Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Tackling YA?

"Adolescence: A stage between infancy and adultery." ~Ambrose Bierce

I picked up a couple of YA novels yesterday (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things The Truth About Forever, Paper Towns), and I have a bunch more on my list. Why? Well, I teach high school students, and I like to keep up with what they're reading. But I also (gulp) am toying with the idea of writing a YA novel. I know, I'm probably out of my mind to tackle a brand new genre. But here's the thing: I listen and talk to teens every day, 180 days of the year. I hear their voices in my head even when I'm not at school. I know the things that stir them up, I know what they do behind their parents' backs, I know what they're scared of and what they strive for.

All this, of course, doesn't necessarily qualify me to write a YA novel. However, it's a hot and growing market, and there's a local writers' conference here in April that has a YA focus this year, and I have the germ of an yes, I might just dip my toes into the water. Plus, a full-length novel only has to be 50K words minimum not the blasted 90K of an adult novel!

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Three Book Reviews

I had a chance, over the long holiday break, to get through 3 books on my TBR pile. Here are my thoughts on each one:

A Summer Affair - Claire Danner Crispin, a harried housewife with 4 young children, finds herself the chair of Nantucket's summer gala, a huge fund-raising affair that requires her to rub elbows with both her modest neighbors and the elite New Yorkers who vacation there. Suddenly, she finds herself having an affair with her co-chair, questioning her devotion to being a stay-at-home mom, and longing for the innocence of her adolescence and first love (who just happens to now be a famous rock star who agrees to come and play as the headlining act at the gala). Elin Hliderbrand has an easy writing style, and it was enjoyable to get caught up in this sopa opera-type women's fiction novel. I wasn't conpletely in love with the heroine, and I thought she got out of the sticky immorality of her affair a little too easily at the end, but A Summer Affair is still an engaging book with a slew of fascinating, believable characters. I'll probably look for other books by this author.

In a Perfect World - My mom gave me this book for my birthday last month, with the warning that "It's a little weird..." I tend to agree. The story revolves around Jiselle, a former flight attendant who marries a dashing pilot and becomes stepmom to his 3 kids. The Phoenix flu is sweeping the nation, though, killing celebrities and average citizens alike, and it's only a matter of time before the herione is left alone to raise the children and deal with a changing society in the face of a terrifying plague. The most interesting thing about this book, for me, was the fact that it was so realistic, that I believed today's world could be felled by a pandemic like the fictional "Phoenix flu" before we know it. The author, Laura Kasischke, did a lot of research on the Black Plague, and it shows.

Living Dead in Dallas - This is the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series (the TV show True Blood is based on it), and while it wasn't quite as engaging as the first, I still enjoyed it. Mostly, I love the voice of the main character, a blue-collar barmaid who can read people's minds and who's in love with a vampire. In this book, Sookie is called to Dallas to find a missing vampire, and of course she's kidnapped and almost loses her love and her friends in the process. I'm not a vampire-genre fan, but the humore and the local color in these books really pulls me in. And the main character's voice. Did I mention her voice?

Right now I'm working my way through Club Dead, the next book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and I just borrowed Nightlight from a student. It's a Harvard Lampoon parody of Twilight, and I'm loving it so far (since I wasn't a huge fan of Twilight to begin with). Here's the back copy, just to give you a taste:

About three things I was absolutely certain. First, Edwart was most likely my soul mate, maybe. Second, there was a vampire part of him–which I assumed was wildly out of his control–that wanted me dead. And third, I unconditionally, irrevocably, impenetrably, heterogeneously, gynecologically, and disreputably wished he had kissed me. And thus Belle Goose falls in love with the mysterious and sparkly Edwart Mullen in the Harvard Lampoon’s hilarious send-up of Twilight. Pale and klutzy, Belle arrives in Switchblade, Oregon looking for adventure, or at least an undead classmate. She soon discovers Edwart, a super-hot computer nerd with zero interest in girls. After witnessing a number of strange events–Edwart leaves his tater tots untouched at lunch! Edwart saves her from a flying snowball!–Belle has a dramatic revelation: Edwart is a vampire. But how can she convince Edwart to bite her and transform her into his eternal bride, especially when he seems to find girls so repulsive?Complete with romance, danger, insufficient parental guardianship, creepy stalker-like behavior, and a vampire prom, Nightlight is the uproarious tale of a vampire-obsessed girl, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Have you read anything good lately?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy New Year!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~Marianne Williamson

Yes, I'm back! I know, I know, I took off last week entirely from blogging and I didn't even tell you ahead of time. Sorry. But I hope you had an enjoyable and restful holiday season, wherever and however you spent it.

Now here we are in a brand new year, 2010 (and have you heard about the minor controversy regarding how we're supposed to pronounce it? "Twenty-ten" NOT "Two thousand-ten" according to the National Association of Good Grammar, which coincidentally or not is abbreviated NAGG...hmm...). With the new year come articles everywhere you look about how to improve your life, how to make resolutions and keep them, what resolutions you're supposed to make in the first place, and on and on and on....

But I stopped making New Year's resolutions a few years back, when I realized that, honestly, just the fact that the calendar reads January 1 doesn't mean it's a better (or worse) day to begin a new chapter in my life. In fact, looking back on 2009, which was the most tumultuous year for me in a very long time, I felt even more certain about my belief that new chapters in one's life often happen when you least expect them. For me, in 2010, I'd like to continue to live in a way that makes me happy, passionate and challenged, while giving back to the world and the people around me the best ways I know how. FYI, today's quote is one of my favorites, and I'm going to do my best to remember it this year.

I'm going to continue to blog 3 days a week, and my goal is still for Monday's Mentionables to be updates on what's going on in my life and writing; Writers' Wednesday to be either author interviews or information useful/helpful to writers; and Friday's Fun Facts to simply be a day to share interesting facts about whatever's on my mind.

I hope you'll stick around with me in 2010; I have 2 print releases coming out (One Night in Napa and Summer's Song), along with 2 audio book releases (One Night in Memphis and Lost in Paradise), and fingers crossed that I will finish at least one other book and sign a contract for it as well.

In the meantime, I have 2 books up for Preditors' and Editors' "2009 Best of..." Poll: One Night in Napa and Summer's Song. If you have a chance, would you stop by and vote? Thanks! ~ and that's my only mentionable of the day. See you Wednesday!