Thursday, September 29, 2011

LOLA, won't you be our neighbor?

Do you want to smile? A big, huge, ear-to-ear, no-holds-barred glorious grin of happiness? Then you need to go read yourself some Stephanie Perkins.

Steph's debut, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, left us all feeling stupidly giddy and warm and glowy inside, and she hits a feel-good home run again with her second, companion novel, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR.

Stephanie has this knack for writing spot-on romance, and you totally want to be BFFs with her characters. Her books are delightful and funny and real --- like candy with depth. Like, VITAMIN CANDY, people. They taste good and they're good for you! They're like the Honey Nut Cheerios of books.

And without further ado, I'm reposting Sara's review of LOLA, in which she OMGSQUEEs over her top 5 reasons she j'adores Steph's new book baby!

Sara's Review:

You may remember our quad-review of Anna, in which we deemed Etienne St.Clair the hottest little hobbit that ever went to high school.  Well, this time I just couldn't wait until everyone in the FNC had read this book to gush about how much I loved it.  So here you go, in no particular orders:

Reasons Why J'Adore Lola and the Boy Next Door!! (spoiler-free, of course!)

I promise Cricket Bell is even cuter than this Disney-fied cricket.

1) Cricket Bell!  Okay, right now, right here, I'm patenting the OMGSQUEE.  I'm going to make it happen.  Because that's exactly what Cricket made me do ALL throughout the book.  Obviously I can't give away a lot of details without ruining something in this book, but let me say this about Cricket: A of all, his name is Cricket.  B of all, he's really tall.  C of all, he's a little emo.  D of all, his name is Cricket.  Did I mention that part?

Seriously though, Cricket is not Etienne St. Clair in the best of ways.  That is to say, he's his own, unique character with his own special OMGSQUEE reasons to love him.  Now, I heart St. Clair, but I must admit Cricket was a little more up my fangirl alley--tall, a little awkward, a little emo...mmm, the perfect recipe.

2) Lola's dads!  That's right, I said dadS.  As in two.  Lola has two dads.  But it's not a thing--she just has them.  And they're totally normal, recognizable real life/YA parents.  They're not a plotline or a way to make Lola "alternative and spunky" (she does that fine on her own!) or an underlying message.  They're just a set of parents in a YA book.

Growing up with two moms, and in the time before the YA boom, gay parents in the books I read were few and far between.  And if they did exist, it was always an issue, or somehow made the MC's life tumultuous/difficult in some way.  I don't actually think I realized how much I wanted to see gay parents as just a regular part of a teenager's life in a book until I read Lola, and loved her dads so much.

Plus, like all of Stephanie Perkins' characters, her dads--Andy and Nathan--are hilarious, and heartfelt, and REAL.  And adorable.  Bonus points?  Lola actually likes, and appreciates (as much as a teenage can appreciate) her parents--something else I found ultra-refreshing to read!

3) Lola!  Obvi Lola has to be a big part of why I loved this book.  She's not Anna Oliphant, just like how Cricket is not St. Clair.  Lola felt a little edgier to me, and it took me a little more time (like, an extra paragraph or two) to warm up to her.  And I LIKED that.  I wasn't worried that I was going to be stuck with some overly-snarky MC because I trust and admire Perkins' writing and characters, but Lola definitely had more of an edge to her than Anna, and a little more angst in her life.  But, like Anna, all the things she experienced and went through and felt reminded (sometimes painfully) of my own high school experiences.

I not only sympathized with Lola, I empathized with her.  And her fashion sense was amazing without seeming gimmicky at all.  Her fashion sense wasn't what gave her a personality--it was just one facet of the character that is Lola.

4) Anna and St. Clair!  It was really awesome seeing Anna and St. Clair from an outsider's perspective.  Like, kind of more awesome than I even realized it was going to be.  I have to admit, it was a little weird at first--like when you hear yourself recorded on audio for the first time, and you think, is that really what my voice sounds like?

At first, I thought, is this really who Anna was in her book?  But the more I read, the more I realized that it both was and wasn't--it WAS the Anna, but this is outsider-looking-in Anna, not in-her-head Anna, and the differences were natural and made sense.  Plus, I needed my hobbit fix, and St. Clair definitely delivered :)  Bonus points include the fact that Anna uses the word "wee" in the book.  Hehe.  Wee.  It still makes me giggle.

5) Cricket Bell.  Yeah, again.  It's my post, I'll make him worthy of two bullet points if I want to!

So, in conclusion: Lola & the Boy Next Door made me OMGSQUEE! more times than is probably healthy.

(OMGSQUEE! is the next fetch.  It's going to happen.)


And today, LOLA is officially released to the world! So go buy her!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 2: The Hybrid

Opening Credits: Salvatore Mansion

TV Anchor: On last week’s episode, our resident news reporter Andy Star mysteriously died by falling off a catwalk we keep in the newsroom for really no main purpose other than for people to kill themselves by falling off. Which is what we believe happened to Andy, despite the fact that she wasn’t depressed, had a super hot boyfriend, and left no note. Ah well. You know what this means for me. I HAVE HER OFFICE NOW! Wooo spinning chairs!

Elena: Damon! Why haven’t you answered any of my calls? And why didn’t you tell me your girlfriend died/killed herself/was murdered by my recently turned evil boyfriend?

Damon: Because I would have had to sing:

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Stefan killed my fake-girlfriend,
And he might kill you too!

Elena: He wouldn’t do that. He called me last night.

Damon: Did not!

Elena: Did too!

Damon: Stefan’s gone! How do you even know it was him?

Elena: The camera kept switching to his point of view and there was really sad music playing.

Damon: …

Elena: Also, Officer Forbes traced the call to Tennessee

Alaric's Apartment:

Alaric (rumpled and naked in bed): *hears knocks* Go away, Damon!

Elena: It's me! Why would Damon be here?

Alaric: *hides naked Damon pictures*

Elena: Anyway, tell me what you know about Stefan and Tennessee.

Alaric: Um, why are you asking me? 

Elena: Dude! Do you want a story line or not?

Alaric: Fine! We're going mountain climbing! Klaus is making hybrids!

Hybrid Mountains, Tennessee

Klaus: Are you tired, Stefan? Need some water? You've been carrying that Simon Camden backpack ALL morning.

Stefan: Shhhh! Simon Camden's sleeping.

Klaus: Oh look! A wolf pack.

Wolf girl: Who the hell are you and why did you turn Simon Camden into a backpack?

Klaus: My name is Klaus! I'll be your bad guy this season.

Wolf girl: He's a hybrid!

Klaus: Oh, you watched season 2! Fantastic!

Lockwood Mansion:

Mrs. Lockwood: Morning, Tyler! Coffee? I added anti-damon to test if you're a vampire this new cream I got at the store.

Tyler: *takes a sip* Pffft! Mom this cream tastes like crap.

Mrs. Lockwood: Also, don't bring home prostitutes who pull the walk of shame at 3AM.

Tyler: MOM! Stop calling my bff with benefits a prostitute. We only exchange sex for her helping me not kill people once a month on the full moon.
Mrs. Lockwood: ...

