Sunday, October 31, 2010

Contest Reminders

Read my review of DUST CITY and enter to win a signed copy here.

Tell me your wacky Halloween costume ideas or email me a picture of yourself decked out in your Halloween gear to win a signed copy of RAISED BY WOLVES or a signed copy of WICKED LOVELY in my HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA here.


That is all.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

YA Spotlight and Contest: DUST CITY!

Today is a very special day on the blog, guys. Today I'm doing something I once vowed NEVER to do - I am reviewing a book. But it's not just any book - it's DUST CITY, by Robert Paul Weston. (Rob is the mind-blowingly crazy-brilliant author of MG novel ZORGAMAZOO, which won the Silver Birch Award... And which rhymes. Yup. I said he was brilliant, didn't I?)

And what's more, I have one brand-spanking-new, signed copy of DUST CITY to give away!

I am very excited to be able to spotlight this book today. Not only is it a thought-provoking read, but it does something I love, which is take a very modern story and put it in an extremely dark fairy tale setting. It pays homage to the original tone of the stories of the Brothers Grimm, to great effect. Here's the publisher blurb:

"Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

His son, that's who.

Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, young Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves, until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone - and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.

Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?"

 How awesome is that?

There are a lot of things I like about this book. It deals with a number of issues that are very relevant to teens today: drug abuse, gang violence, identity crises, and more. These ain't your momma's fairytales, folks. And while Henry grapples with these issues, he does so in a world in which nothing is black-and-white. In Dust City, there is a whooole lot of grey, right up to the end. Just like in life.

Additionally, the characters in Dust City are very well-drawn. Henry does good things, and bad things; smart things, and really, really dumb things. He makes mistakes, just like every other teenaged boy out there, and every other character in this book is like that. And I loved them for it. When I found myself thinking, No, Henry, don't do it! It's a set-up! I knew I was onto a winner. Not many authors can make me care about their characters enough to think at them. And meeting each new character and figuring out which traditional fairytale they were from, and then finding out that I was right as I got to know the character more, was like getting little presents throughout the narrative. Awesome.

And also - and this is kind of shallow, but... You have to feel the cover of this book. It's textured. It feels... I`m not going to tell you how it feels, but I`ll tell you that I love it; it is so, so appropriate for this book. You have to go to your nearest bookstore and stroke it.* (The bookstore people will understand; they've probably beat you to it, actually. You know you want to.)

Don't you want to read this book right now? Well. You could go out immediately and buy it. You could immediately order it for your Kindle. Or you could win a signed copy right here, right now. In fact, I think you should go ahead and buy a copy anyway, because you're going to want to have a copy to read and re-read while your nice autographed copy rests pristinely on the shelf.** It's that good.

How can you win a signed copy of this book, you ask?

It's easy. Just:

1) Be a follower of this blog.
2) Leave a comment on this post, telling me the name of your favorite fairytale.

The contest will run until MIDNIGHT on the night of MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST. I will put the names of every person who enters into a hat, and randomly draw the winner. The winner will be announced on my Wednesday Wisdom post on November 3rd. (In case you're wondering, my favorite fairytale is Hansel and Gretel.)

Good luck! And... GO!

*Yes, I do that. Bookstore people love me.
**Yes, I do that, too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BOO-FEST entry!

FIRST: Go here to enter to win a signed copy of DUST CITY, by Robert Paul Weston.

And now for my entry:

About a year and a half ago, I was in the middle of several days of rehearsals for a play re-enacting a murder trial here in the town where I live. I was cast as the wife of the accused. One morning, as I was sitting at the kitchen table with my sons, the younger one, who was about to turn two, pointed to the kitchen window and said, "I see a lady!"

I looked, and though I saw nothing, he insisted that there was a lady there. I asked him if she was in the kitchen, and he said that she was outside, looking in the window.

Then he pointed again, and said, "Look!" And his vision tracked from the window, into the room, then down the hall and upstairs.

I asked, "Where is the lady now?"

He replied, "She gone upstairs."

He saw her once more during the play's run, and hasn't seen her since.


Make sure you go to Quinn's blog over at Seeing, Dreaming, Writing to check out the other entries today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Pre-NaNo, Pre-PiBo Stuff

There's all kinds of great stuff going on right now here and in the rest of the blogoverse, so I'm postponing the usual Wisdom post until next week.

FIRST UP: There are TWO WAYS to enter the HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA!!! You can either comment telling me your wacky costume ideas, OR email me a picture of yourself in your costume. So don't be shy! Enter here.

SECOND UP: OMG, guys, have I got a great author spotlight and book giveaway contest for you coming up tomorrow. I am so excited! It's going to be awesome, so come by and enter, okay? Okay. You can enter both tomorrow's contest and the HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA! It will be easy-peasy, I promise you.

