Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest Post: Best YA Romances of 2010

Today I have Kari from A Good Addiction talking about her favorite YA romances of 2010. I didn't weigh in on this one, but if I did I'd probably have gone with Anna and the French Kiss. But with so many awesome books, it would have been really hard to decide. So I let Kari do it. Enjoy.


Romance. It’s one of the biggest things most YA readers look for. Yes, we want the rest of the story, but we crave that romance. The intense, burning desire. Feelings so strong they can't be ignored. It’s one of the best reasons to read and write in this genre- the firsts, whether it's first heartbreak, first love, or first person to put your heart back together. So of the books I’ve read in 2010, what are some of the most outstanding, memorable, take-your-breath-away romances for me?


10. Connor and Natalie (Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian): He’s a jock, but he’s pretty darn sweet. She’s an overachiever with her chastity belt very firmly in place. Padlocked, even. But Connor pursues her. And pushes a little harder. And might be a good kisser. And there is something refreshingly real about these two, their push and pull and his unflinching affection. Maybe its unconventional, but its there and it’s so memorable and fantastic.


9. Derek and Chloe (The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong):


Awkward, brash and misunderstood boy meets quiet and unsure girl. Other boy likes girl. Girl still likes awkward boy. Confusing enough? Maybe. But when Derek and Chloe FINALLY give in to their feelings, it’s one of those amazing, pump your fist in the air, tell the presses kind of moments. There is such a lurking connection and possessiveness between these two, showing up at the right moments before fading again, almost like that pesky little mouse that you just can't quite catch but is oh so satisfying when you do.


8. Patrick and Delilah (Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler): Charming and funny boy reconnects with childhood best friend, now a broken, guarded girl. Said boy fixes the girl in the simplest, most beautiful ways. Does he get hurt? Yes. Does he take all of her crap? No. But is the fight worth it? Oh yes. This is an absolutely realistic relationship, filled with the bad and the good, making you grin like a schoolgirl on crack good in the end.

7. Oscar and Camille (Everlasting by Angie Frazier):


She’s engaged to another man. He’s an Irish Sailor. What do they have in common? A lot, including the way they feel for each other. Oscar might want to punch Camille’s fiancĂ© in the face, but he is absolutely tender and sweet and a perfect gentleman with her. It is such a charming mix, and the way Camille can be the strong girl she is while still relying on Oscar is handled so beautifully. This is a fantastic romance for both the book’s time period, and the modern world.

6. Will and Jacinda (Firelight by Sophie Jordan): He sets her on fire. Almost literally. A simple touch does something to both of these characters that only Sophie Jordan can describe, and man does she do it well. You want intense and engaging budding romance? Read this one. Add in the dragons and paranormal aspect, and it’s an all over hit but man… This romance. And the way it’s written. Uh huh. Get the book.

5. Seth and Rosetta (Freefall by Mindi Scott):


Seth is a mess, trying to get through school and figure things out. Then he meets Rosetta, who makes him want to be a better person. What can make a romance more notable than that? It isn’t to just impress her, but because he wants it. Whether he gets her or not, he likes the person he thinks he could be. And then he gets there, and woo! It is just the best mix of real and sweet and maybe a little painful. Don't let the cover flap of this one fool you, it’s a romance, and a darn near perfect one at that.


4. Adam and Mia (If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman): This is one of those couples that love each other so much, but maybe it’s not enough. They have their good moments, but they have their bad moments too. Still, there is such a connection and intensity, such a deep burning love between the two, seen in both books no matter their outcomes, that the relationship just can't be ignored.

3. Wesley and Bianca (The DUFF by Kody Keplinger):


Manwhore and I-don't-take-your-crap chick. What better couple than this? Wesley can smooth talk his way… right to Bianca’s back as she walks away. Yet things change, and when they do… wow. They are passionate and intense, not to mention one of the single best lines ever uttered in YA comes from this book.

2. Aiden and Tessa (The Naughty List by Suzanne Young): Peppy cheerleader and basketball star. ClichĂ©? Maybe. But interesting and lovable? Completely. These two have such an interesting chemistry that flies off the pages. It’s hot without going overboard, and Aiden is about as swoonworthy and amazing as they come. He can paint my toenails any time he wants.

1. Alex and Brittany (Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles):


Hot and sexy. That’s the best way to describe this one. It’s a passionate romance filled with fiery emotions and some seriously tough crap thrown in, and comes out so tremendously. Even for the people who aren’t big on romance, this one is still so incredibly worth the read. A dramatic romance if there ever was one, I could reread this one any time and fall for it all over again.


-Kari

Friday, December 10, 2010

SCBWI Annual Winter Conference 2011- Jim McCarthy



In a Team Blog pre-conference exclusive, I'm chatting with fabulous agent (who also happens to be my agent) Jim McCarthy. Jim is vice president at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and he will be speaking at the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in NYC being held January 28th-30th. Check out the lineup HERE.

Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. To start, I was wondering if you could tell us what your talk at the conference will focus on?

--This one’s easy! I’m doing the same break-out session three times, and it’s What Makes Your Work Publishable: Today’s Market in Children’s Books. I was asked to present on what our agency accepts, what my taste is, what makes something stand out as something I want to represent, how I perceive the marketplace now, and where I see it going. The lovely folks at SCBWI made it very easy on me—they told me I don’t need to prepare a speech because it’s really about what I do all day and what I think is coming. That’s going to leave tons and tons of room open for questions on this very broad topic (and means I won’t bore myself by giving the same presentation three times in a row!).

Are you currently looking for submissions?