Tyler: Bye!

Mrs. Lockwood: *makes phone call* Bill, we have a vampire problem.

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls: Employees Only

Jeremy: I saw Vickie again, Matt. Look, here are ghost summoning instructions I binged last night to help us contact her. It says here it works best with a family member, and you were her brother.

Matt: Dude, why don't you ask Bonnie to help you?

Jeremy: Because I can't tell my witch girlfriend that my dead vampire turned ghost girlfriend is talking to me again.

Bonnie: Oh HELL NO! What is going on? Someone write me into this episode quick so I can smack some sense into my boyfriend.

The Writers: ... And then Bonnie stayed for another week at her family reunion in a town far off the set....

Bonnie: FML!

Jeremy: Please Matt! She said "help me" and you're her brother! You can do it.

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls: Dining Room

Tyler: Ok Elena, so here's where werewolves hang out, and here's a map that will lead you to wolves.

Elena: Wow, you're not a douche-bag this season at all.

Tyler:  It's because I got laid last night. Also, have you seen Caroline?

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls: The Bar

Elena: Alaric, we're going to hunt the wolves tonight at the full moon. Good idea?

Alaric: I think I take back what I said last episode about you being responsible.

Hybrid Mountains, Tennessee:

Simon Camden: What's happening to me? Why do I feel so strange?

Stefan: You're transitioning into a vampire. Or...vampwolf. A werepire... anyway you need blood or you'll die. Any humans want to offer Simon Camden some blood to drink?

Reverend Camden: If you're not referring to blessed wine I am going to be SO pissed.

Wolf girl: We'll die before we become hybrids like you.

Klaus: Ok...*bites wrist* Drink up, love! No worries, you're an extra, you'll probably be dead by the end of this episode anyway. Now...who's next?

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls

Tyler: Matt, have you seen Caroline? 

Matt: NO! Like I'd tell you if I did!

Tyler: Dude, I'm sorry, I didn't mean for things to be awkward between us this season, even though you were my best friend forever and I stole your girlfriend last season right after your sister died and your mom left. 

Matt: Does she normally help you tonight? Full moon?

Tyler: Yeah

Matt: Is this the kind of thing you need another person for?

Tyler: Yeah, kind of...basically you sit there and watch me get naked and grow fur and...

Matt: ...

Tyler: EW! This coffee sucks. Did you use the same kind of cream my mom did?

Matt: Probably--it's Anti-Damon... so no vampires buy coffee here anymore. They all go to Starbucks.

Lockwood Mansion:

Mrs. Lockwood: Oh Bill, thank goodness you're here! It's Caroline and she's so sweet and pretty and awesome and I think my son's in love with her, and I don't know what to do.

Bill: She's a vampire. She dies!

Hybrid Mountains, Tennessee

Elena: Alaric, were you a boy-scout? A boy-scout vampire slayer?

Alaric: That was season 1. Now I'm a boy-scout whisky maker.

Elena: Here, take the ring of I Will Live Forever Beyotches. It was yours last season.

Alaric: NO! You keep it.

Elena: I'm the dopplewhatsit and for unknown reasons that were probably explained in the behind the scenes look of season 2 on the exclusive Target DVD, the ring won't work on me. Also, I need to randomly strip now. And AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *is tossed into lake* 

Damon: Hi!

Oh yeah! You and what army? 

Klaus: Look at all my transitioning hybrid soldiers.

Stefan: This was your big plan? To reenact a scene from Night of the Living Dead?

Klaus: No, to build an army of comrades to fight for me. And win the war.

Stefan: What war?

Klaus: I don't know. Any war really. I always wanted my own army!

Simon Camden: My eyes are bleeding.

The Lake of Sexual Tension:

Damon: Out of the water, Elena!

Elena: First you throw me in, now you want me out?

Damon: We need to go home. Klaus thinks he killed you and letting him know that he didn't kill you is a really bad life decision. *stomps into the water* 

Damon's Shirt: *stays on* :(

Elena: Pleeeeeassse can we stay and find Stefan? We can leave before the full moon. *heaves wet bosoms*

Damon: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alaric: I'm too old to be watching this sh*t. And yet, I'm slightly turned on. No stop! Dead girlfriend's niece. She's my dead girlfriend's niece.

Damon: Ok fine! But we leave before the moon or you'll be kissing me while I die of wolf-rabies again.

Hybrid Training Camp:

Simon Camden: Klaus...*eyes bleed* you said I was supposed to feel better. When does that happen? *wolf jump* *hops away*

Klaus: Bring him back, Stefan, old chap. Would you?

Stefan: Here doggie doggie. Here Simon Camden. OW! You bit me! Crap. *perks ears up* OMG Elena, Alaric and Damon are here....must distract...oh HI KLAUS. Nothing to see here. Oh and I got bit. So you might want to heal me...or you know, lose your army general.

Klaus: Later. Bring me Simon Camden. And if he's gone, I want the one who played his brother next.

Stefan: I don't think he's on this show...

Lockwood Mansion:

Tyler: MOM! Why did you try to vampire-rufie me?

Mrs. Lockwood: Because Caroline's a vampire and I thought you were one too.

Tyler: Mom, come with me. I'm not a vampire. I'm something else...

Hybrid's Don't Make Good Pets When Transitioning on a Tennessee Mountain:

Simon Camden: Raaawwwwrrrr

Damon: RAWR!


Alaric: *shoots*

Elena: *tosses explodey thing*

Simon Camden: *rolls over*

Frankie: Awwww, he's really having the worst day ever.

Prop's Department: Vickie's Stuff

Jeremy: I got Helga from props to let me go through all of Vickie's things from season 1 and a couple of items she bought so we could pretend Vickie had a life beyond those 6 episodes we saw.

Matt: This is TOO sad. Jeremy, leave me alone. *puts down a picture of Vickie*

Lights: *dim*

Vickie's Picture: *stands up*

Matt: You have GOT to be kidding me.

Up in the Mountains:

Simon Camden: *is all tied up* Rawr! Rawwr! RAAAWWWWWRRRRR!

Damon: He can't turn into a wolf now. There's no full moon.

Alaric: Elena, you have the worst ideas ever.

Damon: Let's go.


That weird moment when it was daylight before the commercial break but now its nighttime even though only a minute has passed....

Elena: WHAT! Who turned off all the lights on the set. I'm bad at running in the dark. *ooomph* *falls*

Damon: Stay very still.

Elena: Why? OH! Hi puppy. Damon, run!

Alaric: Hurry, we have to help Damon.

Elena: I know! If he gets bit again, I'll have to kiss him when he's all gross and sweaty.

Tyler's Chamber of Um, Mom....this might get awkward:

Tyler: Go into this dungeon, you'll be staying here tonight. Sorry, no bathroom. And hope you didn't have plans for tomorrow.

Mrs. Lockwood: WHAT are you talking about Tyler?

Tyler: You think Caroline's a monster, but look at me. *WOLFS*

Mrs. Lockwood: AAAH! Tyler! Put your pants back on!

