Even YA Characters Need a Little Holiday Love

Posted by houndrat on Monday Dec 20, 2010 Under writing, Young Adult

Well, I know I’ve been MIA for a long time, but yes, I’m still alive.  Barely.  At least, that’s how it feels right now, because I’m pretty sure I’ve hacked up all but the deepest layers of my lung cells. Stinking cough. If it weren’t in such poor taste, I’d be tempted to be overheard mumbling TB in public, just to see the horrified reactions.  You know, come to think of it, that might nab me some prime real estate at Starbuck’s….

 But, believe it or not, I’m not actually posting for the first time in eons to talk about The Cough That Tried to Eject My Lungs into the Next Galaxy.  Instead, I want to talk about cheerful stuff.  The holidays are coming up, and everyone is running around, trying to score perfect gifts for that certain someone.  And it made me wonder….what if that certain someone was one of our favorite YA characters?  What would we be purchasing for them?

 After careful consideration, I made up this handy list of what a few YA characters could really use to bring in the New Year.

 Edward:  An economy-sized bottle of shampoo and a membership to the local spray-tanning salon.  Because he’s lucky the glare off his chest during the fountain scene in New Moon didn’t blind Bella for life.

 *If it had been pre-Breaking Dawn, then I would have suggested one of those Bop It toys.  For one, to help him alleviate all that sexual frustration that must have accrued over the past 109 yrs, and for two—just because I think he would look hilarious holding one in his sparklerific hands.  But post-Breaking Dawn?  Probably an indestructible pillow instead.  I mean, all those feathers flying around can’t be sanitary.

Now that's what I call scary.

Bella:  A lifetime’s supply of therapy.  Hey, trust me—remembering a regular episiotomy is bad enough. Remembering an episiotomy performed by your own predatory newborn? So not okay.  And also, a Bedazzler.  So her skin doesn’t out-sparkle her shirt.

Ooooh, shiny!

Jacob:  A year’s supply of t-shirts.  Dude must have fallen on some pretty hard times in New Moon and Eclipse to only to be able to afford pants.  Also, Chuck E Cheese token. You know, for his girlfriend.

Dude, where's my shirt?

Adrian from Vampire Academy:  The patch, a sponsor for AA, and P90X.  I love you, buddy, but seriously, getting off your pampered butt and doing a little exercise once in awhile would work wonders for your spirit-inflicted pity party.

 Katniss: A year-long trip to the spa.  Seriously, can you think of anyone more tightly wound than her?

 Peeta:  A copy of this book below to read while Katniss is deciding between the raw sugar scrub and the glitter pedicure.

Run While You Still Can!

 Zoey Redbird from House of Night:  A link to urban dictionary. Because there comes a point when, after being stalked by giant birdmen, juggling several guys, some of them evil, and finding out your favorite teacher wants to wipe out humanity,  “poopy-face” just no longer cuts it as a curse.

 Gale:  An infinite-repeat recording of old New Kids on the Block, Debbie Gibson, and the Wonder Pets and Dora theme songs.  And a little visit from Krampus.  Because poopy-face actually works for him in the last book. Oh, and LONG LIVE TEAM PEETA!

So there you have it, my YA holiday gift wrap-up!  Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed a bit of a trend lately in YA books—heck, all books, for that matter. The trend? That much less wordage is going into describing the characters’ clothes.

I’m sort of guessing this is a backlash from the decline of chick lit, and even though this makes me very sad—I love, love, love my Bridget Jones and Sophie Kinsella! (and NOT just because I can relate to the Queen of Babble! Really!)—I do get it. Sort of. I mean, I get that people don’t want oodles and oodles of brand names to smack them upside the head every time they turn the page. To be sure, some of those books definitely read like product placements look in movies. Like, the authors deserved some serious kickbacks, or at the very least, free purses. ‘Cuz you can never have enough of those. Especially when you defile them as rapidly as I do.

But, on the other hand…I sort of miss the descriptions of outfits, of what the characters are wearing at any given time. Call me girly if you will (though, this is kind of amusing, given the dust gathering on my hair-styling appliances) or fashion conscious (HA! Even more amusing since most of my capris are older than my soon-to-be first grader)…or, better yet, call me someone who thinks clothes can say a lot about a character.

