One-Word Wednesday

{Check out YA Confidential’s HUGE 1st Anniversary Giveaway! All of our favorite YA books are up for grabs!}

{Kayaking on the bay with my husband…}

{My mini-me and me, cheering our Cougs on to victory!}

{Harry, Ron, and Hermione as interpreted by my five-year-old. Because you’re never too young to appreciate Harry Potter.}

{Over the weekend, my hubby and I began the Upperman Running Club with a 12.5 mile inaugural jog. We also signed up for the Big Sur Half-Marathon. I’ve wanted to do a half for ages, and Big Sur is right in our neck of the woods. It’s also absolutely beautiful. Can’t wait for November 18th!}

{We left for vacation on Monday! Of course I had to secure a shaken iced tea and a fantastic read before boarding the plane. So far, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is unputdownable!}

What are you reading this week?


RTW: Chit-Chatting (Sort Of…)

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the girls at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters…

Thanks to the rewrite I’ve been working diligently on, I lack the creative energy to do this week’s topic any justice. That said, I came across the most AWESOME image on Pinterest last night. It totally made me chuckle, and it works  perfectly for this prompt because it’s a conversational mash-up of two YA stories.


Pinned Image


If you could hear a conversation between characters from two different YA books, who would you choose?

Friday Fun: Inspiring Authors and Would you rather…?

Happy Friday!

I’m kind of excited about this weekend. Tonight my neighbors and I are having a fun little Wine Walk block party. My house is the last stop on the journey, which means I get to serve desserts (chocolate pretzel twists, Avalanche Bars, and pumpkin cookies [no link for these; I buy the cookie dough from my milkman–cheater!]). I’ve also got Apricot Ale and delish JFJ Sparkling Almond Wine–my favorite! Tomorrow, my girlie and I are having a super lazy day at home with movies and pedicures, and on Sunday we’re taking Mimi (my husband’s mom) to a Mad Hatter Tea Party at our local bakery. So fun!

But first, a Friday Five with Paper Hangover:

This is hard! There are so many amazing authors who’ve influenced and inspired me over the years. I had to go with six (I know, I know…). Here they are, in no particular order…

1. Beverly Cleary – Ramona! Ramona, Ramona, Ramona. I grew up with this precocious girl, and oh my goodness, did I adore her. Actually, I kind of wanted to be her. I wanted a big sister like Beezus, a best friend like Howie, and a neighborhood like Klickitat Street. I remember going to the hairdresser with my mom and asking to have my hair cut like Ramona. Now, I read the Ramona books to my daughter. She’s equally smitten.

2. Melina Marchetta – Sigh. An author whose work I love with a passion that borders on embarrassing. Her books absolutely gut me. (Jellicoe Road is my favorite young adult novel EVER.) Her characters get inside me and stay there (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I totally want to name a future son Jonah :)). Her worlds, her writing, the complex plots and character relationships she builds and always brings full circle… Wow.

3. JK Rowling – I have a feeling the creator of Harry Potter has inspired just about every aspiring middle grade and young adult author. What a success story! Many credit her with helping a whole generation fall in love with fiction (fantasy, even!). I watched the interview she did with Oprah last year and was blown away by her creativity and brilliance, not to mention her humility and sense of humor. Such a class act.

4. Gayle Forman – If I Stay was the first YA book I read that made me think: I want to write like THAT. So emotional and beautiful and perfect. And Where She Went… Best. Follow-up. Ever. Plus, I find Gayle Forman to be a social media rock star. She’s incredibly eloquent and strikes me as thoughtful and intelligent. Also, when she recommends a book on her blog or Twitter, I know it will be good.

5. Judy Blume – I was (AM!) such a fan of BlubberJust as Long as We’re TogetherTales of a Fourth Grade NothingAre You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Forever… Somehow Judy Blume manages to write for a large age span with such a perfectly authentic voice. Her books are moving no matter how silly the subject matter happens to be, and totally timeless. Who can’t relate to Margaret, or Katherine, or Stephanie at some point in their lives?

6. Jodi Picoult – Such a prolific author, one who knows her niche and embraces it. Her books are incredibly well-researched and usually spark political, moral,  or ethical debate which, I think, is one sign of a powerful story. They’re also widely appealing. I read my first Jodi Picoult book in high school and loved it, and still find her work to be exceptional.

So, those are six authors who’ve inspired me. I’m curious… which authors inspire you?

And an incredibly profound Would you rather…?

Would you rather have a lifetime supply of ice cream, or a lifetime supply of chocolate?

(And NO, you can’t combine and have chocolate ice cream! Have fun mulling THAT one over!)

See you on Monday for a Debut Love post… Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Inspiration X2

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration, which works out well for today’s Friday Five, and for my new obsession with Pinterest.