Hybrid Woods, Tennessee:

Damon: Noooooooo! Simon Camden! *fight*

Stefan: *heart-snatch*

Simon Camden: *is dead*

Stefan: Remember last episode when I killed your girlfriend and I was like, don't follow me? Did you forget?

Damon: No, but Elena tricked me with wet heaving bosoms...I was her idea! Stop calling her if you want her to forget you.

Stefan: I didn't call her.

Damon: Dude, we all saw the last episode.

Stefan: Take her home and try and keep her there this time... Or can't you?

Damon: I can!

Stefan: If all else fails...kiss her behind the knee. Works every time.

Boy Scout Truck of Keep the Human Safe:

Elena: Alaric, stop holding me captive in this truck! We have to save Damon and Stefan.

Alaric: No. If I let you out, I lose my story line again. I already shot the one arrow I had. It took me months to wittle that.

Elena: Don't worry! Lots of useless characters on this show got cool story lines. Look at Jeremy, his dead vampire girlfriends are haunting him, plus you have the eternity ring. You'll be all right.

Damon: Let's get out of here.

Elena: *jumps out of the car* DAMON!

Damon: Get in the car now!

Elena: But I'm trying to cock-tease Team Dalena.

Damon: Fine! Do it in the car.

Stefan: *watches from a distance*

Gilbert House:

Matt: So um, it turns out that Helga did not give permission for us to go through the props department and she was chasing me and I just stole all of Vickie's stuff and came here.

Jeremy: Cool!

Vickie: HI!

Jeremy: Vickie! What do you want us to help you with?

Vickie: I want to come back on the show.


Jeremy: Ummmmm

Dead Hybrid Mountains, Tennessee:

Klaus: So they all either died, ate each other or got eaten by me. This was not the plan I had. WTF! I was told last season I could make hybrids! I did everything in the ritual. I killed a vampire, a werewolf, and the dopplewhatsit!

Stefan: *wide eyes*

Klaus: I did kill the dopplewhatsit! DIDN'T I?

Stefan: Oh yeah, she's totally dead. Dead, dead, dead!

Klaus: All right, man, here's your wolf-rabies cure.

Elena's Room of Sexual Tension:

Damon: So maybe I was wrong and Stefan can be saved.

Elena: Yay! What made you change your mind?

Damon: Audiences are already bored with evil Stefan.  But what about you? Why did you stop looking for him tonight?

Elena: I didn't want you to get hurt.

Damon: Because you like me? Or like like me?

Elena: ....

Damon: Just remember when I bring him back that for three whole episodes you OBVIOUSLY had a crush on me. And I won't kiss you right now because I still have this ridiculous mullet hair cut and I smell like wet dog, but Team Dalena WILL have it's day!

Elena: Ok.

Alaric: Maybe I should go back to my place...

Tyler's Dungeon:

Tyler: Hi mom! I'm a boy again.

Mrs. Lockwood: ...


Mrs. Lockwood: Bill! Just kidding about the whole Caroline thing.

Bill: I don't think so. I see a vampire, I kill it. Have a nice day.

Caroline: *wakes up* Hello! HELP! Where am I? The last five minutes of the show? CRAP! These episodes NEVER end well for me. Daddy?

Bill: Hello, Caroline!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

2012 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market GIVEAWAY!

Many of us YA/MG writers say that we will do anything and everything to perfect our work and give ourselves the best chance possible to beat the odds and get our novel published.

We kill our darlings, agonize for hours over plot twists, eavesdrop on other people's conversations (for dialogue research, of course!), and revise and revise (and revise) until our eyes can barely focus on the computer screen and we've developed an acute case of carpal tunnel.

We read every book in our genre (and plenty more beyond it), follow countless industry and advice blogs, keep up with the trends, social network until our brains become one big Twitter feed, and ask for conference registration fees for Christmas and birthday presents.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If you're nodding your head, there's one book on industry and craft that you NEED to buy: The 2012 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. And we're giving away two copies!!!

This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to get published in the kid lit world, and this year's edition is edited by Chuck Sambuchino, the mastermind of awesomesauce behind the Guide to Literary Agents blog and the editor of the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents.

And you might recognize a couple names in article bylines, because Frankie and I contributed author interviews! Frankie interviewed Becca Fitzpatrick and Maggie Stiefvater, and I interviewed James Dashner and Cheryl Klein. (Yay!)

Additionally, there are other interviews with bestselling authors like Meg Cabot, Ally Carter, and MT Anderson, as well as sample queries and advice from top literary agents.

Kidlit agent extraordinaire Mary Kole contributed two articles, one about making the most of writer's conferences as a newbie or a veteran attendee and one on crafting voice, character, and authority (taming those three most tricky beasts).

Plus, you get over 700 updated listings for agents, publishers, and magazines that take work from children’s writers and illustrators.


And did I mention the 60-minute free webinar with Chuck that will teach you how to use the book and see your work in print? And access to an online publisher database?

Pretty much, it's the best $18.05 you can spend this year to help your writing career. And it will offer precious minutes during which you don't have to stare at a computer screen, and you can use fun things like Post-It flags and colored highlighters because dammit they are awesome!

So enter below to win one of two copies we're giving away, but if you don't win, be sure to buy a copy of your own!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In which THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS takes over my life for a day.

You know those books that compel you to keep reading despite everything else you have going on in life?

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was like that for me.

I mean, I started reading the NetGalley during lunch at work, and I ended up eating more slowly so that I could read more. And then I went home and pretended to accomplish normal things, like making dinner and doing dishes. And then I sat down at my computer, thinking I'd just read another chapter... and I didn't stop until I was finished, well past my bedtime.


So in the interest of not getting all fangirly-incoherent, here's a lovely, five-point list of what makes THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS one of my favorite fantasy books... ever. (And a spectacularly standout debut novel! Woo!)


Prophesies are scary things. First of all, there's the whole self-fulfillment idea, and then there's the whole possibility of epic failure. Talk about pressure!

Princess Elisa of Orovalle is the bearer of the Godstone. People start religions about her prophecy, which states that once in a century, God chooses a bearer (basically, a jewel appears in their belly button as an infant (not kidding)), and thus, they're destined to do something great. Vague and intimidating much?

Personally, I love reading about the push-pull of a person wrestling with destiny, and how that struggle changes them. (Is that sadistic?) This prophecy is extra-troublesome because it's so vague that Elisa has absolutely no idea what her great act of service might be -- but it's revered enough that just possessing the Godstone puts her life in danger from people who might want to take it from (read: cut it out of) her. Eek!


Lets get the much-talked-about thing out of the way: Elisa is an overweight princess. Though I was happy to see an overweight protag, I did get a little annoyed with her constantly hating on her body in the beginning. I found it very realistic, though, how her self-image affected her arranged marriage to King Alejandro of Joya d'Arena, the event that begins the novel.

On the other hand, when (due to some dangerous adventures) she loses a bit of weight and becomes more fit, I was soooo happy to see that the girl still loved her food. I mean, she's a total foodie and appreciates a well-made meal, whether she's overweight or just delightfully curvy. Heck, yes.

