Before I showcase my dorkier side, I need to announce the winner of last week’s contest.  The lucky recipient of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin is…..Melanie!  Melanie, I’ll email you for shipping deets–hope you enjoy MASQUE as much as I did!

And now…on with the show!

This week, I’ll be giving away not one, but TWO copies of HEMLOCK (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books).

The author, Kathleen Peacock, is one of my best writing buds in the whole wide world, and I can’t tell you how stinking excited I am that her very first YA novel debuted this week.  When I need a virtual cheerleader or shoulder to cry on?  Kath is there. When I need an instant Buffy quote or youtube distraction (LIKE THIS)?  Kath is there. When I need someone to write a badass werewolf book with a witty, caring, naive, haunted, brave heroine who I’d love to kick back with (almost) as much I’d love to work on Joss Whedon’s next project?  You got it—Kath is most definitely there.  I can’t tell you how stinking excited I am…but maybe I can show you:

So, do you want to win your own friend kid copy of HEMLOCK?  (not mine, you can’t have it, NO NO NO!)  Just leave a comment and I’ll pick two winners at random on Monday morning at noon, PST (or, you can buy one at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.)

Good luck!

(And HA!  SEE THAT, KATH? Not a single mention of werewolf junk, anywhere!

Oops.)

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:

Christine Fonseca  adores IN HONOR

Stasia Ward Kehoe unwraps UNGIFTED

Tracy Banghart basks in SUNSHINE

 

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So, last week was the final week (sniff sniff) of the Divergent Faction Challenge (inspired by Veronica Roth’s book, Divergent), and we ended with:

DAUNTLESS

From the Divergent fansite:

*****DAUNTLESS: fearless, undaunted.

Undaunted: courageously resolute, especially in the face of danger or difficulty; not discouraged.

It’s those two definitions (fearless, and undaunted) that I found so fascinating. Being fearless and being undaunted are two different things. And the characters in DIVERGENT struggle with that distinction. ******

Oddly enough, danger did not really rear its ugly head in my small northern suburb of San Diego last week. I’d like to think I would have held off an armed robber with my bare hands if the need had arisen, but the most dangerous event for me consisted of dropping my son off at school. Hey, don’t laugh—that parking lot is insanity on a stick.

Instead, I chose to embrace my dauntlessness by doing something I’d always wanted to do and never quite had the guts for:  dyeing my hair a crazy color.  I know, for some of you, this is a big SO WHAT?  But for me, it took courage. And it wasn’t just about the dyeing, but about dealing with the looks I knew I’d get post-streakage.

(there’s a peek-a-boo streak on the other side that you can’t see from this angle)

I’m kind of loving the pink, though. Strangely, I even feel a little empowered. Who knows? Today it’s pink streaks, tomorrow, maybe I’ll start  jumping off trains.

In all seriousness, I think we could use a little more dauntlessness in our lives.

Read other Dauntless week posts here:

Lora

Sarah Nicolas

Kate Hart

Lyn Almodovar

Sarah Enni

Kaitlin Ward

GotYA/Jamie Blair

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Week Four of the Divergent Faction Challenge (based on the book Divergent by Veronica Roth):

Well, this week was not a good week for the  Faction Challenge, and it had nothing to do with Erudite.  I just found it impossible to focus on anything beyond finishing up my MILA draft.  Right now, the only faction I’m good for is the Sleep Faction.

Here’s what it says about Erudite off the Divergent fansite:

ERUDITE: characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly
The word “erudite” focuses on knowledge rather than intelligence– intelligence being something you’re born with, and can’t necessarily control, and knowledge being something that you acquire. I find that interesting, given what I know about Erudite.

 

 

 

Although, come to think of it, the time constraints I had this week *are* relevant. Personally, I would love nothing more than to be a lifetime student. I love learning, and I love academic settings. I love researching topics that interest me–in fact, several of my friends have dubbed me “the Google Queen.”  But, as awesome as it might be, I can’t sit around all day and focus purely on the acquisition of knowledge.  Other commitments–kids, home life, work, etc–all have to take priority.
Plus, I only want to study things I have a genuine interest in–often, with the intent of using that knowledge in some way.  Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is all fine and dandy, but it seems like a better use of time would be learning how to implement some of that newfound information.
As usual, keep checking back in for links to other participants, which I’ll list below!  And make sure to tune in next week, where we conclude the challenge with….
DAUNTLESS!

 

Sarah Enni
GotYA/Jamie Blair
Kaitlin Ward
Sarah Nicolas
Lora
Jennifer Wood
Kate Hart

 

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In honor of Veronica Roth’s Divergent release, I made a little spin-off vlog of the Facebook Faction Quiz.  In my head, I call it: Faction Fail of the Very Indecisive or, How To Have Your Cheese And Your Stabby Knife Too.  Oh, and sometimes:  Humiliate Yourself Publicly for Kicks and Giggles.

