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.

The Girl with the Green Pen

I’m so excited to welcome my friend Taryn Albright to the blog today! In addition to recently taking a job as Editorial Assistant at Spencer Hill Contemp, she’s just launched an independent editing venture called The Girl with the Green Pen, and she’s graciously dropped by to answer a few questions about it…

Hello, my lovely friend! To start, can you tell us a little about yourself — your writing background, your critiquing/editing experience, etc…

Hi, I’m Taryn 😀 I’ve spent a year and a half interning with 3 superstar agencies including Andrea Brown Literary. I’ve also spent sixteen months as a freelance editor, and during that time, I’ve worked with over 60 authors. Nine of my clients have signed with agents and five have signed book deals, four with major houses. I’ve been writing since I was young, but I really got serious about publishing my freshman year of college. My sophomore year, I signed with an agent, so I have plenty of experience in both the querying trenches and the submission process.

I’ll pause here to vouch for your utter brilliance, Taryn. –> (I’ve been lucky enough to have both my query AND manuscript critiqued by Taryn, and she’s so incredibly savvy. Here suggestions and feedback are fantastic, and her enthusiasm for publishing and young adult literature is unmatched!) Now, can you tell us what your mission statement for The Girl with the Green Pen is?  

My mission is to guide writers through the daunting task of revision. From idea development to editorial feedback to general publishing advice, I love working with stories and those who create them. As a nationally ranked swimmer, I know the value of time, so I believe in quick responses from the first email to the last.

I am not just another freelance editor. Beyond providing an experienced and thorough critique, my secondary goal is to establish a relationship with my clients. I want to support you throughout the stressful submission process and celebrate with you upon any and all good news. Writers may put pen to paper alone, but it is through a community that the book gets finished, polished, and submitted.

I can’t agree with the community bit more. 🙂 Will you describe the services The Girl with Green Pen will provide?

One of my main goals with starting The Girl with the Green Pen was to expand my editing services. I’ll still offer Evaluation services (a critique for big picture things, a critique for the details, and a critique for both big and small), but I also now offer Development services. Development means that I’ll be with you a little longer, for more than one pass of the manuscript. I also have a fun set of Other services, like Submission Packages, that can help prepare your query and opening pages for submission.

And why the GREEN pen?

Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, they’re most likely going to cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means spring, it means new life. These are all ways to think of your revisions, and they’re how I like to think of the editing process.

I love that! When will you begin taking on clients? And what is your turn-around time for different services The Girl with the Green Pen will provide?

Now! I never stopped taking on clients for Teen Eyes, and I’m working with a handful of authors right now. My editing hasn’t change–only the banner above it. Like Teen Eyes, turn around times for The Girl with the Green Pen will be fast, usually within 7 days depending on the critique.

Where can interested writers find you? 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarynalbright

Blog: http://www.tarynalbright.com/

Website: http://www.thegirlwiththegreenpen.com/

You’ve been successful at Teen Eyes. Why have you decided to branch out now? 

Well, it’s 3 months until I turn 20, and then the “teen” part won’t work. When I started brainstorming what I wanted to do without the teen label, I got the idea for The Girl with the Green Pen and got really impatient. I wanted to expand my services and do something bigger, and I didn’t want to wait!

B&B

Thanks so much for giving us the lowdown on The Girl with the Green Pen, Taryn. I wish you great success! 

(Guys, if you have any editing needs whatsoever, please do consider contacting Taryn. She’s a superstar!)

One-Word Wednesday

Why I wake up early to run... #Desert #Sunrise #Flare
Dawn
{Sunrise south of Phoenix… Last week my girlie and I road tripped 750 miles to visit family. Totally worth it!}


Dusk
{My brother, my nephew, my girl, and me at sunset.}


Delightful
{Loving this book SO MUCH! Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository.}


Inspiring
{Took a break last month, but I think I’m ready to jump back into the #PhotoADayAug challenge!}

#Inmymailbox: A #BEA surprise from @saramcclung! <3 her! #yalit #booksDreamy
{I’m chatting about cover art with Time Between Us author Tamara Ireland Stone over at YA Confidential today. Check it out!}

So, what’s new, friends? What are you reading? What are you writing? What’s the highlight of your week so far? Tell me everything!

Introducing Jus Accardo and TOUCH…

Today I’m thrilled to share my very first interview! Even more exciting–it’s with one of my amazing critique partners, Jus Accardo.

Jus pens YA paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and she’s one of the most creative people I know. Plus, she writes some of fiction’s most badass heroines!  Her debut novel, Touch, is due November, 2011 from Entangled Publishing.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and answer a few questions, Jus! And congratulations on the upcoming release of Touch. Can you talk a bit about the story? 

Thanks for having me! Touch is about a seventeen year old girl who runs off with her father’s most deadly assassin. It’s full of action, secrets, and best of all, kisses. 🙂 Here’s the blurb:

 When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy—and her father’s “law firm”—than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation—an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons—his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.

(Guys. I’ve read this book. Trust me–it’s just as awesome as it sounds!)

Can you tell us about your inspiration, Jus? Where did the initial idea for Touch come from? 

My inspiration? For this book it was, um, coffee..? Seriously though–it was the end of May last year and I was about to do a boot camp novel-in-30-days kind of thing. I had a few ideas I was batting around, but nothing felt right, ya know? So I’m sitting on line at Dunkin Donuts, just staring off into the woods, and I get this picture in my head. There’s this barefoot girl being chased through the woods at night. As she runs, the ground and everything she touches–tree trunks, low hanging branches–they all die. BOOM> Next day I started and couldn’t stop until it was finished!

How much of main character Dez is you? What’s your favorite thing about her? Least favorite? 

Dez and I share some of the same traits (though none of the cool ones!). We’re both on the snarky side, we tend to have issues with authority figures, and we can both toss a killer right hook. 😀 I envy her confidence, though. She’s self aware and independent. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants. As far as least favorite… I’m not sure. I mean, there must be something, but I can’t think of anything. Dez is the kind of girl I could see myself hanging with. She’s real and out there and totally loyal. Maybe the only thing I don’t like is the way she treats Alex…though he kinda deserves it.

Dez is definitely a girl I’d be friends with too. And you know I love Kale (as seen below on Touch‘s gorgeous cover!). How did you go about crafting such a swoon-worthy boy? 

He crafted himself. I know, that sounds like such crap, but he really did. Just like Dez, Kale took on his own life and voice inside my head–not sure what that says about me… He was as clear to me as though I’d known him all my life. 

I happen to know that you’re a panster (and I’m at times envious!). What was your writing process like for Touch? How long did your first draft take? What about revisions? 

First draft took about three weeks. It was insane. I couldn’t stop until I finished. It was kinda like I was possessed! Revisions took between three and four weeks before I started querying/submitting. I continued to change things throughout the year due to agent, and then later, editor feedback, but all in all it was pretty fast.

(I can confirm that Jus’s daily word count totals in the first-draft stage are, in fact, insane. We’re talking upwards of 5, 6, even 7 thousand words A DAY. She’s a machine!)

You’re represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Can you talk a bit about your agent search? What were you looking for in a prospective agent? 

Kevan was in my Top 5When I started sending queries, I sent to two of my top 5 and decided to wait on the other three because they were all scheduled to take pitches at Savvy Authors. All three of those ended up requesting, and two eventually made offers. It was a hard choice, but I went with Kevan because we just clicked. 

Such a fantastic feeling! Can you tell us a bit about your submission experience? Were you an obsessive email checker? How did you deal with the wait and the stress? 

I thought waiting to hear back on queries was agonizing… I swear there’s a new level of hell for each step closer you get to publication! I checked my email a billion times an hour. No joke. I ended up at the acquisitions board in three NY houses, but for one reason or another, they ended up passing. Then, about a month later, Entangled opened and I swear, it was simply meant to be!

How did you celebrate when Touch and the follow-up books in the Denazen series sold (yay!) to Entangled?

Well, there was a lot of screaming and some Snoopy Dancing, but we decided to hold off on major happies until release day. My husband is taking me to dinner and then that weekend, we’ll be having a release party. There’ll be stuffed bears and lots of cheese. Kale would be proud.

(Kale and his adorable quirks–LOVE.)

Entangled melds traditional and indie publishing. Can you tell us a bit more about how they’re different? What’s it like to work with such a cutting-edge publisher? 

Working with Entangled has been amazing. They’re enthusiastic and ambitious. I’m so honored to be part of their team. Their covers rival NY–as does their editing–but each author is given their own publicist. They do simultaneous ebook and print release. Oh, and let’s not forget the higher royalty rates. Cause that’s some serious win.

Sounds pretty amazing. And yeah… who can complain about HIGHER royalties? Tell us about revising/editing under contract. How was your experience working with a professional editor? 

My editor, Liz, is awesome! She gets me and she gets my characters. Plus, she loves them as much as I do. I trust her with them, and that says a lot. These are my babies. They mean a lot to me. Her attention to detail is amazing. With her help, I added so many layers to Touch. I can’t wait to get started on Toxic!

Speaking of Toxic… Touch is the first book in a planned trilogy. When does the second book in the Denazen series come out, and can you share anything about it?

Toxic comes out Spring, 2012. I can’t say much without giving anything away, but I can tell you that Dez and Kale are not going to have it easy. There will be more secrets, some betrayal, and someone might even switch sides. Oh, and someone might die. 😉

(I’ve read Toxic–lucky me!–and I might love it even *more* than Touch. Just sayin’…)  

The Denazen books recently sold in France. So cool! Can you give us any details about how that sale took place? What was it like to get the good news? 

This is gonna sound funky, but I’m not too clear on the details. There was interest, and submissions, and some awesome work by my agent, Kevan, and Marsal Lyon’s foreign rights agent, Taryn Fagerness, and POOF. France! I was in a doctor’s office when I got the call, and I couldn’t listen to my voicemail.  A few minutes later, Kevan emailed me with Viva La France! LOL. I kinda screamed. The office was really crowded–I think they all thought I was mental.

I’m laughing at the mental picture I just got of you startling a waiting room full of sick people!

And a few fun, quick questions:

What are your three favorite books? (Only three!) 

Nightlife – Rob Thurman — Bitten – Kelley Armstrong — The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West – Mary Stanton

What kinds of music inspires your writing?

It really depends on the scene. Personally, I’m a hardcore alternative girl, but I listen to pretty much everything. I’ve got stuff from classical to screamo on my Zune.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Chocolate Brownie Fudge

Dream vacation destination?

Australia! 

What’s your favorite writing snack?

Coffee counts, right?

And, finally, if you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be? 

If I wasn’t writing, I’d be cooking. There’s no doubt in my mind. I came really close, too. I was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America but passed last minute to pursue writing. I’m thinking I made the right choice.

I like you better as a writer who cooks, rather than a cook who writes. Definitely the right choice! Thanks so much for visiting today, Jus. 

This was so much fun, Katy! Thanks for letting me hang out. 🙂

I highly encourage you to visit Jus at her website, and to preorder Touch from Amazon or barnesandnoble.com.

Here’s to a Happy Monday and a stellar week!