And there's so much more to her than her body type: she's witty, brave, intelligent, and much stronger than she often realizes. Throughout the book, her character transformation into a woman of conviction and action was awesome to read.

Aside from that: I love love love Rae Carson's characters --- whether friend or enemy or frenemy, they're multifaceted and flawed and ever-changing, basically everything you hope and dream for characters to be. Even side characters surprised me delightfully with their depth and angles.

I have to admit, I started reading the book and automatically pegged the characters, "Ok this one's the enemy, this one's the love interest, this one's the surrogate mother figure..." and I was wrong. Or right only for a short time. Halfway through the book, I stopped making assumptions.

And I'll be brief for the last three:


Loved it, believed it, and could totally picture it. The countries, traditions, religions, food, clothing -- it's my favorite kind of historical fantasy. I want to explore more of it! And the political conflicts felt very authentic and nuanced.


Death: There's a solid amount of it. Some of it was expected (there's a war going on, after all), and some was totally shocking. Rae Carson didn't coddle Elisa. The Godstone is a dangerous thing to possess, so bad things happen to Elisa and those around her.

On the upside, she becomes a total badass and a true hero via combating all that danger. It's awesome to witness the development, and it's a totally natural one, because she had a badass inside her from the get-go.

And though the book starts out with things happening to Elisa, she quickly becomes a proactive heroine, which is excellent. 


THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS could easily be a stand-alone, which I just love. (No big cliffhanger!) But Carson set up the end so that we can see that Elisa will have plenty of trials ahead and that her life as a queen and Godstone-bearer will take many new twists and turns. And because she is made of awesome, I can't wait to see what adventures she embarks on next.

Highly recommended links:
- Liz B's review on A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy (my exact thoughts, except more eloquent and elaborated upon differently)
- Jodi Meadows review on Words and Wardances (a very personal, loving review from one of Rae Carson's crit partners)
- Excellent author interview with Rae Carson on The Compulsive Reader

You can fall in love, too! THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is available NOW!!! Have any of you already read it? What did you think? Leave a link to your review in the comments!

I received my review copy from HarperCollins via NetGalley!

*Trilogological is a word, right? It totally sounds like a real word.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dear Cassie, You Are Now The Star of a CW Show: The Secret Circle, Episode 1


So the show starts with Cassie driving at night and listening to The Naked and the Famous and automatically I like her for this reason and this reason alone! Because you know, I like to drive and listen to The Naked and the Famous...

Anyway, this other car shoots out of nowhere and after some very bad driving, she stops. And has a flat tire! While the dude, who presumably caused the flat, drives off! To her mom's house! Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, Cassie establishes that she is awesome because she can change a flat tire. I can't even change a flat tire. I'm easily impressed with this.

But back at her house, the dude with the car gets out and Witches the house into flames!

Mom: Where did this fire come from?

Dude Outside: *FIRE*

Mom: I'm in the opening credits of a new CW show, aren't I? Crap. *dies*

One Month Later...

Cassie: Well, despite the fact that I've been roughing it on the streets and living on my own for the last month since my mom mysteriously died in an exploding fire while making spaghetti, I'm going to move in with my grandma in Chance Harbor.

Grandma: Are you okay?

Cassie: Dead mom, remember?

Grandma: Oh, right. Well, come inside! I have cookies.

Grandma's House

Grandma: So this is where your mom grew up. Funny how you've never been here before or come to visit. Not like your mom was trying to keep you away from this place, or any secrets, or the reason your dad died here--WHAT. Oh! Look at the time. This is your dead mom's room--it's yours now. I'll make dinner.

Dead Mom's Room of Sexy Windows:

Cassie: Since my mom died and there's no accounting for my well-being the past month as an orphan, I'm starting to get suspicious I'm in a Kevin Williamson production. Which means, I'd better close my curtains before I get naked.

Open Curtains: Look here for hot shirtless man/boy action.

Cassie: :O *closes curtains* *strips*

Closed Curtains: *open*

Cassie: WTF!

Grandma: Night, Cassie! If you can't sleep, count the stars.

Cassie: *looks up at a bajillion glow in the dark stars on her ceiling* Someone had a lot of pent up sexual frustration on their hands...

Yes, I'm the new girl. No, my blood doesn't smell like burger.

Principal Chamberlin: You know, Cassie, back in the day your mom and I were BFFs. She was super duper extra special to me, the way the last french fry on a shared plate is and you want to eat it, but you don't want to be rude and look like a pig, but you know your other friend totally ate more than you and is going to want to go halfsies and dammit you deserve that last fry.

Cassie: ...

Principal Chamberlin: So if you need ANYTHING at all, just let me know! *wink wink* Welcome to high school!

Boy: Look! New girl!

Another boy: WOW! New girl! Let's Witch her locker.

Cassie: WTF, why won't my locker open? It's like someone Witched it shut. It's like I'm the star of the show new girl or something.

Faye: So you're the new girl. But you're like really pretty and stuff.

Cassie: Thanks?

Faye: So you agree, you think you're pretty?

Cassie: Huh? What do you guys want?

Melissa: We want to invite you to sit at our table for the rest of the week! On Wednesdays we wear pink!

Cassie: just quoted Mean Girls. I'm not Lindsay Lohan.

Melissa: Oh shoot.

Faye: Why don't you come shopping with us after school. We get a five finger discount.

Cassie: you're quoting The Craft. I'm not Robin Tunney.

Faye: Whatever! Come on Rochelle, let's go.

Melissa: I'm Melissa.

Diana: Excuse my friends, Cassie. They just finished watching The Craft 10 times in a row. Also Mean Girls. Come hang out with us after school at a restaurant.

Cassie: Ok. Which one?

The Only Restaurant in Chance Harbor:

Ethan: Cassie! I knew your mom back in the day. She was really super duper important to me. Like when you're at a sample sale and you find a pair of Ferragamos in your size but then someone else tries to grab them even though you totally saw them first and they will completely match your leopard blazer that NOTHING goes with...

Adam (aka random boy from the locker scene who looks like he's wearing a TON of eyeliner but he's actually just disgustingly gifted with thick lashes): Dad! No more drinking before sundown!

Cassie: Everyone in this town is weird!

Ethan: Also, your family and mine are written in the stars!

Adam: Stop foreshadowing our doomed love!

Melissa: Hi Cassie! Sorry we were were weird at school today. BTW, did you know Principal Chamberlin is Faye's mom.

Faye: She is!

Cassie: That's comforting...

Faye: Isn't Adam cute? He's the main heartthrob on this show and since you're the new girl, he's destined to fall in love with you.

Cassie: He's not a vampire, is he?

Melissa: Honey, that's at 8 PM EST. We're the 9 PM time slot.

Cassie: Oh, right. Well, I got to go.

Faye: Let's make her use her powers!

Melissa: I think she doesn't know she's the star of The Secret Circle yet.

Faye: *Car fire*

Cassie: AAAAAH! WTF!

Adam: *witches fire away* *pulls Cassie from car into arms*

Cassie: How did you do that?

Adam: Do what?