I mean, picture a high-school guy wearing a buttoned-up collared shirt and khakis to class, and another wearing a Sex Pistols t-shirt and ripped jeans. Without knowing anything else, you’ve suddenly got a few clues into their respective personalities. Provided they aren’t wearing those outfits to be ironic. Or it’s Halloween. Anyway.

To prove my point, I’m posting the names of popular YA characters below, followed by the kind of swimsuit I envision those characters wearing.

Yeah, okay, so maybe it’s an excuse for me to screw around on the net plan my new life as a swimsuit designer distract myself from the impending 2-day car ride of doom with the kidlets (meep!) But seriously, I think people’s personalities and circumstances influence their clothing choices—even swimwear. How your character dresses him or herself really might give your reader some new insight.

First up: Katniss from Hunger Games. Okay, so let’s face it: Katniss has no time for frivolity. She’s either helping her family survive, or she’s battling for her own life in the Hunger Games. So no cutesy, decorative crap for her—she needs sleek, fast and utilitarian. Hence I think this Speedo skinsuit would work:

Lean, mean, swimming machine!

Lean, mean, swimming machine!

Now, tell me this doesn’t say something about the wearer, especially if that person wasn’t at a swim meet?

Next up, Grace from The Dark Divine. Grace is a little old-fashioned in some ways, and given her father’s profession and her church-oriented upbringing, I just can’t see her being comfortable flashing a ton of skin. So I pictured her in something a little retro with good coverage:

Polka Dots, for the win!

Polka Dots, for the win!

Really, doesn’t this suit say that? That here’s a girl who isn’t trying to flaunt a bunch of skin, but is comfortable with herself all the same? Unlike the next character, Rose from Vampire Academy, who, let’s face it, realizes she’s hot and has no shame in sharing her hotness with others. I totally picture her wearing a skimpy string bikini:

Flaunt it, baby!

Flaunt it, baby!

And finally, the sparkly-vamp loving girl herself, Bella Swan. For the most part, Bella is a totally self-conscious character, one who eschews attention. So I envisioned her in a plain Jane black swimsuit—one that wouldn’t make anyone look twice, with good coverage, no frills, just generic.

The Safe Choice

The Safe Choice

So, what do you think? Do you agree with the overall style of my choices for these characters? And that clothes say something about a character’s personality? And, most importantly—what style of swimsuit do YOU wear?

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So, we’re on week 3 of Corrine Jackson’s group writing process series. And this week’s topic is: Deepening Your Characters: What is at the heart of a complex character?

Wait—you mean our characters have to be deep? Um…

Joking, of course. Characters need to have layers, and almost more importantly for me—they need to have flaws. I’m sorry, but being that I’m about a bazillion degrees away from perfect myself (shocking, I know), it’s really hard for me to relate to flawless characters. You know, the ones that are beautiful, rich, have superpowers, get the guy, and gosh darn it, are just flat-out nice. All. The. Time.

All that and she bakes, too?  Kill me  now.

All that and she bakes, too? Kill me now.

Barf.

In fact, I’ll even go a step further. I would much rather read about a deeply flawed character than one without any imperfections. Why? Because the deeply flawed character is a heckuva lot more interesting.

If you don’t believe me, check out Justine Larbalestier’s novel Liar, where her MC Micah is a pathological liar, or Courtney Summer’s Regina in Some Girls Are. As a former high school bully, Regina was hard to relate to at times, and had some major issues. Heck, I didn’t even really *like* her half the time. That said, I finished that book in one sitting and still teared up at least three times.

When I think of some of the most memorable film characters—from Scarlett O’Hara to Forrest Gump to Hans Solo—I can see that they all have flaws. Perfection just isn’t exciting. But character flaws, and how they deal with conflict IN SPITE of them, is.

Smokin.

Smokin'.

So, a complex character is one who has both strengths and flaws, good and bad. Just like a real person—except when it comes to our characters, we get to torture them. Legally.

Ah, torture. That brings us to the book I’m reading, Plot & Structure, and what it has to say on character. Because you can create the most interesting character in the world, but the reader will never know unless you make that character struggle—and change as a result. The character arc, so to speak.

When James Scott Bell talks about characters, he has this to say:
What makes a plot truly memorable is not all of the action, but what the action does to the character. We respond to the character who changes.

To him, I think the heart of a complex character is the ability to change.

Now, go check out Cory’s blog and her links to all the other participating writers’ blogs!