--Always. ALWAYS. I have a really healthy client list right now that I’m thrilled with, but I will never close down to submissions because the idea of missing something brilliant because I wasn’t looking makes me physically uncomfortable.

What do you think authors can learn from hearing an agent speak during a conference as opposed to looking them up online?

--Well, you just get a sense of who that person is. Publishing is a business built on personal relationships, and the agent-client one is (in my totally unbiased opinion) the most important. I think it’s a great chance to scope someone out and see if they’re the sort of person you’d have any interest in working with long term. You get to see them as they are, not as they present themselves in writing. It’s kind of like online dating! But most importantly, you get a chance to ask questions and get clarity on some of the murkier issues in publishing which I think can be invaluable.

There’s always so much talk about what to wear to the conference—layer up, comfortable shoes, etc…. Any suggestions?

--Is there really? I never knew! I go to five or six a year and rarely think about what I wear (this is also true when I’m not at conferences). But…it’s New York in winter, so do wear layers. You can probably get away with spending the entire conference in the hotel traveling from event to event, but it would be a shame not to get out into the city at least for a little while, even if it is bitter cold.

Thank you again, Jim! And we all look forward to seeing you next month!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Team Getsome Week-The Bad Boys

So bad for you.... and yet so irresistible. Especially when they have some demon blood. In our pursuit of the most exciting romances in YA, Novel Novice and I have been putting together a list based on our (and a few expert's) opinions. Today's focus.... THE BAD BOY.

I'm going to start with the sexiest bad boy. It was a TOUGH call (I accidentally wrote touch call, haha). It was a dead heat between Nick from THE DEMON'S LEXICON series by Sarah Rees Brennan and Jace from THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series by Cassandra Clare. And after thinking it over, I can't choose! It's a tie of hotness.



Nick is dark and brooding. Jace is blond (swoon!) and witty. Both guys are fighters and good with weapons. And seriously, if you haven't read either of these series YOU HAVE TO! They are excellent!

And I couldn't get out of this bad boy post without mentioning Alex from PERFECT CHEMISTRY by Simone Elkeles. His danger is contemporary, so he won't be fighting monsters... But hot damn, he is dangerous. The book is steamy off the charts and it's Alex's fierceness and loyalty--and okay, maybe the motorcycle, too--that gets him on this list.



Any bad boys you'd like to highlight? Be sure to check out Novel Novice's picks for today!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Team Getsome Week-Boyfriends and New Guys


Even though I like reading about the cute best friend, or the steamy bad boy, I have a certain type of love interest that is my personal favorite—The Awesome Boyfriend. He wasn’t always the boyfriend, but awesomeness just comes naturally.

Today’s Awesome Boyfriend is Seth from WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr.

WL is one of my favorite series and Aislinn is a terrific main character with some tough choices! Fortunately she has a great guy to help her deal with some serious drama—Seth. First… he lives in a refurbished train car. I mean, really? How cool is that? Second, he’s got piercings and tattoos. And third, he’s so dang sweet and understanding! If anyone can give The Summer King (who is blond….) a run for his money, it’s Seth.

Now for every awesome boyfriend there is the intriguing New Guy. And I knew who I’d pick the first second this category was mentioned. Although he’s not new in town, he’s new to her. It’s Etienne St. Claire from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.

He cute, has an accent, and is really great at playing tour guide. He also has a girlfriend…. .wait! Girlfriend? That doesn’t sound hot! But just you wait! This love interest is swoon-worthy with a great sense of humor and crackling sexual tension. More importantly, Anna is one of my favorite main characters. Realistic, sexy and oh, man-you’ve-got-to-read-it-to-understand, St. Claire is at the top of my hot New Guy list.

Check out Novel Novice’s picks for Awesome Boyfriend and Hot New Guy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Team Getsome Week-The Best Friend

There’s always a team, even T-shirts declaring your loyalty to one love interest over the other when reading a book. But brooding looks and quiet pining aren’t always enough! We like some romance! So Novel Novice and I created Team Getsome Week (Sorry, don’t be offended by the name).

This is your quick guide to the hottest romances in YA according to us, and a few teens we stood in line with recently at a book signing. You know, experts! Be sure to check Novel Novice’s picks HERE.


Today’s focus is….. THE BEST FRIEND.

Oh… the best friend. They always creep up on you, all studly and quiet. And then suddenly, BAM! You notice. Or at least, that’s how it works in my first selection, Kimberly Derting’s THE BODY FINDER. Jay is funny, sweet, a bit protective (but not overbearingly so) and when he and Violet finally admit how they feel—it’s just straight-up hotness. If I were to guess what Jay looks like, I would say he might be a little something like this:

And with the combination of scary and sexy, THE BODY FINDER is a big bowl of win, and definitely part of Team Getsome.

The other best friend romance is with…. Simon from Cassandra Clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series. Sure, he doesn’t have hot tattoos or a weapon under his coat, but his sense of humor and dogged devotion definitely make him a keeper! And there’s nothing hotter than when a best-friend-but-maybe-more steps up and makes a move. If I were to imagine Simon, I’d guess he looks a little something like this:

Now, Cassandra Clare’s books will also make this list later on in the week, so don’t fret, Jace fans. We have room on our team for bad boys too.

Any other BEST FRIEND romances you can think of?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Napkin Draft

My friends know that I constantly write, both as a job and for fun. When I'm not writing I get cranky and anxious. But when I am writing I become anti-social and weird. Not really a win-win.

