUE FIRE review!

Publishing and Writing Questions Answered (X post)

So in preparation for my talk at Arcadia I had readers of my blog over at Frankie Writes ask me questions about publishing and the writing process. They were pretty good questions that I thought might interest our FNC readers too. So here you go--enjoy!

 1. Patricia A. Timms asked: Would you recommend hiring a professional editor before starting to query? Why? Why not?

Good question, Patricia. I don't think there's anything wrong with hiring a professional editor--if you REALLY feel like you need it, AND you can afford it, but I don't think it's necessary, therefore I wouldn't say I particularly recommend it.

One thing to keep in mind if you do hire one is to make sure you check their credentials--know they have a good sample of work (hopefully they can share some with you) and make sure you fully understand what service you are getting and why. There is a difference between hiring someone who is going to tell you your manuscript is awesome (which is basically paying for a compliment and useless), and hiring someone  who will really get dirty and deep in your MS and help you with your flaws (worth paying for).

FYI: Hiring an editor to critique your work is not the same as having an editor at a publishing house wanting to buy your book--I know most people know this--we bloggers are savvy-- but there can be some confusion at the beginning of this process, so I thought I'd throw that in there in case anyone was wondering.

Anyway, I'm a big supporter of being as self-sufficient as possible! Study grammar books, take time away from your manuscript to see it with fresh eyes, dig deeper, read books on the revision/editing process.

The only people I really want to rely on for feedback and help are my CPs, agent and editor. I don't really think more is necessary. However, I can totally understand the appeal of a pro editor before you start to query, considering how competitive the industry is--so if you CAN afford a good one, then sure why not, but in lieu of a pro editor, I relied heavily on feedback from my CPs and I think this is what most people do and they are still successful. So it's really a personal choice, but keep in mind that you might feel like you need to pay them each time and wouldn't you rather learn to edit on your own?



2. Anonymous asked: How do you plot and do worldbuilding? Are there any excercises you use, particularly for a Fantasy novel.
 
Wheee! A big question and one I plan to spend the summer answering (fingers crossed) since I recently proposed a new course at Arcadia called Writing Fantasy for Children and it looks like I'll be offering the course this summer--possibly with an online component, but I shall keep you posted. And now I will try and answer the question succintly here.
 
Ok, so for me, the way I begin plotting is always with an idea for the story, and usually a vision of my main character at the start of the story and a vision of my character at the end. I also tend to have a few key scenes in my mind that I sort of can place in different parts of the story, like this scene will happen just before the climax, or this is a turning point kind of scene.
 
Then I basically plot to connect all of the scenes.
 
One thing I also do is write 2 plots or arcs overlapping each other. I plot the emotional arc of the character, because they have to change over the course of the novel and be someone different at the end, even if it's a series, AND I plot the action or physical arc. Sometimes these two will have overlapping scenes and sometimes you'll have an emotional climax followed by the story climax or vice versa.
 
I think I could actually write an entire book on plotting, but in the interest of keeping this post reasonably short (yeah right), I'll move onto the other questions.
 
For world building, the key is RULES! You can get as creative as you want, but you have to make sure any kind of fantasy world you create has firm rules that you as the author never break. For one thing, it helps the reader suspend belief and buy into your world, two it keeps you from throwing in some random way to save the day at the end (which no one appreciates) and three, it forces you to really use your world to guide your plot and create tension. 
 
Good exercises for fantasy writing would definitely include reading Joseph Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces. Campbell is known for tracking down a basic pattern found in almost every myth, religious origin story, legend, folktale, fantasy and story today known as The Hero's Journey. I'm a huge fan of this journey and have used it as a guide, but the key here is make it your own, and get creative with it--don't use it like a paint by numbers kind of tool. If you're unsure of what the journey looks like, Star Wars and Harry Potter are both very clear examples. Christopher Vogel recently came out with The Writer's Journey with puts The Hero's Jounrey in more simplistic terms--it's a faster easier read, but I think studying the original is important too. There is also something called The Heroine's Journey which can be used for female characters, but tracks more of the emotional journey of a character. Layering the hero and heroine's journey is one way you can easily start plotting out the emotional and physical arc/plot of your own story.
 
Otherwise read a lot of fantasy, study how the authors set the rules of their world and how they introduce them through their writing.
 
3. Mariah Irvin asked: How do you get started writing with emphasis on WHY you should get into publishing. Also, recommend critique partners/groups!
 
The way I started writing was pretty simple...putting a pen to paper with a bunch of ideas. But how did I start writing to get into publishing? The short answer: By taking it seriously. Treat writing and treat the industry like its your job. Your boss would fire you if you didn't show up to work everyday, and the same goes for writing--although until you're published you might feel like you're on the longest job interview of your life--the thing is, you'll never get that "job" ie. the agent, the contract, the publishing deal, etc unless you keep at it everyday without fail and you stay on top of the trends and how-tos: know how to query an agent properly, know the most effective way to attend conferences, know what works and what doesn't and why.

When people ask what you do, don't say you want to be a writer, say you ARE a writer, because the only way to make it through the crazy amount of queries and submissions is to be serious, knowledgable, and respectful of the process.
 
Why get into publishing? Well there are lots of reasons why to you might want to get into publishing as  a writer: because it's your lifelong dream, because you have a story you absolutely MUST tell, because you want to improve your craft and work with and receive feedback from the best, because you love the challenge, because you believe your story is worth sharing and might offer some joy, comfort, inspiration, or hope to a reader and a lot of other reasons. For me the number one reason to do this is because I LOVE writing to death. I want to write all the time and when I'm not writing I want to read and when I'm not writing or reading I want to talk about writing and reading and write about writing and reading and teach writing and reading and...you get my drift.
 
