Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Woman in Black

Friday night was my ritual "Movie with Renee" night. We grab dinner and usually see a funny film that's out. But this time around, we chose to see a scary one. Most of you know that I've been on the lookout for a movie that really scares me. Well, my friends, this was it. Now, I don't know if it was because I just haven't seen a scary movie in a while so I jumped at every little thing, or if it was truly scary. You make that decision for yourself; but I will say this: Renee wasn't scared at all. She said it was like watching a comedy because of my reactions.

So, the movie's about a man, Arthur Kipps, who works for a law firm settling estates and wills. He has a four-year-old little boy (Misha Hadley) who's the cutest boy in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD who his wife died giving birth to. He has no money, "final notice" declarations on bills, and with this last assignment, he can pull himself (hopefully) out of his rut. 

He goes to a little English town with unfriendly locals and starts to go through the deceased's papers. Oh yeah, the house is haunted and for some reason, children keep dying. The middle of the story was scary as all get out (which included a little boy crawling out of the mud during a rain storm and getting inside the house). The ending was a bit of a letdown, but I guess it kind of/somewhat/just a little bit fit the ending the character (Radcliffe) needed.

The movie was awesome for all its little moments of heart attacks. At one point, I got so scared that I pushed myself back in my chair and choked on the giant inhale I took. Renee laughed. But, if you're looking for something with a true plot to it, you're looking in the wrong place (as is the case with most scary movies). I was excited to see Daniel in something new, but the entire time, I kept thinking Harry Potter, Harry Potter. And it was a bit unbelievable for me that he'd have a 4-year-old son. Oh, and another thing, He had hardly any lines in the movie. Most of the time he was exploring the old house, alone, trying to find the source of the strange noises he was hearing.

But good things did come from watching this film. When you go see a scary movie, there are previews for other scary movies. Between those previews and the Woman in Black, Renee and I noticed certain themes and came up with a list on how to survive a horror movie, should you find yourself trapped inside one:

  • If you find yourself on a road trip to the remote woods (possibly to go camping), don't go
  • If your "crew" is made up of two or more good looking guys, two or more good looking girls, and some random "not so cool" guy, you're probably in a horror flick
  • If you stumble across a dilapidated one-pump gas station with a scary attendant, turn back
  • No sex in the woods, that's THE NUMBER ONE SIGN you're in a horror movie and you're going to DIE
  • If there's a wall or a door with a hole in it, DO NOT look through it. That's a sure fire way to lose an eye or something terrifying is going to jump out at you
  • Don't explore strange noises, especially in the dark, but neither is it safe to do it during the day
  • Never split up. Never
  • Candles are an unreliable source of light
  • Creepy town + creepy people + creepy house = certain death
  • If your dog starts barking ferociously at thin air, you're screwed
  • Evil ghost's can't be appeased, no matter what you give them
  • Make sure you're faster than at least one other person in your crew
  • Basements and attics are not your friend. Neither are bathrooms. 
I think that's it. If you know of any other tips, mention them below. (PS – this was kind of a random post :-) )

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shatter Me Book Report

Shatter Me
By: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: PG-13
Coffee Beans: 3/5
Spoilers: No

Okay, so I'm a huge fan of this author. She has a popular and successful blog/website and tumblr page. She has an amazing presence on Twitter and she's friendlier than all get-out. She's personable and relatable and funny and seems like an all-around nice gal. There was tons of hype surrounding her book and her thousands of fans (including myself) were lined up and couldn't wait to get to their hands on it when it was released. The cover is pretty cool, I love the shattered glass behind the model. The dress is okay, kind of distracting, and I don't particularly like it when books put faces on them only because readers like to imagine what the characters look like themselves.

Here's the official summary:

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. 

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now. 

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

Here's my summary:

Rougue from X-Men set in a dystopian society. The end.

For those of you who apparently live under rocks, I'll fill you in on Rogue's mutant power: When she touches people, she sucks their life force out and they die. Cool concept, right? So why the low coffee bean rating, you ask? Simple: I don't think this was an original enough story nor did it have enough meat on it to warrant more than three. I know some of you are going to disagree with me, and you're allowed to, but the only thing original about this story line (and I mean original as in different from Rogue's) is that there are two people in the world she can touch and they don't die. SPOILER: One of them happens to be her make-out partner. How convenient to be able to let out all your pent-up sexual frustration on this one strong, handsome soldier boy. Not.