Anyway, last night I went out to dinner--which, believe me, is much safer than eating anything I cook--and while I was there I had a sudden burst of inspiration for the new book I'm working on. (Adult this time!) I grabbed my kid's crayon and wrote it down on the restaurant napkin, spewing everything that came to mind. When I ran out of space, I took my son's napkin and added. This all went down AS WE WERE EATING. I didn't end up finishing my dinner.

This may sound like odd behavior, but it happens all the time. Maybe that's why I like to go out to eat so much. Maybe I purposely cook awful food so that I have an excuse to go to the Spaghetti Factory and brainstorm. Maybe.

So as I sat around today, transcribing my napkin draft onto the computer, I thought about it. Pretty much every book I write is partly written on napkins. In fact, I took a picture of a recent one--and this is not a book you know about--that ended up turning into an 85k-word draft. All from a napkin. Actually, I think there were three or four napkins, a back of an envelope and a place mat.

Here's a picture with spoilers cut out:



Am I alone in this? Do you have napkin drafts too?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cataloged

Something about catalogs thrills me--especially The Pottery Barn! And when I saw that A Need so Beautiful made it in the Summer 2011 HarperCollins catalog, I got REALLY EXCITED. I mean, I knew it'd be in there, but I had this fear that somehow they forgot to tell me they'd changed their minds :-)

But no, it's in there! It even has a quick synopsis, although I'm not sure what will read on the actual book yet. Either way, it's totally real. Check it out! And while you're there, look at some of the other amazing books coming out next summer!!!

Click the cover to go to the Summer 2011 catalog listing:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Check This Out!

Friend and author Lisa Schroeder revealed the cover today for her summer release THE DAY BEFORE (June 2011) Check this out:



Isn't it gorgeous!? I love it. You can read the description (which is amazing!) on Elle Strauss' blog, or go to Lisa's website to learn about her other books!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit: Starring Daisy Whitney!

I am THRILLED to bring you today's girlfriend--the amazing Daisy Whitney. Her debut novel THE MOCKINGBIRDS is out in the wild!!! Let's hear more about it:



Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.


"In The Mockingbirds, Daisy Whitney has written an unflinchingly honest story about the importance of taking a stand and speaking out. An emotionally powerful debut that will leave readers breathless." (Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be)

"First-time author Whitney boldly addresses date rape, vigilantism, and academic politics in an intense and timely novel... Besides showing skill in executing suspense and drama, Whitney masterfully evokes the complexity of her protagonist's emotions, particularly her intense longing to feel 'normal' again." (Publishers Weekly (Starred review) )

"[Whitney] writes with smooth assurance and a propulsive rhythm as she follows Alex through the Mockingbird's trial process and its accompanying emotional storm of confusion, shame, fear, and finally, empowerment. Authentic and illuminating, this strong debut explores vital teen topics of sex and violence; crime and punishment; ineffectual authority; and the immeasurable, healing influence of friendship and love." (Booklist )



THE MOCKINGBIRDS was picked as one of best of the year in YA by Romantic Times, and also one of ABC's 2010 New Voices list of outstanding debut books by authors for middle-grade and young-adult readers. Way to go, Daisy!!

Web sites:

http://www.amazon.com/Mockingbirds-Daisy-Whitney/dp/0316090530
http://www.Facebook.com/MockingbirdsBook
http://www.DaisyWhitneyBooks.com

Interview:

1. Okay, first question. If this were high school, which senior superlative in the yearbook would you score?

Most likely to be found eating alfala sprout sandwiches in the library during lunch.

2. What is one thing you wish you would have done when you were younger? For me, it’s that I never studied abroad. How about you?

I wish I had learned an instrument! I would love to play the piano.

3. Now here’s the self-promotion part: Can you please tell us all about your book? We have some book shopping to do!

THE MOCKINGBIRDS is the story of an underground student-run justice system at a prestigious boarding school and the date rape case they try.

4. So, say your book just got picked up for a movie (congratulations!) Who’s playing your MC?

Emma Stone. I freaking love her.

5. If you could take one literary character to prom, who would it be, and why?

Etienne St Clair from ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS obviously! He’s perfect! And I hear he’s a great kisser.

6. And finally, since all of the other questions were so serious… What do you hope teens take away from your book?

I hope they realize that taking a stand for someone including yourself is cool!

You're awesome, Daisy! Thank you! And everyone, pick up your copy of THE MOCKINGBIRDS today!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL- The Cover!!!!!!!!

I thought about writing a long post about covers because honestly, I never get tired of telling the story about The Naughty List (my mom thought it was porn). But instead, I just want to say that I'm SO HAPPY WITH MY NEW COVER!!!

I have obsessed and fretted about what the cover for A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL (Summer 2011) would look like. The book is about a girl who is compelled to help people, even though each time she does, her friends and family start to forget who she is--her very existence fading into a glowing light. So... what kind of cover could express that????

Well, I'm so excited to show you!! I just think.... it's so pretty. :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit: Starring Denise Jaden

Today I'm talking about Denise Jaden's debut novel LOSING FAITH-out now from Simon Pulse. Here's a little more about the book:



A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

And I love this trailer!!! Check it out--



Pick up your copy of LOSING FAITH today!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Signing: Starring LK Madigan, April Henry and Lauren Kate



Super fun time today! I took a break from my psychotic writing schedule to head out to a book signing. Amazing lineup with the always awesome LK Madigan (Flash Burnout, The Mermaid's Mirror), Bestselling author April Henry (Girl, Stolen) and Bestseller Lauren Kate (Fallen, Torment).



Amazing author Tara Kelly (Harmonic Feedback) came with and we met up with Lisa Schroeder (I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Chasing Brooklyn) and Amy Baskin. It was a full crowd at our local Powell's!

