Friday Five

1. Have you seen the If I Stay movie trailer? Oh my gosh… it is so incredibly perfect. Exactly what I was hoping for. Seriously. #AllTheFeels. If I Stay is one of my most beloved books (it’s the novel that made me want to write contemporary young adult) and I have Very Strong Opinions regarding book-to-movie adaptations, especially when it comes to YA, and especially when it comes to books I love. Please, please, please let the movie live up the the trailer’s amazingness.

2. Yesterday I Rocked the Drop, and it was awesome. My girl and I dropped three books (Jellicoe Road, The Sky is Everywhere, and If I Stay — three of my favorite contemporaries) around our town. Here’s hoping three book-loving teens find them and adore the stories as much as I do.

   

   

3. Oh, hey, I wrote some new words. I have an inkling of an idea for a sequel to another of my finished manuscripts, and I started tinkering it with it the other day. I know that sounds ridiculous (why start a sequel to a book that hasn’t sold yet?), but I’ve got these scenes in my head and they’re inspiring me (keeping me up at night, actually) and I figure… Might as well write them and get them out of my system. Problem is, the more I write, the more ideas I have, and the more inspired I feel. A real story’s starting to take shape, which is exciting, but also scary. I can write this story, invest months and months of my life in it, but there’s a chance it’ll never go anywhere; it can’t stand alone without its predecessor. But, words are words and practice is practice, right? I’m pretty sure it’s okay to write what’s inspiring, and to occasionally let go worries of whether or not a story will sell. What do you think? How much time do you spend writing only for the pure joy of it?

4. Along with Open Road Summer (adorable!), I’m reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle, which is pretty brilliant so far. It’s all about finding your story’s “heart and heat,” which is most often at its middle. James Scott Bell says some smart things about novel structure, but I’m even more taken by his thoughts on voice. He says, When an author is joyous in the telling, it pulses through the words. When you read a Ray Bradbury, for instance, you sense his joy. He was in love with words and his own imagination, and it showed. This, I think, is what’s at the the core of that unteachable thing we call voice. If you’re looking for a fresh take on novel structuring (plotter or a pantser), this is definitely a book worth checking out. 

5. Happy Easter weekend! My girl and I have decided to spend tomorrow at the beach, and Sunday in our jammies watching movies. She told me she hopes the Easter Bunny will bring her an American Girl sports watch, pink Peeps, and a Slinky. Good news… The Easter Bunny Mama has found and purchased all three items. That may seem indulgent (must get the kid exactly what she asks for!), but my daughter is growing up way too fast and if Peeps and a Slinky help keep the magic of childhood alive another day, then I’m happy to provide them. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Nest Pitch Blogger Selections

d87f5-nestpitch

Selections for the Nest Pitch finalists have been made by our bloggers! Please do stop by to see who’s made the cut. So many talented writers in this group, guys. I feel lucky to have been able to read through so many fantastically creative pitches. Below are our bloggers’ links, where you can find their final choices…

Happy reading, and best of luck to all of our pitchees!

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to.And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and I thought it was incredible. A must-read if (like me) you’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon. Incidentally, Speak has been out for fifteen years now. The fact that it’s remained relevant through a decade-and-a-half of changing YA trends says more about its quality than I ever could. I also read Tess Sharpe’s debut Far From You, which is unflinching and heart-shattering and beautifully written. Loved it. Yesterday I started Emery Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer, which several of my book besties have promised I’ll adore. So far, so good! 

What I’m Writing: Nothing. But I did hear back from my agent regarding my most recent manuscript and… She’s on board! She got the characters and the conflict and the conclusion and reading her email was just about the greatest feeling ever. Huge, hUgE, HUGE sigh of relief. Now I can start something new without the weight of anxiety I’ve been shouldering over the last few weeks. In beta reading news (ready to be super envious?) I got to read Meredith McCardle‘s latest manuscript, which is freaking fantastic. I had the privilege of reading her upcoming debut, The Eighth Guardian, last year and it totally blew me away. It comes out in less than a month (yay!) and I can’t wait for you all to read it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve tried really hard to get into The Secret Life of the American Teenager because I love Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now. But Secret Life… NO. Not for me, guys. Not at all. I found the message much too heavy-handed, and the dialogue is absolutely cringeworthy. Looks like I’m going back to Gossip Girl. Darn. ;-)

   
I’ve achieved another Thirty Before 35 goal! We took our first trip to the beach on Saturday, and it was beautiful. My daughter played with her buddies and I lounged and chatted with a few girl friends. We had a (sandy) picnic lunch, which is one of those things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Check!