More importantly here is why you should NOT get into publishing: For fame, for money, to tell your crabby high school teacher I told you so, to compete with your friend, just to see if you can. Getting published is hard and it's work and it takes an immense level of dedication, work, and love to do it. If this isn't what you absolutely love to do, (and I mean love everything, even loving the rejections sometimes and loving that you are about revise for the 100th time) then I really suggest you try something else, or keep writing as a hobby. Everyone who wants to do it should, but I know there are WAAAAY easier and faster ways of becoming famous and making money;) The question is: how much do you really want this, and if your heart and soul answer YES I want this, then go forth and do it!
 
And yes I totally recommend CPs and critique groups! I'm lucky to have the First Novels Club. Not only are they critiquing ninjas and I believe the BEST critique partners in the world--especially when our forces combine--we each have our specialties--but they've become 3 of my best friends in the world, and are amazing at offering support through all the ups and downs of this crazy journey. Beyond the amazing way a CP can help you transform a story into something greater, they can also be your best friends--and when you really get into this process, you will need them!
 
4A. Joanne Fritz asked: How many times did you revise your novel? How do you know when enough is enough?
 
Oh boy! Well, first of all, I wrote and rewrote and rewrote my novel over the course of 2 years, writing it as a middle grade, in 3rd person, in 1st person, back to 3rd person, as an upper MG, as a YA, and then as an upper YA 3rd person--1st person--3rd person--1st person. I moved the opening from PA to NY back to PA, but what really made everything click into place was adding the school story structure to it--my novel takes place at a private boarding school for mages and knights. 
 
The draft of my novel (which recently lost its title and is for the moment titleless) took 6 weeks to write (after 2 years of writing it) and then 8 months to revise before I signed with my agent. I then revised it 2 more times with her. Honestly I've lost count of how many times I've revised--this particular draft...I'd say at least 10 times all the way through, with countless little tweaks and changes here and there. It's really impossible to say for sure--but A LOT!
 
How do I know when I'm done? Well now my agent tells me! :-) Love her! But before then, I just kind of went on instinct. I have very high standards for myself and I would just write and revise and revise until I met those standards. You know how Sexy New Idea Syndrome or SNIS works? The new book idea is amazing because it lives in this pristine place in your head untouched and untampered with--your book is utterly perfect before you start writing it. I try to make my book go past that place, become something better and stronger than I ever dreamed it could be. Which....takes a hell of a lot of work! Also, I need the thumbs up from all of my FNC CPs--Janine, Donna and Sara--and they have high standards too!
 
Keep in mind...you're never really done until that book is sitting on the bookshelf. It's really making it the BEST book you can make it, and when you've reached that point, reaching out to CPs or your agent or editor to help you make it even better.



4B. And do you revise all the way through for one specific reason each time? Like one time, you go through looking for excess adverbs. One time you look at dialogue. That sort of thing? Or would you recommend re-reading the entire mess and then slogging through it a chapter at a time?

I have revised it all the way through with just one reason in my mind--like making sure characterization is tight, or revising for descriptions, or for adverbs. But what is really the best thing to do is to have an editorial letter. I used to think you only got these from your agent or editor, but you can write your own editorial letter.

Here's what you do: Read through your novel and take notes on a separate sheet of paper. Mark down prose that feel off, places where dialogue isn't tight, or characters are acting "out of character" or where you feel the pace slows or tension is off, write down ANYTHING that is bothering you or you feel could be better. Then organize all of those notes as best you can into similar groups. Now you have a checklist so you can approach your revision anyway you want, by section of editorial notes, chapter by chapter, or by tackling the small things you can easily tick off. Everytime you fix something, check it off your list--this also helps you to feel VERY accomplished!

The reason for the editorial letter is it allows you to see the big picture of your novel and revise more effectively in fewer drafts. Then when you're done, put it aside, and read through it again.

4C. How many agents did you query? And what did your successful query include?

I queried 16 agents. Out of those 16 agents, 8 requested my full, and then 3 offered representation. My successful query included a succint introduction to my book, including a QUICK overview of the plot and journey of the main character--this was done in only a few sentences, and there was a short piece of info about me--my blogs and contact info. Perhaps I'll do a post on just my query letter soon? Let me get back to you on that one...



4D. How many conferences did you attend before you found your agent?

Hmmmm, I think I may have attended around 20 conferences at this point. However my agent, Laura Rennert was not someone I ever met at a conference. With Laura, I was purely slush pile--I didn't have anything recommending me to her except my query--which worked out because I worked my butt off on that (with help from C.J. Redwine's query class). But two of my other offers and about half of the agents who requested my full were agents I met at conferences, so that can work too.


Some conference advice...
Don't try and pitch your novel to an agent at a conference unless you are in a specific situation like they ask you about your novel first, or you're getting a critique, or in an actual "pitching" session. Just be friendly and try and meet as many agents as you can and then when it comes time to query, remind them of when you met. It won't guarantee an offer or even a request, but it will help you stand out and either get a tiny bit more consideration, OR a faster response. If you really connected with an agent, they may even be inclined to offer you a critique on why they are passing. So conferences are super helpful and I can't recommend them enough because they definitely played a huge role in my querying process, BUT you can also get pulled from the slush pile as well.

The key to remember here is never to rely on anything as a crutch--don't rely on conferences, your huge blog following, your connection to a NYT bestselling author or the fact that you were born on a lucky date. At the end of the day it will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be your writing that speaks the loudest.



5A. Melissa asked: At what point do you hand over your novel to your critique partner? Do you give them the whole thing or send a chapter at a time?


When I first started out, I used to send them everything as I was going along--chapter by chapter. Now I'm more likely to send over a huge chunk with specific questions and issues to address. We're definitely evolving in our critique style. I think it's a matter of what feels most comfortable for you and what you feel will be the most beneficial. Previously I needed much more scrutiny over little things because I was trying to find my voice. This is sometimes still the case with some of my new projects, but mostly I have them look at big picture types of things. And we often send emails just discussing points in our novels.

5B. Also, how did you find your CP?