Tahereh's writing is beautiful, there's no doubt about it. And her metaphors are creative and unique. But come on, sometimes, someone just blushes. You don't have to find fifty-thousand ways to say that, and when you do, you risk not making any sense. Which is what happened in over half her metaphors. And now that I'm on that subject, there were A LOT of metaphors. Like, too many. But that's just my personal opinion. It was a beautiful writing style (although the strikethroughs were extremely annoying), but there were more times than not when it seemed like she was trying to be too lyrical in what she was saying. Again, sometimes it's just best to say it.

Juliette is a weak female character. There's no way around it. Although at the end she seems more independent, she isn't stronger. And that's a problem. I wanted her to so much be a bad ass and I was let down. She was dependent on Adam too much, never able to do what she needed when it came down to it, Adam always and to step in and save the day, and although we all want a male lead like that, it's important for the female to be able to take care of herself, otherwise she deserves what she gets. 

Her weakness was a distraction to me, but even more so, were the protag's constant thoughts and talking about how beautiful Adam was. *GROAN* We get it, you think he's hot; can we move on now? To, like, the story? And while we're at it, can you take a freaking break from one of your MILLION AND A HALF heavy-breathing make-out scenes and help me FIND THE STORYLINE? It's small and easy to miss, but maybe a couple extra pairs of eyes will help me—HEY! I said stop with the making out! Sheesh.

Shatter Me felt like a hot and heavy romance in which the plot to a backseat. Not okay--Unless you're a Harlequin romance and that's expected. I could've done with a lot less of that crap. I get it—they can't keep their hands off each other and his lips taste good, or whatever, and sex sells everywhere, especially among YA, but that doesn't mean you can get by without having a story.

And talk about insecure, Juliette keeps asking Adam the SAME QUESTION (three times, no joke). "Why did you save me?" And three times, Adam gives the same answer. While he's patient and explains his reasoning with love, I would've been tempted to smack her and say, "Look we've been over this already. Accept it or get the heck out of here."  I thought Juliette would have grown, but she remained a flat, weak female protagonist who hid behind a boy and his washboard stomach.

Wow. This is a bit of a harsh review, but at least it's honest. Look, I've read way better books, and I've read worse books. Pick it up, read it and judge for yourself. You may agree, you may disagree, but form your own opinion. :) Happy reading!

Clockwork Prince, Book 2 in The Infernal Devices Series

Clockwork Prince (Book 2, The Infernal Devices)
Cassandra Clare
YA Historical Urban Fantasy
3/5 coffee beans
Spoilers: No, just strong opinions :)

So, this review may be a little disheartening, but I feel I have a right to write it that way since I've been a fan of Cassandra's since the very beginning. I devoured the Mortal Instruments series when they first came out. Drove out in a snow storm on a Sunday to Costco so I could get the third book. I was sad when they ended, I wanted more. Then she came out with a fourth! Oh, happy day! Then I read the fourth. Meh. Then she came out with a "prequel" series, the Infernal Devices series set in Victorian England. At that point I started to groan. You can only beat a dead horse so much before it becomes a sadistic action. I feel this series is one slap with a stick too many.

But, I'm into self punishment, and I am a loyal reader, so I picked them up to give them a shot. The first book, Clockwork Angel, was actually pretty okay. Not the best, but okay. I wasn't particularly interested in picking up the second book, this one, since I wasn't really attached to any of the recycled characters or invested in the storyline. But, I got a Nook for Christmas and a $50 B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I couldn't think of another book to purchase (immediate gratification, people).

Right around the time CP came out; the release date for book five in TMI series was announced. Oh yeah, along with the third in the prequel series, Clockwork Princess, and oh my gosh I just looked at her website and there's a SIXTH book in TMI series scheduled to come out and for the love of Pete can this just stop?!?!?! You can't help but wonder, with so many LARGE books in the same series/storyline, if the integrity of the writing and the story will be compromised. I love the idea of Shadowhunters, but I'm starting to wonder if Clare's "cast-typing" herself. Is that all she knows how to write? I guess it doesn't really matter since she's built a gazillion-dollar empire and a movie's coming out soon for Book 1 in TMI – City of Bones, and people LOVE this series (for cryin' in a bucket, the woman has FIVE–if not more—websites dedicated to the books, TMI, TID, her own, and a tumblr account, PLUS a LiveJournal account, not to mention Twitter and fb). I mean, how the heck is she keeping up with two series and all this other crap? Anyway, I've seem to have gone off on a tangent. Let's get back on track, shall we?

