Class of 2014: YA Superlatives Blogfest ELEMENTS OF FICTION

The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 15th through Thursday, December 18th and will highlight favorite books published in 2014 using a variety of fun superlative categories. The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest is all about promoting the extraordinary young adult books published this year, so if you haven’t already, draft a post and sign up to participate at the end of this post. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2014!

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2014 Reading List (starred = debut): The Winner’s Curse, *Let’s Get Lost, *Loop, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, *17 First Kisses, Ashes to Ashes, *The Secret Sky, *Behind the Scenes, Isla and the Happily Ever After, *The Only Thing To Fear, Bleed Like Me, The Bridge From Me to You, *Creed, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, I’ll Give You the Sun, *One Two Three, *Of Scars and Stardust, We Were Liars, *Wish You Were Italian, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Frozen, What I Thought Was True, *The Eighth Guardian, *Pointe, *Push Girl, *Open Road Summer, *Far From You, *The Symptoms of My Insanity, Panic, *The Truth About Alice, *NIL, Complicit, The Summer I Found You, The Evolution of Emily, Into the Still Blue, Heartbeat, The Killing Woods, Brown Girl Dreaming

Elements of Fiction

Most Envy-Inducing Plot

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart kept me guessing (even though there were “hints” about “surprises” all over the Internet), and I thought she pulled off the twists and characterizations beautifully. This one’s one of my favorites of 2014. (Honorable Mention to Caroline Tung Richmond’s debut The Only Thing to Fear — loved her reimagining of the outcome of World War II!)

Most Formidable World

Teenagers get exactly 365 days on Lynne Matson’s Nil, a sort of island paradise that reminded me a little of that Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach. But after those 365 days, you’re out — like, presumably dead. The ticking clock aspect of this book amped the tension to almost unbearable levels.

Most Wanderlust-Inducing

How Kristin Rae’s Wish You Were Italian made me want to travel to Italy! The delectable food, the unparalleled history, the lovely landscapes, and the beautiful boys. I adored this sweet, full-of-voice debut.

Loveliest Prose

Did you have doubts? Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is gorgeous, full of enchanting imagery and unique metaphors and pretty, pretty prose. I found myself rereading so many passages just to more fully absorb their amazingness.

Best First Line

“She shouldn’t have been tempted.”
Oh, but she was! Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse is all about temptation and yearning and torn allegiance. So good!

Most Dynamic Main Character

Theo from Brandy Colbert’s debut Pointe is one of my favorite MCs of 2014. She’s struggling with A LOT of trauma, yet she’s amazingly resilient. She’s a perfect example of the “strong female character” we’re always hearing about because she IS strong, but she’s also layered and complex and flawed. (Honorable Mentions to Sophie From Tess Sharpe’s debut Far From You, Kara from Jessica Love & Chelsie Hill’s debut Push Girl, and Reagan from Emery Lord’s debut Open Road Summer for all the same reasons.)

Most Jaw-Dropping Conclusion

In an effort to avoid spoilers, I won’t say why the conclusion to Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit made my jaw drop, but I will say that you should read it as soon as possible. (Honorable Mention to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars!)

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – The whole of Lara Jean’s family, plus Peter. I loved this book’s cast so much!

Best Use of Theme

Jessica Love & Chelsie Hill’s Push Girl and Elodie Nowodazkij’s One, Two, Three have similar themes of overcoming the loss of an identifying pursuit due to injury (dance, in both cases). I love that while both protagonists struggled with the unwanted changes to their lives in realistic and complicated ways, neither was weak, and neither gave up.

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Click below to add your name and your Elements of Fiction post link to our sign up so we can hop around and check out your selections. Don’t forget — there will be a new link sign-up each day!


RSW Update 4

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary YA, Where Poppies Bloom… IN PROGRESS. I’d been hoping to be done by now, but still… nope. I revised ten scenes this week, and I have twelve left to go.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I didn’t work on this project at all last week. Poppies has to be my priority now, but I can’t wait to get back to this one!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Amy Christine Parker’s Gated, a seriously creepy contemporary about life in a cult.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We’re working on one of Sara Mylnowski’s Whatever After books, and my girl read a chapter book on her own, one from the Baby-Sitters Little Sisters series.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! My family and I went to the beach on Independence Day and spent all morning in the sun.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Finish my Where Poppies Bloom revision. Send it to Alison. 🙂

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The first line from Where Poppies Bloom

I never used to be the type of girl who hotboxes her bathroom.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

I had family in town all week which was awesome, and of course I wanted to spend my time doing fun things with them. Revisions took a backseat, but I’m back at them now. My girlie’s going to Zoo Camp this week (!), so I’ll have every day from 9-3 to work, work, work.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I kind of want to strangle my WiP right now, so… I baked Danish Puff and Texas Chocolate Cake. I love these desserts more than anything I’ve written lately.