Each read from their books (which was great!) and LK tossed chocalotes and passed out one of her early novels about mermaids (was it from 4th grade?) So fun.

The highlight of the event was during question time when an audience member asked Lauren if the author of Twilight helped her write Torment. That Stephanie Meyer--she's just everywhere.

Anyway, Portland once again rules the universe turning out for an awesome event! More coming up soon!!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Novel Graveyard

Novel Graveyard time, which sounds completely appropriate because it's from my long forgotten zombie book THE RULES FOR DATING A TEENAGE ZOMBIE. This is a finished book that never made it off my desktop, but each chapter was a new rule and included such gems as:

Rule 1: Don’t cross paths with a zombie. Especially if it’s two weeks before prom. That's just tacky.

Rule 3: When finding the zombie slut who bit your boyfriend, DO NOT attempt to slap her. Zombies are freakishly strong.

Rule 4: A zombie boyfriend can still get jealous. Even if he’s the one that started the whole mess by going to his stupid ex-girlfriend’s funeral in the first place.

Rule 6: When your boyfriend is a zombie, becoming allies with a zombie hunter is a bad idea. Especially if he has a crush on you.

And it goes on from there. As you can see it's very tongue in cheek. Here is a quick excerpt from the second chapter. Hopefully it's not too out of context. Please keep in mind that this is my original work and it is unedited. Hope it doesn't scare you away from my blog. haha

RULES FOR DATING A TEENAGE ZOMBIE

In the middle of the night, Sawyer got up twice to throw up. He was being brave, pretending that his dropping body temperature was normal. Like he had the flu or something. He wouldn’t let me call anyone, saying that they wouldn’t understand. Well, neither did I. When Sawyer came back in my room, he crawled in next to me. I shivered when he touched my skin.

“Mm,” he said, wrapping his arms and legs around me. “You’re so warm.”

I snuggled in closer and began to rub at his arms. “Sawyer,” I whispered. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but I’m pretty sure this is abnormal.” He needed a doctor.

He cleared his throat and began to play with my hair. Uh, oh. That was his guilty tick. He did that whenever he was trying to distract me.

I paused. “Do you know what’s wrong with you?” My heart raced. His heart…didn’t. In fact, as my face pressed into his chest, I didn’t hear one damn thing. Not a peep. I hitched in a breath.

“Victoria did mention something--”

I sat up. “You talked to her?” I balled my hands into fists. Exactly what else had he left out? I couldn’t believe Victoria was still alive. What sort of person faked her own death for a guy? She was truly desperate.

Sawyer cracked his neck. “It wasn’t like that, Emmie. After she bit me I--”

“So now you’re spending time alone with her, letting her nuzzle your neck and then you have a conversation with her? Did you take her out to dinner, too?” I had every reason to be angry. He was right. He shouldn’t have gone to the funeral.

“Baby, I was her dinner. She was trying to eat me, remember?”

“I’m sure she was.”

Sawyer took my hand and pulled me back down to him. “Just let me talk for a minute.”

“Why should--”

He put his cold hand over my mouth and held me until I stopped wiggling. Fine. He wanted to give a little speech? I wasn’t above listening. I might not understand why he kept indulging Victoria’s craziness, but…

“Can I finish?” he asked. I nodded my head. He withdrew his hand and began to play with my hair again.

I closed my eyes, trying to hear his heartbeat and yet, there was still nothing. Maybe I was suffering from the delusion, too. I missed the steady sound of him.

Sawyer adjusted himself in the pillows. “Right after Victoria bit me, I fell back and I was holding my neck. My skin burned, like really freaking hurt. Then, she sat up in the coffin and looked right at me. Her eyes were reflecting the light or something because I couldn’t look away.”

I groaned. This was not the type of conversation I wanted to sit though. I didn’t want to know how beautiful his ex-girlfriend looked at her funeral. Sawyer touched my chin and turned my face to his. “Just listen,” he whispered.

I rolled my eyes, but lay back down on his chest.

He continued. “She was climbing out of the casket, pointing her finger at me, talking about joining her for lunch--”

“She asked you out?” I sat up again and glared at him. “At her funeral, she asked you on a date? She is so tacky.”

Sawyer pursed his lips. “That’s not the worst part,” he said. “She gets out of the coffin, right? And she smiles at me and says, ‘And Emelia will be our dessert.’”

“Ew. She mentioned me?”

“Baby, she wants to eat you.”

“As if I’d let that bitch within ten feet of me. She is truly pathetic. She couldn’t get you in life, so she attacks you when she’s supposed to be dead. Pa-the-tic. I hate her.”

“Emmie. She’s dead.”

“Good.”

“No. I mean she’s undead.”

I stared at him. He looked completely serious. “That’s not possible,” I said.

He closed his eyes. “Then how do you explain me?”

That made my stomach twist in knots. “You’re…sick. You’ve got some weird virus or something. We’ll--”

“I’m dead, Emmie.” He stared at me, his eyes burning with green light. I shook my head.

“Don’t say that,” I whispered.

He looked away. “I’m sorry. But she did something to me. Whatever is wrong with her, I assure you, she’s dead. But not really. I don’t know. She’s like a freaking zombie or something.”

My breath was coming out in jagged gasps. This was like a bad dream. This couldn’t be real. “Zombie?” I asked, my voice squeaking. “So what does that mean? Does she have to eat people’s brains?” No way.

“I think so. But I don’t know. She bit me.”