I feel that the characters in TID are just regurgitations of her original characters from TMI with the addition of a second, possible romance and little bits to make the books fraternal in nature. But, scrape away the 1800's British English, and the bustles and stiff clothes, and you've got the same blasted story. I don't think Clare did a good job of setting up the place and time of TID for the reader. I feel that she just went to Wikipedia or some other comparable sight, read a few broad details and left it at that. She gives you those common elements in the beginning of the book, but that's about it. Most of the time I was reading, I didn't feel that I was there in that time period. I think she could have included a lot more unique details to make it more "there" for me. More than just a parasols and bustles and carriages. The only thing truly convincing to me was the dialogue.

So, in the end, it was just "okay." The storyline is entirely forgettable, I'm really sad to say, because it's too much like her other series. I could definitely live without reading the next in the series, Clockwork Princess, but unfortunately, I was so excited about my new Nook that I pre-ordered it. I need to look into B&N's return policy.

Okay, here's my usual disclaimer at the end of all BR's: Read it for yourself. Make your own judgments and come up with your own thoughts. You may feel the exact opposite of me, and that's great. But the important thing is to read it for yourself and find out. :) Happy reading!

The Stuttering Tattoo

The Sutttering Tattoo
By Greg Logsted
YA Thriller
4/5 coffee beans
Spoilers? Nah
Available now on ebook
Favorite line in the book: "You have to launch yourself into your passion. You have to lose yourself in your dreams. You can't allow yourself to fall short to be less than who you are."

This was an ARC I received through Net Galley (that really is a rockin' site). This book is outside my normal realm of reading (I'm not really a thriller/mystery kind of gal) but the cover was awesome so I decided to give it a go; and I'm glad I did. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

Steven Bishop is extraordinarily ordinary. He goes to school. He rides his motorcycle. He stutters. His best friend is a former Colombian cartel hit man turned cook/construction worker. You know, ordinary. All that changes the day Becky Moore walks into his classroom. Becky is dazzling, enigmatic. 

One day Steven gives Becky a ride home on his motorcycle. There, they discover a severed arm, one of the fingers of which still has an unusual ring attached: a circle, in the middle of which is a heart, at the center of which is a bold number 37. While comforting Becky, Steven discovers a tattoo at the base of her neck: it is the same symbol. And so begins a thrilling descent into a world of crime and murder, a ride wilder than any Steven has taken before.

So, the book opens with what I'm sure is a typical high-school daydream. As the day goes on, a new classmate, Becky, comes to school. He's hypnotized by her beauty and strong personality, and mystery. Who is this Becky?? He ends up giving her a ride home, he loves the way she clings to him on his motorcycle (gag), they almost kiss, a tragedy occurs, and now they're linked together in a way that propels the story forward and lets us know that Steven will do anything to keep/save Becky. While the action and hook in the first couple of chapters to get us to this point were A-MA-ZING, I truly felt this instant connection and blind devotion to Becky that follows is a little forced.

With this, we're introduced to our main character, Steven. He's not especially popular, actually, he's made fun of a lot because of his stutter (although we never see that in the book). He's 17, good looking (we're told he resembles Johnny Depp), buff (works out in the school's weight room every day), is amazing at martial arts (he takes lessons from Carlos, his Colombian cartel hit man friend who just happens to also be teaching the sensei of the dojo), he loves him some coffee, and he has a sweet old motorcycle. I think I like this main character. Oh, and he's brave, and loyal, and…..anyone else think he should have flaws other than a stutter that seemingly goes unnoticed to everyone else?

Logsted is an great writer. I sped through the book at a good speed, always wanting to turn just one more page. His descriptions were really creative and really helped me open my eyes as a writer that the sky's the limit. Examples:

  • "The minute hand seems frozen, scared, as if it's standing on the edge of a building contemplating suicide."
  • "I just look at her: she talks so fast. Joining a conversation with her would be like jumping on a moving train."
  • "She's wearing large sunglasses, designer-type clothes, and jewelry draped around her neck and wrists like Christmas lights."
  • "I know they say all is fair in love and war but that doesn't make sense to me. That doesn't make something wrong right. It's just a long dark coat of words worn by liars, thieves and cowards."
He does a good job of getting us key points of backstory through dialogue in a realistic way. I don't feel as if the author is cheating and using dialogue to fill me in. Instead, I feel as if I've walked into a discussion that Steven and his dad have had numerous times before, and this is all very natural.