Hope you enjoy!

 

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We’re on week two of our DIVERGENT Faction Challenge, where participants tackle Veronica Roth’s factions from her amazing YA debut, DIVERGENT-–one faction at a time.  Last week we tried Abnegation.  Now, let’s be honest.  Abnegation week did not go so well. In fact, based on the blog posts I read, Abnegation was kicking un-selfless butt all across the country.

This week, I’m choosing an easier faction. Something…fun. Something…banjo-y.

(No, NOT the Deliverance type of banjo. Which is totally stuck in my head now. Awesome.)

Meep!

Those of you who’ve read the Divergent know I’m taking about AMITY, The Peaceful. The faction that got to ride around in farm clothes in the back of a truck, eating apples and strumming tunes while everyone else tried not to croak.

From the DIVERGENT fansite:

AMITY:

1. friendship; peaceful harmony.

2. mutual understanding and a peaceful relationship, especially between nations; peace; accord.

3. cordiality

It’s not just about banjos and apple-picking.* It’s about cultivating strong relationships and trying to understand each other.

*Whoa, wait a second.  This faction isn’t just about banjos?  CURSES.

Here’s what else Veronica says about Amity:

–Dresses in Red or Yellow

–Seem Kind, Loving and Free

–Understanding counselors and caretakers

 

What do you think?  Will this faction be easier than the last one?  Check back on Friday to find out!

Amity Cat

 

 

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It’s Friday!  Which means…I get to tell you all how Abnegation kicked my butt  in the DIVERGENT Faction-of-the-week Challenge, inspired by Veronica Roth’s amazing book!  (Don’t know what the challenge is? Read about it here.)

(FYI–Blogger’s been super wonky, so I expect many participants will be late with their posts.  Just keep checking back in!)

So, I don’t know about you, but I definitely learned something this week.

I’m not cut out for Abnegation.

It’s not that I didn’t like doing nice things for other people. It’s that I liked it too much.  Every time I did something nice, I actually felt a sense of gratification. Whether I donated items for a charity auction, added a dollar to my grocery bill to benefit a good cause, gave extra time to my kids instead of working, or even performed the common courtesy acts I try to do on a daily basis—hold open doors, let people in while driving—they all served the same purpose. They made ME feel good.  And since Abnegation is sort of like the anti-me faction, I’m not sure I can consider any of that a success. This past week really made me think hard on the nature of selflessness, and if there IS a truly selfless act.

Oh, and the vanity thing. HOLY COW. If you’d asked me prior to this challenge how I rated on a vanity scale, I probably would have said on most days, low to moderate. I mean, I almost always pull my hair back in a ponytail, spend about three minutes slopping on some make-up, rarely bother with lipstick, and throw on whatever clothes are convenient (i.e. easy to find in my disaster zone of a closet).

So yesterday, thinking it would be no big deal, I went without make-up.   And for the first hour afterwards, THAT’S ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT.  It got better as the day wore on—I’d forget for stretches—but OMG, every time I passed a mirror, I stared. And fretted. Will everyone see the circles under my eyes?  Do my eyebrows look freakish?

Is this my color?

You know what was REALLY weird?  In a way, going without make-up made me vainer than actually wearing it.   Because on a typical day, I spend my fifteen minutes getting dressed and then I don’t think about my appearance again. Whereas yesterday, I thought about it. A LOT.   I guess that either makes me:  a) vainer than I thought (eyebrow pencil! EYEBROW PENCIL!  MY KINGDOM FOR AN EYEBROW PENCIL!) or b) very comfortable with my usual appearance and very uncomfortable with change.

And I was. Very. Uncomfortable. At least, when I remembered to think about it.  Which made me pause to consider how utterly miserable it must feel to be uncomfortable with how you look on a daily basis.

But that’s another story.

(We won’t even talk about how I also gave up flat-ironing my bangs. Which I only bother with when they’re overgrown. Only—they’re seriously, seriously overgrown. So they were basically sticking out from the side of my head about two inches, waiting to stab the dude in line next to me at Starbucks in the eye. But we won’t talk about that. Meep.)

So, sadly, I’m a giant Abnegation Fail. How did others fare?  Read about their experiences here (I’ll keep updating the list as posts pop up!):

Kaitlin

Sarah Enni

Dawn Rae Miller

Lori Tays Eastep

Lyn Almodovar

Jenn Wood

Jamie Blair/GotYA

Dana Alison Levy

Ashelynn

Nikki Katz

Katharine Owens

Kathleen Peacock

Kathy Bradey

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I’m curious—what do you think is the biggest key to getting published?  Talent?  Timing?  Luck?

Early on, I probably would have said talent.  I mean, it makes sense, right? You write a good book, you get published. Simple.