First, the FIVE, hosted by Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

So, I’m going with living authors whose careers inspire me to write, read,  network, think business, think creative, branch out and explore:

1. Judy Blume…  One of my childhood idols (along with Walt Disney :)). I was (AM!) such a fan of Blubber, Just as Long as We’re Together, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Forever… I’d love to chat with Judy about where she lives part-time: the Florida Keys, and how she manages to write for a large age span with such a perfectly authentic voice. But, let’s be honest… I think that if I had the opportunity to speak to her, I’d be too star-struck to complete a sentence.

2. JK Rowling… I have a feeling the creator of Harry Potter is on any avid reader’s list of authors to meet. I watched the interview she did with Oprah last year and was blown away by her creativity and brilliance, not to mention her humility and sense of humor. And oh-my-gosh does she generate some amazing character names!

3. Ken Follet… Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are two of my favorite novels (and that’s saying a lot because I’m not normally a fan of historicals). Ken Follet has a knack for writing period drama full of emotion and rich detail. Also, he’s hugely prolific. Who wouldn’t want to pick his brain for tips on fostering a super successful writing career?

4. Melina Marchetta… My favorite YA author, and a complete and utter genius. Every time I finish one of her books my heart ends up shredded. I find myself thinking about it for weeks after, picking apart the nuances, reliving the romances. Her characters are so layered, so damaged, and so likeable. And her dialogue… LOVE. It’s so real and raw and enviable. Melina Marchetta is one of the few authors who’ve made me cry. So, yeah… I pretty much worship her.

5. Sarah Dessen… The Goddess of Contemporary Fiction. She writes like I want to write, about topics I like to explore: family, friendships, and romance. Her protagonists have a way of figuring out who they are within the context of their worlds without being preachy or condescending. I follow Sarah on Twitter and I’m certain she’d be all kinds of fun to meet. She often mentions reality TV, yummy food, and the beach, and she’s an admitted worrier, just like me! Plus, she was on the cover of Writer’s Digest. How awesome is that?

AND for further inspiration, I’d love to share some images (all found on Pinterest!) that have me thinking and pondering and toying with ideas and angles for a new story. It’s been awhile since I’ve written something brand new (I’ve been revising one manuscript and rewriting another most of this year), and lately I’ve been itching to start something fresh and totally from scratch. So, here’s the pretty that’s got my muse all abuzz:

Who or what has you inspired on this lovely Friday?

RTW: So Good at Bad

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic: Who are your favorite literary villains ? (Or, what makes an antagonist you LOVE to hate?)

Well, the first villain who popped into my head was this creeper:

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or The Nose-less Wonder. Upon further reflection, though, Voldemort felt a little too obvious. He’s just SO bad. Sure, he has a super complex back story and a true, make-no-apologies heart of evil, but never once during my decade-spanning love of the Harry Potter series did I think, Hey, wouldn’t it be cool of Voldemort came out victorious?

So, I’m going with Ty, the antagonist from Lucy Christopher’s YA novel Stolen.

In case you haven’t read this one (wait–you haven’t read Stolen?! RUN to your nearest bookstore and pick it up! It is AMAZING.) here’s the GoodReads blurb:

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.

This book is–for lack of a better expression–a complete and utter mindfuck. I swear, Lucy Christopher gave me Stockholm Syndrome. I was so back and forth about Ty I almost ended up with whiplash. My inner monologue during reading went something like this: Ugh… Ty. What a horrible, deluded man. Well, hold on… now I kind of want Ty to be content. But NO! He’s a kidnapper! Still, though, wouldn’t it be romantic if Gemma fell in love with him? Of course not! He took her against her will and trapped her in the middle of nowhere. But then, he loves her SO much and he’s so sweet and caring. Although, he won’t let her leave his shack of a home, ever. By the time I read the final chapters,  I was rooting for Ty. I wanted him and Gemma to live happily ever after in the formidable Australian Outback. Still, almost a year after reading Stolen, I kind of love Ty.

The mark of a great antagonist, I think, is a feeling of uncertainty on the reader’s part–a sort of push and pull between love and hate. I want to care about a story’s antagonist as much as I care about its protagonist, albeit in a completely different way. In my opinion, the best antagonists are layered, unpredictable, and sympathetic, not black-and-white villains who cackle manically and carry big guns.

So, who are your favorite Literary antagonists? And don’t forget to stop by YAHighway to see how everyone else answered today’s prompt!

Friday Fun: Neville and Writing Communities

I spent last night at a Harry Potter double feature: Deathly Hallows I at 9pm, and then the Deathly Hallows II midnight premier. Holy hell… it was amazing! Even more awesome than I’d anticipated… a perfect end to the series, in my humble opinion.

Now, thanks to last night’s 4am bedtime (well worth it!), I’m in the process of recovering my wits and my sleep, but let’s take a moment to appreciate this…

When, might I ask, did Neville Longbottom get so hot?

And now a Friday Five from Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

1) Savvy Authors – Can’t say enough about this one. Fantastic resources, forums, workshops, chat rooms, boot camps, and more… My CPs are members too, and I pretty much live in Savvy Chat while I’m drafting. I can always use the support and the sanity boost great writing friends bring.