I was SUPER lucky to find 3 amazing CPs in my very first graduate school class, who have not only been amazing at critiques, but consistent (we've been meeting every 3 weeks for almost 3 years now), passionate, supportive, and some of my best friends. BUT I have swapped work and critiqued or beta read with other CPs that I've met at conferences like Joanne Fritz and Kelly Lyman and I've met a few beta readers online. The best thing to do is set your intention to find people and look for them online in critique forums, through a public call on your blog, in a writing class, at a conference or seminar or through your local SCBWI chapter. Of course you'll want to go through a trial run, not every CP is a good match, but if you want to find one, you will!


6. The Red Angel asked: How do you balance between writing and rest of life as well as how do  you avoid procrastination. :D
 
LOL, um....I don't know I'm the best person to answer this question. It's a learning process to find balance. But you HAVE to get out of your house at some point because you will go crazy, or gain too many pounds from just sitting there, or forget how to interact with humans, which if you write about people, you kind of need to have down. I think creating small goals is helpful, like I will edit 2 chapters and then I can go out/watch tv/read a book/grab coffee with a friend/sleep....etc...
 
And how do you avoid procrastination? By eliminating distraction. Turn off the tv, turn off the internet, your cell phone etc...create an environment where the only thing you can possibly do is be productive--and don't worry if being productive looks like you're staring into space, if you're thinking about your novel, you're being productive.
 
 
OK guys! This post ended up becoming a LOT bigger than I imagined. But hopefully you enjoyed reading or found some useful piece of advice in here. I'd love to know what you think or if you'd answer any of these questions differently.
 
What would your answers be? And do you have any more questions?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The return of the Mini-Reviews! 10 NEW pocket-sized recommendations.

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

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - David Levithan and John Green
- Heartfelt, frustrating, hilarious, and a little bit magical -- WGWG is such a worthy read. Plus, it's told via the rarely-used dual male POV.

Twisted - Laurie Halse Anderson
- Contemporary novel with infrequently-seen male narrator -- compelling, well-written, and oh-so-relevant. But what else do you expect from Laurie Halse Anderson?


The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
- For my third go-round, I listened to the Hunger Games audiobook.
Audio Files - Quality narration that I definitely recommend for first-timers or repeat offenders.

Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
- I'll add to the chorus of "refreshing paranormal YA" -- with the bonus of Kiersten's engaging and funny voice, and a romance to really root for. *Co-review coming soon!

Fire - Kristin Cashore
- Companion to Graceling, with a first-rate heroine (be my BFF?) and addictive plot. Love, love, love this book.
Audio Files: One of the few audiobooks in which the narration enhances the novel. The British narrator is FANTASTIC.

Blue Fire - Janice Hardy
- Action-packed high fantasy for the non-fantasy reader. Compelling political storyline, plus a teen heroine you can't help but root for. *Click HERE for full review!

Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
- Simply put, it's the contemporary novel you'll want to read over and over. Trust me. *Co-review coming soon!

The Dead-Tossed Waves - Carrie Ryan

- The world-building kept me coming back for more. Delves further into life after "the return," this time through the eyes of Gabry, the daughter of Mary (narrator of The Forest of Hands and Teeth).
Audio Files: Average narration. I may have enjoyed the book more reading vs. listening.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

- I'd seen the movie first (I know, I know), and the book stands separate but equally great. The movie stayed true overall to the characters and tone, but the book is much more internal. Well worth it!

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else - Erin McCahan
- A contemporary novel done well. Humorous with excellent characters and skillfully-crafted family issues. *Click HERE for full review!

(Previous mini-review posts: HERE and HERE!)

Anything here on your TBR? Agree/disagree with anything? Leave me some mini-reviews in the comments!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Real World Recap: Frankie's "Breaking into the Biz" talk at Arcadia University!

On Friday night, Sara and I returned to our alma mater, Arcadia University, to listen to Frankie's talk on "Breaking into the Biz" as part of the school's Writers Series. We're so proud of Frankie, and she did an awesome job!

Here's a quick recap:

Almost ready!
(Check out the back -- they had to ADD more chairs!)

Dr. Wertime, Frankie's former professor and
current colleague, introducing Frankie.

Wooooo Frankie!!!
So -- the talk!

Frankie covered a number of topics, basically what she wished she'd known three years ago, when she began to seriously pursue publication.

- The industry
Frankie stressed the importance of getting to know the industry. Read books in your genre, follow agent/editor blogs and Twitter feed, subscribe to industry e-newsletters (like GalleyCat and Publishers Lunch) -- get to know names, trends, everything you can get your hands on!

At first it seems overwhelming, but then you see how people are interconnected, and it's a smaller business than you first imagined. Also -- industry pros aren't as scary as you think they are! Editors, agents, and bestselling authors are people, just like you, and most are more than willing to talk with you.

- Writing and revision
You have to find a writing style that suits you. Frankie spent years writing drafts of her novel until she found the right way to tell her main character's story -- and then in six weeks, she wrote what became her final version. Then came the months of revision!

- Getting critiqued
Getting your work critiqued can be tough at first, but it's SO helpful to have outside feedback. Writers aren't the solitary creatures people imagine! Frankie talked about how lucky she was to have a critique group fall into her lap after a Writing for Children class at Arcadia (awwww, thanks Frankie!) -- but if you aren't that lucky, go out and find critique partners! There are tons of writers online, and local writing events can introduce you to your future CPs. Also, you can sign up for peer or professional critiques at conferences.

- Networking
Writing conferences are an excellent way to get out there and meet people! You never know what connections may lead to, so talk to as many strangers as possible at these events. Choose conferences in your genre, and you should even join a national writing organization (like SCBWI or RWA) and see what local-area events they have.

If frequent conferences are out of your budget (or even if they're not), attend local book signings and chat it up with authors and fans. It's free, and you can learn valuable information from your favorite writers!

- Branding
If you're comfortable with writing online, start a blog! Help people get to know you! Reading and commenting on blogs is a great way to start relationships in the business. Before you do, think about how you want to present yourself online -- basically, create a "brand": an consistent identity that people will associate with you. This isn't scary at all; it's just about being yourself, but in a way that is focused and easily recognizable.

