Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's Up Wednesday: The Please Do Your Research Edition

Rant ahead… you’ve been warned. J

 
What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk are the hosts, and we'd love for you to join in the fun! Just hit up their blogs and sign up on the linky. J 

WHAT I’M READING:

I finished reading THE YEAR OF FOG (Michelle Richmond) for my IRL book club. Premise: future step-mom looks away for less than a minute and future step-daughter is abducted. The writing was spectacular; the story, well-executed. But for a mother of two who’s a neurotic worry-wart? I had a tough time getting through the story. 

Currently I’m reading a book that is making me want to throw things.  

Okay, so normally the teacher in me tries to say very positive things about books, even if I’m not completely enthralled by them. If I don’t like them at all, I don’t say anything. That’s just how I roll. But this book I’m reading? The premise is pretty good, one a lot of people can relate to. I feel like it’s taking a while to get to the main crux of the story and there are some issues I have with buy-a-bility, but I am enjoying the story itself. The main character’s a teensy annoying, but I warmed up to her. And the writing, for the most part, is pretty good. So, what about this book makes nice girl Alison want to throw things?

People who know me know that I probably watch soccer as often as I brush my teeth—and I tend to be a good little patient and brush twice a day. So, when I came upon the part of the story where two of the big secondary characters play soccer, I was all kinds of excited. Until the soccer game happened. My soccer lingo was a little rattled when the main character improperly used the term goal box. My jaw dropped a little when the players came into the stands to chat with the fans at half-time (that is unheard of in my parts), but I talked myself into being okay with it because maybe that’s just how some folks do things and how they refer to things. But when the coach called a time out in the middle of the second half, I may have thrown the book. 

There are no. Time outs. In soccer.
 
EVER.

I guess if you’ve never watched soccer, you might think that hey, they have time outs in football and basketball, so I’ll just write that in there because I need one of the players to stop what he’s doing and do something else instead. But um . . . no. As my husband always says, when you ASSUME something, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

That, my friends, is where research comes in. Why it’s so important that you get the facts right—even if it is something that might seem like a small thing—because if you don’t, you turn faithful readers like me off, to the point I might not even finish what might be a truly great read. And, on top of that, I will recommend your book to NO ONE.

I know. You’re probably thinking BIG DEAL. Get over it, Alison. But, to me, it is. I love soccer. I love sports. And this is why I’m neurotic about getting research right. Why I do so much needling on the minor details. Why I talk to people about things I’m not sure about. Why I get hoards of reliable readers who will tell me when something’s not quite right.  

I’m still bothered by this. And I think what bothers and angers me more is not only did the time out thing escape the author’s notice, it escaped her readers' notice, her agent’s notice, and the notice of her editors at a major publishing house.

Okay, rant over. But seriously folks, for the sports lovers (and animal lovers and music lovers and whatever lovers) out there, please, please, please do your research. Also, sorry, but I’m not going to reveal the name of Frustrating Read here. I’m not normally a book basher so I’m uncomfortable divulging this much. BUT if you really want to know, feel free to DM me. 
WHAT I’M WRITING: I’m this close to finishing this particular round of revisions. Don’t get too excited. I’m not. My revision list is six pages long and I have, like, a hundred some comments in the doc. BUT I am excited to work on that list. Hoping, hoping, to have the next round finished by the end of February. Then a polishing round before I send it off to CPs. *fingers crossed*

WHAT WORKS FOR ME: I revised a chapter last week that reminds me so much of this scene from The Breakfast Club.  


For those of you who know me, you know this movie is my favorite movie EVER. And the scene I wrote is definitely not John Hughes worthy, but it has the reveals, the feels, and well, the fifteen year old gave it her stamp of approval so… the scene’s a keeper. And my favorite. And the one that makes all the frustrating times with revisions WORTH IT.

So, when I get a little frustrated with what I’m working on and want to throw my WiP against the wall (I know…violence #smh), I reread scenes like this one. Do you have a scene that keeps you going?

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO: Um...