Cassie: Save me from that car! It's like

Adam: Adrenaline rush. You can Bing it.

Diana: Hi! Just came to cock-block and let you know that Adam is MY boyfriend. *kiss-kiss*

Adam: I'll drive you home.

Cassie: Well, thanks for not letting that car turn me into toast.

Adam: No problem. I mean, I love you. I'd take a grenade for you.

Cassie: What?

Adam: I mean, you're the star of the show. You can't die in the pilot. But you're required to have 2.5 close calls.

Cassie: Ok...gotta go. Also totally not thinking about how insane your eyelashes are. Or that your dad said were written in the stars.

Principal C's House

Diana: Faye! Why did you witch Cassie's car into flames?

Faye: I didn't! She did! Well, she helped. But now that she's here this is real! We can do REAL magic now!

Diana: No! She has clearly not had her "You're a wizard, Harry" speech from Hagrid yet. So ixnay on the owerpay talk until I decide she's emotionally stable, or we've had at least enough episodes of weird things to merit a realization-montage in her mind.

Faye: Or we could just tell her after the commercial break.

Diana: FML

Dead Mom's Room:

Glow-in-the-dark-Stars: *wheee shooting stars*

Cassie: Huh?

Your Mama was such a powerful witch, that someone killed her dead!

Charles (It's the dude who fire-sploded Cassie's Mom): Hello, Cassie. I'm so sorry about the fire that killed your mom. What a terrible horrible thing to happen to such a nice woman. No idea at all what could have caused it...Oh HI Diana! She's my kid. Well...must go. Tata!

Diana: Cassie, come with me. I have something to show you that is not at all weird or shocking or anything. Promise.

Cassie: K!

Grandma: Principal Chamberlin, how on earth did my grandkid's car catch on fire last night?

Principal Chamberlin: What? You think the kids are doing magic. They're not. No. Nope. No magic being done here. Cars catch on fire all the time. Bing it.

Welcome to Hogwarts: Chance Harbor Style

Faye: So this scene is meant to establish who the main characters are on this show, now that everyone's had a cameo.

Cassie: What are you talking about.

Diana: We're special. And so are you.

Cassie: ??????

Faye: Cassie, you're the star of a show called The Secret Circle. It's based on a book series by L.J. Smith and being produced by Kevin Williamson and it comes on Thursdays at 9PM on the CW.

Cassie: Noooo, you're totally kidding.

Faye: I'm not! The naked guy in your window is called Nick. You already met Adam--the dude you want to bone. He's dating Diana--so no boning for you until episode 8. I'm Faye, the bad one, and this other one is Melissa. Make sense?

Cassie: No. You guys are so weird. You dragged me up here to tell me we're on a show? I thought you were going to tell me I'm a witch.

Faye: Oh yeah, that too.

Diana: Also, I have a book from my family and that makes me the most powerful witch in the circle. Since you're the star of the show, expect to find your own book before the episode ends. Also don't tell anyone what you are.

Cassie: I'm leaving.

I wanna make magic with you!

Adam: Wait! Cassie, there's something you should know. My mom died too. See? We automatically relate to each other and have so much in common. Also magic was banned because a lot of bad stuff went down the last time our parents used it. Want to do some now?

Cassie: K.

Adam: Close your eyes and feel this leaf full of rain drops.

Rain Drops: Sparkle!

Adam: Let's kiss now.

Cassie: *runs*

Diana: You did MAGIC with her?

Adam: :(

Faye: Now that I have real power, I need to cause some trouble.

The Only Restaurant in Chance Harbor:

Cassie: Ethan, why did my mom leave?

Ethan: Basically, me and her were boning because the glow in the dark stars on her bedroom told us to. But then your dad came around and he sucked and tore us apart so she left. Do not disobey those stars--or yoou end up like a drunk like me in the only restaurant in town, or like your mom and dead! Did you get with my son yet?

Cassie: Wait! So....if you and my mom were meant to should've been my dad and now you're saying I was meant for your son who if you listened to the stars is supposed to be my brother?

Ethan: Huh?

Cassie: I need to go. Again.

Charles: Ethan, you are saying too much. Can't have that. Wouldn't want you to get so drunk you almost drown.

Ethan: *on-land drowns*

Charles: Exactly!

Ethan: *coughs*

But Why did that Wizard want to kill me?

Cassie: I still don't understand. If my mom wanted me to be a witch she would have told me. I don't know why she didn't tell me and you guys did.

Diana: Well what else are we supposed to do in the pilot episode?

Witch-Girl Strut:

Faye: Being a witch is SO awesome! I can be SO bad. *witches off boat lights* I'm bad ass!

Nancy from the Craft: Seriously?  You have power and you're using it to turn off lights? Why not fly and kill people and crap?

Faye: Fine! I'll make RAIN!

Nancy: Oooh scary.

Rain: *thunders*

Nancy: Now we're talking!

Diana: Noooo! Faye, stop! My hair is going to frizz.

Faye: *rolls eyes* Stop, rain.

Rain: No!

Faye: I said stop!

Rain: *lightning*

Cassie: STOP!

Rain: Ok....

Diana: See! You are the star of the show and the bestest witch ever.

Cassie: Maybe, but there's still 10 minutes left of the episode, so I'm going to disagree, lest we loose tension.

Grandma's House:

Grandma: Adam's here to visit you. And you two stay downstairs, away from your bedroom where there are glow-in-the-dark stars!

Adam: So, um sorry about trying to kiss you.

Cassie: It's only our first episode. I'm not that kind of girl.

Adam: I mean...because I have a girlfriend. Diana. And I love her? So we can never almost kiss again.

Cassie: It says in our contract that we will kiss in episode 3.

Adam: ...

Principal Chamberlin's House:

Charles: Sup, Principal Chamberlin. Just came from fake-drowning Ethan.

Principal Chamberlin: Good. And nice work bringing Cassie here with the whole mom-sploding thing. Now the circle will take care of everything.

Ominous Music: Is VERY ominous.

A Note From Our Sponsors

Cassie: This was such a weird day. I'm going to sleep.

Glow-in-the-dark-Stars: Wheeeeee!

Cassie: Oh look! My family book hidden behind a loose brick. Sweet. Now I'm the most powerful witch in the circle.

A Letter from your Dead Mother:

Dear Cassie, If you're reading this letter, it means you are the star of your own CW show, produced by Kevin Williamson, adapted from a book series by L.J. Smith. Be forewarned, that though you'll wear endless amounts of awesome shoes, you'll be in constant danger because you are the most powerful witch ever. Even more powerful than Sarah in The Craft. Also, try not to appear in the final moments of an episode after the Pilot episode--it usually means something bad is going to happen. And don't get too attached to Diana. It looks like you and her boyfriend are going to bone.


P.S. This also means I'm dead.

Cassie: Oh crap!


Soooooo what did you guys think of the first episode? Will you keep watching? As good as Vampire Diaries? Let me know :-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 1: The Birthday

Opening Credits: Tennessee

Girl: Now according to the SCREAM movies, the dumb blonde girl in too little clothing is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. So it should be fine for me to go look for my dog at night in my tiny shorts, on my abandoned street...

