Monday, January 28, 2013

Printz Award!

Congratulations to Nick Lake, author of IN DARKNESS, for winning the Printz Award!

The FNC was part of the blog tour for IN DARKNESS. In honor of this awesome honor, here's a repost of Janine's original review:

When I picked up Nick Lake's soon-to-be-released In Darkness last week, I figured I'd enjoy it. That's why I agreed to participate in the blog tour, after all. The description from the publisher had caught my attention months ago--

Bloomsbury is proud to be the global publisher of In Darkness, a stunning tour-de-force set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. "Shorty" is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history. It is the presence of slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture, whose life was marred by violence, and whose own end came in darkness. What unites a child of the slums with the man who would shake a troubled country out of slavery? Is it the darkness they share . . . or is it hope?

Raw, harrowing, and peopled with vibrant characters, In Darkness is an extraordinary book about the cruelties of man and nature, and the valiant, ongoing struggle for a country's very survival.

--and I assumed it would be some blend of inspirational, informative and important, even if a little sentimental.

I was so very wrong.

In Darkness, while it is inspirational, informative and important, it is the furthest thing from sentimental. It is raw, and it is gripping. The harrowing circumstances of Haiti past and Haiti present are not sugar-coated, nor are they sensationalized. They are simply the reality of the story (and of history) and a part of the fabric of the characters' lives.

The characters, by the way, are so alive on the page that I developed an attachment to them within the first few chapters. Both Shorty and Toussaint, the two main characters, are complicated. Both have blood on their hands, but both also have stories that evoke sympathy and force us to question what we would do if we were in similar circumstances.

The storyline itself is riveting. Once I got a few chapters into the book and got situated in the point-of-view, which shifts each chapter from Haiti past with Toussaint to Haiti present with Shorty, I did not want to put the book down. I was fully vested in the characters and their circumstances, and I needed to know what would happen next.

In Darkness is an eye-opener. I really had no idea of Haiti's blood-stained past, though considering her present, I should have realized. But the real take-home for me, I think, is that I hadn't thought about it. Haiti is one of our nearest neighbors, and I am largely unaware of what is happening there. This book is a work of fiction, but much in it is true, and, without being didactic, it has opened my eyes to a not-so-far-away place where great atrocities have and still happen.

In Darkness is a good read. It's heavy, but the reading itself is light. It's fast, and even with the shifts in point-of-view, it's easy to track along. In spite of its serious topic, it is entertaining. But along with capturing our imaginations, it has the capacity to make us better-informed global citizens as well.

In Darkness will be released on January 17, 2012. I hope you'll read it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Writer Horoscopes! Monopoly style

Monopoly tokens are like the
Zodiac signs of the board game world.

Your preferred token reveals the type of person you are. (Ok, not really. But let's pretend, shall we?) In this case, it reveals what kind of writer you are.

Choose your token,
and read your writer horoscope below!

If you chose: Car

You'll write anywhere, at any time, and you have an intense drive and determination to succeed. With multiple irons in the fire, you work on various projects simultaneously. Just be careful that you don't overextend yourself and become overwhelmed.
Similar to: Wheelbarrow
You could learn something from: Top Hat

If you chose: Scottie Dog
You're an eager and passionate writer, plunging into projects with enthusiasm. You love the communal aspects of writing and have multiple critique partners. However, take care that your desire for their approval doesn't prevent you from trusting your writerly instincts.
Similar to: Shoe
You could learn something from: Battleship

If you chose: Wheelbarrow
A fan of revision, you never mind getting your hands dirty. Like a sculptor, you mold your writing into various forms, not afraid of deleting entire scenes or overhauling plotlines. Beware you don't lose sight of the story you're trying to tell.
Similar to: Battleship
You could learn something from: Thimble

If you chose: Iron
You're a plotter to the end, ironing out every last detail before starting a draft. You're not one to waste time writing experimental scenes, but don't be afraid to veer off course every once in awhile. You never know where some unexpected creativity may lead.
Similar to: Thimble
You could learn something from: Wheelbarrow

If you chose: Thimble
You're a cautious writer, and you do most of your drafting off-page. Much of your time is spent staring at a blinking cursor, thinking through the various directions a scene might take, before choosing your course. Don't allow your deliberations to hinder your productivity. 
Similar to: Top Hat
You could learn something from: Shoe

If you chose: Battleship
Aggressive and determined, you tackle a new project without hesitation. You have an arsenal of confidence, and you're not afraid to navigate unfamiliar territory alone. Always be open to learning from others' experiences and receiving input from fellow writers.
Similar to: Car
You could learn something from: Scottie Dog

If you chose: Top Hat
You consider writing an art form. Before you write, you set up a particular atmosphere. Maybe it's as simple as lighting a candle; maybe you need your favorite playlist. Remember, though, that art can be created anywhere; requiring an ideal situation can slow you down.
Similar to: Iron
You could learn something from: Car

If you chose: Shoe
You're a carefree writer and a pantser to the core. You discover a path and follow wherever it leads. This method encourages creativity, but your story may meander, and you can become easily distracted by shiny new ideas. Make sure you see things through to the end.
Similar to: Scottie Dog
You could learn something from: Iron


How accurate is your Monopoly horoscope? What token did you choose, and what token are you most similar to?

