Archive | November 2011

More YA Books You’ll like, But….

Okay, so here are some more YA books that I’ve read and enjoyed, but that I had some issues with and so couldn’t put them in my list yesterday. They’re still fun reads, though!


1. The Fallen series by Lauren Kate- (Paranormal romance) I really enjoyed these books, but… I felt like she didn’t wrap things up well. There were lots of questions left dangling, and not in a good way, more like the threads of the story had gotten a little lost. Still, very engaging writing, fun to read, I might even still buy copies, because I liked them that much.


2. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen- (Historical YA Romance) So, I will say this. I knew how it was going to end within the first 5 pages, which was kind of a let down. And the behavior of the characters was highly improbable given the time period. Also, the end wasn’t an end at all, but more of a set-up for the coming squeal, which I disliked. But I did enjoy it. The author does an excellent job transporting you to New York City during the year 1899, showcasing the glittering society in much the same way that regency romances for adults are written. I loved the world.


3. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr- (Urban fantasy) I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. They are gritty, dark, intoxicating fantasies that I can’t get enough of. They would have been in my list yesterday except for one small thing. Book two, Ink Exchange, is Leslie’s story. In the first book, Wicked Lovely, she was the main character’s best friend. My main problem is that I feel like this book ended a hundred pages too early. The author doesn’t satisfactorily tell us what happens to Leslie, or really resolve much, and there isn’t another book in the series that does. We’re left hanging. I’ve heard that there is a digital download you can buy that does resolve things, but I haven’t purchased it yet.


4. Generation Dead by Daniel Waters-(Paranormal romance) Okay, I love the idea. Zombies are the living impaired! It was a fun read, but I had two big problems with it. One, the ending was predictable, and two, I felt like the voice of the girls wasn’t accurate, more like a man writing what he thinks two sixteen year old girls might talk about (which I think is the case). Still, it was a good read.


5. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare -(urban fantasy)-I really did enjoy these. My only problem is that they seem kind of fluffy, kind of commercial, and the romance was a little disappointing. Still, though, I enjoyed them.


6. Anna and the French kiss by Stephanie Perkins- (contemporary YA romance)_-I really enjoyed this and would read it again. My only problem is that Anna is extremely boy crazy. At one point, St. Clair (the boy) is helping her order from her school cafeteria in French, and says something along the lines of “We’ll have you speaking French in no time.” Anna’s internal dialogue immediately wonders if she wants to learn French at all. Then, the author writes “Argh. Boys make girls into such idiots,” Or something along those lines. This immediately pulled me out of the story. It was like the author was thinking, “Whoops, too much. Let’s try to redeem her a little bit.” If she’s going to be boy crazy, she should just be boy crazy. If you want to show that not all girls are like that, then show that. But that one sentence was clearly the author taking, and not Anna. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this one.


7. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer- (paranormal romance) Okay, I read them all, and they were enjoyable, but… I don’t like how Bella constantly relies on Edward for her own physical and mental well-being. I felt like she was weak and dependant, not a good role model for girls.


Newer YA Books You’ll Love to Read

If you are interested in writing for the YA market, then you must read, read, read the YA market. Here is a list of books to get you started!

1. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby- (contemporary YA) I loved the voice of this story. So not the typical teen- not totally boy crazy, concerned with other things in her life, especially coming to terms with her mother’s death, and with a hint of mystery and a deep, touching drama. Excellent read!


2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen- (contemporarily YA) Actually, I would recommend all of her books, but this is a great one to start with. I love how she picks a central theme, then works almost every scene in each book off that theme, like a giant, intriguing web. I can never put down any of her books once I start to read them.


3. Divergent by Veronica Roth- One of the best Dystopian YA books out there. Her world is complex and intriguing, with characters that immediately pull you in. This was another one that was extremely hard to put down!


4. Wake by Lisa McMann- (The first in a paranormal series) These books cover some heavy, gritty topics, but in a way that is new and refreshing. They’re all fast-paced, can’t-put-them-down books. I’d definitely recommend them, but again, they can be rather heavy at times.


5. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt (YA fantasy)- I loved this book! It’s unique, beautiful, and full of magic! While it had a twist that I saw coming, it was still immensely satisfying. If you’re looking for a paranormal romance, then read this one. One of the best I’ve ever read, period.


6. Mistwood by Leah Cypess (YA Fantasy)- If you liked Graceling, you must read Mistwood. In fact, I think I might have liked it better than Graceling (Although I enjoyed that, too). I found it suspenseful, beautiful, eerie, in short everything a good YA fantasy should be. Plus, she’s a female character who kicks butt. She doesn’t have to depend on some guy to rescue her. What else could you want?


7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (contemporary YA)- This is an excellent Contemporary YA, which explores the topics of grief, death, losing a sister, and becoming who you were truly  meant to be. Lennie’s moving journey is one that will stick with you a long time.


8. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (paranormal YA thriller!)- I love that this is more a paranormal thriller then a paranormal romance. I don’t know about you, but I’m kind sick of the whole paranormal romance thing. This is the story of Violet Ambrose, who has been able to psychically sense dead bodies for her entire life. I know, right? It grabs you right from the beginning, and you can’t put it down.



Writing: Fiction Phobias

Well, a good part of my Saturday evening was spent in Urgent Care with my son. He had a small fever, rash, and was limping, but hadn’t been injured in anyway. Ugh. He seems like he’s much better today, but we go back to the Dr. this afternoon. The whole thing got me thinking about themes in fiction, and what I will and won’t write about.


I’m not a superstitious person by any means. I’ve opened umbrellas indoors, walked under ladders, stepped on cracks, petted black cats, and broken mirrors, all without the slightest twinge. (Well, maybe the mirror gave me a teeny-tiny twinge. I mean, come on seven years is a LONG time!) But I’ve got one huge superstition that involves writing and, to some extent, reading as well.


Have you ever read Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult? It’s an excellent book, one I would highly recommend. The synopsis from Jodi’s website reads: “When Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe’s daughter, Willow, is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, they are devastated – she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain.”

Stupid me, I read it while I was six months pregnant with my son. For the remaining three months, I had a secret, hidden, but very strong fear that he would be born with osteogenesis imperfecta. (He’s fine, by the way, beautiful and wonderful!) I know, right? You probably just laughed out loud at me.

I haven’t had any more problems with books I’ve read, but I’ve found there are some topics I won’t write about, manly involving children, illness, and death, all because I have some vaguely discomforting idea that I might be tempting fate. Like someone is sitting there, monitoring me and thinking, “You’re not allowed to be too happy, and you’ve passed the allowable threshold of happiness, so now we have to take it all away.”

So I’ve revealed my writing superstitions. How about you? Do you have any?



My Two Favorite Words

Yesterday, I typed my two favorite words: THE END!!!!! So my rough draft is finally done. Now it’s on to revisions. Right now, I’m thinking a lot about my characters and the arcs they’ll be following over the course of the story.

My protagonist is a teen girl, and there is a romantic subplot, which got me thinking a lot about male heroes in novels. Hence the poll! Let me know what you think about male heroes, what you think is most important to make them believable, to make a romance believable. I’d appreciate it!

Writer’s Block or Writer’s Haze?

Everyone always talks about writer’s block, what happens when you get it, how to defeat it, how to avoid it all together. Writer’s block is a pain in the butt; staring at a blank page, completely out of ideas, not able to write even a single word. It sucks.


I’m lucky in the sense that I hardly ever get writer’s block. Do you know what my real problem is? Writer’s haze. What? You’ve never heard of it? I’d be willing to bet that you’ve had it though.


Have you ever sat down to write, and then immediately realized your brain feels foggy, confused, like you can hardly string a sentence together? You manage to slog through it, pulling each word out of your brain like a greased pig through a dog door (a Chihuahua’s dog door at that). You might get your quota of words done for the day, but they feel dry, uninspired, like it’s nothing but crap. That’s writer’s haze. You can thank me later for coining the phrase.


There are lots of reasons for writer’s haze; not enough sleep, not enough caffeine, overworking, disliking the project you’re working on, etc. However, there aren’t many cures. Other then getting enough sleep and a good pot of coffee or two, the only thing I’ve found that helps is loving your project. Like, I-can’t-wait-to-wake-up-so-I-can-work-on-it-in-the-morning love. When you’re really excited, the haze almost completely disappears.