- Agents and querying
Frankie attributed her incredible querying success to the hours she spent revising and perfecting her query and the additional hours she spent honing a specific list of agents she thought well-matched her work and personality. (Oh Frankie, so humble.) She also explained the importance of having a literary agent -- someone who gets your work to top editors, helps you revise, navigates and negotiates your contract, and much much more -- and how critical it is to choose the right literary agent for you.

- You're never done.
Until that book is on the shelves, your work is never finished. There are revisions upon revisions upon revisions, even ones you don't expect. If you're in it for the long haul, be prepared!

Afterward, Frankie fielded questions for about a half hour, and then a line of people waited to speak with her. The mark of a successful talk!

Congrats, Frankie!!!

(For Frankie's drastically different (and much more entertainingly anxiety-ridden) recap of the talk from her point of view, check out her blog!)

Any questions for Frankie or the rest of the FNC? What do you wish you'd known before you started writing seriously? Leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Morganville Vampires Tweetstakes!

Hey all--

Do you like vampires?  Did you know that Rachel Caine's new Morganville Vampires book, GHOST TOWN, comes out in just ONE week?

I met Rachel this summer at Comic-Con and she was super-duper nice (as were all the authors on the vampire panel!)  She was kind enough to sign a book for me--the omnibus of Morganville #1 and #2.  Actually, the book I bought was already signed, but Rachel signed it again and noted that it was signed at Comic-Con!

And now, I want to pass this book onto one of you!

Now, you might not know this.  But life has been busy lately.  Like, too-busy-to-read-blogs busy.  Too-busy-to-clean-my-house busy.  Too-busy-to-do-ANYTHING busy.  Which is why I'm making this one a Tweetstakes!  Twitter, in all its 140-character glory, is the only thing I've managed to keep up with these past few weeks.

So how do you enter?

Easy.  Just tweet something you like about vampires, and make sure you include @firstnovelsclub and a link back to this contest.

That's it!

And yes, it's open internationally!

This contest is open from right now until October 25th at 11:59pm.  Winner will be announced via Twitter and this blog on October 26th.  Since this is through Twitter, we'll DM you for your mailing address, so PLEASE make sure you check!

Good luck!


Monday, October 18, 2010

WINNER of I Now Pronounce You Someone Else!

With 121 entries, there was just one lucky winner of our I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE giveaway....


Congratulations
Jen Petro-Roy!

(Check out her blog, STACKED, and follow her on Twitter!)


PS - Jen's a librarian -- we love librarians!

Thanks to everyone else who entered, and don't forget to enter our other two fabulous giveaways -- for a signed ARC of BLUE FIRE and the 2011 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS!

Interview with literary agent Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc.!

Check out the GLA blog for my interview with Andrea Somberg, literary agent extraordinaire!

Find out her recent favorite fictional protagonists, her personal agenting philosophy, what she's looking for in the slush pile, and more.

Also, don't forget to enter our giveaway for the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents! Ends 10/29.

(Keep an eye out for more GLA interviews by yours truly in the coming weeks!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Writer, meet saddle. Get back in it.

I've written an embarrassingly small amount of fiction in the past four months. It's the longest drought I've had in three years of constant writing. In May, I finished my first novel, revisions and all, which felt like climbing Everest, and then life got in the way.

I'm an overachiever, and simply put, life doesn't get in my way. In fact, I take pride in the knowledge that I'm so darn stubborn that life often dives out of my way as I barrel forward toward my goals.

But I was in over my head, and it was finally time NOT to make time to write.

I'm not going to give you a laundry list of what took up my time. But I dropped into bed each night, exhausted in every way possible, and slept just a handful of hours before another nonstop day. So I stopped writing. Then September came, and life got even more in the way, and I stopped reading blogs and nearly stopped blogging altogether.

Dark days, I tell you.

Most of the chaos got wrapped up in late September. October finally arrived, shiny with possibilities. For the first week, I relaxed -- though still working 10-hour days. Now I'm getting back in the saddle. First with blog posts, and then with writing novel #2.

I'm not going to lie: It's hard. Especially when there are so many shiny new TV episodes to watch, and dishes and laundry and dust tend to pile up so easily.

It's like part of me forgot how to write, how to come up with post ideas, how to dive inside characters' minds and spin a plot. But the other part of me is itching for the challenge.

So my house might be grimy, and my DVR may fill to capacity, but I'll be writing again.


I wrote this post for the other people in my situation. I'm not alone, I know that. 

And for the months of non-writing, a tiny voice of guilt nagged me, told me that I was a chump, a fraud, and I'd never get published because I dared to step back and acknowledge that forcing myself to write on top of my other obligations would've driven me to a breakdown.

It's time to stop feeling guilty, to start writing again, to prove to myself that I made the right decision, and that I'm coming back with a vengeance.

Anyone coming back with me?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest Post! Kirsten Miller: One Month Later

Today the FNC is lucky to be debuting a new feature, which has been very un-creatively titled "One Month Later."  So far, we've been all about letting you know about the books that are coming out with author interviews, guest posts, and co-reviews.

But that left us wondering...what does life look like AFTER your book goes out into the world?  And so, "One Month Later" was born.  We'll be bringing you guest posts and interviews from some of the hottest YA authors out there, talking all about what it's like to have your book out in the world!

Joining us today is Kirsten Miller, author of the Kiki Strike series and the much-talked-about recent release, The Eternal Ones.  Check out her books on her Goodreads page.

Keep reading to find out just what life can look like in the month after your book comes out, how the release of a book can feel different each time, and what it feels like when your book grows up and goes out into the world!

Thanks to Kirsten for taking the time to join us!

1) What's been happening in the month (ish) since The Eternal Ones has come out?

Oh let’s see . . .