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Teaser Tuesday–A bad trade

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Mar 9, 2010 Under writing

So, this comes just a short bit after the last Teaser, after Kaylin spends spends a little time in the room with Jones, the guy with the goods. Rough draft alert!

I float out of the room a short while later—minutes? Hours? I have no clue. I’m glowing, glowing. My fingers skim the walls, graze the nubby texture, the air. I laugh and the sound floats around me, hovers. I’ve got more energy than I can fucking stand. I feel like I could explode out of my own skin, race a few hundred laps around the neighborhood, and not even have to stop for air. But most of all, I feel like I’m going to burst if I don’t find someone to talk to. I need people around me.

I take another step and stumble. Underneath my buzz, something slinks into my consciousness, something dark and dirty.

I brush my fingers against my lips, brush away the taste. Then shake my head. My hair whips at warp speed and I see black dots and lights. I welcome the distraction and do it again. And again.
Then I stumble out toward the comforting chaos of the party.

The laughter, the voices—they cover me like warm fog, fill every corner of my brain. I shove my way into the first group of people I see, just craving that feeling of connection. Shane’s telling some story about a practical joke they played on their coach, and I start laughing hysterically. The sound roars around me. Musical. Free.

Shane grins and ruffles my hair. “Gee, I wonder what you’ve been doing? I can’t believe anyone ever thought you were such a goody-goody. Slacker.”

The feel of his fingers in my hair reminds me of the room. Of other fingers gripping my hair tightly. Thankfully, though, the thought evaporates almost before it registers. I launch into babble-mode, bouncing on my heels all the while. Loving the feel of the overhead lights dancing across my skin. Life is so full of cracking energy, amazing. It can’t get any better than this.

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Teaser Tuesday–I’m Not an Addict

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Mar 2, 2010 Under writing

So this is yet ANOTHER WIP, in first person present (who said FPP was addicting? Who? Who? Curse you, whoever you are–you were so RIGHT! :) I’m going to have to pick one and stick with it soon because I’m afraid the voices are starting to sound too similar.

It’s fairly rough, so bear with me. This story is about a girl who used to have everything together, a girl who was totally under her parents’ control. And then one day she exploded. This isn’t from the beginning, but somewhere in first third.

“Where’s Jake?” I stumble into the table and hit my hip, almost drop my beer. No pain. No pain, no gain. I giggle, even though I have no idea why that’s funny. The laughter freezes in my throat a second later, though. My hip might not hurt, but inside, I’m dying for a fix. Just a little something to boost me back up. No big deal. Anything will do, anything at all. I’m not picky these days.

Sarah laughs and tries to bounce a quarter into a cup. “You’re so obvious. Jake had to bail for awhile. Jones is here, though—in the bedroom. He can hook you up for a price.”

A price? Shit. I drain the beer in my cup, but it’s doing nothing for me, not anymore. I might as well be drinking Evian. “I’m broke. Will he take an IOU?”

Sarah’s laughter explodes like a bullhorn this time, forceful and way too loud. I wince as the sound splinters in my ears. “You’re shitting me, right?” she says.

Am I? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I’m too restless to figure it out. I jiggle the cup on the table, jiggle my leg. I can’t stop moving.

Sarah sighs. “Just go back there. I’m sure you can work something out.”

Joy blooms in my chest. Work it out, that’s it. I’ll work it out. As I turn to leave, Delissa collars my wrist with her hand, throws an angry look at Sarah. “Hey, that’s not cool—the girl is wasted. Look, Kaylin, I think you should just wait here for Jake. He’ll be back soon.”

Yeah, but that’s the thing—I’m not wasted. Not wasted enough. I jerk free and stumble away in search of Jones.

Past the group of guys smoking in the family room. Past the couple making out in the hall. The closer I get to the bedroom, the faster my heart beats. Anticipation curls my fingers, writhes likes frantic worms in my gut. I’m almost there. It takes three or four grabs for the doorknob before I finally manage to turn it.

And I’m in.

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Demon Guard Teaser: When a Kiss Goes Wrong

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Jan 12, 2010 Under writing

Another Teaser from Demon Guard, because, hey–what else to I work on these days? But I finally have a FINISHED ROUGH DRAFT—WOOT!

Anyway–this scene comes in pretty close to the story’s climax. Shade just found Summer talking to Cody in a deserted hallway during the school dance. The boy clearly isn’t in good shape, not at all, and he’s wanting to know if there’s something going on between our heroine and another guy. Here goes:

SNIPPED!