You’ll always have episodes of it. Sometimes, the best thing to do on those days is just walk away, go for a long walk and come back later, or even the next day. If you’re still feeling The Haze, you might be working on the wrong project.

Writing YA Novels: a High School Do-over?

Someone recently said to me that they loved to write YA novels because it was like getting to live high school all over again. I literally shuddered. If that was why I wrote YA novels, I would never touch a keyboard again.


Despite the fact that Hollywood repeatedly tells us that our high school years are our golden years, I have to disagree. If you gave me a million dollars, I wouldn’t go back and relive it again. Don’t get me wrong, high school wasn’t horrible, it just isn’t as wonderful as my life is now. I mean, I guess there are some things I might do differently, some misunderstandings I’d want to clear up, some people I’d want apologies from. But to go back and relive it… Ugh. I just got creepy-crawly goose bumps.


I think the reason I write YA novels is because I’m trying to reach out to that girl I was. To all the other girls and guys out there who are hiding the fact that they’d rather gouge out their eyeballs then go to another day of class. Or maybe, I’m trying to give them an escape, a place where teenagers like them get to have their dreams come true, or make peace with their parents, or realize the BIG MISTAKE before they make it.


If I could give one message to all the teens out there, it would be this: Life gets better. It might take a while, but it does. I promise.

How Poetry Can Help Your Fiction


I don’t write much poetry although I’ve dabbled in it. I’ve always been a fiction kind of girl. There is one good reason to dust off the iambic pentameter: poignant descriptions.


Sometimes, I feel like my writing becomes a little flat, a little muddy. That’s when I know it’s time to write a little poetry.

 The sparseness of poetry forces you to consider each word carefully. You only have so many words to paint a picture, emotion, or idea in your readers mind. You weigh each word; is this what I really want to convey? In prose, you have pages to say what you want. Mark Twain said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Being wordy is easy. To be austere with your words is much harder.


Spend a few days writing poetry, even if it will never see the light of day. Your fiction writing will thank you, I promise.

Family and Writing

My family has gathered together for a pre-thanksgiving vacation,which has made my writing a little slow (try non-existent). In a sense, though, time spent with your extended family is excellent fodder for your writing. Need some odd characters for your novel? Look no further than that one oddball every family has. What? Wait? What do you mean I”m the oddball? No, I’m pretty sure it’s you…

Need some good dialogue? Here’s a good exercise. Crack open a couple of bottles of wine, wait until everyone is sloshed, then get out your notebook and pen. Then, when the wine -induced haze wears off and your novel is on bookshelves, swear up and down that they gave you permission to use their conversation verbatim. It’s not your fault if they don’t remember.

Need some good descriptions? When your family is driving you nuts and you can’t take it a moment longer, take a long walk (or snowshoe like I do!) through the woods, storing up descriptive words and scaring the local wildlife by yelling at the top of your lungs to relieve stress and frustration. Ah, the joys of family vacations…

The Black Moment and Resolution

The black moment is a device that’s used a lot in fiction. Not all books use it, but I think they should. It’s one of the best ways to heighten reader tension. So, what is the black moment?

Right before you resolve your novel, there should be a moment when whatever your character needs seems completely unattainable.  In a romance novel, this is where the heroine and hero seem like they’re not going to be able to make their relationship work. In a thriller, the hero might  have reached an insurmountable obstacle and seems ready to give up. In a paranormal novel, the flesh-eating zombies might have the heroine trapped with no way out, her death and subsequent consumption by the zombies seemingly inevitable.

The black moment usually happens in the chapter before the very last chapter. Then, you must have a resolution. This is where the heroine realizes she needs to learn to forgive and lets the hero into her heart. Or maybe, the heroine finds a loose pipe, bashes the zombies brains in, and makes her escape. Whatever. Just make sure that the resolution isn’t based on a happy coincidence, i.e. “And then a zombie-killing rain fell from the sky and I was saved.” While that might happen in real life (the happy coincidence, not the zombie rain), it can never EVER happen in your writing. Readers hate it and will never buy another one of your books again.