THIRD UP: I guess you noticed from the title of this post that I'm probably going to do NaNoWriMo. In fact, I have so much of my YA paranormal outlined that I have decided that I AM doing NaNo! WOO-HOO! And, of course, I am also doing PiBoIdMo. I'm pretty sure I can come up with 30 PB ideas in 30 days; my 3-year-old is a rich source of material. I mean, his big thing is running around the house with his underwear on his head. So, yes! to NaNo!  Yes! to PiBo!  YES! to my head exploding! (I'm just kidding about that last part...I think.) I am not yet set up on these things, so I will post over the weekend with links to my pages so you can buddy me.

FOURTH UP: Obviously, this means that I will have less time for blogging.  Like, a lot less.  Like, none.  I will maintain a thrice-weekly posting schedule, comprising of Mondays (random updates, writerly thoughts, linkages, etc.), Wednesdays (Wisdom), and Fridays (Favorites/random writerly stuff).  But I won't really be commenting as much on other blogs, at least not for the first half of November while I have family visiting from overseas (OMG, I must be MAD). And of course, we'll be right back up to five-posts-a-week from December 1st!


Monday, October 25, 2010

To NaNo, or Not To NaNo...

FIRST: Have you entered the HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA yet?  If not, do it here.

And now: To NaNo, or not to NaNo?

It's the question on everyone's mind this time of year, isn't it? It sure is the question on mine, and I still haven't made a decision. Here's why.

When I take the "vomit on paper" approach, what I write is crap. I mean, steaming poo, scrape it off your shoe and throw it away crap. It's awful. But as bad as it is, there are usually kernels in there that I can use, that serve as the foundation of the scene that I wanted to write but didn't because I was rushing to get the words out.

On the other hand, when I take the "write, delete, write, think, go back over the last scene, think, delete, write, write, cut-and-paste from somewhere else in the scene, write, think, write, delete, write" approach - otherwise known as the painstaking, my-fingers-are-bleeding, "edit-as-you-go" approach, what I come up with isn't too bad. It's still not great - there are always things that need to be done to make it better - but it's not something I'd be embarrassed to show to my crit group. But it also takes a lot longer. I'd never make the NaNo target of 50,000 words doing it this way, especially not in November, which is when Thanksgiving and visitors from overseas and housework threaten to take over my life.

So, which is better? Just getting something down quickly, even if it's crap, knowing that I can rearrange and edit and delete and rewrite it into something critiquable? Or saying, screw daily word goals, I'm going to write for four hours a day and no matter how long it takes me to finish the book at least it's going to be of an okay quality when I get there?

What do you think? Is NaNo a go, or a no-no? What writing style works best for you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Favorites: Musicals!

I love going to musicals - they always make me feel like dancing and singing. Which might be why the Hubster doesn't take me to them anymore. He's great, but there's only so much bleeding-ear-syndrome a guy can take.

ANYWAY, let's talk favorite musicals, shall we? Some of my favorites are, in no particular order:

Fiddler on the Roof, written by Joseph Stein, music by the genius Jerry Brock, lyrics by the brilliant Sheldon Harnick. It's about ordinary people, who manage to find beauty and love even in the midst of oppression and heartbreak. When I was a teenager, I loved it because the daughters showed their papa that when it comes to marriage, love conquers all. As an adult, I love it because it shows how we can keep going even when life insists on smacking us down. It's wonderful.

Guys and Dolls, written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, music and lyrics by the incredible Frank Loesser. This musical is pure fun. The permeation of the musical numbers "A Bushel and a Peck", "Luck Be a Lady", and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" through popular culture in the '50s is evidence of just how powerful they were, and in many ways, still are. And who can turn down a Tony Award Winning musical? Not me.

The Phantom of the Opera, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the book Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, lyrics by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, and Alan Jay Lerner. This is a classic, guys. It's dark and twisty and dark and mournful and passionate and just perfect. And did I mention dark? And did you know that it's possibly one of the most, if not THE most, successful pieces of entertainment ever? It is with shame that I admit that despite my Phantom love, I have yet to see the movie. What can I say - I identified with the Phantom, and I wanted to be Christine. This bright shiny blog is just a cover-up for my secret pain.

As always, there are more musicals out there that I love, but I think I should stop at three. Now it's your turn. What musicals do you love? Are there any great ones out there I might not have heard of?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wisdom on Wednesdays...On Thursday?

I'm not very alliterative this morning, but I'm sure you wonderful people will forgive me. I had planned to skip this post, but I had an idea yesterday that I wanted to share with you all.

