Monthly Archives: May 2013
It’s been a ridiculously long time since I wrote about what I was writing. That’s mostly because it’s been a long time since I actually wrote anything. I started to write the first draft of 2000 MILES in April, but I stopped after 15k. I was just sort of making it up as I went, and it wasn’t working for me. Some people can write entire first drafts on the fly, but I’m not one of them. I think I underestimated my ability to write without any real outline. After several weeks of barely making any progress, I stopped.
Part of the reason I stopped, though, was also because I turned to editing LET GO. I got some CP notes back for that one, and I went through and reread that manuscript. I still really love those characters, all of whom you can read about here. There were also parts of the novel that made me laugh, and I figure that’s always a good sign. The feedback was generally positive. I got some great tips on how to tighten up my writing.
I did, however, get some notes that addressed issues that I probably should have dealt with before I sent it out to people. Natalie’s storyline doesn’t really make that much sense, and her storyline doesn’t really go with Chloe’s and Samantha’s. While that part doesn’t really bother me (since Samantha and Chloe start spending time together partly because Natalie is gone so often), I do wish that her storyline made more sense. There’s a bit at the end that I sort of threw in there while I was writing, and it doesn’t really work.
I’ve also realized that Samantha, the MAIN main character, has no real storyline, at least not until most of the way through the novel. Until then she sort of reacts to those around her and gets to know Chloe. That part of the novel I like, but she definitely needs more going on in her life. Sadly, I don’t have any real idea how to fix my Samantha problem right now. I know how to fix Natalie’s story line, and Chloe’s story line doesn’t really need that much work, but I’m completely stuck on Samantha.
That’s why I’ve decided to put this novel on hold for a little while. It’s stupid to spend this much time and energy trying to fix a novel that I have no idea how to fix when I have so many other novels to work on, novels that I do know how to fix.
Of course, that brings me to my most recent conundrum: which novel do I work on now?
I have two novels that I want to work on right now. The first is ALONE, a YA/NA political dystopian that I wrote for NaNo last year. I have the first draft completed and have started the first draft of the sequel. It needs to be completely rewritten, but I’m much more hopeful about it now. I know people are sort of over dystopian novels right now, but I need to write this novel. Plus, it’s different from the other dystopian novels I’ve seen, as this is a very political novel.
The other novel I really want to write is TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which I first wrote for NaNo 2011. That was the first manuscript I ever completed, though I have like three different versions that I started and then stopped. That was back before I had never heard of “contemporary New Adult,” back when I thought this novel would fall under the “literary fiction” category. I still love lit fic, and there are definitely still elements of it that will be in this novel, but I have a new understanding of what this novel is going now.
I love both of these projects. ALONE is important to me because it deals with several political issues that I care deeply about. TILT is important because it deals with unemployment and helplessness, which I think is something that a lot of people can relate to these days. TILT is one novel, which I would not take me that long to plot. ALONE is the first in a trilogy, and I don’t quite know how books 2 and 3 end yet, although I’m much closer to figuring that out than I was when I finished the first draft.
Right now, I think I’m leaning toward TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, as it’ll be easier to write. I’ll probably end up sleeping on it and deciding in the morning. I’ve been doing school work all day, and I need a break from thinking right now.
Character Monday is something I came up with one night when I was supposed to be editing. Each Monday, we share one of our characters with the world. This character can be from any of your stories – past, present future – as long as it’s an original character. You can share as much or as little about your character as you’d like!
Today, I’m sharing the last of my main characters from my New Adult novel LET GO.
Name: Natalie Hurst
Appearance: 5’8 and chubby, with green eyes and light brown hair. She usually wears jeans and a sweater, which is why she freaks out whenever she has to wear something else.
Background: Her parents are lawyers who hate the fact that she’s wasting time on a sociology degree. Natalie plans on spending the rest of her life helping troubled youth – if only she could find a way to help her own brother, Lewis, who is constantly getting into trouble.
Personality: Natalie’s a very mild-mannered type of person. She wants everyone to get along and hates confrontation. She freaks out about things outside of her control and tends to throw herself into whatever she’s working on.
Why you should want to read her story: Natalie has spent her whole life trying to take care of other people. For the first time in her life, she’s taking some time to focus on herself and her new relationship with a cute guy she met who shares all of her beliefs. But is she slowly becoming the sort of girl she used to hate, the sort of girl who stopped caring about everything else once she got a boyfriend? Can she juggle having a boyfriend with taking care of her family, or will she have to choose?
Want to participate in Character Monday? Just write a post on your own blog and then click on the linky below and share the link to the post so the rest of us can learn about your awesome character!
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
This book started out a bit slow for me. Part of that was just my frame of mind – I was looking at all the books on my shelf that I want to read, and I decided that I didn’t really care about My Life Next Door, which was my last remaining library book. I decided to give it a few chapters and then stop reading it. Well, clearly I didn’t stop reading it. That speaks well for the book, but not as well as I would have hoped. It’s like when you’re watching TV and you don’t really care what’s on but you’re too lazy to get up and change the channel, so you just keep watching it. Obviously reading is a bit more active than watching TV, but for the first half of the book I didn’t really feel like I was compelled to keep reading.
That’s not to say that there weren’t things to enjoy about this book. There were a lot. I felt like the characters were very realistic. They didn’t always behave in ways that were appropriate or right, but I could understand their motives for doing so. There was a bit with Samantha and her friend Nan that seemed a bit out of place to me, but other than that I loved the characters. The Garrets were a wonderful family to read about. You would think that with a family of seven kids, the others would sort of blend into the background, but they didn’t. They all (with the minor exceptions of Duff and Harry, whom I kept mixing up) had their own personalities and quirks, which was great.
I also enjoyed the way that Samantha and Jase’s relationship was handled. They’re seventeen years old, and they handle the issue of sex rather maturely. They talk about condoms before they’re ready to have sex, so that they are prepared for when they actually do have sex. They actually talk and hang out with each other before they kiss. There’s no instant “I love you and want to spend eternity with you” – or at least no more than you would expect from two teenagers who are in love for the first time.
That said, even though there were elements of the story that I loved, I didn’t really feel compelled to keep reading until about two-thirds of the way through the novel, when Samantha’s world starts to fall apart. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that something big happens, and after that point I had to keep reading. Parts of what happened were extremely realistic, and I loved reading about how Fitzpatrick dealt with Samantha’s conflicting emotions. On the other hand, the ending wasn’t quite what I was expected. I guess I expected something more dramatic, and I’m not sure if my expectations were unrealistic or if the book’s ending was.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Fitzpatrick is definitely a talented writer, and I would read more from her. This is also a book I would like to have in my classroom as a high school teacher (assuming, of course, that I wouldn’t be fired for letting students read a book about teenagers to have sex).
Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.
Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.
Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)
Roo has lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love, more than once. She’s lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humor.
I’m so sad to be finished with this series. These books were all so much fun to read, even though they dealt with rather depressing topics at times. These books are about real teenagers who deal with regular teenager stuff. There’s none of that insta-love here. There are no magical happy endings. That’s not to say that this series doesn’t have a happy ending, but everything’s not all wrapped up with a bow. Ruby and her friends and family still have issues that they have to work through.
And that’s, I think, the great thing about these books. They’re realistic while still being highly entertaining. Lockhart manages to present the normal in a way that’s hilarious at times and sad and heartfelt at other times. I could definitely relate to Ruby a lot, and I enjoyed reading the last of her story. I wish there were more books in the series. I’ll definitely be reading more from E. Lockhart in the future, although I doubt any other book could live up to this series.
I wish I had read this series in high school. I think it would have helped me worry less about being a “roly-poly” and just focus on being myself. I will definitely be getting a copy of this series to keep in my classroom when I become a teacher.
Welcome to the second Character Monday, where writers introduce their characters to the world. Today I’ll be introduction the second main character from my New Adult manuscript LET GO, which I am currently revising.
Name: Chloe Dennison
Appearance: Relatively short and skinny, with long reddish hair and blue eyes. She usually wears skirts and almost always has a huge smile on her face.
Background: She never knew her biological father. She and her mother have lived all over Minneapolis, so she knows the city like the back of her hand. She doesn’t eat meat, and she wants to be a stage actress when she grows up. She’s dated both boys and girls but has yet to find anyone who makes her heart jump or her breathing difficult. She currently lives with her roommates Samantha Carson and Natalie Hurst (coming next week).
Personality: She always tries to see the best in people. If she focuses on the positives in life, the negatives won’t hurt so much. If you’re ever having a bad day, Chloe will do everything she can to make it better.
Why you should want to read her story: Chloe is making it her life’s work to make the eternally grumpy Samantha more happy. At the same time, though, her mother has started getting serious with a salesman who’s turning her mother into a stranger, and Chloe’s happy façade seems to be slipping. Will Chloe manage to make Samantha happier, or will Samantha’s sarcasm start rubbing off on Chloe? And will Chloe find that that special person is closer than she thinks?
1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Despite the title, this book doesn’t actually fall into the insta-love trap that so many other YA books do. It’s an adorable book that would definitely turn to when I needed something light/fun.
2. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
First love is incredibly awkward, and this book captures that perfectly. This book brings me back to when I was 19. I couldn’t stop giggling like a mad woman while I was reading this book. It just reminded me so much of my life .
3. The Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart
I’m currently reading the last book in the series. For a series so filled with angst and drama, it definitely makes me laugh. If you haven’t read this series yet, you definitely should.
4. Can you Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
I despise Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, but I remember liking this one when I read it in high school. The main character spills all her secrets on a flight when she thinks she’s about to die, and then she discovers that the person she blabbed to was the head of the company she works for. Definitely chick-lit, but I had a lot of fun reading this one.
5. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Losing weight doesn’t magically fix all your confidence problems, and this book does a great job of addressing that. The characters are fun and interesting, and it’s definitely one of Dessen’s most light/fun books.
6. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Competing re-enactment camps. Forbidden romance. This book is cute and fluffy, and it definitely kept me entertained. If someone was looking for a light romance to read, this would definitely be a good one to read.
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This one has a few darker moments than the rest of them, but it’s still Cinderella with cyborgs, so I couldn’t not include it on this list.
8. Anything non-fiction by Laurie Notaro
I haven’t read these books since high school, so I can’t guarantee that I would still find them funny today, but I remember really enjoying these books when I first read them. I mean, how can you not love books with titles such as “I Love Everybody (And Other Atrocious Lies)” and “We Thought You Would Be Prettier”?
9. Anything non-fiction by Jen Lancaster
I haven’t read all of her books, but I read the first three that she published, and I really enjoyed them. Jennifer Lancaster goes from having everything to being broke and unemployed, and it’s fun watching her deal with things.
This book probably should have been higher on the list, but since there’s technically no order to it, I’m no going to bother moving it. There’s a rivalry between the football and soccer players, and their girlfriends decide to withhold sex until the rivalry stops. It’s definitely a fun read, and I recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary YA.
Aside from my Writer’s Voice entry, I haven’t written that much about writing lately, and I’ve decided that that needs to change. One of my favorite things about reading other writers’ blogs is learning about their characters and imagining how fun it will be to finally be able to read those characters’ stories once their book is published. Plus, it’s always fun to see what other people are working on.
That’s why I’ve decided to make Mondays “Character Mondays.” Each Monday, I’m going to share a bit about one of the characters I’m working with. This should be helpful for me because it will force me to make sure that I really understand all of my characters, and I’m hoping it’ll make my blog more interesting for those of you who are tired of having most of my posts be book reviews.
Since I’m currently reading through CP notes for my novel LET GO, I’m going to start with the main character from that one.
Name: Samantha Carson
Age:22, turns 23 halfway through the novel
Appearance: Tall, medium build with black hair that’s cut to her shoulders. Always dresses in business attire.
Background: Samantha was born in New York. Her dad died when she was little, and her mother dated a string of losers after that. Samantha left as soon as she could and never looked back. She’s currently in her last year at the University of Minnesota, where she’s studying to become an accountant.
Personality: Samantha generally has a scowl on her face, and the world at large annoys her. She doesn’t like to waste time, and she hates smiling/happy people. She has a good heart, though, and her roommates are doing their best to make sure that that part of her shines through.
Why you should want to read her story:
Samantha’s “I hate the world” façade is starting to break. She’s forced to interact with Chloe, her incessantly happy new roommate, and she finds herself confronted with feelings that she’s tried her best to suppress for the last decade. If she’s ever going to be able to live a happy, normal life, she’s going to have to learn how to let go of the past. If only that were as easy as it sounds.
And, because I always make playlists for my characters, I’ve decided to share the five songs that best fit Samantha (even though she would probably never listen to most of them).
1. This Grudge by Alanis Morissette
Who’s it hurting now?
Who’s the one left stuck?
Who’s it torturing now…
2. Leave Home by Driveblind
We save ourselves
because no one else will…
3. Stand My Ground by Within Temptation
Stand my ground
I won’t give in
No more denying
I’ve got to face it…
4. Never Too Late by Three Days Grace
The world we knew
Won’t come back
The time we’ve lost
Can’t get back…
5. Saved by The Spill Canvas
I am unraveling
And if this ground gives way
I just hope that you’ll catch me…
Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more:
Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.
Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.
In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.
I love Ruby Oliver more and more with each book. I’ve never seen a character in a book that’s as neurotic as I am, but Ruby definitely comes close. She tries so hard to do the right thing, but she doesn’t always succeed. She’s not perfect, but she definitely does the best she can, and she eventually learns from her mistakes.
I think that’s my favorite thing about this series, and this book in particular – the relationships are so realistic and understandable. Ruby’s parents are constantly arguing with each other and her, but you can tell that they still all love and care about each other. Ruby’s love life is complicated. She doesn’t really know what she wants, which is completely understandable, especially for a teenager. The guys in her life do things they shouldn’t and don’t understand why they make her feel bad. Her friends get mad at her without listening to her side of the story. There are no idealized relationships here.
Not everything works out the way we want it to in real life, and the same can be said for this book, although it definitely ends on a more hopeful note than the previous two did. I enjoyed watching Ruby try to figure her life out. Like always, her therapy sessions with Doctor Z were amusing and offered some good advice for the rest of us. The writing is rambling – but in a good way. It’s hard not to feel for Ruby as her life continues to fall apart around her, and it’s great watching her slowly figure out how to pick up the pieces – and decide which pieces are worth keeping in the first place.
If you’re a fan of contemporary YA and/or neurotic but sympathetic main characters, you should definitely pick up the first of this series if you haven’t already.
The Writer’s Voice is a fantastic contest based on the NBC show The Voice. I was lucky enough to have my name drawn as one of the 150 participants, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Dear amazing Writer’s Voice coaches,
Maggie Fitts, known less affectionately by some of her classmates as Maggie “Doesn’t” Fitts, is sick of being the fattest girl in class. After a series of embarrassing events at the end of eighth grade, Maggie is determined to lose weight. When a cute guy moves in across the street, Maggie’s determination grows stronger. If she can pull this off, she just might be able to start high school with a new body and a new boyfriend.
But when Maggie’s parents announce they’re getting divorced, her whole world is thrown upside down. Now she must find the balance between having fun with her friends, getting her crush to like her, shuffling between her parents, and trying to lose weight. Her best friend keeps telling her that losing weight won’t make her happy, but Maggie refuses to listen. If she fails, she’ll begin another year as “the fat girl,” and she can’t let that happen. When her uncle suffers a heart attack, however, Maggie is forced to reconsider everything she thought she knew about health and happiness.
FOR REAL THIS TIME, complete at 49,000 words, is a contemporary young adult novel. It should appeal to fans of Carolyn Mackler and Sarah Dessen.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
First 250 words:
If there’s anything worse than being a fat girl going bathing suit shopping, it’s being a fat girl going bathing suit shopping while your skinny friend complains about how fat she is.
“This would be so cute on me if I wasn’t so fat,” Hannah complains, holding up a pink bikini. She turns to face us, holding it up to her chest. “Wouldn’t this be cute on me?”
Brilee and I exchange eye rolls. Brilee’s not nearly as fat as I am, but at least she’s not skinny like Hannah.
“It’s adorable,” says Brilee, moving onto the next rack of bathing suits. “Why don’t you just try it on and see?”
“I can’t,” says Hannah. “I’ve put on so much weight this year! I can’t believe there’s only three more weeks of school. I should have been dieting. That’s it. I’m going on a diet tonight. I think I’ve gained like twenty pounds this year.”
If she thinks she’s fat, I can’t even begin to imagine how fat she must think I am. I keep my mouth shut and my head down, trying not to draw attention to myself until the topic changes. Instead, I flip through a rack of bathing suits that are way too small for me. The largest size here is a twelve. I wear a twenty. I glance over at the junior plus section, but that’s all the way on the other side of the aisle.