My life’s not super exciting. But I am going to see Wicked this weekend. And I have a retreat with some writer friends coming up that I’m super excited about so… 

What’s up on YOUR Wednesday?! 
.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

 
What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk are the hosts, and we'd love for you to join in the fun! Just hit up their blogs and sign up on the linky. J

WHAT I’M READING:

I finished this amazing little something titled LET’S GET LOST (Adi Alsaid). Awesomely and uniquely cool road trip book and a great way to start my year off in the reading department. HIGHLY recommend. Currently reading THE YEAR OF FOG (Michelle Richmond): writing, awesome; topic, unsettling. I’m having a tough time, physically and mentally, getting through it.

WHAT I’M WRITING: Revising the Mean Boys story. Some days are easy; some not. I’m still completely in love with the characters and their story so...

WHAT WORKS FOR ME: At the moment, daily accountability. I report in to a few friends on a daily basis and I don’t want to disappoint them (or myself). So far, it’s helped me make great strides this month on the WiP. *crosses fingers* it continues. J 

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO: Aside from reading, writing, and watching everything football and soccer? Nada mucho. The Millers have been enjoying a nice hiatus from the crazy that is typically our lives. 

What’s up on YOUR Wednesday?!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bring on 2015!



With the many twists and turns life threw at my family and me, 2014 was definitely a roller coaster ride. My husband and his boys soccer team made it to their tenth consecutive regional final. My daughter got her permit. My son hit double digits. I started querying again. The World Cup happened. Which resulted in lots of soccer watching and time with friends. We invested (not by choice) in a new washer, dryer, and lawnmower. We got to visit with a lot of family, spending QT in the Delmarva and Florida. I revised one story and drafted another. And yanked out the gear shift in my truck. Lots of ups and downs. Some not so good times, but also lots of amazing times. I’ll take it. J
And now it’s 2015—which is kind of a big milestone year for me: my daughter turns 16, I turn 45, and my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. I’m not a big one for setting New Year’s resolutions, but, before Christmas, I did post a few goals for 2015 as part of the YA Buccaneers 12 Days of Books challenge so I thought I’d share them here too. Ya know—give me something to focus on before I hit the big 45 (ugh). And so here they are—things I’d like to accomplish this year (in no particular order)… 

GOALS FOR 2015

1) Finish revising the current WiP

2) Take a kid-free vacation with the husband

3) Organize pictures from forever ago

4) Try to be more selfless. And kinder than necessary.

5) Watch a live Eagles game—so if they’re losing, I can’t throw things at my television

6) Exercise 30-45 minutes a day, at least five days a week

7) Write a brand new story

8) Get a new tat

9) Spend more QT with the fam

10) Take a few risks (broad, much? J); do or learn to do something I’ve never done before

11) Read at least five books a month

12) Live more in the moment

13) Try to be more patient—with publishing, with others, with myself 

And with that last one, I’ve chosen

 


as my focus word for 2015

and because I’m completely shameless, some accompanying quotes
 
 
and, of course...
 

Considering I’m the least patient person I know, THIS will be a challenge. J Hopefully, I can report lots of success with my focus word and goals at the end of this year!

How about you? What are your goals for 2015? Any milestones? And do you have a word you’d like to make your year’s focus?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Terrible Titles (and Superlative Blogfest Winners!)

I was tagged by my fabulous writer friend Katy Upperman for the “Terrible Titles” blog hop. Her post is here. And her “terrible titles” are actually pretty amazing.