Klaus: BOO!

Girl: OMG you scared me.

Klaus: I can haz your phone?

Girl: Um…Ok.

Klaus: I can haz invitation inside your house?

Girl: No. I’ll bring it out.

Klaus: But you’re a pretty female extra, outside, at night, in the opening credits, of the Season 3 Premiere!

Girl: Yeah and I’ve seen seasons 1 + 2. Wait out he—

Klaus: *compels* Looks like I’m coming inside!


Klaus: Now you and your roommate are going to tell me where I can find a guy named Ray. P.S. He’s a werewolf. And I'm a vampire.

Girl and Roommate: AAAAAAAAH! *runs*

Klaus: Say hello to my little friend.

Klaus’ Little Friend: *is Stefan*

Klaus: Kill them!

Stefan: *Vampirizes*

Gilbert House:

Elena: Another season of Vampire Diaries. Another season of me waking up in my bed with kinda happy/kinda sad girl music playing. *sigh* Wake up, Jeremy. The show’s starting.

Jeremy: Is it Thursday? 

Caroline (on phone): So my mom may have found a clue to where Stefan is. Give her a call.

Elena: Ok, also don’t make my birthday party tonight too big.

Caroline: Uh huh.... *sees Tyler* Hiiiiiiii!

Elena: …

Alaric: *is still on this show*

Elena: Are you sure you’re okay sleeping on the couch?

Alaric: I used to have a plotline. Remember? I also used to have a house. And a girlfriend. So the couch is better than nothing. Btw, Happy Birthday!

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon is in a tub! Damon is in a tub! Damon is in a tub!

And soapy.

Just saying…

Damon: Andy…we’re out of champagne.

Andy: So?

Damon: *stands up*

Candles: *cock blocks*

Damon: *naked walk*

Book shelf: *cock blocks*

Elena: O.M.G.

Damon: *eyebrows*

Elena: Towel! Damon! Now!

The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls

Jeremy: *lifting boxes in the backroom*

Vickie: Hi!

Jeremy: AAAAH!

Anna: Hi!

Jeremy: I still see dead girlfriends L

Matt: Caroline and Tyler are in my section and I cannot serve them! I have limited screen time this episode.

Caroline: Tyler, why does your mom keep giving me weird looks?

Tyler: Because she thinks we’re K.I.S.S.I.N.G.

Tennessee: Southern Comfort Bar

Klaus: Hi, Ray! I’ve been looking for a werewolf.

Ray: You’re a vampire?

Klaus: I’m the bestest vampire in the world! I’m a vampire AND werewolf, all rolled into one! I even come with my own British accent. Wait a second…aren’t you Simon Camden from 7th Heaven?

Simon Camden Ray: No! I need to go.

Klaus: I used to LOVE that show! Simon Camden, let’s a play a game.

Simon Camden Ray: *looks at Klaus and Stefan* FML

Tennessee: House of Dead Roommates

Damon: Alaric, don’t tell Elena I’m tracking Stefan.

Damon and Alaric walk into the house and there is blood everywhere and the two roommates sitting on the couch, looking very stiff and very dead.

Alaric: Did Klaus do this?

Damon: Nope, Stefan. This is why they call him Ripper. He feeds so hard he rips his victims apart. Then he puts them back together. *girl’s head rolls off*

Frankie: EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Dislike! Dislike! Dislike!

Damon: Time to torch the place.

Salvatore Mansion:

Elena: Damon won’t help me find Stefan. WTF!?!/!?

Tyler: Well you kissed him last episode.

Caroline: TYLER! You weren’t supposed to know that!

Elena: I only kissed him because it was the season finale. Everyone knows that Damon is allowed to kiss me, or Katherine pretending to be me in the season finale. It gives Team Dalena false hope.

Team Dalena: STFU!

Team Stefalena: *fist pumps*

Team Carolyer: Elena, LEAVE! So they can do it!

Tyler: Anyway, I’m going to find my date tonight. I’m horny all the time because I’m a teenage boy werewolf.

Caroline: Really? Me too! But it’s only because I’m a teenage girl vampire.

Tennessee: Abandon Hope All Ye Camdens Who Enter Here

Klaus: Simon Camden, give me your autograph!

Simon Camden Ray: No! I’m not famous for that anymore. I’m just an extra on this show! *is a human dart board*

Stefan: *shoots* *scores!*

Klaus: Then tell me where your pack is. And damn that Damon is still following me!

Stefan: I’ll go and make sure he leaves us alone.

Salvatore Mansion:

Elena: I’m all dressed for my party.

Frankie: Elena, honey. Call wardrobe. That is NOT a dress.

Damon: Got you a birthday present! It’s the necklace Stefan gave you to keep you away from me.

Elena: …

Damon: …

Team Dalena: KISS!!!!!!!!!!!

Damon: *cock blocks*

It’s My Party And I Can Cry If I Want To

Salvatore Mansion is rocking like a Cullen house after Bella’s graduation. But this party includes keg stands. Caroline, please throw my birthday party for me every year for life. K, thanx!

Jeremy: Remember that one time last season when I died and came back to life?

Matt: Uh-huh

Jeremy: Joint?

Matt: Hi, Elena! *kiss-cheek*

Caroline: OMG is Matt high? My transformation into a vampire drove him to drugs?

Elena: Drugs? Jeremy! WTF! That was a season 1 plotline!

Alaric: Remember in season 1 I shot crossbows and sh*t? Now…I chaperone parties. Remember that one time I was in Legally Blonde? That was fun.

Damon: Dude…

The News Room: At Least You’ll Be The First To Know…

Andy: Ok….I’m leaving.

Bright Light!

Andy: Hello?

Brighter Light!

Andy: Um, seriously? Who’s there?

Stefan: ME!

Andy: Stefan! We’ve been looking for you all episode.

Stefan: *vampire eyes*

The Best Party Ever

Tyler: *to his date* I never really knew that you could dance like this. You make this wolf want to speak Spanish.

Caroline: *drink!*

Matt: The writers afforded me approximately seven minutes of screen time. So I thought I’d say hi.

Caroline: You’re talking to me?

Matt: My minute’s up. Bye!

Tyler’s Date: Great party, Caroline!

Caroline: Good. Now leave it!

Tyler: So much for getting lucky…


Elena: Caroline, I’m going to leave early.

Caroline: NO! You need to blow out your candles and celebrate being a year closer to needing botox because as a vampire, that will never ever be me! Also…stop pining for Stefan. This is Damon’s season.

Elena: I just want to know he’s alive! *looks at closet* OMG! Damon was tracking him and didn’t tell me!

At The Newsroom:

Damon: Andy? Andy? *answers phone* Elena?

Elena: Why did you lie to me about tracking Stefan? I saw your closet.

Damon: Lie? Me? Gotta go! Bye! *steps on Andy’s purse*

Damon: Hello, brother. Missed you this episode.

Stefan: Stop tracking me! You were supposed to let me go.

Damon: Not in the contract. Anyway, I’m noble now and Elena wants to know where you are, so I have to find out.