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 

For the next four weeks, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some pretty spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

This week, Erin’s giving away an adorable package including a journal, to-do notepad, mug, 2 kinds of tea (in the gold bag: wild cherry & chai chilli pepper), tea filters, rainbow pens, sticky tabs, Post-its, paperclips, Tic Tacs, and gum.

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Enter to win here: A Rafflecopter giveaway!

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you.
Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

2013 YA Superlatives :: Elements of Fiction

The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 16th through Thursday, December 19th. All of our fantastic participants will highlight favorite books published in 2013 using a variety of fun superlative categories. The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest is all about promoting the extraordinary young adult books published this year, so if you haven’t already, draft a post and sign up to participate at the end of this post. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2013!

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My Books Pubbed in 2013 Reading List (starred books are 2013 debut novels): Shades of Earth, *The Tragedy Paper, Just One Day, *If You Find Me, *Nobody But Us, *Taken, Through the Ever Night, Eleanor & Park, Requiem, *Pretty Girl-13, *Uses For Boys, This is What Happy Looks Like, Quintana of Charyn, *The S-Word, The 5th Wave, *Nantucket Blue, *The Sea of Tranquility, Golden, *Strands of Bronze and Gold, Where the Stars Still Shine, Dare You To, All I Need, Out of the Easy, *OCD Love Story, The Dream Thieves, *Canary, The Truth About You and Me, Fangirl, *My Life After Now, September Girls, *Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Dead Silence, Invisibility, Just One Year, *Fault Line, Allegiant, *How to Love, The Beginning of Everything, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, *Unteachable, Dangerous Girls, and *Reclaimed (Covers link to Goodreads pages!)

Here are my selections for Elements of Fiction

Most Envy-Inducing Plot 

It’s a toss up between Abigail Haas’s Dangerous Girls and Jessi Kirby’s GoldenBoth books are exceptional contemporaries. I love the twists and sense of unknowing in Dangerous Girls, and I envy the way Jessi Kirby so seamlessly weaved past and present story lines into Golden.

Most Formidable World

Another toss up… The ether storms in Veronica Rossi’s Through the Ever Night terrify me, and the idea of a world without love as depicted in Lauren Oliver’s Requiem is equally horrifying. Come to think of it, there’s not a dystopian setting I’d want to visit.


I’ve not been to Nantucket, but Leila Howland’s debut Nantucket Blue made me want to book a summer house there. She describes the beach and the town and the people and the foods so clearly. I could feel the sand beneath my toes.

Loveliest Prose

I’m not usually fan of dialect in novels, but Emily Murdoch pulls it off beautifully in her debut, If You Find Me… My sister don’t talk much. When she does, it’s only to me, in moth-winged whispers, and only when we’re alone. The entire story is  this gorgeous and evocative.

Best First Line

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.

Most Dynamic Main Character

Reena Montero from Katie Cotugno’s How to Love is one of my favorite protagonists ever. She’s can be irresolute which makes her  relatable, but she’s also strong and funny and loving and smart. I’d be her friend in a heartbeat.

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending

I could go with Allegiant, Dangerous Girls, or Shades of Earth here, but the final lines of Katja Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility gave me actual, physical chills. Breathtaking and moving… I loved it.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

Dee from Gayle Forman’s Just One Day. I had so much fun reading the scenes he shared with Allyson, and I appreciate how he’s more than just the fun best buddy type. He’s got depth and does his own growing as the story progresses.

Best Use of Theme

I love Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine for its characters and intense emotionality, but I also love it for its messages regarding forgiveness and family and kindness and love, and how it’s possible to recover and start over.

Don’t forget to link your “Elements of Fiction” post below!

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The Class of 2012: YA Superlatives Blogfest – Elements of Fiction

Before I get on with my Elements of Fiction choices for the YA Superlatives Blogfest, I’d love to refer you to Kristin Lynn Thetford‘s blog. First and foremost, she just signed with a fantastic agent… Go congratulate her! Second, she recently interviewed me about my writing, my experiences with querying, and my eventual signing with super agent Victoria Marini of GSLA. The interview is HERE if you want to check it out. (You totally should!)