2) YAHighway – Who doesn’t love YA Highway? These girls write posts that are super informative and often a little cheeky, which makes them all kinds of fun to read. There are interviews and book reviews that I’m always excited to check out, plus, YA Highway hosts the weekly Road Trip Wednesday. I’ve met some pretty amazing writers through this “blog carnival.”

3) YALITCHAT – Not to get too cheesy on you, but for me, this is where it all began. About eighteen months ago I had a complete manuscript that had never seen the light of day. Seriously. I had never heard of betas or CPs or gotten any thoughtful, unbiased feedback. Then I stumbled into the First Pages forum at YALitChat and lucked upon one of the greatest CPs ever (Heather Howland). Of course, YALitChat offers much more, so definitely check it out if you haven’t all ready.

4) SCBWI – Not just an online community, of course, but an opportunity for writers to meet up with and get to know others in their area. SCBWI offers mail out bulletins as well as zillions of resources on their website, at their conferences and their more casual social events. I’ve been a member for two years and plan to keep it that way.

5) Oasis for YA – I like the kind of chill, positive atmosphere the girls at Oasis offer. As well as writing tips, book recommendations and interviews, Oasis host a Thankful Thursday meme that’s always fun to reflect on and participate in. Oasis for YA is taking a summer hiatus, but do check it out in the coming months.

*And a big honorable mention for Paper Hangover! While I’m still getting to know this community, I love what I’ve seen so far and fully intend to continue following!

Three cheers for the weekend! Tell me, what are your favorite writing communities? Also, did you see Harry at midnight? Did you love it?

Countdown to Harry…

It’s Harry Potter Week, unofficially, and I’m celebrating! First, let’s all watch and sob together:

So heartfelt and inspirational. I am so not a crier but jeez… You’d think I’ve been a part of the cast for the last ten years.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not grow up reading Harry. I was introduced to him back in college when I was forced to read The Sorcerer’s Stone for my Children’s Lit class. And when I say forced, I’m serious. I mean, what twenty-one-year old girl wants to read about a boy wizard and his adventures at a magical boarding school?

Um, me, apparently, because after that first book, I was totally and completely enamored. Luckily, books 2, 3, and 4 had already been released. I read them immediately and consecutively, passing up nights out on the town–ahem–socializing so I could spend more time with Harry and his crazy cast of characters.

I remember exactly where I was in life when following books were released (5: working 40 hours a week at a coffee shop and living with my in-laws, 6: teaching full-time and living in Tennessee, 7: nearly nine months pregnant during an Arizona summer) and I remember how I felt reading each installment (varying degrees of awe, surprise, swoon, anxiety, and fear). I’ve watched and loved each movie, and I’ve recommended the series to countless people.

And now the release of the final movie is fast approaching…

I’m going to the midnight showing with a good friend who knows and accepts my fanaticism, and I can’t wait. Also, I can wait. Because once I see this movie, the Harry Potter series really will be over. Done. Nothing more to look forward to, and that’s depressing. Still, I’ll try to keep in mind what JK Rowling said so eloquently in her premier night speech:  The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

In that spirit, I’m curious. What is your favorite book in the Harry Potter series? (Mine are The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Half Blood Prince – love the rich back story in both.) What about your favorite film adaptation? (Mine, so far, are The Goblet of Fire – so perfectly cinematic and Deathly Hallows I – that dancing scene with Harry and Hermione–LOVE.)

My husband and I at Hogwarts. I already want to go back. 🙂

Thankful Thursday: FLY AWAY!

Oasis for YA knows that the surest way to get good things in life is to be thankful for what you have.  So why not encourage a group thankful-fest once a week in which we all send out good energy and hope to get some back in return? Plus, participating in Thankful Thursday is a great way to connect with other writers.

Here are the rules:
1.  Do your own blog post on what you’re thankful for today.  It doesn’t have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!).
2.  Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.
3.  Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.
4.  Go forth and share your gratitude!  (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

So much to be thankful for today!

As you read this, I’m headed to Atlanta with my daughter and in-laws to watch my husband graduate from Ranger School at Ft. Benning, GA. This is a big deal for several reasons:

A) Ranger School is no joke. The failure rate is somewhere around 45%. My husband is old by Ranger School standards (thirty, while most of the participants are in their early twenties) and he STILL rocked it.
B) Not only have my daughter and I not seen my husband since February 9th, we’ve only talked to him a few times over the last three months. Needless to say, that sucks. We canNOT wait to see him!
C) After the graduation ceremony, we’re loading into a van and driving to Orlando. My parents are meeting us there, and we’ll spend a few days visiting Mickey, Minnie and a gaggle of Princess. Trust me: There is nothing better than seeing the joy on your child’s face when immersed in the world of Disney. 
D) I’m going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Yay, yay, YAY!!! I cannot properly express how badly I’ve wanted to visit the home of The Boy Who Lived since I learned of its conception. I fear I’ll be one of those crazy fanatic adults guzzling butter beer and snatching up magic wands, scaring the younger tourists. But you know what? I’m over it.

Yep, I’m very thankful, and SO looking forward to the next several days!

What are you thankful for today?