Except…that’s where timing comes in.  Because as most struggling writers know by now, you can write a good book, but if your timing is off, you still might not get published.  For example—you might have recently written a vampire book. And your vampire book might be darn good. But, the timing is such that vampire books are a tough sell these days, especially those featuring bloodsuckers of the sparkly variety. So yes, bad timing can definitely throw a bump in the road to publication. Or even a mountain.

As for luck, well…I think it’s basically just a matter of talent and timing coming together. Like, you might call it lucky if you happened to write a fabulous dystopian book and got it on sub at the very beginning of the big dystopian craze.

And while I still think all of these things are important, I’m going to argue that a fourth quality crushes the first three when it comes to predicting who will get published and who won’t.  And that quality is…

PERSEVERANCE.

Nobody ever said perseverance was easy...

Yep, good old-fashioned stick-with-it-ness.  Think about it.

The more you write, the better your writing gets, and the more likely you are to write an outstanding book.  And not only your writing improves; your craft improves—things like your ability to plot, to up the stakes, to create three-dimensional characters. Also, the longer you write, the more likely you are to eventually hit that perfect timing.

What this boils down to?  Basically, if you keep writing, you radically increase your chances of getting published.

But don’t just take my word for it. Every Tuesday for the next several weeks, read the stories of many Apocalypsies—debut 2012 YA and MG writers—who did not just whip out their very first books and get publishing contracts on the spot.. No, these authors ended up with publishing deals because of their perseverance.  Hopefully, they will inspire you and remind you that, no matter how many rejections come your way, there is one key element to being a successful writer that trumps all the others:  You Never, EVER Give Up.

Kicking off the series is the amazing Jennifer Rush, whose YA book ALTERED debuts from Little, Brown in Fall 2012:

Author Jenn Rush

I’ve been writing my entire life. I wrote my first book in the fourth grade for one of the young author’s contests and won second place. My prize was a Mickey Mouse pencil. I was hooked. That was 1993. Fast forward twelve years. I sent out my first official query letter in 2005-2006. It was for a contemporary YA called Sherbet Skies. I got a lot of great feedback from agents and editors, but no offers. I felt like I was moving in the right direction. So I worked on something new. That book bombed with beta readers. I cried ate a lot of chocolate. Nearly two years after Sherbet Skies, I finally went out with something new—a paranormal YA called Possession.

My request rate was good. Partials were turning into fulls. This was it!

But then it wasn’t.

Just one more book, I told myself. I’m this close. Writer friends were landing agents and getting book deals. My turn was coming. But then I had a baby. And my husband went back to school full-time. Unsurprisingly, writing got pushed to the back burner, which was probably for the best. Looking back, I know I wasn’t ready. I still cringe when I read Sherbet Skies. And Possession had its hokey plot moments. I’m so very glad they weren’t published, but at the time, I was devastated.

Spring of 2010, when my daughter was a year old, the writing bug hit again. I wrote a younger YA I called The Loom and when the rough draft was completed, I set it aside for the recommended couple of weeks. I had planned on taking a writing break while that book sat, but I couldn’t stay away from the computer. So I started playing around with some ideas. And suddenly this book—this new kickass book!—consumed me. I wrote like crazy. I lived, breathed, dreamed New Book. I finished the rough draft in six or seven weeks. I took another six weeks for revisions. And finally, in October, I sent ALTERED out into the world.

That first week, I received five requests. All the partial requests turned into full requests. And my agent, Joanna, read and offered rep within two days. A part of me couldn’t believe it. To have an agent read that fast and offer representation after so many years seemed like a dream. Like if I poked it too hard it’d pop.

I accepted Joanna’s offer that following week and we immediately started revisions. Because of the holidays, we waited to submit to editors. Altered went out January 17th and we had our first offer February 11th.

It took five years and fourteen books to get an agent. And only a few months to get a book deal. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I’d survived the journey! What if I would have given up after the first book? Or the fifth? Or the thirteenth? That’s why you can’t quit. Ever. If you love it enough, if you can’t imagine doing anything else with your life, keep writing. Or making music. Or whittling wood. Whatever your talent/passion is!

Because you never know when this close will turn into a YES.

 

Thanks so much, Jenn, for sharing your story! If you get a chance, check out Jenn’s blog and her amazing book ALTERED (Dollhouse meets Prison Break? I’m all over it!)  Make sure to tune in next week, when another Apocalypsie will share her inspirational road to publication tale!

And remember, no matter what you do:  Don’t. Give. Up.

 

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OMG! OMG! OMG!  DIVERGENT IS FINALLY IN STORES!!!

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to say that about this book?  NOW EVERYONE CAN SHARE IN THE BRILLIANCE THAT IS VERONICA ROTH’S BRAIN! (Only, you know, in a non-creepy, non-brain eating way.)