There were a few parts that were hard to swallow for me in this book. The first I already told you about. The second is when Steven goes into a bar to see Becky and her band play a gig. Pretty much every high-school kid has a fake ID, so I'm okay with that part. The part I'm not really okay with is when he orders a beer, his coach from school sees him, and condones what he's doing. When just one chapter before, he was busting Steven's chops for not showing up to gym on time. It would've been more believable had the coach given him lip service and then not followed through with action. But that's just one little thing. The third is Steven's dad. He's a cop—which is fine, but it always seems that every action he does, every look he gives, is a clear sign that "something was bothering him" or "a clear sign that he was angry". As humans, we all have several characteristics that come into play when we're upset, but in a book, it's best to stick to one of those things as being "a clear sign" of a certain mood. I found myself rolling my eyes when they came up and thinking, "Man, Steven's dad is a drag."

Some events were a little jarring or predictable. There's one part where a man turns out to be a woman, impersonating another woman, and another part where Steven gets a phone call from someone who says he "has uber important things to discuss with him" but refuses to discuss anything over the phone, telling him he'll talk about it tomorrow. I have a note in my Nook at that point: Cue dead phone caller…..now. Yup. Next chapter, dies in a house fire.

There were a lot of analogies and metaphors and comparisons to water and swimming. When I started to take notice of this, I got pulled from the story every time one was brought up. I wonder if Logsted is a swimmer? But, I liked that each chapter had a title. So many books now just have numbers. I guess it's easier than trying to find a clever chapter title that captures the essence of what the reader's going to be reading next. I'm so glad The Stuttering Tattoo had them. Logsted took the titles straight out of the text of the chapter so it was fun to try and hunt them down (I'm easily amused at times).

When reading a book, you always discover things about the author. I know that Greg probably likes coffee, perhaps a bit about martial arts/working out/fighting, and knows a bit about old motorcycles. That last one is my favorite. I want one so bad. There's a scene where he's in a chase scene with a "rice rocket" (as his dad calls them). It was a great chase scene and broken down and described in a way that was easy to understand and follow for the layman but exciting and engaging enough to shout, "Yes!" when things crashed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was engaging and interesting and overall believable (as much as getting mixed up with a deadly organized crime gang can be). Steven isn't some superhero kid, he's just has the right tools and a smart head on his shoulders and isn't afraid when it comes to fighting for what's right or what's his. Great writing and likable characters, I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre. It's a great gate for YA that will lead them to Thor, Meltzer, Grisham, and Coben.



Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just Read...

The Stuttering Tattoo
Greg Logsted
YA Thriller

Definitely a "guy" book, very fun to read. And look-ey there, a BR's already been done! Imagine that! :)


Friday, February 24, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Speed Dating

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post. But I'll try and make it interesting in a way only I can :)

When I registered for SFWC, I paid the extra $50 for Speed Dating. But when I showed up to the conference on Thursday, I wasn't feeling entirely sure of myself. I was seriously considering not even doing Speed Dating. My newest project is a dystopian….but not like the other dystopians out there. I was afraid that when I told the agents the genre, they'd roll their eyes and think, great, another dystopian and I'd be embarrassed. Kind of like if I were pitching a vampire book when the whole Twilight/TVD craze first started. Then I started thinking about all the people who would be asking me about Speed Dating when I got home. Hubby, my mom, Renee, Janice…the list goes on. They'd be frustrated that I didn't take the opportunity, and I'd be disappointed I took the coward's way out and didn't go through with it. So, I bit the bullet (roughly the size of a 9mm) and committed to Speed Dating.

Now the decision was, which book to pitch? WHITE CITY or my new project? Only one agent was in attendance this year who I pitched WHITE CITY to last year, so I could just pitch my new project on her. After all, I was still having my doubts about my new project, even though I loved it. And, I reasoned, I already had an agent ask for a full on WHITE CITY with an R & R, so it has to be good, right? Plus, I really love Lexi and Seth, and that story is so unique. Why not? But then doubt on that started to creep in. Is WHITE CITY strong enough to have agents ask to see more this time around? Maybe…Mabye? Maybe. Grrr! I was so frustrated.