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Demon Guard Teaser!

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Jan 5, 2010 Under writing

In case anyone is wondering what DG is about, a fellow crit group member (the amazing Amy Bai) summed it up as Mean Girls meet Harry Potter. That totally works for me–although, I could also go with Veronica Mars meet Something-Vampire-Academy-esque-But-Without-the-Vampires. Um, yeah. Maybe I should stick with my crit partner’s version.

At any rate, this Teaser follows shortly after the one a few weeks ago, where the MC Summer discovers that a lewd photo of her and Billy, a guy she despises, was photo-shopped and sent around the school. This is Billy catching up with her afterwards. Oh, and, if this is your first time–the MC has been hearing voices for a few days now. As usual, all comments welcomed and appreciated!

SNIPPED!

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Teaser Tuesday: things you never want to see on your cell phone.

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Dec 1, 2009 Under writing

Here’s a scene I worked on in Friday Night Writes with my AW peeps awhile back.? Still needs some finessing, but I think it’s kind of fun.? Hope you enjoy!? ? :)

?

? ? ? ? ? ? The second I set foot inside the cafeteria the next morning, I could feel the tension crackling in the air.? The buzz and whispers were back—and with tsunami-like force. ?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I paused, inhaling slowly and forcing a smile. ? Maybe it was just my nerves. ? After all, they were understandably twitchy from my scheduled B&E debut later today. ? But then my gaze caught on a nearby table. The cluster of girls sitting there glanced up at me before consulting their cell phones and dissolving into fits of giggles. ? Great. Something was definitely up, and whatever it was? ? Not really doing much to xanax my whole jittery thing.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I stalked over to where Cody was slamming his own cell phone shut and flung my backpack on the table.? “Let’s see it,” I said, thrusting out my hand.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? He tried to push the phone into his pocket, but I grabbed his wrist. His cheeks flamed; he looked like a kid who’d just been caught reading porn by his mom.? “Look, why don’t you just let this go?” he said.? “I think you’ll feel better if—Hey!”

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I wrestled the phone out of his grasp and flipped it on.? “Give me a break.? I’m going to see whatever’s making everyone act all freaky sooner or later.? Let’s just get it over with.”

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? He hesitated with his hand hovering over mine, but one look into my determined eyes and he caved.? “Fine.? But don’t say I didn’t warn you.? Here.”? He pressed a few buttons.? Seconds later, a photo popped up.?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The identity of the couple on the tiny screen didn’t register right away—only that the girl’s skirt was pushed up to her waist while her bare legs were wrapped around a guy’s back.? A naked guy.? “What the heck…?” It was then I started noticing the details.? The silver go-go boots, the white tube top. ? The red hair.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? My mouth gaped open, and my heart froze in my chest. Holy shit—it was porn. Only somehow, I was the freaking star.

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Cut parking lot scene from Demon Guard

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Nov 24, 2009 Under writing

Okay, so today I’m posting a cut scene from Demon Guard.? I actually ended up going in a whole different direction with the plot.? I hadn’t even remembered it until about two hours ago, when I dug it up in all it’s unedited glory.? I did spend some time trying to revise it a bit– because, hey, how else was I going to procrastinate working on REAL scenes?–but it’s still mighty rough-ish.? Maybe I can find a home for it in my sequel. *snicker*? ? Hey, a? girl? can dream, right??

Anyway, here’s the set-up.? Summer (the MC’s) old friends Kat and Allie go to spike demons in a parking lot to join the Academy, only–they’re not the meek little Stage Ones they’re supposed to be.? Rather, it’s an ambush, with three fully embodied demons waiting to attack.? ? Kat and Allie? are captured.? Summer and her friends Cody and Shade try to fend them off and save the girls, but will their efforts be enough?? Read on:

SNIPPED!
?

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Late night scene from trunked novel: Tainted

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Oct 6, 2009 Under writing

I’m doing another Teaser Tuesday today! (Okay,? if you? must know–it’s still Monday in? West Coast time. But, hey, for most of you it’s already Tuesday–that counts for something, right?)? This scene features one of my favorite characters from? my trunked? novel Tainted: ? Justin.

