Road Trip Wednesday #175: Kickstart

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This weeks topic: The Veronica Mars Kickstarter success makes us wonder, what YA book would you raise $2 million to see a movie version of?

This is kind of a hard topic. It feels a bit like picking favorites. A couple of my favorites are already optioned and in the works, in varying degrees. Now, in Hollywood, things move at a weird pace. Until a project is filming, which usually means funding has been secured, the project can exist in a state of indefinite limbo. Even after production has wrapped, financing distribution can prevent the film from being seen by mass audiences.

Hollywood is a mess, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about choosing favorites. No…it’s about a book I can see as a movie and would get behind.

Which is why I’m choosing Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan.

Here’s the Goodreads:

unspokenKami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

I could see Tim Burton really making this book come to life with moody brilliance, but he’s expensive. I don’t know if a $2 million kickstarter goal would be enough. Our goal would have to be a bit more lofty, and we’d have to do it in conjunction with an online campaign aimed to hook Tim. He can secure his own funding, I imagine. I doubt he’s read the book. Maybe that should be out tack. Harass Tim Burton. As a rule, I think harassment of any celebrity is bad form, but if it’s for a good cause…

Happy Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday #174: Fictional Meanderings

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Week’s Topic: If you could visit any country with a fictional character as your guide, who would you pick and where would you go?

Hey, I’ve been absent for a few weeks from the Road Trippin’, so I thought I’d join in this week. If that’s OK? I love this weeks topic, even if I find it challenging and limiting. I have to pick just ONE character to take my jaunt with?!?! And what criteria do I use? Should they be someone already well traveled, with a broad knowledge of cultures, customs, etc.? Should it be someone I think will show me a good time? Someone wealthy, with good connections and manners?

So…since this is impossible…I’m going to pick one for each requirement.

Well traveled:

10th_doctor

The Doctor. I feel this is a no brainer. He has literally been everywhere, in every time. He’s dashing and wise, but he has a brilliant sense of humor and adventure. Now, since I could go anywhere with the Doctor, the where is harder here. Do we go to a distant galaxy in a far away time? NO. I have real, screaming nightmares about floating in the abyss of space or being sucked into a black hole. Not that I don’t trust the Doctor, but…NO.

We would do an excursion through time on Earth, beginning with the dawn and then meeting back up in my present. I wouldn’t want to see the future. I don’t need to know how bleak things will turn or not turn. To me, the mystery is much more exciting. Egypt, Jerusalem, Paris, the Americas — a smattering of it all.

Good time pal:

ron_weasley

This is kind of a creeper shot on Ron.

Ron Weasley. We would go to the Quidditch World Cup, drink too much pumpkin ale, probably get into a bar brawl in defense of the Chudley Cannons, and then meet Hermione back at the tent — which would be fully magicked out (that’s decked out in wizard speak) — where she would likely ruin all our fun and put us promptly to bed.

Wealthy, well-mannered, well-connected: 

lizziedarcy

Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. As a couple, they would be immaculate hosts. We would do a tour of the Lake Country, staying in the finest houses and attending the most decadent balls. Darcy wouldn’t dance, but Lizzie and I would have a smashing time. I suppose, for this trip, I would bring my husband. He and Mr. Darcy could commiserate and brood about the simpering stupidity of high society England. Lizzie and I could be unaccomplished (at art and music) together. We would end in London. Somewhere in there I’d like to throw in a dip in those baths they were so crazy about at that time.

An honorable mention should go to Francie Nolan, from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She and I would have a lot of fun at the New York Public Library and climbing trees in Prospect Park. Two pastimes I miss since leaving New York.

Road Trip Wednesday: #171 Quarterly Check-up…I mean IN.

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: Quarterly check-ins! We’re already 1/4 of the way through the year–where are you on your reading and writing goals?

Ok, first of all — No way! I am bumfuzzled that we are already a quarter through the year. Holy time warp, Batman! The first couple months of this year have been largely consumed with the process of moving from the Big City back to the sprawling lands of Texas.