I was in an atypical environment yesterday - and by atypical, I mean different from my usual haunts of home, library, and grocery store.  And I don't know if it was the fact that I was in a new environment, or the fact that I've been working on a novel so I'm in "notice stuff" mode, or just the fact that I had remembered to pack my notepad in my bag -or maybe it was a combination of all of those things - but whatever it was, I was noticing EVERYTHING.  The color of people's eyes, the smell of the air, the sounds, textures of fabrics, placement of furniture, all of it.  But it wasn't until I had been there for over an hour that I thought, "Wait a minute - I write.  I should be writing this stuff down!"


Because this happens to you too, right?  You notice a whole bunch of great stuff, and then at the end of the day you sit down at the computer and your mind is blank because after dealing with the kids/traffic/spouse/pets/whatever all those great details you noticed before have gone right out of your head.

So, write it down.  Right there, in public.  In the moment.  Because you never know which details are going to be valuable to you later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Halloween is coming - one of my favorite holidays!  I love Halloween because I get to dress up in something reeeeealllllly crazy.  Or, just something unusual, like that alternative career path I never took as a brain surgeon.  Hey, stop laughing, I'm serious!

Plus, you know:

not that I do that anymore - I don't want to end up like this gal...

Migraine...  uuuhhhhhnnnnnn.  Death by migraine...

Um...  What was the point of this post?  Oh, yeah!  It's time for the


Bet you want to know what you're supposed to do, right?  Right?

Well, this is a contest, folks, so you have to do more than just the usual thing.  You have to make an effort.  And since I love dress-up (as long as it's a little wacky), your task, should you choose to enter this contest, is to email me a photo of yourself in your Halloween costume.


Now, I know some of you will hate that idea.  Maybe you're 21st century Cavepersons like myself.  So alternatively (or additionally), you can tell me your wacky Halloween costume ideas in the comments to this post.


- You must be a follower of this blog.
- You must leave a comment, either to tell me to check my inbox for a photo or to share your wacky costume ideas.  Also in your comment: your email address, so I can contact you if you win.
- Contest closes at 12 noon on Monday, November 1st (to give you late-night partiers time to sleep in and email your photo from the night before).
- This is a contest, so I will pick my favorites, possibly assisted by my clever Hubster and darling children, or possibly not.  But the point is that I will pick, so have fun with it and be creative.
- Winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 6:00am.

Of course, no contest is complete without PRIZES!!!  And since it's Halloween, I've obviously picked appropriate prizes!

First up, a copy of WICKED LOVEY, signed by Melissa Marr!  Can I just say how cool she is?  When I met her, I asked her what had compelled her to organize the Smart Chicks tour - a group of awesome women who write awesome books on a SELF-FUNDED book tour - and you know what she said?  She said she thought it would be a great thing to show girls that women can do this and be successful.  She wanted to empower girls.  She rocks.  And so does her book.  And the greedy me wants to keep it, but I know there are an awful lot of you out there who haven't had the chance to meet her and talk with her, so it makes me feel good to know that someone out there is going to LOVE this.

Second up, a copy of RAISED BY WOLVES, signed by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!  Okay, first of all, she looks about 16, which is SO not fair!  And secondly, she's very very smart.  She's studying developmental psychology WHILE WRITING TONS OF BOOKS, and her first YA novel was published when she was just 19.  She's a phenomenon.  And so is her book.  And the greedy me wants to keep this one, too - I mean, she was raised by WEREWOLVES!  And it's GOOD!  Trust me, that psychology degree is going straight into her books.  Her characters are that good.  You're going to love it.

So, great prizes!  Fun contest!  Tell your friends!  It won't get you any extra points, but it will make for more fun when I post some of the best piccies.



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick Update

I have new batteries in my camera!


But I need Hubby's help to get the pictures onto my blog because I am a 21st Century Caveperson, so:


I'll be skipping my weekly Wisdom on Wednesday post in order to give you folks a chance to check out the contest.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Books That Stand Out

A number of people have asked me which books stood out when I did my "research" on First Chapters, so I thought I'd oblige with a few titles.  Note that I stuck to paranormals, because that's what I'm writing right now:

THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST, by Rick Yancey.  This book stood out because the whole "beginning" - which is a prologue - is a red herring.  We meet a guy who seems to be the main character, and he's telling us about how he's been researching this town and he is given a set of journals that were written by a man who claimed to be well over a hundred years old, and then we turn to Chapter One and BAM - the book is actually a transcription of the journals.  And it's GOOD - it really drew me in.  The characters are well-drawn, and the world is just so engrossing that I didn't want to put it down.  Yancey does a great job with drawing out suspense in the first chapter of this book - it's on my TBR list for sure.