The news that one of the original Monopoly tokens will soon get exiled from Atlantic City reminded me of the summer I was 11, when I played Monopoly with my friend Cassie almost every day. Yes, I loved the most tedious, time-consuming game known to man. But beyond putting a hotel on Boardwalk, my favorite part was choosing my token, and it wasn't a decision to be made lightly. (Mostly, I picked the dog because he was cute!)

Me as a writer? I fancy myself a Shoe, but let's face it, I'm a Thimble to the core.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Using music to escape a revision funk

I'm elbows-deep in a particularly rough final revision of my WIP right now — and by "particularly rough," I mean that I want to bang my head against a wall every once in awhile to break up the monotony of staring at the computer screen.

I love revising (in theory) because I'm so passionate about making my book on page as amazing as it is in my head. My main character deserves to have her story told properly, and the incredible notes I got from my critique partners and beta readers are the key to bringing it to the next level.

But, as with everything in writing, it's. effing. hard.

This revision is largely emotional, weaving certain elements through the story to give it more depth and resonance. Things weren't clicking for me quite yet, and I needed to go from thoughts marinating in my mind to actually translating on page.

Now, I'm not big on associating my WIPs with music. I don't listen to songs (besides instrumental meditation music) while I write; I don't scour my iTunes for a character theme song; I don't make a playlist for my novel.

Download legally! Click album artwork
to check out Imagine Dragons
songs on iTunes!
But then I heard a song on the radio that I've heard many times before (Radioactive by Imagine Dragons), and it just clicked. I thought immediately of my main character. This wasn't just her theme song; this was her anthem. I got chills, and I knew that this was exactly what I needed to hear — literally — to start this revision.

If you're in a writing rut or revision funk, I hope your breakthrough is just around the corner! And if you need to get pumped up, I highly recommend you listen to this song.

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons 

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison buzz
This is it, the apocalypse

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It's a revolution, I suppose
We're painted red to fit right in

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison buzz
This is it, the apocalypse

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive

All systems go, the sun hasn't died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, whoa, I'm radioactive, radioactive

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

4th Annual No-Kiss Blogfest! A scene from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Today is Frankie's 4th Annual No-Kiss Blogfest!

Here's my contribution to the swooniest annual blogfest around — shining the spotlight on a scene about the rising, crushing, excruciating, longing tension that comes when two characters get oh-so-close to kissing that you can just feel it, want it, NEED it....and then...they don't!

My scene this year is a scene from my all-time favorite YA romance, Stephanie Perkins' incomparable ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

The setup: Anna and Etienne St. Clair have become best friends at their boarding school in Paris, but their feelings have developed into an attraction and connection that's becoming hard to deny.

The scene: 
       The lobby is cloaked in darkness again, the only light coming from the screen saver on the front desk's computer. I stumble forward, patting the walls for guidance. St. Clair bumps into me. "Sorry," he says. His breath is warm on my neck. But he doesn't adjust his body. He stays close behind me as we stumble down the hall.
       My hand hits the stairwell door. I open it, and we shield our eyes from the sudden brightness. St. Clair shuts it behind us, but we don't walk upstairs. He's still pressed against me. I turn around. His lips are only a breath from mine. My heart beats so hard it's practically bursting, but he falters and backs away. "So are you and Dave...?"
       I stare at his hands, resting on the door. They aren't little-boy hands.
       "We were," I say. "Not anymore."
       He pauses, then takes a step forward again. "And I don't suppose you'll tell me what the email earlier was about?"
       Another step closer. "But it upset you. Why won't you tell me?"
       I step back. "Because it's embarrassing, and it's none of your business."
       St. Clair furrows his brow in frustration. "Anna, if you can't tell your best mate what's bothering you, who can you tell?"
       And just like that, I have to fight to keep from crying for a third time. Because even with all of the awkwardness and the hostility, he still considers me his best friend. The news fills me with more relief than I could have imagined. I've missed him. I hate being mad at him. Before I know it, the words spill out about Bridgette and Toph and prom, and he listens attentively, never taking his eyes from me. "And I'll never go to one! When Dad enrolled me here, he took that away from me, too."
       "But ... proms are lame." St. Clair is confused. "I thought you were glad we didn't have one."
       We sit down together on the bottom step.
... [And then they have an adorable, hilarious conversation that's too long to type out in which St. Clair reminds Anna why she thinks proms are lame and makes her feel better.] ...
       I finally crack a smile, and he grins. "That's more like it."
       We hold each other's gaze. His smile softens, and he nudges me again. I rest my head on his shoulder as the stairway light turns off. They're all on timers.
       "Thanks, Etienne."
       He stiffens at hearing his first name. In the darkness, I take one of his hands into my lap and squeeze it. He squeezes back. His nails are bitten short, but I love his hands.
       They're just the right size.


Ok, now I need to re-read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. And if you want to check out the full scene for yourself, it's found on p. 304 in the hardcover version.

For more no-kiss entries, check out the full list of participants here!

Here are my previous no-kiss contributions:
2010: an original New Year's Eve-inspired scene!
2011: my favorite scene from THE SEEKER, a Roswell High series book
2012: a super swoony scene from FIRE by Kristin Cashore
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