She had bitten him. That bitch. That sneaky, undead, brain-eating bitch! “Just wait until I see her,” I said, adrenaline overtaking my body. “She had no right to put her mouth on you.”

“Hey.” Sawyer ran his fingers down the length of my bare arm. It sent tingles over my body and I met his glowing gaze, letting it draw me in again. “We’re going to stay away from her,” he said. “She wants to kill you.”

But I was over this. Okay, yes. Something really flipping unusual was going on, but it didn’t mean I didn’t fight for what was mine. And Sawyer was mine. “Well if she wants you,” I said. “It’ll be over my dead body anyway, so she can have at it.”

“And what are we going to do about me?” he asked, sounding self-conscious.

I leaned in, pressing my lips softly to his. It didn’t matter what happened. I adored him. His health status made no difference. My father was gone and I still loved him. I wouldn’t abandon Sawyer. I never would.

“I don’t care if you are dead,” I whispered. “But if you talk to that bitch again, I will sever your head.”

He chuckled. “I won’t.” His hand slid onto my leg. “Come here,” he breathed. Well not really. He mouthed it mostly.

“We’ll need to find out how to fix this,” I said, closing my eyes, enjoying his cool touch.

“I know.” He kissed at my ear.

“And now that you’re dead, things might not…work like they used to.” Hooking up might have to get more creative.

“Oh, things are working,” he mumbled into my hair. “I sure as hell don’t feel dead right now.”

I smiled. As long as he was with me, we’d be okay. We’d figure out the rules for dating a teenage zombie.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The shape of love...

I'm very happy to have my regular guest poster Kari from A Good Addiction stop by. And today, she's bringing the laughs about one of my favorite subjects:

THE LOVE TRIANGLE.

Take it away Kari....

We all get into them when they happen in books. We choose sides, and argue to the death for our pick. They are a great plot device, and quite possibly far more fun than they should be. That’s right. The dreaded (but much adored) love triangle. My definition, however, isn’t just two people liking the same person. If that mutually liked person only has feelings for one, it isn’t much of a triangle, is it? So for the purposes of this post, I’m going with ones where the mutually liked person really has a choice to make.

5. Derek/Chloe/Simon (Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong):

Derek has crappy people skills. He’s intimidating, imposing and brash. He isn’t the best on the looks scale, but hey, he’s loyal like a dog (bad pun intended). Simon is attractive, nice, and has a smooth way with words. And honestly? There really isn’t that much against him. But there is something about the slightly wild nature in Derek that makes him more appealing. So even if Chloe has to struggle between liking the boys in the midst of everything else going on, I sided early with Derek.

4. Graves/Dru/Christophe (Strange Angels by Lili St Crow):

Graves is emo, shy, quiet and has pretty much no game. Christophe is suave, sexy, surprisingly reliable, and smells like apple pie. Dru is kickass and headstrong, but she has her moments of weakness. So when she really needs someone to rely on, which boy can save the day? I don’t know that one yet, but I am rooting for Graves. Who wants to make out with apple pie, anyhow?

3. Abe/Emmi/Sam (Change of Heart by Shari Maurer):

Abe has been through the heart transplant thing. He is funny, sweet and understanding. Sam is there when Emmi is dealing with needing a new heart. He fills her afternoons, distracts her, and cares for her. But he is far from perfect and makes some pretty big mistakes. And Emmi is dealing with being a teenager. Dealing with a heart transplant. Dealing with liking two boys, for different reasons. But if I were her, I’d totally pick Abe.

2. Jem/Tessa/Will (Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare):


Jem is nice, a great fighter, and sensitive. Will is a better fighter, a bigger jerk, and in the negatives on the sensitivity scale. But let’s add in the fact that they’re best friends because that pretty much kicks the love triangle drama up a few notches. Then comes Tessa. Thrown into a new world, still holding views of how a man should treat a woman, and torn between the two. My pick? Jem.

1. Adrian/Rose/Dimitri (Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead):

Adrian is sweet and nice and a total playboy. Dimitri is a badass, intense, and controlled to the point of hot damn sexy. And stuck in the middle between both worthy boys’ affection is Rose. Badass, sarcastic, and devoted. She has a fiery chemistry with both boys, and one heck of a decision to make. I, however, am Team Adrian. Sardonic playboy for the win.


Thanks, Kari! Another fantastic post. And I'm with you on the #1 choice.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Lois Duncan made me cry...

Before becoming a writer, I used to teach 7th and 8th grade language arts and literature. It was the highlight of my time in Arizona because I adored my students. ADORED. It was difficult at first because their reading levels posed a challenge, but one thing changed the course of the year--Lois Duncan's books. I'm not sure if you've read Summer of Fear, Down a Dark Hall, I Know What you Did Last Summer, but Duncan's books are pure fun. Mysterious. Awesome.

When I ordered a class set for my 8th graders, we started reading, students taking turns. A lot of them never considered reading for fun (this was before Twilight days). By the end of the week, they were riveted, asking me to read to them, actually stealing the books so they could finish it at home because they didn't want to wait to find out what happened. The minute we finished, they wanted the next book. Then the next. It was amazing to watch.

So when a few months ago an editor asked if any authors would like to contribute a blurb for the re-release of Lois Duncan's books, I jumped at it. I didn't ACTUALLY expect to make it in there, I mean... she's Lois Freaking Duncan!

And then yesterday I received a package and inside were the three titles, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Killing Mr. Griffin, and Don't Look Behind You, with their shiny new covers. I thought it was insanely sweet that the editors at Little,Brown would send them since the books don't come out until next month. That was enough to make my day.