I celebrated the launch with hot dogs and champagne. (Mmmm.)
I participated in dozens and dozens of interviews. (I am currently bored to death of myself.)
I tried to keep my Eternal Ones blog up to date. (Much, much harder than it sounds.)
I tried to keep my Kiki Strike blog up to date. (Next to impossible.)
I hit the New York Times bestsellers list. (Yay!)
I fell off the New York Times bestsellers list. (Oh well. It was an honor just to be nominated. Ha.)
I took part in a bunch of festivals and conferences. Decatur, Chicago, Brooklyn, Texas, etc.
I wrote a super creepy short story set in the hotel I stayed in while I was visiting Chicago.
I tried to keep chugging away on the sequel to The Eternal Ones. (Hahahahaha.)
I had jury duty. (Wasn’t picked.)
I avoided most reviews of my book. (Except the really good ones, of course.)
I avoided most bookstores.
I visited my parents and was interviewed by my hometown paper.
I contemplated having a nervous breakdown. I decided against it.

2) Has the release of The Eternal Ones felt different at all to the release of your Kiki Strike books?

Very interesting question. Kiki Strike was my first novel, and I had no idea what to expect after its release. Plus, I’d just moved to Paris, so I wasn’t really in touch with my publisher back here in New York. It was a strange time in my life. I didn’t have any sense of how the book was doing. I was miserable in France. The weather was terrible. And I was trying to write Kiki #2.

But then, about four months after the book hit stores, my Kiki Strike blog started getting traffic. That’s when I began to feel like I’d actually made some sort of impression. The kids who visited the blog really kept me going. I doubt I would have written any more books if it hadn’t been for them. I’m glad I persevered. Kiki Strike never made the Times list, but it’s still selling well four years after its release. I guess you could call it a sleeper hit of sorts.

I don’t know what to say about the release of The Eternal Ones. It’s still so fresh. The people at Razorbill/Penguin have done a phenomenal job with the marketing and publicity. Which is great. But it also makes me a quite anxious, because I want the book to do well. For their sake as much as my own.

I will say that that the online YA world has changed quite a bit since the second Kiki book came out in 2007. There are more bloggers. More book sites like goodreads. I couldn’t be more pleased by these developments. But there are also more people who seem to be out for blood. (Not just mine. Check out Jonathan Franzen’s bizarre Amazon reviews.) That’s fine, too. It just makes the Internet feel like a bit of a minefield at times.

There’s also a lot more work that’s expected of authors these days. Website content. Blog tours. Blog posts. Facebook. Twitter. It can be quite overwhelming at times.

3) What should we know about the experience of having your book in the world?

Here are my suggestions.

1. Have a long, candid talk with your editor about what may or may not happen after the release of your book. Managing your own expectations is critical.

2. Figure out what the best use of your Internet time will be. (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, book website, etc.) Or maybe you can do it all. I certainly can’t.

3. Grow a really tough skin or avoid your online reviews. (Except the good ones, of course. Haha.)

4. Have a new project in the works. If nothing else, it will keep you from obsessing about aspects of the launch that you cannot control.

5. Remember: No one knows what the Amazon ranking really means.

6. Also remember: In the YA world, books don’t necessarily need to make a bestsellers list to be a hit in the long run.


Thank you again to Kirsten for a glimpse into just what life can look like in first month of publication!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mostly Good Girls

Are you in need of a good laugh? Like a seriously good hardcore, giggle until there are tears in your eyes? Then you absolutely MUST read Mostly Good Girls.

Description from Goodreads:

The higher you aim, the farther you fall…. 

It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and making Scott Walsh fall in love with her. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, Scott Walsh’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie. 
When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge epic fail?

This book was so true, so funny and so poignant, I'm kind of in awe of Leila Sales. I also kind of want to be her best friend. The voice of Violet was amazing and I don't think there was one page that wasn't full of hilariousness. I could totally relate to Violet's worries and a lot of her attitudes. If you ever obsessed over your grades in high school--you will love this book. If you ever obsessed over a boy you could never have--you will love this book. And if you ever had a best friend--you will love this book.

I don't really know how to do this review justice without just basically sharing a few quotes.

This poem, submitted anonymously to the Wisdom, the lit mag Violet is the editor of is so funny and so reminds me of the sort of poetry I wrote when I was on my high school's lit mag kind of just plays in my head all day now and makes me laugh every time.

I want to be thin
Because that means I win
I must be thinner than my kin
Thinner than my sister, Lynn
As thin as my skin
(Which is yang to my yin).
Hunger is a sin
As bad for you as a shark's fin.
I would laugh and grin
If only I were thin.

The ONLY thing funnier than how bad this poem is, is the reaction the lit mag has to it, and Violet's desperate attempts to get the girls to see how while anorexia is a serious issue, this is a really poor piece of literature.

And, from the Unthemed school dance...

Katie leaned over and shouted something at my ear.

"What?" I yelled back. School dances are loud. That's part of the reason why you have to look so pretty--because it's not like you can rely on conversation to get you anywhere.

"I said," Katie repeated, "why are no random dudes trying to hump us from behind?"

I snorted. "No sense of romance, obviously."

Then there are chapters called "Genevieve is anorexic", followed by "Genevieve is not anorexic." Seriously if you want to know what a Harry Potter tour is, or how to become a pool shark, or what happens when you steal ritalin from the kid you're babysitting for and try it, or why you might find yourself drinking copious amounts of orange juice after your first attempt at getting drunk....read this book!

Bonus! If you've seen Easy A, you can totally imagine Violet's parents as Olive's.  I only thought of this toward the end, but just imagine them that way the whole time and it will bring your reading experience to a whole other level.

Ok, go read this. And if you want more info on Leila Sales, check out her fun website.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 Smart Questions About the Query Process and GIVEAWAY of the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents!

Who better to inform us about querying literary agents than Chuck Sambuchino -- the editor of both GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET as well as  GLA's supreme blogmaster? Yep, we brought in the big guns for you guys today!

