Summer, summer, summertime reading

You may have noticed that it’s been pretty quiet over here the last few weeks, and I’m really sorry to leave you guys hanging. But there are a few reasons for my neglect silence…

One: I’m getting that old familiar NEED to write my next book. It’s starts out quietly, then all hell breaks loose and all I can think about is my WIP, WIP, WIP, WIP. So yeah, that’s happening and I can’t fight it. Right now I’m plotting and letting the creative process do its thing. Know that I love you, but it’s going to be quieter than normal around here. At least until September-ish.

Two: I’ve been reading like a complete maniac. Like, lockdown, no leaving the house, my eyes are crossing and bleeding from the abuse, I haven’t eaten a decent meal in days, my friends hate me for being aloof, reading. Why? Because I think there’s no better way to know the market than to read everything you can get your grubby little paws on. And let me tell you, I’ve been LOVING this part of my research. Sometimes this writing gig isn’t bad 🙂

Here are the books I’ve read over the last two weeks (if you’re into summer reading lists):

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake

STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini 

DREAMLESS by Josephine Angelini

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor

FALSE MEMORY by Dan Krokos

DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum

UNTIL I DIE by Amy Plum

CARRIER OF THE MARK by Leigh Fallon

GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

FIRE by Kristin Cashore

BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White

SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White

ENDLESSLY by Kiersten White

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil

ONCE by Anna Carey

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher

SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater

BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood 

Aaaaaaand here’s the next batch of books that I’m getting ready to dig into:

WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr

CITY of BONES by Cassandra Clare

SOMETHING STRANGE and DEADLY by Susan Dennard

SHADOW and BONE by Leigh Bardugo

THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting

THE FORSAKEN by Lisa M. Stasse

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin

FALLEN by Lauren Kate

THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams Chima

So what’s on your summer reading list?

(FYI: All the books above are links, so feel free to click on them to read their descriptions.)

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Ten Books I can’t get enough of in 2012

I’ve been asked by one of my lovely blog friends for a list of books that I’ve read (and recommend) so far this year. Well, I aim to please – so here’s ten of my favorite reads of 2012. I’m sure this list will continue to expand and grow with all the terrific books coming out the second half of the year.

(Please note some of the books aren’t new releases, they’re just books I’ve read since January and adore! Also, they’re listed in no particular order.)

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS – Rae Carson

I’ll admit to being hesitant at first, since I’m not normally a fan of high fantasy – but this book took me by surprise in the best way. I LOVED it.

FRACTURE – Megan Miranda

This was a fun, fast paced thriller and I can’t recommend it enough. I definitely didn’t see this ending coming, and I’d reread it again in a heartbeat.

FEVER – Lauren Destefano

I know I raved about WITHER in my best books of 2011 and FEVER did not disappoint. It’s amazing. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my agent sister. I can’t WAIT to get my grubby little hands on SEVER, the final book in the Chemical Garden Trilogy. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

CINDER – Marissa Meyer

Again, this was something I was worried might not be my thing – but I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. I devoured it in one sitting and am anxiously awaiting the next book. Get yourself a copy of this and be amazed by the excellently told story of Cinder.

UNDER THE NEVER SKY – Veronica Rossi

Oh my gosh, where to start? I could gush forever and a day about how much I loved this book. It might be one of my ALL-TIME favorites. Just sayin’.

THE WAKE TRILOGY – Lisa McMann

I started with the first book (WAKE) and immediately bought the second two (FADE and GONE). This is a fast read filled with lots of twists and memorable characters.

TIMEPIECE – Myra McEntire

I just finished this book two days ago and I love it. The ending will make you scream for book three. Thank goodness there’s a continuation because I’m not ready to let go of these characters just yet. If you haven’t read the first book HOURGLASS, do so immediately!!!

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT – Jennifer E. Smith

I was skeptical that this might be too slow (or too fast) paced because it takes place over 24 hours, but (once again) I was dead wrong. This was definitely a fun read.

STARTERS – Lissa Price

I can’t even begin to describe how awesome this was, if you haven’t gotten a copy yet – drop everything you’re doing and run to your local bookstore. Lissa is another one of my agent sisters, but I’d devour it even if she wasn’t. (What can I say? My agent has fabulous taste :)) If you liked the HUNGER GAMES, you’ll love it. SO GOOD.

EVERNEATH – Brodi Ashton

This is a book GoodReads recommended I try and I’m super glad I did. It’s one of the best mythology retellings I’ve read. It’s fresh and clever and I could go one for days. LOVED IT.