And, much to my daughter’s embarrassment, I pulled the truck over while passing the above field of flowers the other day so I could take her picture. Just couldn’t resist all that pink against her little hippie sundress. 

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Rock the Drop, one of my favorite bookish events of the year, is tomorrow! It’s a celebration of Support Teen Literature Day during which book lovers can drop novels with “Rock the Drop” bookplates in public places for teenagers to find and read and hopefully fall in love with. I’ve rocked the drop for the last two years (2013 and 2012), and I’ll definitely be participating tomorrow. Look for photos on my Instagram feed, and here on my blog coming soon. Visit ReaderGirlz for all the details. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Bookanista Rec :: THE SYMPTOMS OF MY INSANITY by Mindy Raf

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is
The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf

From GoodreadsA laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine. When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong…

 I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.” 

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

I didn’t know much about this book before I bought it. I’d heard that it was very funny and very real, and that seemed like enough. Plus, the cover is super cool, isn’t it? I’m happy to report that the story beneath the cover is cool, too. It’s hard to describe without giving away major plot points, but I can tell you that Izzy is a genuinely  hilarious narrator, the issues she’s dealing with are real-life and deftly handled, and there’s a ton of heart beneath all the humor in this novel. 

There’s a lot going on in The Symptoms of My Insanity and most of it isn’t good — poor Izzy. While she obviously cares about her friends and family, she’s the kind of teenager who is very much wrapped up in herself. She sees the world through insecurities and anxiety and while that makes for a lot of humorous musings and interactions, it also litters Izzy’s path with a lot of extra challenges. I loved following along as she learned to step away from herself and view situations for what they truly were, and I loved how she slowly began to stand up for herself and take ownership of her actions, good and bad. I loved how Izzy’s familial relationships and friendships deepened, and how the girls at her school banded together after a really stupid boy did a really terrible thing. And I love how the novel concludes, how Izzy uses her art and her portfolio to give that really stupid boy the finger. It’s tremendously awesome.

If you’re still not sold, here’s how The Symptoms of My Insanity opens:

I’m standing inside a large fitting room at Lola’s Lingerie. Oh, and there are three hands on my breasts.

Yup, three large Russion hands. On my breasts. I’m not even kidding. 

How can you not want to know what happens next? :-)

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to…

Lenore Appelhans is nuts for NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley

Tracy Banghart swoons for STAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood

Rebecca Behrens raves about PUSH GIRL by Bookanista Jessica Love

Christine Fonseca is riveted by SEKRET by Lindsay Smith

Jessica Love sings the praises of OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord

Kimberly Sabatini loves BRAZEN by Katherine Longshore

3deba-bookanistas2bheader

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to.And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf and I really enjoyed it. It’s different from the contemporary YA I usually read (it’s not romance-heavy), but the humor is so spot-on, I didn’t even miss the swoon. Also, I found myself relating to main character Izzy’s worries and anxieties more than I’d like to admit. Not her issues with wanting to be sick, but to her almost overwhelming insecurities and strong desire to please everyone around her. Now, I’m reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, one of my Thirty Before 35 goals. I can already see why it and its author are considered YA royalty.

What I’m Writing: Nothing, at the moment, but I am doing lots of beta reading. Over the last two weeks, I’ve read a really lovely contemporary YA manuscript by Kate Scott (I love how she portrays characters with learning/social differences) and a super intense (and gorgeously written) futuristic YA crime thriller for Tracey Neithercott. Lucky, lucky me!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I watched the movie adaptation of the YA novel How I Live Now (it’s streaming instantly on Netflix, if you’re interested) and I’ve gotta say… I thought it was pretty amazing. I listened to the How I Live Now audiobook a few months ago, and I was torn about it. There were aspects of the story that I found so moving, and aspects that made me rather uncomfortable. Having now watched the film, I think I like the book more. Seeing what Daisy and her cousins went through… It was traumatizing, yet I couldn’t look away. And Saoirse Ronan is spectacular as Daisy.

  
In other news, I joined my daughter and her first grade class on a field trip to the zoo. It was really fun! I got to supervise my girl and two of her friends while they visited with all of the animals. Considering this is a small-town zoo, there was a lot to see: giraffes, tortoises, gorillas, and hippos, to name a few.