I looked inside at the blurbs on the inside page and saw greats like: Walter Dean Myers, R. L. Stine, JUDY BLUME!, Jenny Han, Chris Crutcher, and more... and then.... I saw ME! Let me be overly dramatic for a second...

I gasped, tears springing to my eyes. "Oh my God!" I grabbed the next book and looked inside, ME AGAIN! I laughed like a crazy person. Checked the third one-Yes!! Tears rolled down my cheeks, not just because my name was there... but because my name was in LOIS DUNCAN'S book, and that meant so much to me. It was like my life had come full circle!!

My blurb?

"Haunting and suspenseful--Duncan's writing captures everything fun about reading!" -Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List series and A Need so Beautiful

And that is why Lois Duncan made me cry....


Lois Duncan's books will be re-released October 5th, 2010.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Novel Graveyard

Another installment of NEVADA FALLS--an unedited, unpublished manuscript from my graveyard. Catch up on the story HERE, or you can read all of the other graveyards.

I sometimes skip chapters to keep the length short for posts, and there is swearing, so you've been warned. :-)

NEVADA FALLS

“What’s the damage?” Marisol asked as I sat down at our lunch table. Trevor had fifth period lunch, so the table consisted of Marisol and me. Oh, and occasionally Dante Walker. But he didn’t count. He was a freshman.

“Detention all next week,” I said in between bites of my salami sandwich. “With Becker.”

“Shit,” she said. “You didn’t get suspended? Girl, you are lucky.”

I nodded. “If they knew about the firecrackers, I could have been arrested. Nice job, by the way. Totally believable.”

“Why, thank you,” Marisol said, bowing her head.

“Maybe you should try out for the school play.”

“I’d rather stab myself in the eye with this spork, but thanks for the suggestion.”

“Snob.”

Just then, I caught sight of Becker, making his way from the lunch line. He’d changed. Damn. I really wanted to capture a picture of him in pink with my camera phone. I had forgotten to take one earlier.

“Ugh,” Marisol said. “Looks like Mr. Fantastic got his mommy to bring him more clothes.”

“Looks like it.”

I ran my eyes over him. His shirt was new. Preppy. I hated it on him. Becker looked natural in a uniform or T-shirt. Not these sweaters or button-up crap.

Then I wondered who he was dressing for these days.

As if to answer my question, he sat at a table full of cheerleaders. I looked down and picked up my sandwich.

“Trevor got called into the office,” Marisol said.

I paused mid-bite. “For what?”

“Your uncle called him in to talk about getting punched by Becker.”

“Is Becker going to get suspended?”

“Nope,” she said, sipping loudly from her milk. “Trevor covered for him.”

“What?” He was such a coward.

“He didn’t want to get punched again. You can’t really blame him, Nevada.”

“I can. And I will. I got detention for sticking up for him when he won’t even stick up for himself.”

Marisol scowled.

Something bumped me hard from behind. I knocked into the table and spilled my orange juice. “Ow,” I yelled, spinning around in my seat.

“Sorry,” Olivia Shepard said, as she tossed her bleached hair over her shoulder. “You should watch where you’re going, Pierce.”

“What? I’m sitting down, you twit.”

She stopped in her flip-flops. “Excuse me?”

Stupid cheerleaders. They thought people feared them because they could do a high kick. Yeah, well, I wore boots. I’d say we were about even.

“Look, Shepard.” (As in the dog) “I was sitting here, minding my own business. You’re the fool who can’t walk straight. Now go find someone else to worship you.”

“Everybody hates you,” she hissed. “And although the little stunt you pulled on Becker may have cracked everyone else up, I think you’re a bitch.”

I sucked at my teeth and titled my head. “And I think you’re a skank.” I yawned. “Wow, Liv. This is super fun and all, but unless we’re going to go at it, I’d like to finish my lunch.”

“But you should probably skip yours,” Marisol called out to her. “Because your ass looks really fat in that cheerleading skirt.”

And Olivia’s mouth fell open with a combination of anger and self-consciousness. The popular were so easy to mindfuck.

***

There was something about an unfinished home. It was full of possibilities. I stepped in through the wooden doorframe onto the concrete slab. It wasn’t dark outside and I looked up through the slats that would some day become a ceiling and saw the stars.

Then I took a breath and began wandering around. I’d been to this neighborhood before. Track homes. Built in about six months. I visited at least once a week, watching as the foundation was poured, the framing began, the siding went up. It was fascinating. The best part was at the end, after they drywalled. You could walk through a home.

I sometimes wondered what types of families were moving in. If they had kids. If they had pets. If they had dads.

Crossing over to the next house, I was excited. It was my personal favorite. They’d just finished the outside stucco and the front door was hung on its hinges. Sometimes when they got this close to completion the builders locked the doors. I tried it and smiled when it opened easily.

It smelled like plaster. I moved through the huge living room, the kitchen, the family room. The house had to have at least five bedrooms. It was the nicest on the block. Or would be when it was done.

I ran my hand over the banister as I climbed the steps. Last time I was here, they were still nailing down the stairs and I couldn’t reach the second floor. I was excited to see what was up there.

Not one. Not two. But three bathrooms were being built. What sort of family needed three bathrooms on one floor? When this house was done, I was going to come back and pretend to sell Girl Scout cookies or something, just to see what sort of people lived here.

Other than the master, the bedrooms were small. There was still one more on the other side of the hallway. I walked toward it. The door was closed. I turned the handle.

“What the hell?” a female voice yelled.

I jumped back, frightened. Then I froze as I looked in the room. There was Olivia Shepard, on the floor, on top of a blanket, half dressed.
With Becker.