*    *    *

That was hard picking just ten! There are soooooo many other great books I’ve read recently. (One of them being UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris, and INSURGENT by Veronica Roth.) If you’d like to see what else I’ve been reading (and suggest your favorite reads to me) friend me on GoodReads by clicking here.

5 things you can do to immediately improve your writing.

READ! 

No, seriously. Put your laptop away and open up a book. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre (and beyond) and devour the words on the page. Reading is one of the most important things a writer can do to help with their craft. Go on, I dare you to stop working and read at least 2,000 words. You’ll be amazed by how much your brain picks up on while going over already published pages.

Do things you enjoy that DON’T involve writing.

Go for a drive, go to the movies, hangout with your friends, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and go sit in a bookstore. Is there a park nearby? Then go there. Surround yourself with people and random interactions, then sit back and absorb all the details around you. (Not in a creepy way, of course.) Make sure you bring a journal just in case something brilliant comes your way. You never know what passing piece of conversation will inspire you.

Talk to other people in creative fields.

How can this help to improve your writing? Simple. Talking to people in creative fields, whether they’re making music, art, acting, or writing, you’ll start to feel more confident in your work. You realize that if you’re feeling blocked creatively that these are feelings EVERYONE goes through. Sometimes talking to someone about their creative process helps you to understand your own as well. Plus, it’s just nice to commiserate with other people who get the ups and downs of the creative life.

Write a short story.

Now I’m just talking crazy, right? Sort of…but hear me out. Short storying writing is HARD. Like I’d prefer to write ten novels in ten months rather than write one short story. Why? Because they are SUPER hard. That being said, they’re also really great learning tools for every writer out there. If you can come up with a story arc, plot, well developed characters AND have all the important points that make for a really great novel in 5,000 words or less – then you’ll start writing much tighter prose. While writing short stories you realize how important each individual word is. I dare you to write a 1,500 word short story today.

Listen to your favorite song.

Why is this something that will help your writing? It’s all about layers. Think about the emotions you feel while listening to your favorite song, or artist. Do you remember the first time you heard it, or who you were with, the kinds of feelings you had at the time? When I feel stuck on expressing emotions in my characters, I pick out music I think they’d listen to and immerse myself in the emotions I experience while listening to it. Normally I can’t write with sound on in the background, but I always take music breaks when I need to recharge that part of my writing. And it’s just nice to take a break from working working working to hear a great song every now and then. 🙂

Retellings and the new Sherlock episode

So…I don’t have a cute little quote or saying for you this Monday, instead I’d like to gush about season two of Sherlock. Did you guys see it last night? GAH Benedict Cumberbatch is the PERFECT Sherlock. He plays the character so well, it’s definitely my favorite retelling of the Holmes mysteries. I have been WAITING for season two like a deranged groupie. I LOVE what the writers have done with the series.

This is the exact sort of thing that I really enjoy while reading a retelling of a popular story. It’s that essence of the character brought about in an entirely new (and exciting) way that makes you fall in love with the story all over.

For Sherlock, I love the modern-day setting and the neurotic behavior of this forensic genius. Intelligence definitely is the new sexy.

The first novel that comes to mind that I read recently is CINDER by Marissa Meyer. If you haven’t read that yet, you seriously should add it to the top of your TBR pile. It’s one of the best fairytale retellings I’ve read.

Here’s the blurb:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. .  

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

The second novel that I immediately think of is EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton. In EVERNEATH Ashton brings a lovely modern twist to the ancient myth of Persephone. (Which happens to be one of my all-time favorite myths.)

Here’s the blurb:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever. 

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

And because I can’t get enough Sherlock, I’m going to leave you with a little video. Enjoy!

Sherlock Season 2, episode 1 clip

 

Say what? Publishing Terms Defined

Publishing has a lot of jargon we take for granted because we’re around it ALL the time. Over the weekend I was asked a few questions, so here are some definitions if you’re seeing things floating around twitter or the blogosphere and feel out of the loop…

Please note: This list isn’t all inclusive, so if there’s something you’re a little unsure of – or if there’s something you’d like to include – please ask or add it in the comments.

Agatha Awards = awards for mystery and crime writers who write via the same method as Agatha Christie (i.e. closed setting, no sex or violence, amateur detective).

ARC = Advanced Reader Copy. (These are used for book reviews.)

ALA = American Library Association (they have a GREAT annual conference)

Auction = when more than one publisher offer on the same project and bid against each other.