The rules of the blog hop are simple: Scroll through your manuscript and stop in random places. Whatever words/phrase the cursor lands on becomes one of eight terrible titles.
That just sounded way too fun to resist. So, I’m participating with the current WiP—my Mean Boys pranking story that is currently titled NO JOKE. Here are the “terrible” alternates.
PS—because I was having way too much fun with this, I did not limit myself to eight. It was hard to limit myself to ten. So, I didn’t. Enjoy.
PPS—some of my random cursor stops may or may not have been random. #sorrynotsorry 

Sloppy Kisser Theory
A Pink Sheer Tutu
The Arsenal is Fully Loaded
Radio Slip Slide
They Both Start Grinding

It’s Like He Wants Us To Do It
Mention How Hot I Am
Killing Your Man Card
A Pleasant Pain Perpetuates
So Many Questions
I’ve Swapped Spit With All Three of You
One That’s Not So Wet
I Regret Everything Immediately

Okay, that was ridiculously fun. And now I shall tag all the people! Dannie Morin, Kimberly Chase, Leandra Wallace, Laurie Dennison, Jennifer Pickrell, and Jaime Morrow! Happy “terrible” titling!
 
 
One more thing! Jessica Love, Katy Upperman, Tracey Neithercott, and I had so much fun with our Superlative Blogfest last week. We had wonderful participants and I loved hopping around to see everyone’s choices! And…AND we have four winners for a 2014 book! 
Rachel (Beauty and the Bookshelf)

Elodie Nowodazkij
Sophia L
Nicole (Quality Fangirls)
And…AND Kelsey Macke has generously donated a copy of her debut Damsel Distressed (which I’m totes putting on my list for Santa…you should too!) and the lucky winner of that is
Sarah Chafin
Congrats! You can find contact info here. Thanks to all our awesome participants! And I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

YA Superlative Blog Fest 2014: Best In Show

It’s the last day of The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest L


Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Katy Upperman and I are the hosts and we hope you will join in the fun!

Just as a point of reference, here are the 2014 pubbed YA books I read this year: The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson), Grasshopper Jungle (Andrew Smith), Don’t Even Think About It (Sarah Mylnowski), Ignite Me (Taherah Mafi), Panic (Lauren Oliver), Noggin (John Corey Whaley), Push Girl (Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill), The Geography of You and Me (Jennifer E. Smith), One Two, Three (Elodie Nowodazkij), The Here and Now (Ann Brashares), Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Laini Taylor), Since You’ve Been Gone (Morgan Matson), What I Thought Was True (Huntley Fitzpatrick), Complicit (Stephanie Kuehn), Torn Away (Jennifer Brown), Everything Leads to You (Nina LaCour), Faking Normal (Courtney C. Stevens), Alienated (Melissa Landers), Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins), Side Effects May Vary (Julie Murphy), We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), I’ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson), 100 Sideways Miles (Andrew Smith), Redeemed (PC Cast and Kristin Cast), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Maggie Stiefvater), Perfectly Good White Boy (Carrie Mesrobian), and Zac & Mia (AJ Betts)
I’m also counting in this list Control (Lydia Kang) and The Promise of Amazing (Robin Constantine) because they were published super late in 2013 (December 26 and December 13, respectively) and really, they were awesome and how fair is that not to include them? J
Now for today’s awesome category…

Best in Show 

Favorite Cover:
 
               




Just… perfection.

Cutest Couple: Wren and Grayson (The Promise of Amazing), Zuzana and Mik (Dreams of Gods and Monsters) and Noah and read the book; I don’t want to spoil it for you (I’ll Give You the Sun) 

Most Likely to Succeed (Pick a Printz Winner): We Were Liars and Complicit
                Torn here. Both Stephanie Kuehn and E. Lockhart are so deserving. 

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime: We Were Liars 

Best Repeat Performance (Favorite Sequel or Follow-Up): Isla and the Happily Ever After
                I always love Stephanie Perkins stories and this one was just as delightful as Anna and Lola. I especially enjoyed the cameos. J

Favorite Finale or End of Series Novel: Dreams of Gods and Monsters 

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath: Perfectly Good White Boy
                Won’t name names for spoilers sake, but be ready to fan yourself.

Best Breakout Novel (Favorite Book by a Debut Author): Ugh. SO HARD to make these choices because I really liked so many of the debuts I read, so I won’t. Choose, that is. J

                Push Girl, One Two Three, The Promise of Amazing, Control, Faking Normal

Best Old-Timer (Favorite Book Published BEFORE 2014): Winger (Andrew Smith) and a reread of An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)

Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
                I know—weird choice—but it is literally the only 2014 read I teared up at this year. That courtroom scene still guts me.