The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 17th through Thursday, December 20th. All of the awesome people who are participating in the blogfest (YOU, I hope!) will highlight favorite books published 2012 using a variety of super fun superlative categories. The Class of 2012: YA Superlative Blogfest is about promoting extraordinary young adult books, so if you haven’t already, draft a post, hop down to the end of this post, and sign up to participate. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2012!

The 2012 YA novels I’ve read, listed in no particular order: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, A Million Suns, The Fault in Our Stars, The Disenchantments, Something Strange and Deadly, Pandemonium, Wanderlove, Under the Never Sky, Ten, This is Not a Test, Happy Families, Insurgent, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, Monstrous Beauty, Bitterblue, Time Between Us, My Life Next Door, Breathe, Pushing the Limits, Skylark, The Raven Boys, Live Through This, Bittersweet, Flawed, Ditched, Starters, Reached, Lovely, Dark and Deep, Meant to Be, and Days of Blood and Starlight…

And here’s how I chose to award today’s categories:

Elements of Fiction

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Plot I wish I’d thought of myself…)

Time Between UsUsing time travel to tell a story of intense, lasting love has been done before, but I especially love the way Tamara Ireland Stone uses Bennett’s  special “talent” to challenge Anna and everything she thinks she knows.

Most Formidable World (Setting I would NOT want to visit…)

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)From Smarteyes and Realms to Aether storms and savages and potentially dangerous air, Veronica Rossi has created a detailed and dynamic world where almost nobody can be trusted.

Wanderlust-Inducing (Setting I’d happily travel to…)

WanderloveAah, beaches and hiking and fun in the sun — this book’s title is spot-on. I’d love to backpack with Bria and Rowan.

Loveliest Prose

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)Or… perhaps Fate laid out your life for you like a dress on a bed, and you could either wear it or go naked. ~ Gorgeous imagery on every. Single. Page.

Best First Line

Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneThe night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky. ~ The whole book is written this beautifully.

Most Dynamic Main Character

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)I absolutely adore Bitterblue. She’s so many things: utterly endearing, open and charmingly honest, naive and occasionally brusque, determined and loyal. Over the course of the novel, she faces what should be soul-crushing opposition, but she never, ever folds.

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)Ronan’s confession about Chainsaw’s origins… *shivers* Next book, please!

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

This is Not a TestGrace, Trace, Cary, Harrison, and especially Rhys from This is Not a Test. I loved the Breakfast Club-esque dynamic between main character Sloane and her colorful and carefully fleshed-out supporting cast.

Best Use of Theme

Lovely, Dark and DeepWren’s struggles with unimaginable guilt and grief could have been preachy and cliche, but Amy McNamara handles her protagonist’s troubles with subtle grace, which makes themes of forgiveness and acceptance shine.

Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest DAY THREE

Today is Day Three of the The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest, a fun and interactive way to highlight and share your favorite YA novels, covers, characters, and story elements, hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me. The Class of 2011: YA Superlatives Blogfest spans four days, beginning December 26th and culminating this Friday, December 30th.

Hopefully you’ve been participating throughout the week, but if not, that’s okay! Just draft today’s post (you can find the topics listed below or on the original post) and then scroll to the bottom of THIS post and add your link to the link list.

I’ve had a blast dropping by the participants’ blogs so far, and I look forward to stopping by your blog to read about your Class of 2011 selections!

And speaking of selections, here are mine for Day Three:

Elements of Fiction

Again, my books published in 2011 Reading List:

Crossed, The Future of Us, Hushed, Want to Go Private?, The Scorpio Races, The Pledge, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Chain Reaction, Forgotten, Notes From the Blender, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Ripple, Hourglass, A Need So Beautiful, Chime, The Day Before, Forever, Moonglass, Beauty Queens, Boyfriends With Girlfriends, Forbidden, Wither, Divergent, Invincible Summer, Trapped, Where She Went, We’ll Always Have Summer, Cryer’s Cross, Across the Universe, Desires of the Dead, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Imaginary Girls, and The Liar Society

And my favorites in the way of Fictional Elements:

Most Envy-Inducing Plot (Or, the plot you wish you’d thought of yourself.) – Easy. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. The idea of using Facebook as a way to “travel” to the future is brilliant. There’s also the addition of the numerous nineties mentions that brought nostalgia to a whole new level.

Most Wonderful World-Building – I have to go with Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. There are so many worlds in this story: Prague, Marrakesh,  the backwoods of Idaho, and the world beyond the portal doors. While submerged in Smoke and Bone, it was as if I was a willing and active member of all these worlds. I’ve even added Prague on my Must-Visit list! Honorable Mention: The Scorpio Races because by the end of the story, I felt Thisby.