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth is a book that makes you think, a book that stays with you long after you finish reading. A book that makes you question:  which faction would YOU choose?

DAUNTLESS—The Brave

CANDOR—The Honest

ERUDITE—The Intellectual/Knowledgeable

AMITY—The Peaceful

ABNEGATION—The Selfless

One of the many things I took away from the book is that while sticking to one virtue might sound simple, ultimately, it’s probably better to branch out a little bit.  So guess what?  I created the DIVERGENT FACTION-OF-THE-WEEK CHALLENGE, where some of my writer friends and I are going to take on all five of them!

THE CHALLENGE:

Every Monday for the next 5 weeks, I’ll announce the faction/virtue of the week. Over the next four days, we’ll be trying to perform at least ONE ACT that embodies that virtue/faction. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just something in everyday life, something we might not usually do.  Then, each Friday, we’ll all blog about our act.

THE GOAL:

TO SPREAD THE DIVERGENT LOVE–and maybe find out a little something about ourselves in the process. Tell your friends, get them involved—the more, the merrier!! If you plan to join us, leave a link in the comments section each week, and I’ll make sure to add them to the bottom of the posts.

And, in honor of the main character Tris’s upbringing, our kick-off virtue is…..

WEEK ONE:  ABNEGATION!

According to the Divergent fansite, Abnegation means:

  1. To refuse or deny oneself (some rights, conveniences, etc.); reject, renounce.
  2. To relinquish, give up

Basically, Veronica says the faction is about selflessness; stripping unnecessary things from life in order to help people forget themselves and do away with vanity, greed, and envy.

So, this week–GO FORTH! Step outside of your “you” zone and perform your selfless act in the wild. If you like, tweet about your trials and tribulations with an #abnegation hashtag. Then, on Friday, blog about your experience and share your Abnegation-ness with the rest of us!

Participants:

Kate Hart

Sarah Enni

Dawn Rae Miller

Jenn Wood

Lori Tays Eastep

Kathy Bradey

Jess Byam

Ashelynn Hetland

Katharine Owens

Dana Alison Levy

Sarah Nicolas

Marilyn Almodovar

Antimony

Kaitlin Ward

Cass

Adam

Nikki Katz

(Pssst! If you haven’t read DIVERGENT yet, you can still join us. Plus, what are you waiting for?  DIVERGENT is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that season again, and guess what? I have prom on the brain.

I love looking at prom dresses. I can’t help it; it’s a sickness. A time-gobbling, taffeta-ogling sickness.

In fact, some of you might remember one of my prom-related tweets from last week:

(In case you’re wondering:  tweeps voted almost unanimously for the cute-yet-short prom dress. Awesome undies, for the win!)

Then I asked this question:

Which made me wonder…if I could do senior prom all over again, would I change my dress?

Maybe.  See, for my senior prom, I went all out, and chose something very ball-gown-esque.  And while I really liked it, I kind of wish I’d chosen something a little more daring. Not slits and cutouts and oh-my-god, will-or-won’t-her-boobs-stay-covered? daring, but, you know, more…visually interesting. I mean, you can only get away with those crazy dresses for so long.

Below is a photo from my senior prom, in what I dubbed my “Grecian Virgin look.” Yes, that is baby’s breath in my hair, and those are elbow length white satin gloves. Don’t judge:

My hair. MY HAIR!

And here’s a better view of THE GLOVES:

And still...MY HAIR!!

If I had a dress do-over?  I’d like to think I’d chose something like one of these:

Betsey Johnson = AWESOMESAUCE

More Betsey!

Jovani

Or, if I just HAD to have that floor length gown, this (and look, you could even sneak an EXTRA prom date in under your skirt!):

Also, this dress really has nothing to do with anything, but OMG, isn’t it gorgeous?

So, what about you? Did you love your prom dress, or would you chose a dress do-over?  Or, if you’re just getting ready for prom now—how do you feel about your dress?

 

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Over at Write Hope, there’s an auction going on, featuring all things Kidlit.  Proceeds go to Save the Children for disaster relief in Japan.

The four wonderful ladies putting this on are all writers: Rachael Harrie, Amanda Milner, Luna and Marieke.

There are tons of writing related goodies up for grabs, including ARCS, signed books, critiques, phone chats with agents, etc.  My lovely agent Taylor Martindale and I donated a package that went up for bids today–a full manuscript and query critique by me, and a full manuscript read by her.  And tomorrow, I’m donating an ARC of the amazing IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Sum, who has graciously volunteered to sign it!

Buying an auction item is the ultimate win/win–you get something great, and your money goes to a good cause!  So, please, stop by Write Hope,  bid on one of the auction items, and avoid a pesky case of buyer’s remorse–so you don’t end up like this  guy:

Baby Got Crab.

 

 

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