My stomach turned. At least this time he had his shirt on.

“Get out!” Olivia screamed. “What are you some sort of perv?”

I turned my back to them, but I was so stunned. She was my nemesis. And he was my ex-boyfriend. Oh my God. They were about to screw in my favorite house! What were the chances?

“Nevada?” Becker was out of breath. Practically whispered my name.

But then something else hit me. My face hot with embarrassment, I slammed the door and rushed toward the stairs. Wow. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I couldn’t believe that I had to see it.

No wonder that wench had shoulder-bumped me at lunch. She was doing Becker. Ugh. She was so gross. And he was so freaking predictable. I was glad I silly-stringed his ass.

I practically ran out the front door and made for my house. I was halfway there when I realized something. I’d forgotten my backpack. At the sex house.

Shit.

Later that night, as I stared at the ceiling from my bed, all I could think about was Olivia’s high-pitched squeal. Her leopard print bra. The way her lip stick was smeared across her cheek.

But then, I thought about Becker. The way he whispered my name. And how, in some sick and twisted way, I wanted him to do it again. The way he used to.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay Release

Last night was the midnight release of Suzanne Collin's final book in the Hunger Games trilogy MOCKINGJAY. And I was there! It was super fun and the first thing I did when I got my book was open to the last three pages and read. Yep. That's how I roll.

But no spoilers here. Instead, PICTURES with my friends Lisa Schroeder (dressed as Katniss) and Sara Gundell!



The scene outside Powell's City of Books. The line wrapped around the building, but when 12 hit, it moved super fast. Big thumbs up to Powell's!



Catching up on CATCHING FIRE in line. Luckily me and Sara are both Peeta fans (BE QUIET!) so we reread his makeout scene.



Things got a little tense in line...



But we worked it out.



And finally we got inside:



And all was right with the world....




Enjoy the book!!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Novel Graveyard

Continuing the Novel Graveyard from yesterday, here is more of Nevada Falls. It is my unedited, unfinished book. Catch up on the story HERE or view all the other Novel Graveyards HERE


NEVADA FALLS-by Suzanne Young
The office secretary stared at us. Becker and I sat shoulder to shoulder (not by choice) on the waiting area couch. Becker was still half-naked. And his blond hair was stained pink, even though he had picked most of the string out of it. We matched.

“Mr. Martinez will be out in a minute,” the secretary called, even though we hadn’t asked.

“Great,” Becker mumbled.

“Hey,” I said to him. “That means you get to show off your pecks a little longer, tough guy.”

“What is your problem, Pierce?” He turned suddenly, startling me. Maybe now wasn’t the best time to continue harassing him. Becker was heaving in breaths and…oh my God. Was he going to cry?

“Are you going to cry?”

“Shut up, Nevada,” he said. I paused. I hadn’t seen him cry since the day he’d come to the hospital. The day of the accident.

My eyes met his and I was surprised by how incredibly sad he looked. There was a tug at my heart. I turned away and stared down at my gloves.

“You’re such a…” He stopped and then crossed his arms and slid away from me.

“Such a what?” I asked. I didn’t know what he thought of me anymore. I hadn’t talked to him in eight months. I hardly even looked at him.

“Nevada? Becker?” Principal Martinez interrupted from his doorway. He wasn’t too bad as far as principals went. At least he didn’t look at me like my teachers did. It probably helped that he was my uncle. My father’s half-brother. Wait. Did that make him my half-uncle?

I stood up, grabbing my pack from the floor near my boots. I could feel Becker behind me. He must have been really uncomfortable. With the whole shirtless thing still going on.

“Rita,” Mr. Martinez said to the secretary as we walked past her. “Can you get a extra shirt from the nurse’s office?”

Becker’s mouth opened. “You had shirts this whole time?”

Mr. Martinez nodded and motioned for us to sit down. Becker scoffed and took the uncomfortable chair on the left. He then scooted it as far away from the other chair as possible. He was being a bit overdramatic if you asked me.

“Baby,” I mumbled as I sat down.

“Bitch.”

I shot him a look just as my uncle sat at his desk. “Now,” he said, folding his hands in front of him. “Who’d like to start?”

Neither Becker nor I moved. There was a quick knock at the door as the secretary entered. Holding a pink t-shirt.
“Sorry,” she said, looking at Becker. “I only had a large in the female.”

I cracked up.

“I’m not wearing this,” Becker said as he took the shirt from her hands.

“Yes, you are,” Mr. Martinez said. “The district has rules about proper attire. And no attire at all is a violation. Just put it on.”

Becker waited and for a second and I didn’t think he was going to listen. Then, begrudgingly, he slid the pink fabric over his head and straightened it on his chest. He was a Panther. In Pink. I freaking loved it.

“Cute,” I said.

“We’ll talk later, Pierce,” he replied.

“Enough,” Mr. Martinez interrupted. “Nevada, where is his shirt?”

“Gross, I didn’t take it.”

“She superglued me to my chair,” Becker said. “I had to take it off to get up.”

I swear, there was a brief smile on my uncle’s lips. “Wow,” he said, but I was pretty sure he was stalling so that he didn’t bust out laughing.

“And she sprayed me with silly string. The whole can.”

Mr. Martinez took his folded palms and put them against his mouth as he nodded.

“He can’t prove any of that,” I announced. Well he couldn’t. There weren’t any witnesses.

Becker turned to me, his mouth hanging open. “You’re seriously going to deny it?”

“I plead the fifth.” I looked down to pick at my fingers and then paused. The index finger of my black glove was bright pink from spraying the can.