Most Formidable World (Or, the setting I most definitely would NOT want to travel to) – While Lauren DeStefano wrote about Wither‘s world beautifully, there’s no way I’d ever want to visit it. Plural marraige and a painful awareness of the (early!) age at which I’ll die? No thank you!

Most Wanderlust-Inducing (Or, the setting I’d happily travel to) – Jenny Han’s We’ll Always Have Summer. I’ve been romanced by its quaint little beach town setting, Cousins, since I read The Summer I Turned Pretty, the first book in this series. Honorable Mentions: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby and Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz — Can you tell I love the beach?

Loveliest Prose – This was a very difficult choice, but I have to go with The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater because it was so incredibly emotive, yet never overdone. I imagine dual narration is quite a challenge to pull off, but Scorpio‘s Sean and Puck were unique and vibrant, as was their world. Honorable Mention: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Every sentence = Enviable.

Best First Line – Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone: “Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” Says it all.

Most Dynamic Main Character – Briony Larkin from Franny Billingley’s Chime. Oh, how I adore this girl! She’s so feisty and loyal and clever and intense. Her inner monologue was a joy to read, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious. I want to know her! Honorable Mentions: Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races, Tris from Divergent, and Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. All were SO memorable.

Most Jaw-Dropping Finale – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin because really… did ANYONE see THAT coming?! The last few pages of Mara sealed the deal: I simply must read its follow-up. Honorable Mention: Cryer’s Cross. Yowza. That ending blew me away!

Best Performance in a Supporting Role – Ruby, from Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. This girl was so colorful, so full of life, such a force to be reckoned with, I loved her and hated her with equal intensity. Entirely fleshed out and incredibly well written.

Best Use of Theme – I’m choosing two here, because they both did what’s nearly impossible: Taught an important lesson in an entertaining way. I’m not going to give those lesson away, of course. If you haven’t read these books, I recommend them both! First, The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder:

And second, A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young:

There you have it… My selections for Elements of Fiction. What do you think?

And if you’re participating in the Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest, please click on the image below to drop your link:

And don’t forget to check out what some of the Bookanistas are up to today…

Shannon Messenger shouts about twelve 2012 releases she can’t wait for–and a pre-order giveaway!

Megan Miranda marvels at UNDER THE NEVER SKY

Corinne Jackson gushes over THE MATCHMAKER AND THE GHOST

Stasia Ward Kehoe gets psyched for 2012

Friday Fun: First Lines and Would you rather…?

Paper Hangover is a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. I recommend you spend some time exploring the site–they have so much to offer!

Here’s today’s Friday Five prompt:

I have to admit, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to first lines until I began to write seriously. Now, I’m always eager to see how an author opens his/her book. Does the first line make me ask an immediate question? Does it give me a unique insight into the narrator? Is there automatic tension? Is there an appealing hint of the voice to come? Most importantly: Am I intrigued enough to read on? I always make a mental note of what works about a particularly great first line and hope it’s awesomeness somehow absorbs into the writer part of my brain.

Here are five very effective first lines from a few of my favorite books:

1) If I Stay by Gayle Forman – Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.

2) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling – Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

3) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die.

4) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Miriam was five years old the first time she heard the word harami.

5) Looking for Alaska by John Green The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.

What makes a great first line, in your opinion?

And a Would you rather…? I’m still not quite sure how to answer. Writer Katy wants to answer one way, and Mommy Katy wants to answer the other . I’m curious to hear what you’d choose… 🙂

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

RTW: In the Beginning…

Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.




This week’s topic: A novel’s opening is like a pick up line. If it’s good, you might take it home. If it’s bad… well. You know. What are your favorite first lines? How do your own WIPs start?

Honestly, I never paid much attention to first lines until I started writing seriously. Now when I’m book shopping, I read the back cover blurb, then the first line before I decide whether or not to buy. When done well, they catch my attention, make me wonder and set the tone for the book. Here are a few of my favorites:


If I Stay by Gayle Forman – Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson Gram is worried about me.
Looking for Alaska by John Green The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.

And here are the openings from two of my manuscripts:
Loving Max Holden – Riding to school with Max Holden is only slightly less traumatizing than riding the big yellow bus.
Where Poppies Bloom (still a WIP, so subject to change) – At first glance, you wouldn’t peg me as the type of girl who hotboxes her bathroom.

What about you? What are your favorite novel beginnings?