Stefan: Have it your way. Andy?

Andy: *perched overhead* Damon, he won’t let me move!

Damon: Andy, you can move.

Andy: *can’t move*

Stefan: Andy, move.

Andy: *moves* *falls* *dies*

Salvatore Mansion: Parking Lot

Jeremy: Matt, you're too high to drive. In my car. Now.

Vickie: Hi!

Jeremy: Vickie!

Matt: Dude, why are you yelling my sister's name?

Anna: Peek-a-boo

Jeremy: That's it! We're walking!

Me Love You Long Time

Caroline: All girls OUT!

Tyler: Caroline! WTF! I'm horny!

Caroline: Me too!

Caroline and Tyler: KISS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *leave*

The Closet of Deception:

Elena: Damon, why didn't you tell me you were tracking Klaus' victims?

Damon: They're not Klaus'. They're Stefan's.

Elena: I need to cry again.

Gilbert House:

Matt: So why did you say Vickie?

Jeremy: I thought I saw her.

Matt: Ok, listen. This show is called The Vampire Diaries. Not Ghost Whisperer. There are no ghosts.

Jeremy: But there are werewolves. And witches. And Dopplegangers and...

Matt: No ghosts!

The Power of Reverend Camden Does NOT Compel You

Klaus: Time to make more mini-me's! *wrist slice* Drink, Simon Camden!

Stefan: I'm back. *sad eyes*

Klaus: Aw, you still care about everyone. How quaint.

Stefan: *teary eyes*

Gilbert House:

Alaric: I think the screen writers forgot to give me a purpose. I'm not even sure how I'm on this show right now. So I'm going to go.

Elena: No, my fake step-uncle-guardian!

Tyler's House of Getting It On! AKA The Best Team Carolyer Scene EVER!

Caroline and Tyler are up against the wall!

Caroline: *vampire bed toss*

Tyler: *werewolf bed flip*

The Bed: If you eff me up like that Edward Cullen, I will splinter you!

Elena's House:

Elena: *answers phone from anonymous* Hello? Hello? Stefan?!

Stefan: Elena, I LOVE you, I miss you. I'm scared! Hold me! ...

Elena: Stefan, I love you. You'll be okay. Hold onto that.

Stefan: *nods head* *cries*

Frankie: Well, damn! Right when I was Team Dalena. Well played, Stefan.

Lockwood Mansion:

Tyler: * is NAKED!*

Caroline: *sneaks out*

Mrs. Lockwood: Walk of shame?

Caroline: FML

Mrs. Lockwood: *shoots Anti-Damon darts*

Caroline: Seriously. F.M.L!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

5 ways The CW's new TV shows can improve your query letter.

 Let's be honest, here: I love my TV. I love getting addicted to new shows, and my DVR is my bestie. September is shiny with possibilities that begin at 8/7c every weeknight.

(Yeah, I just wrote that. I feel a bit pathetic now. Anyway...)

I'm super excited about two new CW shows this fall --- Ringer (Sarah Michelle Gellar, I'll follow you wherever you go) and The Secret Circle (ditto Kevin Williamson, I heart you!) --- so I went on the CW website to see when they debut and read more about them.

I was a little... disappointed. I'd seen enough previews to know I'll probably love the shows (I mean, SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR and KEVIN FREAKIN' WILLIAMSON), but the summaries ultimately... fail.

And what made them fail is exactly what can make your query letter fail. It proves that a great concept and hook can get lost in a clunky summary.

But you don't have to make the same mistakes the CW did!

Here are three things to avoid:

1) Character soup!
Both summaries listed, at minimum, seven characters. Seven! That amount is both baffling and unnecessary. (Below, I bolded the names the first time they're mentioned. And I included the town name because, really, why do we have to know the name of the town?) It's the surest way to confuse a reader, and it's totally distracting.

2) One long, unbroken paragraph.
No one wants to read sentence after unbroken sentence of text. Our eyes need a space to breathe! It's so easy to lose your place in a giant paragraph, and it's even easier to get discouraged and give up --- especially in an age of 140 characters or less. Punch up your prose by breaking your sentences into natural, short paragraphs.

3) Details, details, everywhere!
Details and subplots add depth to your story, but they weigh down your summary. If it's not absolutely, positively intrinsic to the basic plot, save it for the synopsis. (Specifically, I think Bridget's addiction recovery in Ringer and the friends' parents and townspeople in The Secret Circle don't need to be mentioned.)

However, brief concrete details, when used correctly, keep your summary from being too vague and make it memorable. (In The Secret Circle, I desperately want to know what "strange and frightening" things happen, and what at least one of Cassie's powers is.)

And two things the summaries got right:

4) Length
Both of these are fewer than 250 words. Take out some of the extraneous info mentioned above, and you've got yourself a short, catchy summary.

5) End with a bang.
No matter how clunky the paragraphs get, they both end on a strong hook that makes you want to watch. (The one for Ringer is much stronger, though, because the last sentence of The Secret Circle loses its momentum from the aside, "powers that might be linked to the adults in the town, including Diana's father and Faye's mother." Too many details!)

Read the summaries for yourself, and tell me what you think! (And aren't you totally going to watch these shows too?!) I included possible edits below keeping the basic text the same, but do you have any other suggestions for improvement? (Seriously, my quick edits wouldn't pass muster on Query Shark!)

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister – only to learn that her sister's seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she's trying to leave behind. Bridget is six months sober and starting to turn her life around when she is the sole witness to a professional hit. Despite the assurances of her FBI protector, Agent Victor Machado, Bridget knows her life is on the line. She flees to New York, telling no one, not even her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Malcolm. In New York, Bridget reunites with her estranged twin, Siobhan. Wealthy, pampered and married to the strikingly handsome Andrew Martin, Siobhan lives what appears to be a fairy tale life – a life where no one knows that Bridget exists. The sisters seem to be mending their frayed relationship, until Siobhan disappears overboard during a boat trip, and Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister's identity. She discovers shocking secrets, not only about her sister and her marriage, but also about Siobhan's best friend, Gemma, and Gemma's husband, Henry. And when someone tries to kill Bridget in her sister's penthouse, she realizes she is no safer as Siobhan than she is as herself.

Possible edit (181 words, down from 221):

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister – only to learn that her sister's seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she's trying to leave behind.

Bridget is the sole witness to a professional hit. Despite the assurances of her FBI protector, she knows her life is on the line. She secretly flees to New Yorkand reunites with her estranged twin, Siobhan. Wealthy, pampered and married to the strikingly handsome Andrew Martin, Siobhan lives what appears to be a fairy tale life – a life where no one knows that Bridget exists.

The sisters seem to be mending their frayed relationship, until Siobhan disappears overboard during a boat trip, and Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister's identity.

She never expects to discover shocking secrets about her sister's life -- and when someone tries to kill Bridget in her sister's penthouse, she realizes she is no safer as Siobhan than she is as herself.