Then I remembered I wrote my new project in 30 days. I busted my butt to have it edited and polished in 3.5 months so it would be ready to go with me to San Francisco. Why would I want to have all that effort wasted for nothing? And besides, this was its first trip into the real world, what better place to get feedback before I really start to query for it, than here? It'll be like a test market, I told myself. So, I bit the bullet again (this time a 30-06). And so, the decision was made. But a pitch had yet to be written.

For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a pushy person. I tend to be laid back and take action when necessary, but don't want to make people feel uncomfortable or be the one to inconvenience others. Sometimes this personality trait I have a bad thing and good opportunities pass me by; this last weekend, though, at the SFWC, it was to my advantage, and my carefully calculated plan of attack proved sucessful.

There were seven YA agents at the conference (names withheld to protect the innocent). I feel sorry, somewhat, for agents at conferences. Even though they know what the environment holds, something about seeing them always looking over their shoulders, preparing themselves for the pouncing of 500+ budding agents tugs on my heart strings. This is why I don't pitch to them around the hotel unless they specifically break the ice. I figure they probably appreciate one author who's not trying to sell them their book (some of you might disagree with me, and that's fine, but this is my way of doing things).

My plan of attack was this: Small talk that had nothing to do with my book.

The execution of my plan looked like this: It was Friday night, the first full day of the conference. Classes were over. My head was killing me with a nasty migraine. It was about 5 o'clock and I was waiting at the elevators to go up to my room and rest and work on the dreaded pitch (sidebar: the elevators at the Mark Hopkins suck. No two bones about it. They're slow. Down on the lower level where the gym and business centers are, I've waited up to 15 minutes with no elevator, and then end up having to take the stairs to the lobby and catch the elevator there. You'd think that for $300 a night, they'd have some faster elevators. *Whew* that was a long sidebar. Continuing…). I was waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Then, two of the seven agents I wanted to pitch came up behind me, chatting quietly (a man and a woman). We stood there, waiting. I figured this was my chance to break the ice.

Me: So, is your day over yet?

Man/Woman: Smiling Yeah.

Woman: Oh, wait, we have a dinner.

Man: We have a dinner? Nobody told me about a dinner.

Woman: Yeah, it's for the presenters and agents, or something like that. Maybe it's just drinks up at the Top of the Mark.

Man: Huh, no one said anything about a dinner.

Woman: Highly amused now. So yeah, we're done for the day except for dinner.

Me: Food doesn't count as working, though. Neither do drinks. (or something slightly more witty than that, I can't remember)

laughing. You're right, it doesn't.

At this point, I see my friend at another elevator, say goodbye to the agents and leave.

This was a good interaction. They may have been on their guard (or not) when I first turned around, but when they realized I wasn't going to pitch to them, they relaxed. A Lot. Interaction number two went like this:

Group of authors and Man agent from prior elevator interaction are waiting in the lobby for an elevator. It's been pretty close to eternity since I pressed the button. Finally, the elevator comes and we all get inside. Five-ish in all. Now, I know from an earlier experience that this agent is staying of floor 3, so I don't have much time to make small talk and be memorable.

Man: This elevator takes forever. You'd think they'd be a little faster.

Me: Tell me about it. I went running this morning and waited at the California level for about fifteen minutes and no elevator came. I finally had to go up to the lobby and catch it there. It's ridiculous.

Man: Yeah, I know. Every time I try to catch one, it always takes forever.

Me: I think it'd be faster to take the stairs, but they hide those pretty well from us.

Man: laughs.

Elevator dings, agent gets off floor. Engagement two rating: successful.

Sunday morning. We eat a plated breakfast. The agents sit on stage and tell us what they're looking for. Man says to just bring him your pitch and the first five pages. He'll read it and tell you right away if it's for him or not. Woman says same thing, query and first ten pages. How easy is that, right? I head to the business center, print out two queries, Dear Man and Dear Woman. I then print out the first 10 pages of my novel (PS – that cost me about $35, partly because the Mark is ridiculously expensive and charges you $11 just to log on to their computer and $1.64 per b & w page you print. That and the fact that Mac's are retarded, but that's an entirely different blog post).