BEA = Book Expo of America (it’s like Disney World for new books, check the link out.)

Beta Reader = a person who reads your manuscript with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, etc.

Critique = in-depth feedback on areas where you can improve your manuscript.

Critique Partner = someone who you exchange manuscripts with to offer helpful feedback.

Edgar = Award given for the best in the mystery genre.

Elevator Pitch = is a short summary used to quickly and simply describe your book.

Full = when an agent requests your entire manuscript

Frankfurt = Frankfurt Book Fair aka the largest book and media fair in the world.

Hook = One sentence pitch on what your book is about. (The more gripping, the better.)

Hugo = Award given for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy novel from the previous year

MS = Abbreviation for manuscript

MWA = Mystery Writers of America

Nebula = award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year.

Partial = when an agent requests part of your manuscript. (Normally they will specify how many pages to send them. I.e. 50 pages.)

Pre-empt = a preemptive offer from a publisher. (Usually a large sum to avoid going to auction.)

Query Letter = a 3-5 paragraph business letter that introduces your book, a short author bio, and reason for contacting a particular literary agent. Normal length is 250-350 words. (check out QueryShark for excellent examples.)

RWA = Romance Writers of America

SCBWI = Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

SFWA = Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Sublist = submission list. (Your agent sends you a list of publishing houses/imprints that are currently considering your manuscript.)

Synopsis = extended summary of your book. (Including the ending.) (The best examples of summaries are on wikipedia for any given movie.) Usually range in length from 1-5 pages, single spaced. The tighter the better.)

WIP = Work In Progress

Great sites for writers to check out:

Absolute Write: A wonderful forum/community for writers at any stage in the game. Ask any writing/publishing question/share your work & find critique partners, and do research before querying agents here. (Not to mention meeting and hanging around with other amazing/knowledgeable writers.)

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog: A fantastic resource for new agent alerts, and tips for EVERYTHING.

Hey, there’s a dead guy in the living room blog: I’m going to link you to my agent’s (Barbara Poelle) blogging days here. I may be biased, but I think reading through her blog archives is AMAZING.

Miss Snark: The mysterious secret agent who will live on in blogger history. She may not be blogging anymore, but there’s a WEALTH of information worth checking out.

Nathan Bransford: This former mega-agent’s (now author) blog is the guide to publishing BIBLE. Countless hours were spent there when I first started researching everything I could about publishing. It’s like the Holy Grail of the book world. Seriously.

Preditors and Editors: If there’s one site you add to your MUST list before querying, it’s this one. It’s a great resource for finding agents/agencies that are not scammers.

Pub Rants: Agent Kristin Nelson dishes on everything industry related. There are also some great examples of query letters that worked posted on the sidebar.

Publishers MarketPlace: I highly recommend that you get a subscription. Daily deals are posted as well as breaking industry news. I peruse my Pub Lunch every single day.

QueryShark: A phenomenal blog dedicated to the art of crafting a great query letter, run by super agent Janet Reid.

Query Tracker: Keep track of your query letters, search for agents who represent your genre, and hang around other writers in the query trenches. Another amazing site that has a forum where you can have your query letter critiqued by your peers.

Writer Beware: Is basically a watchdog blog for writers to avoid scammers and bad eggs. Highly recommended.

OMG – A Book-Mas Tree!!!

I posted this on twitter a couple of days ago, but HAD to share it with you! I heart this book tree SO MUCH. Enjoy the photo, my fellow bibliophiles <333333

**I’m not sure where the pic originated from, since it’s been floating around the interwebs – but all credit belongs to the individual who  created it.

Wishing you a very inspiring day! <33333

 

And the winner is….

First I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered! I had a lot of fun with this contest, and will definitely be holding another giveaway REALLY, REALLY soon. Okay, and now for the two BIG WINNERS!

The first name chosen via the random.org gods is: DRUM ROLLLLLLLL

zoe h (yayayayayyayay!) 

Congrats zoe you won Sparkly Prize Pack A: SHATTER ME and GLOW! An email has been sent to the address you provided when you followed the blog. (Thank you!)

And now for our next BIG WINNER! The second person chosen via random.org is: DRUM ROLLLLLLLLLL

Amanda G (Yayayayayayayayay!)

Congrats Amanda you won Sparkly Prize Pack B: CROSSED and THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER! An email has been sent to the address you provided when you followed the blog. (Thank you!)

Happy Holidays!!!! <333333