I have read four books this year, with a few pages of progress on a fifth.

bones

crewel
ravendeerskin

 

According to my Goodreads tracker, I’m 12% behind. If I intend to meet my goal of 70 books, I best get my sweet little behind in gear. However, I’m nonplussed. I’ll make up the time. Insert Tortoise and the Hare analogy here.

As far as writing goals are concerned. I have but one, and I think I’m doing pretty well with it. What is my goal you ask? (Go on, ask.) Get my MS to the point where it’s ready for submission. Now, here’s the thing. That’s not totally on me. When working with an agent, a big part of the process and the relationship is about trusting them to tell you when it is ready. Or at least, trust that you can come to the agreement about its readiness.

Part of my struggle is this: I am obsessive. Someday I plan of finding another outlet for this energy that doesn’t involve making other people nervous. I sent her an email Monday about a particular revision I was going to try. She probably just shrugged and let me do it because, well, see above. So, for my writing goal, I think I am on track. And at some point in the next few months, I hope to have confirmation.

So, I need to get back to work now. I should probably read? Happy Wednesday! To goals!

funny-gif-simon-cat-tree

Road Trip Wednesday: #169 Lovers, Lovers Everywhere

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Week’s Topic is: Syncing up with our Bookmobile Book of the Month, NOBODY BUT US by our own Kristin Halbrook, we’re asking: Will and Zoe hit the road to be together. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for love, or what’s your favorite book/movie moment of someone doing crazy things for love?

I am not going to lie. I am a romantic. It makes me tingly. I am not a super showy person, though. I don’t like pointing to myself or my love like a taunt. I also get really embarrassed by my own romantic side. It’s hard for me to be vulnerable with people and expose my soft underbelly.

This is something I have always struggled with as a writer as well. I love romantic love as a part of the story. I love tension and chemistry, and I love watching it develop as an attraction, a friendship, a reliance, a shared pain or secret. Romance is built on a myriad of foundations, and no one is necessarily better than the other. I enjoy writing about falling in love, but I flinch when it takes center stage.

My husband and I were actual Young Adults when we fell in love. The craziest thing I did in my romance with him was taking the leap to being with him. This is where I get squiggly. My romantic history was sketchy, a veritable shit-storm, and I was carrying around shrapnel from it when I met my husband. He was a junior in high school. I was a freshman in college. I won’t tell you the whole story here because the whole story plays out like a novel, and that will take too long. One part does, however, easily come to mind to help illustrate my answer.

The fear I was carrying from my previous experience threatened to push me away from anything else. I was on the threshold of this new romance and I was petrified of losing it. Not losing him, but losing the hope of him. I remember telling my mom one day that I had been robbed of my beliefs in love, and the expectation of what it would be like to finally be in love. (Seriously, those words. There is a reason I write YA.)

My mom looked me square in the face and said, “You have a chance here to make something completely new, the both of you. It will be whatever you both are willing to let it be. It can be anything, but it will be nothing if you don’t try.”

My mom is not known for being a romantic. She’s a gardener. If you are a rose bush or some rare fig tree, she might wax poetically, otherwise she sees it as a waste of time. So, her expressing this rather grand romantic sentiment was quite shocking.

But it helped me be bold. To not care where I had been before, or how naysayers around me mocked. And the payoff was big.

Now, I am going to risk being incredibly lame when I answer the second part of this question because all of these scenes send shivers through me. Looking for some of these clips prompted giddiness.

5. Say Anything…

Oh, young John Cusack, how I crushed on thee.

4. Matthew and Mary, Overall, but particularly when they danced.

If you are a watcher of Downton Abbey you will undoubtedly know why this one is bittersweet for me.

matthew

3. The make out scene in Rae Carson’s Crown of Embers. Steamy and utterly romantic.

2.When the Doctor closes the breach

Being separated and in love, especially when it is for the salvation of the world, is pretty crazy. Crazy Brave. Plus, the Doctor will never be happy. Not really. I was so scarred by David Tennant’s death that I have yet to move on to Matt Smith. Thinking about it gives me anxiety.