Most Pleasant Surprise: (Didn’t Think I’d Like It But Totally Did): Don’t Even Think About It
                Premise sounded a little cheesy, but it was really good!

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle: Grasshopper Jungle
                Great sci-fi story, excellent writing, but also a great book about sexual identity. And the “love triangle” will have you rooting for all three involved.

Sleeper Hit (Novel So Awesome I Wish It’d Been Hyped More): Everything Leads to You
                This one was hyped (I think) but maybe not as hyped as I would have liked it to be. SO, so good, this one was. J

Favorite Outlier (Best 2014 Picture Book, Middle Grade, NA, or Adult Novel): VIP (Riley Edgewood), When Audrey Met Alice (Rebecca Behrens), and Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Tom Angleberger) 

Create Your Own Superlative (and share your answers to mine in the comments!)
                 I’m going with three oldies but goodies:
                Best LBGTQ: Everything Leads to You
                Character who deserved the biggest hug: Alexi and Bodee (Faking Normal) and Noah (I’ll Give You the Sun)
                Best pet: Otis (Perfectly Good White Boy)
                and one new one (couldn’t resist, Jess!)
                Biggest Douche Nozzle: Curt (Push Girl)
 
So excited to see your picks! Make sure you sign up on the linky!












Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Superlative Blog Fest Day 3! Elements of Fiction

It’s day three of The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest!

 
Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Katy Upperman and I are the hosts and we hope you will join in the fun! It continues to run through Thursday, December 18th and highlights favorite books published in 2014. And at the end we’re giving away a 2014 book to four lucky winners! All you have to do is participate each day to be entered.
Just as a point of reference, here are the 2014 pubbed YA books I read this year: The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson), Grasshopper Jungle (Andrew Smith), Don’t Even Think About It (Sarah Mylnowski), Ignite Me (Taherah Mafi), Panic (Lauren Oliver), Noggin (John Corey Whaley), Push Girl (Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill), The Geography of You and Me (Jennifer E. Smith), One Two, Three (Elodie Nowodazkij), The Here and Now (Ann Brashares), Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Laini Taylor), Since You’ve Been Gone (Morgan Matson), What I Thought Was True (Huntley Fitzpatrick), Complicit (Stephanie Kuehn), Torn Away (Jennifer Brown), Everything Leads to You (Nina LaCour), Faking Normal (Courtney C. Stevens), Alienated (Melissa Landers), Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins), Side Effects May Vary (Julie Murphy), We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), I’ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson), 100 Sideways Miles (Andrew Smith), Redeemed (PC Cast and Kristin Cast), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Maggie Stiefvater), Perfectly Good White Boy (Carrie Mesrobian), and Zac & Mia (AJ Betts)
I’m also counting in this list Control (Lydia Kang) and The Promise of Amazing (Robin Constantine) because they were published super late in 2013 (December 26 and December 13, respectively) and really, they were awesome and how fair is that not to include them? J
Now for today’s awesome category…
Elements of Fiction 

Most Envy-Inducing Plot: Panic

                The whole Survivor-style end of senior year elimination game for a monetary prize? Yep. Kinda wish I’d thought of that one. J 

Most Formidable World: Torn Away

                Aftermath of a town and a girl’s life post-horrifyingly huge tornado? No, thank you. 

Most Wanderlust-Inducing: The Geography of You and Me

                Edinburgh, Prague, London, New York, and California. I really wanted to get my passport after reading this one! 

Loveliest Prose: Dreams of Gods and Monsters and We Were Liars

                I would read Laini Taylor’s and E. Lockhart’s grocery lists. That is all.

Best First Line: Nothing like a carful of boys to completely change my mood. (What I Thought Was True) and Even a perfect boy was allowed a flaw or two (Push Girl)

Most Dynamic Main Character: Kara (Push Girl) and Karou (Dreams of Gods and Monsters)

                Both are spunky, spirited, and fighters. And, I know Kara would hate to hear this, but VERY inspirational.