To top off that impressive resume, Chuck followed his own advice and nabbed himself an agent and a book deal for the just-released humor book HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK.

Don't let the business-like shirt and tie fool you, people:
This guy is funny. (Note the mischievous glint in his eyes.)
But he's getting serious with us today and giving you top-notch info on querying details that every aspiring writer needs to know.

10 SMART QUESTIONS ABOUT THE QUERY PROCESS

When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until you make a connection.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep. It’s with that in mind that I have collected 10 of the more interesting questions submitted to me by readers regarding protocol during the query process.

1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?

Generally, no. A rejection from one usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.

2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?

You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a work if it’s been overhauled or undergone serious edits. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.

3. Do you need a conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?

I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.

4. Should you mention your age in a query? Will agents take on an older client?

I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.

5. Can I query an agent for a short story collection?

I’d say 95 percent of agents do not accept short story collection queries. The reason? Collections just don’t sell well. If you have a collection of short stories, you can do one of three things: 1) Repurpose some/all of the stories into a novel, which is much easier to sell. 2) Write a new book—a novel—and sell that first to establish a reader base. That way, you can have a base that will purchase your next project—the collection—ensuring the publisher makes money on your short stories. 3) Query the few agents who do take collections and hope for the best. If you choose this third route, I suggest you get some of the stories published to help the project gain some momentum.

6. When should you query? When is your project ready?

There is no definitive answer, but here’s what I suggest. You want to get other eyes on the material—what are called “beta readers”—people who can give you feedback that is both honest and helpful. These beta readers (usually critique group buddies) will give you feedback and you can take what you want then ditch the rest. What you’re aiming for is no more major concerns. So let’s say you give the book to three friends and they come back with some major concerns, such as “It starts too slow” or “This character is not believable.” Through revisions, you can address these problems. After rewrites, give it to three more beta readers. If they come back with no major concerns, the book is ready, or at least very close.

7. Should I mention that my work is copyrighted or has had professional editing?

No. All work is copyrighted the moment you write it down in any medium, so saying something that’s obvious only comes off as amateurish. On the same note, all work should be edited, so saying that the work is edited (even by a professional editor) also comes off as amateurish.

8. How should I start my query? Should I begin with a paragraph from the book?

I would not include a paragraph from the book nor would I write the letter in the “voice” of one your characters—those are gimmicks. You can just jump right into the pitch—there’s nothing wrong with that. But you can also try to establish a connection with an agent (i.e., try to explain why you’ve picked this agent out of the whole bunch). Ways to make a connection include 1) a referral, 2) citing an interview with them you read online, 3) mentioning a prior book they repped, 4) revealing that you met in person at a writers’ conference.

9. Should I mention that the query is a simultaneous submission?

You can, but you don’t have to. If you say it’s exclusive, they understand no other eyes are on the material, but if you say nothing, they will assume multiple agents must be considering it. Keep in mind to always check each agent’s submission guidelines; a few rare agents will specifically request to be informed if it’s a simultaneous submission.

10. Should I query all my “target” agents at once?

No, and let me tell you why. You don’t want to send out 50 queries all at once, because if the query doesn’t hook readers or your first chapter needs tweaking, then you’ve sent out sub-par work to all reps. You’ll get rejected across the board and blow lots of chances with agents. My recommendation is to send out 5-7 queries and see what you hear back. If everyone is saying no and you don’t get requests for pages, you have to start examining where you’re going wrong. Make some adjustments before querying again.

The official details on Chuck:
Chuck Sambuchino (gnomeattack.com) is an editor and a writer. He works for Writer's Digest Books and edits GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS (guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog) as well as CHILDREN'S WRITER'S & ILLUSTRATOR'S MARKET. His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK (gnomeattack.com), was released in Sept. 2010 and has been featured by Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post and AOL News. Besides that, he is a produced playwright, magazine freelancer, husband, cover band guitarist, chocolate chip cookie fiend, and owner of a flabby-yet-lovable dog named Graham.
_____________________________________

Thanks, Chuck! Seriously, this is some awesome info. To top it off, Chuck has offered a copy of the freshly updated 2011 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS to one lucky reader! (I bought myself a copy and love it!) Enter in the form below for a chance to win!





You'll want to click on this to see a larger version,
because the cover is awesome.
And for when you get the inevitable rejections, be sure to pick up a copy of the hilarious HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK -- because nothing puts rejection in perspective like the threat of evil Lawn Warriors.

Which one of Chuck's answers have you found the most helpful? What's your favorite GLA post? Leave it in the comments!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vampire Diaries Season 2 Episode 5: Kill or Be Killed

Opening Credits


Flashback to The Year Mason Became a Lockwolf

Florida:

Mason is sitting at NOT The Only Bar In Mystic Falls! He finishes off his drink and leaves. Some guy follows him out and smacks him!

Mason: DUDE! Jimmy, why you frontin?

Jimmy: Because you screwed my girlfriend, Marla!

Mason: Dude, I did not!

***FIGHT***

Mason: *Pre-werewolf curse trigger super drop*

Jimmy: Is dead

Poor Jimmy. Poor Mason. And poor Marla. If I was Marla, I totally would have screwed Mason.


Lockwolf Mansion/Manor/Estate/Town/Plantation

Tyler: Wait, so he died?

Mason: It was self defense. He kept coming at me.

Tyler: So were you banging his girlfriend.

Mason: Yes No! And then I turned into a wolf. I have to sedate myself and chain myself on a full moon or I’ll kill everybody. Also this werewolf life, you do not want. So can I get that moonstone?

Tyler: No. Ok here’s the super secret compartment where my dad probably hid the moonstone that I took out and stole. Oh! Geez, it’s not here. Bummer.

Mason: *growls*

La Casa De Elena’s

Elena: *primps in the mirror*

Jeremy: Woohoo! I’m in this episode. Also…Tyler’s a werewolf! WOW!