1. When John Crichton Dies

For those of you who have never been exposed to the wonders of Farscape, this will not make a lot of sense. But there are Two Johns, and one of them dies to save the love of his life. There are a million romantic scenes in Farscape. John and Aeryn’s love story is hard to beat. The word “epic” was created for these two.

As always, when I am asked to recall anything, I blank. Likely, many, many more scenes will come to me. Alas, I must actually post this. Feel free to jog my memory with others!

Road Trip Wednesday: #165 Bossypants

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: Good for a laugh: who is your favorite comedian or funny book and/or movie?

I have been a little hectic this last week, for personal reasons, so I apologize for not being more active on the internet. I do have a response for this weeks Road Trip Wednesday question, however, and I do not think I will be alone in my choice.

TinaFeyBossyPants

If you haven’t read this book, and you are a professional/parent/ female or gay man, you are doing yourself a disservice. I read it on an airplane to New York. I don’t know how many of you do a lot of comedy reading on airplanes, so I don’t know your experience, but I can attest that mine was not a dignified one.

I snorted my wine through that space that connects your mouth and nasal cavity. It trickled to my upper lip and didn’t have the same flavor going back in.

This happened more than once.

Whatever you think of Tina Fey, whatever your politics, you will forget that when you read this uncensored and oddly comforting memoir. It’s really more of a guide to life for the slightly awkward, brunette, or Polish, but transcends even those labels.

Here is an excerpt from the largely publicized, Mothers Prayer for Her Daughter:

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance.

Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes

And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.

Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, 

For Childhood is short — a Tiger Flower blooming

Magenta for one day — 

And Adulthood is long and Dry-Humping in Cars will wait.

There’s so many points in here where I laugh-cried and then spit coffee at the airplane seat in front of me. Where I wished I could kick someone for my simultaneous humor and inability to express that humor, because that cloistering of emotion should be punished.

I have aften gone back to reread chapters about Brooklyn Moms or Television Writing, because I find they resonate and educate more than a college textbook.

As an actress, she isn’t always my favorite, because sometimes I think she forgets America isn’t Manhattan. But her book is more than worth a read. It’s worth snorting wine through your nose and freaking out fellow travelers for.

As a fellow Bossypants, and woman who has been told many time over how unattractive that is, and why don’t I just keep my mouth shut, I recommend this book. There is something in it for everyone.

I am not going to list all the stuff on TV and in Film that makes me snort various drinks and kick various friends because I’m so amused. I will not subject you. Here are some highlights:

nick

Also, pretty much any episode of Arrested Development. Ellen Degeneres just has to look at the camera and I expect to be doubled over. I apologize that I cannot sufficiently answer this question because I am now LMAO at the truly funny people writing and performing today.

Happy Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday: #164 If I had a bookstore

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Week’s Topic is: Imagine you get to open your own bookstore. What would it look like? What kinds of books would you sell?

My son got present obsessed during Christmas, a totally normal and completely enraging pastime for three year olds. After the initial panic that present time was over wound down, Sam began to ask, “What present do you want?”, whenever he got bored. Whoever was around had to answer him, and then ask him the question in return. His answers range from a Spiderman bounce house, to a trip to the moon, to a puppy, etc., etc., etc..

I felt the only appropriate way to answer this was by looking inside for what I would have wanted as a little girl. Other than a window-seat and “to be a Newsie”, there was one lingering, unattainable desire I carried. Upon introspection I realized, I still carry it. So I said, “I want a library.” He furrowed his brow at me, “A library?” I grinned. “Yes, like the Beast gives Bell.”

The truth is, I have always dreamed of a room with books lining walls. When I was in my early teens the movie You’ve Got Mail was released. I wanted that bookstore. That home for books, where quirky people found not only a wonderful new companion made by words, but also answers and true friendship.