Most Jaw-Dropping Conclusion: We Were Liars and Complicit

                I’m really good at predicting endings. Seriously. But not these.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role: Oscar (I’ll Give You the Sun), Cade (100 Sideways Miles),and Collins (Since You’ve Been Gone)

Best Use of Theme: The Impossible Knife of Memory and Faking Normal
 

So excited to see your picks! Make sure you sign up on the linky!
 










Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Superlative Blog Fest 2014: Popularity Contest

It’s day two of The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest!




Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Katy Upperman and I are the hosts and we hope you will join in the fun! It runs today through Thursday, December 18th and highlights favorite books published in 2014. And at the end we’re giving away a 2014 book to four lucky winners! All you have to do is participate each day to be entered.
Just as a point of reference, here are the 2014 pubbed YA books I read this year: The Impossible Knife of Memory (Laurie Halse Anderson), Grasshopper Jungle (Andrew Smith), Don’t Even Think About It (Sarah Mylnowski), Ignite Me (Taherah Mafi), Panic (Lauren Oliver), Noggin (John Corey Whaley), Push Girl (Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill), The Geography of You and Me (Jennifer E. Smith), One Two, Three (Elodie Nowodazkij), The Here and Now (Ann Brashares), Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Laini Taylor), Since You’ve Been Gone (Morgan Matson), What I Thought Was True (Huntley Fitzpatrick), Complicit (Stephanie Kuehn), Torn Away (Jennifer Brown), Everything Leads to You (Nina LaCour), Faking Normal (Courtney C. Stevens), Alienated (Melissa Landers), Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins), Side Effects May Vary (Julie Murphy), We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), I’ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson), 100 Sideways Miles (Andrew Smith), Redeemed (PC Cast and Kristin Cast), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Maggie Stiefvater), Perfectly Good White Boy (Carrie Mesrobian), and Zac & Mia (AJ Betts)
I’m also counting in this list Control (Lydia Kang) and The Promise of Amazing (Robin Constantine) because they were published super late in 2013 (December 26 and December 13, respectively) and really, they were awesome and how fair is that not to include them? J
Now for today’s awesome category…

Popularity Contest 

Villain I Love to Hate: Jael (Dreams of Gods and Monsters)

                Kind of wanted to join Karou and Akiva and battle him myself.  

Favorite Parental Figure: Grandpa Ben (What I Thought was True)

Most Likely to Start a Riot: same choice every year, but it’s so true… Ronan (Blue Lily, Lily Blue) although I think Blue could rival him for that choice this year! Also, Alice (Side Effects May Vary). She, uh…kind of did start one with her list.  

Biggest Flirt: Collins (Since You’ve Been Gone) 

Coolest Nerd: Frank Porter (Since You’ve Been Gone) and Josh (Isla and the Happily Ever After) 

Fashion King and/or Queen: I’m just going to nominate the book and cast of Everything Leads to You. That entire story just feels so . . . vintage. 

Character You’d Most Want For a BFF: Amanda (Push Girl), Zuzana (Dreams of Gods and Monsters), Bishop (Panic), and Gansey (Blue Lily, Lily Blue 

Character You Wish You’d Dated in High School: So, so many. Here’ s the (haha) short list: Gat (We Were Liars), Heath/Aurox (Redeemed), Cassidy (What I Thought was True), Antonio (One Two Three), Oscar (I’ll Give You the Sun), Ethan (The Here and Now) and Adam (Blue Lily, Lily Blue).  

Most Likely to Become President: I feel like I always pick Gansey (Blue Lily, Lily Blue) for this, which he still deserves, but this year I’m also going with Frank Porter (Since You’ve Been Gone) 

Quirkiest Character: Isla (Isla and the Happily Every After). Stephanie Perkins can write some quirky but extremely loveable main characters.  

So excited to see your pics! Make sure you sign up on the linky!