Set-up:? The MC is trying to recover from a karaoke fiasco a few nights ago, where she inadvertently tapped into her growing powers to enthrall the frat boys into love zombies while singing.? Most of the effect has worn off, except for the random guys still knocking at her door late at night, declaring their love for her.? Justin is a sort of mysterious character, a guy with strong mental powers, who seems? a little? odd and has questionable motives.? He’s an old acquaintance/friend of the love interest, the MC’s Protector Logan.? Beyond that, the MC doesn’t know much about him.? In this scene he just randomly shows up for a visit in the middle of the night.

?

By the time the third night after the karaoke-debacle rolled around, I was done.? At the first crack of a fist on my door, I staggered out of bed and stumbled to switch on my desk lamp, squinting into the harsh light.? Whoever was out there was about to get a lesson in the principles of harmonious dorm living.? Rule number one being: ? if you pounded on my door after midnight, I had free rein to kick your ass.

Whatever loitering moron awaited would be un-enthralled tonight, if I had to cut off his head to do it.? Between the enthrall-ees and the nightmares, sleep was becoming a distant memory.? Really not okay.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I stalked toward the door, the icy wooden floor pulsing goosebumps up my legs. ? I was about three feet away when I heard an unexpected noise:? the lock clicking.? A millisecond later, the door burst wide open. ? I shrieked and jumped back, grabbing a hair brush off my dresser for protection.

And then my grasp on the hairbrush loosened when I saw who it was.? Justin.? Leaning casually against the door frame, like nothing was amiss.

“What, is there a sign out there that says AM-PM market or something?? Believe it or not, I am not open all night for business.? And I so did not just say that,” I moaned.? It wasn’t my fault, though.? Who expected anyone to function at their finest at—I glanced at the mocking digital glow from my dresser—1:23 a.m?? It was bad enough that the love zombies kept knocking after midnight.? Now I had to deal with a strange and possibly half-crazy Gifted guy as well?? ?

? I whirled around and stomped back to bed, plunking myself down before glaring over at him.? I chucked the hairbrush at my dresser with a satisfying crack.? “Look, I don’t know on which planet you learned proper etiquette, but here on Earth, we like to wait for people to actually answer the door.? You know, before we just go ahead and burst in using our special Gifts.? And what the hell am I saying?”? Argh.? I desperately needed sleep.? Was that really too much to ask?

Apparently so, because Justin strolled into my room, as though 1:00 am was a perfectly acceptable time for a social call.? “Sorry—I was afraid you wouldn’t answer.”? He pivoted my desk chair around and straddled it with annoying grace, crossing his arms over the top and resting his chin on his fist.

? “Yes, and there would have been a good reason for that.? I.? Was.? Sleeping!” I said.

? I didn’t know if it was lack of sleep, cheap dorm light bulbs, or some whacked out magic that lit his sardonic blue gaze with a suddenly appealing gleam. “Well, see?? That’s why I went ahead and opened it.”

“OH!”? Something was whacked, all right—him.? I clapped my hands to my cheeks and squeezed my eyes shut.? “I give up,” I finally said.? “Please, just tell me why you’re here, so I can go back to sleep. Sooner versus later would be nice.”? I sagged back against the wall and hugged my knees to my chest, reaching down to pull the snugly comforter over my frigid toes.

“Okay,” he said calmly, obviously not perturbed in the slightest by my outburst.? “I was just thinking—since you spend so much time training with Logan, it puts him at a ? bit of an unfair advantage.? So I thought I’d remedy that by coming by.”

I eyed my warm pillow with wanton longing before turning to address him.? “Huh?? What are you talking about?? What unfair advantage?”? And then it hit me—why was I even trying to have a logical conversation here?? The guy was an absolute loon.? “Oh my God, did you really come here in the middle of the night just to start spouting crazy?? Because, sorry, my mind only comprehends loony rants after nine o’ clock a.m. and about three cups of coffee.”

His forehead creased. “I’m not spouting crazy.? I’m talking about the possibility of our futures being linked.”

Loon or not, he had my attention now.? Unfortunately.? My mouth gaped open and I blinked several times. “Say what?”

“Logan hasn’t told you anything?”? He seemed perplexed, which was odd for Justin.? Usually his repertoire of emotions ranged from “bored” to “slightly less bored”.? Not that I knew for sure—I couldn’t read him at all, and quite frankly, I was okay with that.? There was no telling what insanity was going on in his pretty but demented head at any given time.

“Um,” I said, “if by anything you mean linked futures and unfair advantages, apparently not.”? And it still sounded like crazy spoutage to me.

?

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