This makes me sound like a romantic, which I guess I am, to an extent. Or maybe I’m an idealist. Maybe my fantasy bookstore only exists in a movie, but it’s a fantasy, so that’s OK.

recycled

source: Mary Beth Butler

books

source: Project Vinyl

In my hometown of Denton, TX, there is a wonderful place called “The Recycled Bookstore”. It’s housed in the old Opera House, and jammed full of thousands of books, vinyl records, DVD’s and even VHS’s. When I was young, I thought the place was haunted. My friends and I would go there to get Nancy Drew books and search for wandering spirits.

My bookstore wouldn’t only be about the books, it would be about the atmosphere. It would be a place to go, not just to buy. It would be a retreat from the normal world because that’s what books are. Books are our way to more.

The other day Sam came to me in the kitchen while I was cooking. He and his dad had been playing “store”, and he had bought me a present. In his hand was my library.

read library lights

Road Trip Wednesday: #163 Goals Anyone?

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: What are your goals for the new year—for reading, writing, or other?

I am going to attack this question in the three parts it’s broken up by — reading, writing, other.

I am not really a goal-setter. I discussed this in my New Year post, you can see that here. To briefly reiterate, I do not like to fail. I do like to have a plan though, and that plan does leave room for me to fail.

So…whatever.

Reading:

I have set a reading goal on Goodreads this year. First year I think I have ever done that. You can see my little tracker over in the sidebar. I’ve read one book so far. My goal is 75. We will see. I would like to try to read in genres or sub-genres I don’t usually read in for at least 30% of my reading. For example) Literary Fiction, Contemporary YA, Nonfiction or Memoir.

Writing:

The biggest goal I have here should be obvious: get the manuscript to a sale-able place. For those of you who are agented, you will understand how very little power you have in reaching this goal. It comes down to absorbing the notes on your work, interpreting it through the eyes of your characters and your voice and your story, then making that happen in the writing. That’s what I’m doing now.

Beyond that, ideally the book will sell. I’m an holding my breath for that. Holding my breath, praying, crossing fingers, dotting “i’s”. It’s happening this year. I would also like to consistently blog, tweet, and build my presence on the interwebs. And, if my manuscript is out in the world of publishing, I’d like to begin work on the sequel.

Somewhere in there I will sleep and potty-train my three year old son.

Other:

Potty training is happening. Sometime between now and when he turns four. My husband and I joke about this, and other more challenging aspects of parenting, in order to remain sane in the midst of chaos. He says, sometime between now and when Sam’s eighteen he’ll be able to sleep through the night (use the big boy potty, eat his vegetables, dress himself, etc., you get the idea), so no pressure.

I’d like to find time to sew, which I haven’t done since moving to New York.

I want be more settled this year. This is more of a feeling, something I will know when I get to it, but not necessarily know how to get to. I’d also like to be more flexible. Last year, I was learning how to be a mom and a writer. I’m still learning, but I hope this year, I’ll be better at the dance.

Those are my current goals. I find goals evolve, like all living things, and goals should be alive. They are a part of who we are. As you journey towards something the end result you were hoping for usually matures. Sometimes it changes entirely. By the end of the year, I may not meet any of my goals, but I may still feel I’ve accomplished everything I set out to. (This is a mentality I am developing in order to counter my need to win compulsion. So far, it’s working.)

Road Trip Wednesday: #161 What’s in a name?

rtwRoad Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

 This Weeks Topic: The list of top baby names in 2012 had us talking about naming characters. How do you decide on names? Would you ever name a character after a friend/family member/ex?

I have always loved the meaning of names. Not because my name has the most awesome meaning. Rebekah means, almost everywhere you look, “to bind“, although the link I’ve included does try to improve the connotation a little bit. I’ve accepted this over the years. When I was pregnant with my son, there was never another name option other than Samuel. Samuel means “God heard”. He did hear when he gave me Sam, so it fits.

Naming characters in my writing is a different process, for me. The name of a character isn’t always a choice, or something I plot out. I tend to get a name stuck in my head in the early incarnation of the idea, and getting it unstuck is nearly impossible later on.