Now, follow along, the next part may be confusing for some folks:

When I first wrote CASTE (the book I pitched this year), I started it with a scene of Karis in her house making a fire. I read it to Hubby and a few other friends and they said I needed to start it with some action. So, I did. I wrote a new opening that was roughly five pages about a memory Karis has of her neighbors being shot. Then it blended into my old opening, So, the first five pages of my ten pages I printed were comprised of the memory, the second five was the old beginning. (That came out a lot clearer just now than when I told Hubby about it last night, just so you know). I planned to pitch to Man first, so I put his query together with the first five pages. I planned on pitching to Woman second, so I put her query with the second five pages, because when I was done with Man, I'd put the his first five pages with the Woman's second five pages and we'd be good to go. Clear as mud.

Enter speed dating. I was part of the last group to go in for speed dating. Here's the con for that time slot: all the agents are tired and worn out and ready to go home. They've been there for four days, sitting for four hours, listening to countless pitches—not to mention the times they've been approached/accosted by authors outside the sessions. The pro: It's their last session. We're going to be the group that sticks in their heads the best.

You wait in line an hour or so before your appointed slot (even though the volunteers specifically tell you not to), you make friends, you get pumped, you practice your speech, you start to feel confident. Attendees that have already been through the gauntlet of Speed Dating walk by the line scattering words of wisdom. "They're really nice", "So-and-so's line is really long/short", etc. One attendee had an especially good piece of advice. "Man's (agent from earlier) line gets filled up pretty fast, go to him first if you can. Even if he doesn't like your work, he offers you advice on your query or first five pages so you can improve on it for the next agent." This, I thought, was golden. Even if Man says no, I'll still get valuable advice. Score. I planned to elbow everyone in my way so I could get to his line first.

I ended up being second in line. I heard him tell the guy in front of me, "This is good, but it's not for me. Let me suggest this…." They went over their 3 minute limit, but I wasn't worried.

Me: Hi! Hold out hand to shake.

Man: It's good to see you again (Score. Plan of Attack was 100% successful. He remembered me from two days earlier).

smiles bigger. Hands over query and first finve pages. Here you are.

Man: Reading query.

Me: I notice I accidently gave him the one that says Dear Woman but I'm not too worried because they say the same thing. Then he goes to the five pages. Crap! He's reading the last five of the first ten, not the first five! I snatch them back from him and quickly replace them with the correct five.
Wait! Those are the wrong ones.

Man: Doesn't say anything, just kind of looks weird, then starts reading the first five. Why'd you do that? The other ones were better.

Me: Really? Quickly handing back previous pages. That was my original starting and I changed it to add more action.

Reading rapidly. Flying through the pages. Yeah, these are better. Oh yeah, much better. Yeah, this is good.

Grinning like an idiot. Good to know. I'll toss the other beginning.

Man: Yeah, this is good. You know, I rep YA, all kinds; but I don't normally do dystopian, but this has a very fresh twist on it. I want to see it. Email me the full, and make sure you put in the email that you're the girl from the elevator. (Score number two, I'm elated)

Me: And with the blue hair.

Man: smiles. That's right. I didn't notice it as much today because it's up. It was down the other day.

Me: Thanks, Man. It was nice to meet you. Shakes hand. I'll email you the full.

OHMYGOSHICAN'TBELIEVEITANDITHINKI'VEFORGOTTENTOBREATHEANDISMYHEARTSTILLBEATING?ITHINKSO,YEAH,THEREITIS,IT'SSTILLBEATINGANDHEASKEDMEFORAFULLANDTHISISTHEFIRSTTIMEI'VESENTTHISNOVELOUTINTOTHEWORLDANDTHENUMBERONEAGENTTHATIWANTFROMANAMAZINGLITERARYAGENCYJUSTASKEDMEFORAFREAKINGFULL!!!!!! Then I took a breath. :) (for those of you that don't want to try and figure out what I was saying, here it is with spaces: Oh my gosh I can't believe it and I think I've forgotten to breathe and is my heart still beating? I think so, yeah, there it is, it's still beating and he asked me for a full and this is the first time I've sent this novel out into the world and the number one agent I want from an amazing literary agency JUST ASKED ME FOR A FREAKING FULL!!!!!!)

Then I went to the next agent I wanted. She was at a table with three other agents from that agency. AND THEY LOVED IT! I gave them my pitch and the two girls on the end looked at each other.

Girl 1 to Girl 2: Do you like it?