  
We also went strawberry picking at a local u-pick farm, and then made Strawberry Shortcake and homemade jam with the fresh berries. So yummy!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: A Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Janice Hardy called How to Turn That Shiny New Idea Into a Novel, full of questions for preliminary story planning. I’ll definitely be revisiting this one over the next few weeks. And, a post from Kate Brauning at Pub Hub called Editor’s Eyes: 3 Golden Rules for Revising, which applies to the drafting stage as well. And, What A Difference A Year Makes from my friend Jessica Love, who says: Life is weird, you guys. Things can and will happen that you never, ever expect for yourself. Try not to let the bummer times get you down, and leave yourself open to new opportunities, because you never, ever know what they can turn into. Do check out the rest of her super inspiring post. Finally, my friend Elodie Nowodazkij revealed the cover of her June, 2014 debut One, Two, Three and it’s beautiful. She’s hosting a giveaway, too, so do stop by to congratulate her.

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Cover Reveal: ONE, TWO, THREE by Elodie Nowodazkij

Today I’m thrilled to help reveal the cover of my friend Elodie Nowodazkij‘s contemporary YA debut novel One, Two, Three (June 26, 2014).

Here’s some information on Elodie:

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She’s also a serial smiley user. One, Two, Three is her first novel.

Elodie

*Learn more about Elodie’s upcoming releases by subscribing to her newsletter.*

And here’s the synopsis of One, Two, Three:

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.

Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive. But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her one-time prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career. At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell. But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

Sounds sad and intense and romantic, right? Right up my alley!
Ready to see the cover?!

ONE TWO THREE COVER

Isn’t it gorgeous? I can feel Natalya’s brokenness just looking at it.

And, because Elodie is amazing, she’s hosting a giveaway in celebration of One, Two, Three‘s cover reveal. Up for grabs: gift cards, an autographed ARC of One, Two, Three, ebook copies of One, Two, Three, and a charitable donation to the classroom book project of the winner’s choice. Enter by clicking the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

ONE, TWO, THREE...banner2

Elodie Nowodazkij’s Blog
Elodie Nowodazkij’s Twitter
Elodie Nowodazkij Goodreads

Tell me… What do you think of One, Two, Three‘s cover? 

What’s Your Process?

I found an interesting writing process survey on an Absolute Write Water Cooler forum the other day, and I thought it would be fun to post the questions and my answers here, so I can share with you…

DEMOGRAPHICS:

What genre do you write? Contemporary YA. I’ve dabbled in paranormal.

How many books have you written? Four complete manuscripts. One will never see the light of day. One is only just finished and (I think) has lots of potential. Two are in various states of revision/reconsideration.

Are you published? *sigh* It is my dream to be traditionally published.

PLANNING:

How long do you let an idea “simmer” before you start writing? Awhile. Plotting and coming up with “big ideas” is a challenge for me. Characters and setting and mood come easily, but I need at least a month or two to really think about the meat of what’s going to happen in the story.

How much pre-story planning do you do in the form of outlines, character sketches, maps, etc.? Quite a bit. I use Pinterest to keep track of images that inspire me and sites that are helpful for research. I do brief character sketches of my main characters, and I definitely outline.

If you use an outline, what type do you use (snowflake, index card, etc)? I really like Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet (it’s what I used for each of my manuscripts, with the exception of the first), though I’d like to try the Snowflake Method, as well as Nine Steps to Plotting Fiction. Once I have a basic outline of the plot’s highs and lows, I do a more detailed scene outline. Usually there are holes and I almost always end up adjusting and adding new scenes as I go, but for me, starting to actually write is far less intimidating when I have a road map.

REVISING:

How many drafts do you usually go through before you’re “done”? Three-ish before a draft is CP-worthy, then another before it’s ready to send to my agent (or, previously, to begin querying). Then, at least one more revision to incorporate my agent’s notes.

How long does it take you to write a first draft? I’ve written a first draft in a month, and I’ve written a first draft in a year. Depends, I guess.

How long do revisions usually take you? Months. At least.

Are your revised drafts substantially different plot-wise from your first draft? Not substantially different, usually, but they’re always stronger in all areas of story, character, and texturizing after I’ve gotten outside feedback.

If you decide to use this survey to share your writing process, link your post in the comments… I’d love to check it out!