As the character develops, the name begins to feel like a part of their identity. Sometimes the name meaning turns out to be  ordained, connected to who that character is or what they represent in the story. I love when this happens organically. I also love when I begin to understand the character more because of their name. When you meet people in life, they introduce themselves to you with a handshake. You see shades of who they are, you know pieces of what their life has been, and you know their name. Over time, you get to know a person better and their name becomes synonymous with who they are to you. My relationship with my characters is very much this way.

In the case of my novel, some of my characters names are not actual names at all. This is always a fun thing to have happen because it feels like you’ve discovered something no one else could, and you’ve gone to a place truly separate from the framework of your own world.

There are different kinds of writers out there, this is true of every art form. I’m the kind who doesn’t plan much, at least not in the first draft. I don’t always know who a character is, or is going to become. I don’t always expect the character to turn out the way they do. I think this makes my discovery of the movements in my work a lot more exciting for me. It also means I have to do a lot of  revisions. That’s fine, I’ve accepted this is my writing personality and it will never change. Just like I’ve accepted I don’t really have any power over how my characters are named.

Road Trip Wednesday: #160

rtw
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: About how many books do you read in a year? Do you want to read more? Or, less?

I find the answering of this question a little maddening. In years past I read…some. Some is to say, I made time for reading when I stumbled across a good book. I didn’t seek out books so much as occasionally find them. In fact, I relied largely on friends recommendations and I didn’t ask friends for many recommendations.

Then I started reading young adult. I can read adult literature, don’t get me wrong, and occasionally I still do. (Like when a friend wants to have a book discussion at a fancy restaurant with cocktails.) But now that I’m reading YA, I read as much as my life allows. I read in the morning. I read in the bathroom. I read on the train. I read with coffee, and wine, and nap time.

This brings up another reason I have read more this year than any year before. Writing. When you are writing, you read more. Or, at least, I do. It encourages you to hone your craft. It fills you with confidence and understanding. It also makes you hungry for the art form you’ve chosen to express yourself in. Writing YA just means I have an excuse to read more YA.

I tell people it’s for my job.

So, not every year, but this year I have so far read 30 books. Could that number be improved? Absolutely! I hope it keeps on climbing. There is so much out there to read, so much of quality, and interest, and relevance. So much, in fact, for anyone to ever complain they are bored, or have nothing to read, or have nothing to do, is just laziness.

FYI if you follow this blog, you may think I’ve been complaining of boredom. That is not the case. I’ve been complaining of missing my son. There is always something to read, but in life you must have variety. Once I’ve written for six hours, and read for a few more, my eyes start to ache and I have to find something else to do. When my son is around, this is not a problem.

donnie darko

I’ve read 30 books this year, and next year, I hope to read more.

Road Trip Wednesday #155: Best October Book

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. We ,the bloggers who love YA Highway, post our response and then link it in the comments of the YA Highway site. Pretty fun!

This Weeks Topic: What’s the best book you read in October?

October found me at the end of my third revision on my manuscript and breathing a sigh of relief. I was also breathing to maintain my composure, to wait for my feedback, and to focus my inner critic. Since I had all that breathing room, I also consumed as many books as my schedule (as a Brooklyn Mom, Wife, and writer the schedule can get a little tight sometimes) would allow. These are the books I read during October:

In my opinion the best book I read of the lot was The Crown of Embers. I think Rae Carson did a phenomenal job with her sequel. The addition of the creepy Inviernos guide and the deeply moving love story really kept me interested. But, if I’m being totally honest — and why not be? — the make-out scene sealed it. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, so I won’t go into detail. However, it made my toes curl. I read it three times. I can’t fully even explain why. Maybe because of how well she built the tension between the characters, maybe because I have a soft-spot for war-hardened men, or maybe because I think Elisa just needed to be kissed, but it was good. Highly recommend this book, and its predecessor, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Some of my favorite right now.

Here is the Goodreads:

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

And my rating when I finished it: