Saturday, 31 October 2009

Here we go

So NaNoWriMo begins today!

I'm planning on working a six day week, so that means I have a target of 1,923 words a day.

Oh my god! That sounds so many.

Fingers crossed the baby goes down well for every nap this month (laughs manically). Okay fingers crossed I don't die of sleep deprivation.

My most important tool for NaNoWriMo is THE BOX.






It lives in my head and is actually prettier than this one, it has glitter!

I plan on shoving all those new, distracting ideas into it. Why do they always pop up, all bright and beguiling, when you're at a particularly difficult part of the WIP?

It happened to me last year and I got completely sidetracked. Luckily I read Meg Cabot's brilliant pep talk, got back on track and finished.

So this year I have The Box.

Where all those ideas can go and live, while I finish NaNoWriMo.

Also if you're doing NaNo or even if you're not. Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld are blogging writing tips, on alternate days, throughout November. Should be lots of great advice.

Happy Halloween

I'm currently waiting for Trick or Treaters and playing with the cutest little skeleton. If, like me, you are a fan of Halloween you should head over to Natalie's. She's having the best Halloween Party. There are some amazing drawings on display and a genius story of mummy love, I couldn't stop laughing!

In honour of both Halloween and NaNoWriMo's imminent start. I thought I'd share a little bit of last years NaNo. Seeing as the characters attended a rather haunting Halloween party. This is them getting ready for it.

I was scanning the paper flyer, when Kieran bumped me with his shoulder.

“Hey Emmy. What ‘s that?”

“Oh,” I waved the brightly colored paper at him. “Just a flyer for a Halloween party.”

He reached over and pulled it from my hand, scanning it quickly.

“So what are you going to go as?”

I shook my head, turning away from him and starting for the dining hall. “I’m not going. Zach’s out of town this weekend.”

He fell into step beside me. “So come with me.”

I shot him a look.

“What? Oh,” he raised an eyebrow. “Mr. Perfect will get his halo in a twist?”

“Don’t call him that,” I snapped, elbowing him sharply in the ribs. He sucked in his breath, one hand covering the spot.

“You’re freakishly strong, for a girl.”

“For anyone,” I told him with a grin.

“Maybe. Seriously though, you should come to the party,” he swapped the books he was carrying from one arm to the other. “I know Zach doesn’t like you to make a move without him, but you are separate people?”

“Zach does not-” I broke off, shaking my head. “I’m not getting in to this, with you, again.”

“Okay. So you’re coming?”

I glanced over at him, he was grinning. At my nod, his grin grew. I couldn’t help but smile back, even though I knew Zach was going to freak.

“So who shall we go as?”

“What?”

He waved the flyer at me. “Costumes mandatory.”

“Oh well,” I stalled, imagining Zach’s reaction. “How about Harry Potter and Hermione.” We could go as friends, which was, after all what we were.

“Could you be any more unoriginal?”

He stopped and I pivoted to look back at him. His blonde hair was falling across his forehead and his dark eyes were sparkling. I was struck again by how absolutely beautiful Kieran was.

“How about Lancelot and Guinevere?”

It was just a pity that gorgeous exterior masked a completely twisted interior. He lived to torment.

“How about not?”

“What?” he raised one eyebrow. “You don’t think we can pull off the sexual tension? Believe me, we can.”

“How about-” I broke off trying to think of a pairing that held absolutely no romantic connotations. “Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?”

Both his eyebrows shot up. “You want me to dress as a duck? I don’t think so.”

“I think of you more as a mouse.“

He shook his head. “How about Han Solo and Princess Leia?”

“No.”

“Edward and Bella?”

“No.”

“Adam and Eve.”

“No!”

“Why not? You’d totally rock the fig leaf look.”

I rolled my eyes at him and didn’t bother answering.

“Cinderella and Prince Charming.”

I snorted. “Prince Charming, you?”

“What about Prince Charming?” a voice said behind me and I was enveloped by Zach. He snaked an arm round me pulling me against his side, dropping a kiss on the top of my head.

“Hi.” I smiled up at him.

“Hi.” He bent towards me and kissed me again, properly.

“So whose Prince Charming?” he asked as he straightened back up.

“No one,” I said quickly.

“Emmy and I are just trying to decide which couple to be for Halloween.” Kieran interjected.
I glowered at him. That wasn’t exactly how I’d planned to explain things to Zach.

“Which couple?” Zach said, looking between the two of us. “Why would you be a couple?”

“We’re going to the Halloween party,” Kieran informed him with a wide smile. “I hear you’re out of town.” He waved the flyer at Zach, who took it and scanned it.

“You’re going to this?” Zach asked. He was frowning.

“Well, you know,” I said, studying my feet. “Everyone is.”

I glanced up at him, he didn’t look happy. I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to be for Halloween, invisible.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Here we go again! Get ready for a very ugly first draft!

50,000 words in One Month, oh the craziness!

It's time for NaNoWriMo again.



Get the words on the paper, that's all!

This year I am so much more prepared. I have an outline, all my characters have names (first and last!), they have profiles. Heck I even have a playlist!

Last year's NaNoWriMo was all about jumping in and just doing it.

I'd had no outline.

I was writing YA and I think I'd read maybe five YA books.

I hadn't read any of the wonderful books or blog posts on writing.

What I had read was Ally Carter's rather fabulous 101 Tips on being a Writer and I copied number three and stuck it over my computer.


Don't be afraid of ugly first drafts--even the great classics had a first draft. I promise

I'll be sticking it up again this year because NaNoWriMo is all about finishing. It's about having something you can work with, and polish, and pick apart.


You can't make nothing shine


So for the month of November I shall be writing, writing, writing. Not worrying about adverbs or sentence structure or the insane amount of exclamation marks I use!

I'll just be writing. Will you be joining me?

Cover Wars & a Giveaway Fire by Kristin Cashore

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This week we're comparing



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This one is so hard. I LOVE both these covers.

The colours on the US one are fabulous but I also adore the sky and the figure of the girl on the UK one. They're both eye catching and fit well with the theme of the book.

I think the UK one just has it for me because I prefer the font but it's a very close call.

Which do you prefer?

Let me know in a comment and you could win a signed copy of Fire. I have one to giveaway.

Extra entries

+ 2 become a follower/be a follower
+ 1 Tweet this
+ 5 blog about this

Just let me know you've done it

Contest Closes 5th November 2009. Bonfire Night! And is open to those with a US or UK mailing address.

And HUGE thanks to Lady Glamis of The Innocent Flower for my lovely cover wars button

Monday, 26 October 2009

Waiting on Wednesday for Some Girls Are

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers





Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Due out January 5th 2010

I adored Cracked Up to Be, Courtney's first novel and this one looks equally amazing. I can't wait to read it. If anyone had an ARC they'd like to share I will, um, love you forever?

Check out the rather stunning book trailer. Simple but so effective.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?


National Novel Writing Month


I may be crazy, in fact I know I am crazy, but I've signed up for National Novel Writing Month.

During last year's NaNoWriMo I wrote my first book. It is rather dreadful but I did manage 50,000 words in a month and it does have a beginning, middle and end.

I learned a lot and NaNo was a great experience.

The reason I decided to sign up this year when I barely have enough hours in the day as it is, is Matthew French. The boy will not get out of my head. When I'm feeding the baby, washing up, trying to fall asleep, there he is chatting away. And I've kind of fallen for him.

So I'm giving him November in the hope that if I get his story down he'll leave me alone for a while to finish the WIP.

If you're doing NaNoWriMo come be my writing buddy here. I'm hoping to find a write in I can attend, they sound fun but I'm guessing most will be happening in the evenings. Maybe I can find a virtual one.

Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman

Last Thursday I went to see Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman talk about their new books, Leviathan and Crashed at Politics & Prose.

I nearly didn't go as they were talking at 4.30pm, a danger time for the baby. I'm so glad I did though, because it was fabulous.

Scott shared illustrations from Leviathan. They're by Keith Thompson and are utterly beautiful. I want to frame them and put them on my wall.

Here's one of the main characters Deryn Sharp on a jelly fish balloon.


Scott also told us about the research he did for Leviathan and where he got the ideas from. He also gave a brief and funny over view of how WW1 began. Apparently Britain didn't want to be left out.




Scott was completely engaging. His presentation made me want to go and read more about WW1, Darwin and the Victorian Era, as well as Leviathan! And I really think we should start illustrating books again.

I thought Robin would have a harder time with the slide show, having no illustrations in her book but she had found lots of pictures to illustrate where the idea for Crashed came from. It's very, very scary.

Robin also shared a photo of herself (she was very cute, if a little oddly dressed!) from the time she published her first book, an ET rip off. She was very funny and interesting. Although I am slightly worried she'll be on the Robots side in the coming Robot Wars!

It was a great afternoon, if you get the chance to hear them speak jump at it. If not I highly recommend you check out Leviathan and Crashed.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

Today it's Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon





Find out more information at Dewey's Read-a-thon



GO READERS!!!!




Good Luck to you all!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

My Blogging Journey - KidLicCon 09

The two sessions I attended at KidLitCon 09

Build a Better Blog: Best practices, ideas and Tips and It's Not all about your Book: Writing Ideas for Blogging Authors were well run and informative and really got me thinking. So thanks to those running them.

The two questions that really struck me were posed by MotherReader during Build a Better Blog and they were:

Why are you Blogging? and Who are you Blogging for?


My Blogging Journey

The Beginning

I started blogging two years ago, when I moved to DC. Originally my blog was a personal blog and I chatted about the culture shock of moving to DC, the UK versus the US and what I was doing every day.

Then I discovered just how out there you are on a blog and started a new blog, on the same lines, but anonymously. It was great fun, and I met some wonderful people. A few of whom have become proper friends. That blog really helped me through moving to a new place.

Book Blogging

While blogging about every day life I discovered book blogs and wanted to join in. So Not Enough Bookshelves was born. Again, it was a great experience. I discovered YA books and some brilliant authors and brilliant blogs.

More Change

Now though things have changed. I have a son, so I don't want to write too much about my personal life. I'm in the process of editing my first book before querying it. So is it appropriate to be reviewing other people's books? There were lots of difference of opinion on that one at the conference.

So what exactly should I be blogging about?
What do I want to blog about?
Who do I want to blog for?

Right now I'm not sure. So I'm taking a short break from the whole blog scene to think about it.

Question:

I'd love to know why you blog and who you blog for.

KidLitCon 09

On Saturday I went to KidLitCon 09 and despite having to leave early I had a great time. And it's never that hard for me to leave anywhere anymore, because I get to come home to my wonderful smiley son! Although it would have been nice to have gone to Meet the Author.

Anyway I got up in the dark, which is nothing new for me since the baby came along, but I actually got dressed, did my hair and put on makeup. Which is different.

Then I drove, in the pouring rain, to the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel. It took me a little longer than it should as I missed junction 8C (why do you put junctions on both sides of the road in America? Why? It's just wrong).

Anyway I made it, eventually, and after two cups of very strong coffee felt much better and able to talk to people.

Unfortunately I didn't really get to chat to many people because of the whole leaving at lunchtime but I did pounce on Elizabeth Scott (who sat next to me) and tell her how much I LOVE her books. I hope I didn't scare her, she seemed quite pleased and was very lovely to me.

I also met Pam Bachorz author of Candor, which sounds amazing and is on my TBR list, and Wendy Shang author of The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. Isn't that a great title?


The two sessions I was able to attend, The Blog Within, and It's not all about your book were excellent but more about those tomorrow.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The Week That Was

I have completely failed at both reading and writing this week, due to illness and jet lag. I did build the baby's excersaucer (no it has nothing to do with reading or writing but I'm super proud of it).

This weekend it's KidLitCon09.


I'm excited (great authors, great bloggers, great events) and nervous (who will I speak to, where will I sit. I have a lot of issues let over from school!) and sad I can only make half the day but half a day is better than nothing. I also hope to make it to the author event at Hooray for Books! on Sunday. If you're in the DC area you should come.

On the internets this week I utterly loved this post by Daisy Whitney comparing scenes in your novel to shoes. Go read it, it's great.

Can't you relate? And isn't it so tempting to say these shoes are so cute and fabulous no one will notice that they don't quite go?

Have a great weekend everyone and feel free to share any posts you loved this week in the comments.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cover Wars - Along for the ride by Sarah Dessen

Welcome to the first Cover Wars. Where the UK and US stand off. Covers will be judged on eye catchingness, representativeness of the book and originality.

We're kicking off with Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride*

The USA Version

Eye Catchingness 6/10 - I'd probably pick it up, I like the colours they used and I'm a fan of the headless girl shot. It looks like a good summer read.

Representativesness of the Book 8/10 - Pretty spot on. Bikes play a big part in the story.

Originality 4/10 There are a lot of faceless girls out there.




The UK Version




Eye Catchingness 10/10 I'd snatch this book up. I love the cover. All the little bits making up the dress and the colours on the black are fabulous.

Representatives of the book 8/10 - There's the dress, which plays a big part in the climax of the story and the dress is made up of all little things from the story. There's no bike but there is the word BMX in the mix.

Originality 9/10 - Again quite a lot of books use an image on a black background but the collage is quite unique.

USA - 18/30
UK - 27/30

A decisive victory for the UK.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my verdict?



*yes I know I said Just Listen on Monday but I changed my mind

Waiting on Wednesday for All Unquiet Things

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab





Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed. Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind. Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is. As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

I am so excited about this book. Anna's was one of the very first blogs I started reading and I've loved following the journey of All Unquiet Things. If the books is as great as the cover it's going to be fabulous.

All Unquiet Things is published January 12th 2010 by Delacorte.

You can find Anna talking about her books, her writing process, her life and quite a bit about Chuck Bass here. Make sure to click on the Matryoshka Dolls to find out lots of fun facts about AUT.



"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Do you have a cracking First Paragrapgh?

Well Nathan Bransford is holding his 3rd Ultimate First paragraph competition. That came round fast!

Last year I was a finalist.

I entered at the last minute. I'd never read Nathan's blog before* I heard about the competition on another blog and thought why not.

Getting picked was wonderful. The knowledge that someone who knows about writing liked that paragraph has helped me through some dark days with the book.

If you have a WIP you should enter. Go on take a chance. You never know what might happen. Last year's winner Natalie is now signed Nathan!

*obviously now I am a devoted reader!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Back Home

I'm back!

Unfortunately both the baby and I have brought back colds with us. Which made for a lovely flight home yesterday. Apologizes again to our fellow passengers and huge thanks to the fantastic BA flight crew. If you are ever stupid enough to take a four month old across the Atlantic, fly BA, they are wonderful.

Last week was hectic, to say the least. I only managed to read four chapters of Her Fearful Symmetry (I'm dying to read more), and only edited one chapter of the book, the baby will be in college before it's finished.

I did come up with a rather fabulous idea to blog about though. I've been trying to think of something other than reviews (seeing as how my average books read has fallen so dramatically) and when I was in Waterstones I had a brain wave.

UK versus US covers, which is best.*

I thought it would be a fun series of posts to do because

a) I love covers. I always judge books by them, sometimes unfairly but usually correctly.

b) I'm British but living in America, which is a nice tie in.

c) I love judging things.

So tune in this Thursday for the first cover to cover stand off. We're starting with Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

*I know someone else has probably done this but I've never seen it so I'm claiming it as an orginal idea

Friday, 9 October 2009

Bit and Pieces

Only one link this week as I have been in the UK and away from my beloved internet - sob.

I am still in the UK, actually, enjoying proper cups of tea and Cadbury chocolate. This post was scheduled (see how my computer savvy has grown! Unless it didn't work. In which case I am still rubbish.)

So the thing I am loving this week is


Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is on the 24th October 2009. Go sign up here right now!

I've signed up to be a cheerleader. You can find out what that means here.


Please comment and tell me what posts or your or other people's I should check out this week. Don't make me face the google reader!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Waiting on Wednesday

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott



Everyone knows the unwritten rule. You don't like your best friend's boyfriend."

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more.


Due out April 6th 2010

I LOVE Elizabeth Scott's book and have devoured them all* she is one of my pre-order on amazon authors. I think all her books have been perfection and The Unwritten Rule looks like it'll be just as fabulous. I'm loving the cover too.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?

* okay I haven't read Living Dead Girl. I may but I just don't think I could cope with it right now. I do love the fact that she has written something so completely different though.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Book Review - Willow by Julia Hoban

Willow by Julia Hoban

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A year ago Willow's life changed beyond recognition. One rainy night she lost control of the car and both her parents were killed. Now she is living with her brother, who she thinks hates her, his wife and baby daughter. The only thing that stops Willow being overcome by emotional pain is the physical pain she inflicts on her body with a razor blade.

Then she meets Guy and everything changes, again.


Review

Willow is an addictive read. The writing is so immediate and so vivid, that I found myself completely immersed in Willow's world.

It's not a good place to be.

Julia Hoban takes us into Willow's head. We see how she twists everyone's words and actions to support her view of herself. We're also shown how cutting is the only light in the dark place she inhabits. It goes from being a foreign and unimaginable act to something understandable.

I never thought I would empathize with someone who cuts, but Julie Hoban's writing is so wonderful, I found myself doing exactly that.

Nor did I think a book about cutting would be one of the best I'd read this year, but it is, because while Willow is about cutting, it is also about so much more.

Willow is a difficult, intense and at times heartbreaking read. But it is also hopeful and beautiful.

Everyone should read it and my thanks to Beth Fish Reads whose wonderful review made me move outside my comfort zone and give this book a chance.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

In My Mailbox





In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren


I bought

Willow by Julia Hoban

I'd borrowed this from the library but having read it, it is a book I have to own. Review coming tomorrow.


How to ditch you fairy by Justine Larbalestier


I've been waiting for the paperback version to come out. i just LOVE this cover.


I was given

Her fearful symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


My lovely husband bought me this. I think he wants me to read an adult book again!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Bits & Pieces Friday

This week I have been loving the Simon & Schuster Blogfest, 40 authors, 14 questions, 2 weeks, 1 Blog.


Some favourites have been

Elizabeth Scott on quitting writing. Glad you didn't Elizabeth!

Sarah Beth Durst on editing

Lisa Schroeder on whether the 2nd book is harder or easier to write

Lisa McMann on sex scenes.

Scott Westerfeld on sticking to certain themes.

I also loved John Green on Banned Book Week. My own take on the subject is here.

Edit:

And sneaking in at the last moment

Diana Peterfreund interviewed at The Book Studio about The SSG book and Rampant.

and

Courtney Summer's book trailer for Some Girls Are. I just get more and more excited for this book!

Any things you loved this week that you want to share?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Judy Blume and The National Book Festivel

I spent a great deal of my time at The National Book Festival waiting to see Judy Blume. The lines were completely chaotic but it was still great fun.


Judy Blume people! I spoke to her!


There were so many girls and women waiting to meet her who had been touched by her books. Judy Blume just knows and she can translate that knowledge into perfect books that, last. Forever was first published before I was born and yet there were teenagers waiting in line to get it signed.


I also got The Tales of Despereaux signed for the baby. Kate DiCamillo was lovely. Both she and Judy Blume and many other authors stayed much longer than they were officially signed up for. Which was really fabulous of them.



Kate DiCamillo


Then I wandered around trying to find a short line to buy water but eventually settled for a dove ice cream bar.

I only managed to catch one author talk before I had to leave and that was Lee Child. I haven't actually read any of his books but Ann Kingman of Books on the Nightstand recommended his latest Jack Reacher novel so I went to check him out. He was funny and interesting and, for all you writers out there, said wasting time on the internet will lead you to great ideas! I'll definitely be picking up Gone Tomorrow.

It was a great day and wonderful to see so many people celebrating books. Next time I plan to be more organized, take water and hopefully spend the whole day there.