Girl 2: I really like it. You?

Girl 1: Yeah, I really like it. I want it.

Girl 2: I want it too.

Girl 3: Uh-oh, they're going to fight over it. Laughs.

Me: It'd take a Twix bar to win me over. Everyone laughs.

Girl 2: You can have it, Girl 1.

Girl 1: Great. I'd like to see more.

Me: How much more should I send you?

Girl 1: Send me the full.

Me: Great, I can do that. Then we spend the rest of the 3 minutes just chatting, which was awesome. BTW, this is the agency that Beth is signed with, so that'd be pretty cool.

Then I go to the table right next to these three ladies to pitch to Woman (from elevator with Man at very beginning of conference). I sit down and Girl 1 from table next door elbows Woman and says, "This is a really good one." (Wow, this Speed Dating is turning out to be such a good experience for me, I'm so glad I pushed myself to do it). So, I gave my pitch, and Woman loved it. She said, though, that whenever she's at conferences, she never asks for fulls, she always asks for partials to make sure she likes the writing and voice. But she did tell me that she didn't have a dystopian on her list…yet.

I went to two other agents who really liked it and asked for partials. Then I went to the last top agent on my list. She was eating a cupcake. These poor agents, they don't get to pee or eat. Their left to resort to scavenging and scarfing between rounds. I sit down, and told her to keep eating, that I wouldn't consider it rude. I gave her my pitch and she said, "That's really good. I really like that. You made me stop eating my cupcake." Then she asked me for a full.


Who's to say anything will come from any of these, (who's to say that nothing will?) but man, it still feels good. My novel is well received and is grabbing some interest. This is a great start! (I'm grinning from ear to ear right now, still on cloud nine). I hope that something happens. So, let's summarize:

Two agents: Partial requested.

One agent: Wanted full, but always asks for partials at conferences.

Three agents: Wanted fulls. I made one stop eating her cupcake, made two agents fight over it, and made one--who doesn't normally rep this genre--like it so much, he asked for it anyway.

Again, life is good my friends, life is good.

Happy Tuesday!

PS – I noticed there were times when I changed from past to present tense. Sorry. I'm not going to go back through this insanely long post and correct it. :) I blame this error on the fact that my current book is written in first person.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Coming Home

I left 60 degrees and sunshine for 32 degrees and a biting wind. Yes, folks, I'm back home. And it feels good. It feels good to be sleeping in my discount mattress with no down mattress topper or pillows (although, I do admit, I want to buy a down mattress topper now). It feels good to be back in our modest home with a crazy dog and an amazing husband. It feels good to know that I'll be back in the familiar grind of work starting tomorrow morning.

The 2012 San Francisco Writer's Conference (#SFWC2012) was the best one I've attended so far (ignore the fact that I've only been to two, and no, that doesn't lessen the impact of my statement). The classes offered in each session were pure, refined gold and I found myself really struggling on deciding which ones to take. The amount of agents in attendance increased from last year and there were A LOT of major literary agnecies represented (Writer's House in NYC, Kimberly Cameron & Assoc in Tiburon, BookStop Literary Agency, FinePrint Literary in NYC, Foundry Literary + Media, Andrea Brown Literary, Full Circle Literary, Larson-Pomada in SF, Sara Jane Freymann Literary, the Knight Agency, Andrea Hurst Literary, and many, many more). Editors from Algonquin, St. Martin's Press, Turner, MIRA, Dragon Moon, S&S Touchstone, McSweeny's, S&S Pulse, Dutton, and more. We also had great speakers like Lisa See, Robert Dugoni, and Ellen Sussman. If you get the opportunity next year, you need to make it to this conference.

It was weird this time around, though. I was a veteran now. I had confidence and a certain je ne sais quoi about the whole weekend. I made so many more friends, unique ones too, that I am going to try and keep in contact with. When it came to pitching to the agents, I owned it. Last year I was a terrified-nervous, this year, it was more of an excited-nervous. I had a good handle on who the agents were, their personalities, and why I wanted to pitch to them. I went to every panel I could that they were on and studied them. Writing down things that described the kind of person they showed themselves to be. That was probably the best thing I could have done. Going into Speed Dating, I knew them already. I was comfortable and confident and had a good pitch. (I'll tell you all about that one tomorrow).