Cassie Blake was a happy, normal teenage girl - until her mother Amelia dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire. Orphaned and deeply saddened, Cassie moves in with her warm and loving grandmother Jane in the beautiful small town of Chance Harbor, Washington - the town her mother left so many years before - where the residents seem to know more about Cassie than she does about herself. As Cassie gets to know her high school classmates, including sweet-natured Diana and her handsome boyfriend Adam, brooding loner Nick, mean-girl Faye and her sidekick Melissa, strange and frightening things begin to happen. When her new friends explain that they are all descended from powerful witches, and they've been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle, Cassie refuses to believe them - until Adam shows her how to unlock her incredible magical powers. But it's not until Cassie discovers a message from her mother in an old leather-bound book of spells hidden in her mother's childhood bedroom, that she understands her true and dangerous destiny. What Cassie and the others don't yet know is that darker powers are at play, powers that might be linked to the adults in the town, including Diana's father and Faye's mother - and that Cassie's mother's death might not have been an accident.

Possible edit (174 words, down from 228):

Cassie Blake was a happy, normal teenage girl - until her mother  dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire.

Orphaned, Cassie moves in with her grandmother in the beautiful small town where her mother grew up. As she gets to know some of her high school classmates, strange and frightening things begin to happen. (EXAMPLES TO SHOW, NOT TELL, WOULD BE FABULOUS HERE!)

When her new friends explain that they are all descended from powerful witches, and they've been waiting for Cassie to join them and complete a new generation of the Secret Circle, Cassie refuses to believe them. Then Adam shows her how to unlock her incredible magical powers. (LIKE WHAT?!)

But it's not until Cassie discovers a message from her mother in an old leather-bound book of spells hidden in her mother's childhood bedroom that she understands her true and dangerous destiny.

What Cassie and the others don't yet know is that darker powers are at play - and that Cassie's mother's death might not have been an accident.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later.

I was fifteen, sitting in second period health class, when they told us over the PA system. Our teacher turned on the small TV mounted to the wall, and we watched the towers burning on the news.

I've owned David Levithan's LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW since November 2010, but I couldn't bring myself to read it until today. I was afraid of it, afraid to open myself up to the sadness and fear and incomprehensibility that fills me every time I allow myself to think --- really think --- about 9/11.

I knew that it was about people coming together in New York on and after 9/11. About dealing with the aftermath. About uniting together and continuing to live, despite the tragedy. But for 10 months, I left that book sitting on my shelf.

I read it this morning, all in one sitting, in less than two hours. It was exactly what I needed to read. Exactly how I needed to feel. It was my own quiet reflection time. Thank you, David, for writing it.

And then I skimmed some of the other recent blog posts. Stephanie Perkins' post from yesterday led me to a beautiful one from Meg Cabot that broke my heart, gave me hope, and left me sobbing, quietly, at the computer. People are sharing their 9/11 stories on Rachelle Gardner's blog. Janet Reid reminds us to celebrate life.

I didn't intend to write a post about 9/11. But ten years later, we're all still working through that day, and it's always better to work through difficult things together.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Book Recommendations: 
The 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' Edition

I've been reading books in pairs lately. First, two verse novels, and now, two creeptastic ones! The great news is, they've all been superb, and you should totally read them.

First up: Maureen Johnson's THE NAME OF THE STAR

I've only read Johnson's SUITE SCARLETT novels (which I really enjoyed), but this was an experience of its own. Modern-day Jack the Ripper, a Southern girl at a London boarding school, plus a cute boy and secret ghost police? Sign me up!

THE NAME OF THE STAR was entertaining and thoroughly creepy. I love the world that Johnson created, especially how she layered the supernatural elements with the oh-so-normal stuff, and Rory Deveaux is a main character I wouldn't mind reading more of -- which is great news, because this is book one of the Shades of London series.

Can I tell you how creeped out I was with the Ripper-esque murders? A lot. I'm not the horror movie type, but I couldn't say no to some MJ, and her writing gave me the shivers more than once. (I hope this leads to more horror-angled YA paranormals.) The bad guy was a capital-letter-earning, genuine Villain, with all the evilness you want and the complexities you appreciate -- which made the tension-filled moments all the more tense, because PEOPLE COULD DIE, FOR REAL.

An aside about the romance -- supremely cute, and it never outshone the main plot, which I loved. Just enough of the smooches to keep me happy! And I love how Rory coped with new-girl-at-boarding-school syndrome.

Overall, the Jack the Ripper mystery kept me flipping the pages (the pacing is steady and ups the suspense delightfully, which is important for a 300+ page book), but Johnson's trademark humor and nuanced, I-want-to-be-your-friend characters have me hooked for the next installment!

* A huge thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group for providing the ARC at BEA! 

And to continue the murder and mayhem: Rick Yancey's THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST

THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST was unlike anything I've read in a very long time. Maybe ever. The voice is brilliant and engaging, and the characters just shine.

I'd seen this one around the blogosphere, but it was Maggie Stiefvater's ridiculously awesome review that convinced me to check out the audiobook. In Maggie's words, "this one is about a rather particular Monstrumologist and his apprentice chasing headless man-eating monsters across Victorian New England." This is not a plot that generally would pique my interest (where iz mah romance?!), but my curiosity got the best of me.

How glad I am that it did.

The book's narrated by the monstrumologist's apprentice, Will Henry, a twelve-year-old orphan. I love him to pieces. And the monstrumologist for whom the book is named, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, is (as Maggie again put it so perfectly) "high-maintenance and flawed and persnickety." And I love him to pieces. He makes me want to say "Snap to, Will Henry!" at least once a day. And eat scones.

My favorite character by far is Jack Kearns--a fellow monstrumologist with highly questionable morals who finds pretty much everything amusing. His wit and irreverence made me laugh aloud many, many times in the book, despite some of the horrifying things he does. As a writer, I couldn't help but think that Jack Kearns must've been a blast to write, being so entertainingly villainous.

I loved this Kearns quote so much that I scribbled it down at a red light (I listened to the audiobook version, which was excellently narrated, BTW).
Kearns watched, bemused, as Malachi brought the muzzle of his gun a foot from his chest. “Go on,” he urged the enraged orphan, “pull the bloody trigger, you insufferably melodramatic, semi-suicidal, blubbering bugger.”

Guys, that's like, PRINCESS BRIDE QUALITY insulting. (You really should click on that link right there. It will make your day happier.)

Anyway, with every single line of this book, you can see the care and love and attention to detail that Rick Yancey put into it.

The fine print: Be warned, the book can be very gruesome, and the descriptions are lengthy and wholeheartedly detailed. I cringed more than a couple times throughout -- after all, it's about hunting down Anthropophagi (headless people-eating monsters that feed through mouthfuls of teeth in their chests), so it's not sunshine and roses.

Basically, I read this book despite the storyline, which is so not my usual cup of tea. I found the Anthropophagi plot compelling and well-written, but what truly kept me hooked was Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop. I can't wait to follow along on their next monster-hunting adventure. (And I'll keep crossing my fingers for some romance for the good doctor.)


Ok, guys! Have you read either of these? (Link to your reviews!) Any other creepy horror-esque novels I should read?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...