“Hah!” Becker called, pointing at me. “See.”

My uncle glanced at my hand and then dropped his eyes. I wasn’t sure if he was thinking about my pink finger or my gloves. Or the scars underneath them.

“Nevada,” he asked. “Why on Earth would do something like this?”

He sounded disappointed. It flooded me with painful memories. He sounded like my father.

I met his eyes. “He punched Trevor in the hall the other day, and when we reported it, the security guard and your secretary didn’t believe us. I didn’t think it was fair for Roid Rage over here to go around punching people.”

“I don’t take steroids,” Becker said.

“You sure?” I asked. “Have you checked your package lately? I hear it shrinks your testicles.”

“Nevada!” Mr. Martinez snapped.

“I saw it on Discovery Health,” I mumbled.

My uncle held up his hand. “That’s enough. Both of you, after school, all next week. You’re lucky I’m not suspending you.”

“So lucky,” I said.

Mr. Martinez shot me a look then motioned toward the door. “Back to class.”

I got up, thrilled that stupid Becker would have to spend the day in a pink Panthers t-shirt, but my uncle ruined the fun.

“And Becker, you can call your parents to bring you down another shirt if you want.”

“Oh, great. Thanks,” Becker said with more sarcasm than necessary. Mr. Martinez huffed.

As we parted ways in the waiting room, I glanced at Becker. “Good luck, loser.” “I’ll be seeing you after school, Nevada.”

He wasn’t looking at me, but the way he said my name gave me chills. Not because I was scared of him. Please.

But because my name in his mouth… it reminded me of all the times he stood on the sidelines, watching me during practice. It reminded me that I used to love him.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Novel Graveyard

Figured it was time for some Novel Graveyard action. Novel Graveyard comes from my unpublished, UNEDITED drafts of books I didn't finish. They are mine. And sometimes they're kind of fun, so I don't get rid of them. Instead I built a file graveyard for them to rest in. Check out other Novel Graveyard pieces HERE.

This excerpt is from a book called Nevada Falls. It's about a girl who returns from summer with wildly dyed hair and scarred hands that she keeps covered with gloves. There's some mature language, so you've been warned.


NEVADA FALLS

As the class was distracted, I opened the tube of superglue. My seat was in the last row and I darted my eyes around to make sure nobody was noticing me. But I didn’t have to worry. Nobody ever noticed me anymore unless I made them. Like by dying my hair pink.

I leaned forward, looking at Becker. His back was pressed against his chair, but his shoulders were slumped enough to give me a little wiggle room. Very carefully, I put the tip of the superglue against the Formica chair. And squeezed. Slowly the glue traveled down the back, soaking into Becker’s sweater, bonding it to the chair. I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing.

Once the tube was nearly empty, I pulled back my hand. Then I ducked low at my desk and slid the glue into my pack.

Becker sighed and pushed himself against his seat. I briefly worried that
he’d feel the wetness, but he didn’t seem to notice. The boy was seriously brainless. I got my can of silly string and hid it under my desk, coughing to cover the sound of the pop as I took off the cap. No one turned.

Now I just needed to wait.

Five minutes passed and then suddenly there was a series of loud snaps from just outside the door. Marisol screamed. It was pretty convincing.

“Mrs. C,” she cried. The entire class jumped up and ran for the door.

Except Becker. When he tried to move, his sweater pulled him back into his seat. “What the hell?” he said, trying to turn to see what he was snagged on. But his entire cotton-wool-blend was permanently cemented in place.

With the classroom emptying into the hallway, I jumped up in front of Becker and began to press the nozzle of the silly string. An explosion of pink flew all over him. He tried to scream, but the string filled his mouth. He choked, spitting it out and tried to shield his face as I unloaded the entire can on him.

“That’s what you get for being a prick,” I hissed. “Mess with Trevor again and next time those firecrackers will be up your ass.” There I went again with the graphic stuff. My brothers must have been rubbing off on me.

The can fizzled. Becker’s eyes opened, his entire body lost in a pile of pink string. He started to talk but then I heard, “What in the world?” from the doorway.

I turned. Mrs. Cosgrove.

She looked confused. I couldn’t blame her. Becker did look pretty ridiculous.

“…yeah. Some freshman tossed them on the ground and ran. I thought he was shooting at me…” Marisol was still in explanation mode when she came in behind Mrs. Cosgrove. She covered her mouth when she saw us.

My teacher balled her fists. “Both of you,” she said darting her look between Becker and me. “To the principal’s office. Now!”

I tried not to laugh. Because Becker was trying, without success, to free himself from his chair. Finally, he had to take off his silly-stringed shirt, leaving him bare-chested. It was a nice chest. He’d always been in great shape.

“Look,” Overgrown Idiot called. “Becker’s a male stripper.”

“Take it all off, big boy,” a cheerleader laughed, pulling out a dollar bill and waving it in the air. I hated her, but that was kind of funny. I temporarily forgave her for being a shallow bitch all the time.

Becker stood up, coming chest to face with me. I hadn’t realized he’d gotten so tall. And muscular. And clearly pissed off. He narrowed his eyes.

“I’ll get you back, Pierce,” he growled. I tightened my jaw.

“Bring it on, French.” Jocks never scared me. No. Macy’s makeup counters. Now those were scary.

Becker shook his head and walked past me, bumping my shoulder on the way. The class continued to catcall as he stomped out. I followed slowly, smiling at Marisol.

“Nice job, freak,” Overgrown Idiot said.

“Bite me,” I replied and walked out into the smoke filled hallway.