Elena: Stay away from werewolves. They bite.

Jeremy: Oh no. I’m looking into one for sure. I have the super special Gilbert ring!

Elena: Oh whatever, no one listens to me anyway. *opens closet for coat*

Stefan: SURPRISE!

Elena: AAAAAAAAAAH!

Stefan: *KISS*

Elena: Today sucks! I have to pretend I hate you so Caroline will overhear and tell Katherine and she won’t make me dead.

Stefan: Well let’s make up a super secret code. Like when I say “You self absorbed doppelganger wannabe, fake-diary-writer who was adopted!” I really mean, “Oh baby you so fine how can I make you all of mine?”

Elena: I don’t like this code.


Caroline’s House: It’s Always Sunny in Mystic Falls

Officer Forbes: We’re going to spend the whole entire day together. Me and you, you and me, together. Today. All day.

Caroline: Whatever.

Officer Forbes: So why was Elena over last night?

Caroline: Elena? That wasn’t Elena! God, Mom! Why can’t you tell the difference between my real best friend and her evil vampire twin? I thought you cared about my life!

Officer Forbes: You know…you’re different. Your skin is extra smooth and sometimes your teeth grow and also you tend to have a vampire face. At times.

Caroline: Oh so you think you know me now! Worst. Mom. Ever.

Officer Forbes: So you’re not a vampire?


Mystic Falls Historical Society Day Picnic

Mrs. Lockwood: Yay! We have a new park!

Stefan approaches Mason Lockwood and is all like, hey man, sorry my evil brother went all psycho on you and tried to silver you to the death, but like I think we use the same hair gel and probably ought to be friends because I just can’t handle one more werewolf/vampire showdown after Elena dragged me to Eclipse three times.

Edward Cullen: It was an EXCELLENT movie and how can you betray our race and talk to this dog?

Stefan: Not helping Edward!

Jacob Black: Be strong, Mason! Don’t give in. Vampires suck.

Mason: Yeah, sure whatever.

Stefan: Just don’t mess with us because there’s one of you and two of us. So we totally win! Yay!

Damon: WHAT are you doing? What What WHAT are you doing?

Stefan: Trying to get you not killed. Also, I wonder if Mason has a workout buddy. He has really great arms.

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls

So Jeremy is sitting alone sketching in his notebook like the town loner or the totally messed up kid whose parents just died and lost his girlfriend to vampirism and then had his memory erased and had his new girlfriend burned to death for being a vampire and then tried to kill himself and become a vampire only to fail and be murdered the next day but saved by a magic ring and just discovered werewolves exist.

Some girl named Sarah has the hots for him and then Amy who likes Matt but can’t seem to stay away from Tyler is like hey—Party at Tyler’s!

Tyler: Jeremy, you’re coming right? Right?

Jeremy: To the Wolf House!


Mystic Falls Picnic Day

Mason: Officer Forbes, can I be in the super secret town council?

Officer Forbes: The first rule of the super secret council is no one talks about the super secret council!

Mason: Ok so can I be in the you know what….nudge. nudge…wink, wink?

Officer Forbes:…

Mason: Damon and Stefan are vampires!

Officer Forbes: Sorry stupid, but they walk in the sun!

Mason: No, not anymore, the figured out a way. I’ll prove it.

Officer Forbes: No! Not Damon! He’s my friend. He’s a vampire killer.

Mason: I’ll prove it to you!


Meanwhile Caroline and Elena are walking and Caroline is bitching about her mom and Elena is bitching about Stefan and Caroline is like OOOH yeah, keep bitching about Stefan. Katherine’s orders…I mean…what?

Damon: Hey Officer Forbes. Did Mason tell you I was a vampire?

Officer Forbes: Yes. Hello, Damon.


The Exchange of Longing Looks Between Stefan and Elena

Stefan: *longing look*

Elena: *longer look*

Caroline: Stop looking at each other immediately!

Elena runs over to Stefan because she absolutely must talk to him and also engage in a fake fight, especially now that Damon is watching and as Caroline and Damon listen in they use their special code words and somehow it just sounds like a really lame fight to me and not like a secret declaration of love.

Party at the Lockwolf’s!

Sarah: Wheeee drinking makes me drunk!

Amy: I’m here to reinforce the plotline I was a part of two episodes ago. Otherwise I don’t think I serve any purpose.

Tyler: Your reinforcing of your plotline reinforces my own. *growl*

Jeremy: Look, I draw pictures of wolves!

Tyler: You. Me. Bedroom. Now!

Sarah and Amy: Maybe we’re not getting any tonight…

Alone in Tyler’s Dad’s office Tyler shoves Jeremy against the wall!

The wall: OOOMPH!

Jeremy: OMG what are you doing? I thought that…I thought…

Tyler: You thought what!?!?

Jeremy: I thought you liked girls!

Tyler: What! I DO!

Jeremy: So you ARE a werewolf!

Tyler:…

Jeremy: Are you?

Tyler: Not yet. First I have to kill a person.

Jeremy: Oh ok. Just don't kill me if you do that.

Tyler: Deal.


Mystic Falls Picnic

Damon: Hello, Mason! Lovely day today is it not?

Mason: F. U.

Damon: Stefan, why are you fake fighting with Elena? It’s not about ME is it? *wiggles eyebrows*

Stefan: I am not fake fighting with her. I am real fighting with her and also we’re not fighting about you, or the fact that you not-kissed her at the end of last season. Also she hates you. Go away.

Damon: Fine! I shall treat myself to a refreshing glass of lemonade. *sip* OOOOH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Stefan: Are the lemons sour?

Damon: *falling over* Anti-Damon!

Officer Forbes: O.M.G. They ARE vampires! Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

Meanwhile Caroline and Elena are walking through the woods.

Elena: Caroline, why are you a liar such a good friend?

Caroline: *smiles* Katherine told me to do it.

Elena: Ok...

Caroline: WAIT! I hear something with my super vampire hearing! My mom is going to kill Stefan and Damon!