All in all, it was a great conference. It felt like a family reunion to see Beth, Clint and Dave again. And we added one to the family, Madison. We picked up where we left off from last time as if a year hadn't gone by. We got the traditional group photo taken at the breakfast on the last day (I'll post it as soon as I get it from Beth), and went off to speed dating. I'm liking this tradition. Next year we hope to add another member. Maybe it will be you. :)

Happy Monday, my friends, I'm off to unpack and get my life in order for this week. Oh! I almost forgot! I hope to have a very special guest blogger sometime this week. ;) It's sure to entertain. Enjoy the rest of the day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Me, Earl & The Dying Gril

Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl
by: Jesse Andrews
Rating: PG-13
Coffee Beans: 3
Spoiler Alert: No
Pub Date: 3/1/2012

I finished this ARC the other day (okay, about a few weeks if not more) and decided to sit down and write about it. Here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.
Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl make her a movie, and Greg must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.

My synopsis:

A boy is in his senior year of high school and has skated through his academic/social life by “befriending” everyone and not standing out. Skating under the radar. As a result, he is extremely socially awkward, especially around girls. He doesn’t have any real friends, besides Earl.  This all changes when he hits his senior year of high school when he finds out a girl he knows has Leukemia. His mom makes him befriend her, and thus, a story is born.

First, what I liked about it:

·         It was stinkin’ hilarious (I was literally laughing out loud during several spots). The voice was witty, snarky, sarcastic, and so boy
·         The formatting was fun: screenplay, outlines, narrative, flashbacks, &
·         It was a fast read
·         Very realistic character, situation, and outcome

What I didn’t like about it:

·         At times, the language was a bit offensive
·         There were some vulgar topics/conversations

The first half or so of the book is nothing but back story. And it was wildly entertaining. At the halfway point was where the story with the dying girl comes in. I kind of wish the entire book was like the first half, maybe tuning it into a "how to survive high school" manual. I was a little let down at the ending. I kept waiting for something meaningful or profound to come out of the tragedy of what was going on, but it didn’t.  I know that that doesn’t happen all the time in real life, but I feel, that in a book, it should. Even if the “profound” event isn’t that big for the reader, but monumental for the character, I was waiting for something. (Like in The Sky is Everywhere). I felt let down. I finished the book, and looked back, asking myself, what was the plot arc? What was the point of the story? And I couldn’t come up with anything.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book, well-written, believable characters, funny, and worth the read, but as far as substance, I felt there could be more going on there. Just my opinion. But pick it up for yourself and decide. 


Friday, February 10, 2012

Freebee Friday!

Hilarious! Dramatic reading of LMFAO's I'm Sexy and I Know it. Laugh your Friday to an end!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Contest over at Tahereh Mafi's blog!

I'm posting this because I'm selfish and I want the best chances of winning books!. :) Not gonna lie. But you should head on over and check it out. :)



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Okay, done updating my blog (for now). Now it's straight for editing and trying to ignore the rugby game and SyFy movie Hubby is watching.

Game Face

I'm sitting here, eating an epic breakfast of coffee and cold pizza, watching a pretty exciting rugby match, thinking about how my mom finally moves back into town tomorrow and another thought hits me.

I have a week and a half until SFWC.

Crapola. I still have to finish my final edits and do a last read run-through. Oh, then there's the pitch I have to work on and the nerves I need to find to give it. I kept telling myself, "I have plenty of time!" Well, that time has officially run out. I'm at the point where a game face is required; and I know just the one.

I'm bustin' out the rest of my edits this weekend and will get them from paper to my electronic copy. I will have my final read-through done by next weekend and I will have my pitch finished by the time my butt hits that B3 airplane seat. That's my plan and I will come out on top! After all, I work best under pressure and sort of have this thing for procrastination. :)

Have a great weekend and enjoy the Superbowl!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Just Read...

Second Grave on the Left
Darynda Jones

I liked this book, the humor and snarkiness of Charley is laugh-out-loud funny; until you get to the middle of the book and you find yourself getting tired of it. IMO, there is such a thing as too much sarcasm and snarkiness from a character. But that's just me. Her PI case was good, but came secondary to her issue with Reyes. More character development from those secondary side-kicks, which I was glad to see. I hope in book 3, there's more of that.

More detailed review to come. :P


Freebee Friday!

Sorry it's late. :)

Stare at the three dots on her nose for 30 seconds. Then look at a blank, white wall.