Elena: WHAT! This is going to make it hard to look like we're fake fighting *pouts*


Stefan: Ok, Damon! Now that Mason's Anti-Damoned you I'm pissed. Let's kill him.

Damon: You really ARE a bad ass this season.

Stefan: Well you're kind of mopey and I had to step up.

Damon: Mason. You Anti-Damoned me. Prepare to die.

Stefan and Damon: Are shot! And injected!

Mason: Gotcha! Ok Officer Forbes, let us bring these blood suckers into the torture chamber slave quarters.

In the Lockwolf Torture Chamber

Mason: You're totally going to kill them, right?

Officer Forbes: Totally. Now get out of here. This is super secret council stuff.

Picnic Woods

Caroline is racing through the trees tracking Stefan and Damon like Aragorn wearing a Legolas wig! And then she finds blood!

Caroline: A vampire lay here. And next to him, the other.

Mason: Looking for Stefan and Damon?

Caroline: Tell me where they are and no one gets hurt.

Mason: *grabs Elena* You can't hurt me.

Caroline: Oh yeah? *Super vampire turbo charge face-kick* *Fight! Fight! Caroline wins!* Told ya! Best vampire ever!!!!

Oh Caroline, you are officially my favorite again!

Torture Chamber

Officer Forbes: How old are you Damon? And how do you walk in the sun.

Damon: *moans*

Officer Forbes: *Shoots*

Damon: OW! My knee cap!

Officer Forbes: Tell me what I need to know and I'll kill you quickly.

Damon: *delirious from gun shots and Anti-Damon*

Officer Forbes: *shoots*

Damon: OW! WTF!

Officer Forbes: *prepares to shoot...* WTF...

And suddenly Elena has burst into the scene to NOT save the day because she's pretty much useless and has no weapons or super powers but Caroline DOES have super powers and she's blurring around the dungeon and biting every police officer's neck until it's just her and her mom and oh crap! MAKE UP! Why does Caroline have the psycho-blood chin again. Anyway, the teeth are out of the mouth. Caroline's mom knows--her daughter is a vampire!

Damon: *drinks an officer* Well, I feel better! Geez Officer Forbes! When did you get so trigger happy? I thought we were friends.

Officer Forbes: Kill me!

Damon: Psssh! Friends don't kill friends. *wiggles eyebrows* See, vampires can be nice.

Officer Forbes: *looks at Caroline* Just kill me!

Meanwhile Stefan is all weak and Caroline and Damon are trying to get him to drink but he won't have it. Must stay true to diet!

Elena: Leave him alone! He's on Weight Watchers!


Lockwolf Manor

So finally Sarah and Amy are like why are we so drunk in a mansion with two cute boys and no one is kissing anyone. So they burst in on Tyler and Jeremy who are looking at the moonstone and steal it and then Sarah runs up the stairs with it to get Jeremy to chase her so they can do it and Tyler is not having it and runs after her and grabs the moonstone and pushes her down the stairs where she falls down dead.  Oh wait she's not dead. Man, she must have a hard head and Tyler and Jeremy can stop holding their breath. We have at least another episode before Tyler goes all wolf-like.

Salvatore Mansion

All the vampires plus Elena and Caroline's mom head into the mansion and Stefan looks a lot better and Caroline seems chipper and asks if he had any bunny. I LOVE Caroline! She's so back to being awesome again. And then Officer Forbes has to stay in the dungeon until Damon can compel her to forget and she's all like keep Caroline away from me she's not my daughter anymore and Caroline is like nooooooooo. Also Stefan wants to drink the people blood again so he can be strong enough to fight Katherine who has an immunity to iocaine powder Anti-Damon and Elena is like noooooooooo and then suddenly her fake fight with Stefan is totes a real fight!

Caroline: Elena, I need to tell you something. I'm secretly selling you out to Katherine because she said if I didn't listen I'd never have any screen time and I'd always have the bad make up job especially when I drink blood.

Elena: Oh thank goodness you told me. Now I can stop fake fighting with Stefan.

Caroline: You were fake fighting?

Elena: Just go to sleep.

Lockwolf Manor

Mason: *calls Officer Forbes* So are the vampires dead or what? Hello? Hello?

Tyler: I almost killed a girl today and that sucked so take your moonstone kthnxbai!

Mason: YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Salvatore Mansion

Elena: Hey Damon thanks for being nice to Caroline's mom. I probably will hate you a little less in the next episode and about three episodes from now when it's time for a hiatus and we need a really big cliffhanger I might even kiss you again--except it'll be for reals.

Damon: Sweet!

Elena: *goes to see Stefan* Ok, so I think you need to kick Katherine's ass and drink the people blood but since I'm your girlfriend, I think you should drink mine. *cuts hand* OW! Papercut. Drink.

Stefan: I don't know, what if I drink too much and this could end badly but oh you smell yummy. *Slurp Slurp*

Elena: Yay! You controlled your hunger. Let's make out.

Lockwolf Woods: Some car

Mason gets into a car in the woods and inside is... KATHERINE! Hey girl, where've you been all episode? There was a serious lacking of flashbacks and crazy kissing for the past hour.

Mason: I can fix that! *Kiss*

Also the flashback to the night Mason activated his wolf curse shows that Katherine probably compelled Jimmy to think Marla had screwed Mason just so he'd kill the man and become a wolf. Oh Katherine, you are something else.

Katherine: No kissing! Because A) you messed with the Salvatores today and only I get to mess with the Salvatores and B) Where the hell is my moonstone?

Mason: I got it.

Katherine: Let the kissing begin!

Ye gods! Nina Dobrev is the LUCKIEST girl in the world right now.

Also, CW--WHY is there such a lack of shirtless action this season? I'm just saying....Mason, Damon and Stefan are precious resources totally going to waste.

Bonnie: What about me? I haven't even been in the last episodes.

Aunt Jenna: Can it, Witch!

FIN!
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