PARANORMALCY, by Kiersten White.  There's a reason for all the buzz surrounding this book, guys, and it's not because of Kiersten's blog.  It's because this is a stand-out book.  You know how paranormals always have that dark, creepy feeling from the first page?  Like when the MC is shaking in fear, or someone's itching inexplicably, or something dark is rumbling towards the small unsuspecting town?  Well, PARANORMALCY is not like that.  It opens with hilarity and sarcasm.  The first page reads like a parody or a rom-com, and I love it for that.  I didn't even have to convince my hubby to buy it!  It's on my TBR pile.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  First of all, this is co-written, which rocks.  It takes a special kind of person to be able to pull this off, and these ladies are AMAZING.  Second, it opens with a prologue that sets up the scene and gives us a tasty chunk of foreshadowing/teasing.  I love this kind of prologue.  And thirdly, Chapter One opens with a dream sequence, which we've all read is a BIG NO-NO, but they get away with it because the dream is such an integral part of the story throughout the book.  I set out to read the beginning, and didn't even look up until page 50.  This is in my TBR pile, too.

THE SUMMONING, by Kelley Armstrong.  Can I just say, "AAAUUUGH!"  Prologues are pretty popular in paranormals, but this one had me totally freaked out, guys.  So, you want us to care about your protagonist?  Well, putting a toddler in a basement with an evil demon pretty much does that.  CHILLS.  And then the first chapter jerks us right up to the present, where our protag is 12 years older and worried about her Spanish midterms.  I liked the contrast here - it's clearly set in the real world, which is mundane and boring and has things like midterms, with a paranormal twist - and I am totally sucked in.  Another one on the pile.  (I have a really, really big pile.)

And in the words of Porky Pig, "Th-th-th-th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!"

How about you?  What beginnings stand out for you?

In Which I Curse Technology

I had such great plans for my weekend post - I was going to announce my HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA, with pictures of course, because what's a Halloween contest without pictures?  But the batteries in my camera have died.  I mean, really this time.  Like, I charge them, and I put them in my camera, and I press the power button, and it whirrs and clicks and dies immediately.  It doesn't even really turn ON.


But this is okay!  I will announce my contest on TUESDAY, after I have gone to the Sony Store and bought new batteries.  Huzzah!

In the meantime, come by later today (Monday) for a super post on stand-out beginnings, and the books I found them in.

Friday, October 15, 2010

OMG, Guys! A Blog Award!

RaShelle Workman over at A No. 2 pencil stat! gave me this lovely blog award, guys! Isn't it beautiful? I love rainbows - they really are magical. And I LOVE cherries, especially the maraschino ones you get on cupcakes! (So they're full of chemicals - I love them, okay? They bring back happy childhood memories. Don't judge!) And my mantra is to choose joy - I believe that if you chose joy, then life will truly be good. So this is, in a lot of ways, the perfect award for me.

Thanks, RaShelle!  You really made my day!

And RaShelle's blog is pretty awesome, so make sure you go and check it out!

Of course, there is a protocol for this award, and in addition to thanking the person who gave it to me, I have to answer the following question: If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?

Ooh, good question. This is a toughie, because although there are things I would like to have done differently, I know that if I had, I might not have my wonderful husband or my beautiful kids in my life, and I would never want that. Maybe just focus more on writing and acting earlier on. I wish I had done that, instead of being in the position now where I feel kind of like I'm playing catch-up.

And now I get to fulfill my final obligation, which is to share the love by passing the award on to up to six other lovely bloggers out there! So without further ado, six people who I want to give this award to are:

1) Nathalie, over at Yup, I Read That - 'cause she is so funny, and her posts are so varied
2) Jennifer Hoffine, over at YA Audiobook Addict - who has the only audiobook blog I know of, and who is really smart
3) Casey McCormick, over at Literary Rambles - who has possibly the most informative writers' blog on the planet
4) Catherine Johnson, over at Kangaroobee's Blog - who posts some great tips and tricks
5) Rachael Harrie, over at Rach Writes - whose blog is awesome
6) Ali Cross, over at her self-named blog - who goes from funny to factual to helpful on her super blog

Those are some great blogs up there, guys, so check them out and offer them some congratulations for having such great blogs.

And have a great day!  I'll be back over the weekend with the announcement of my HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love blogfests.  I know some people hate them, but I like that they force me to write.  And since I don't get to pick the topic, they force me to write outside my comfort zone.  They keep me out of the writing-rut.

So go on down to Quinn's blog at Seeing, Dreaming...Writing to join in on this year's Boo-Fest on October 28th, in which I and a lot of other bloggers will be posting our real-life ghost stories.  SpooOOOooky!

ALSO: Tahereh (who spills her amazing self on her amazing blog, GO READ IT) is running a contest from now until October 19th to win BOOK MONEY!!!!!  It's easy to enter, so do it now before the contest ends!

ALSO: Check out the amazing BLOGIVERSARY ARC GIVEAWAY over at Sara McClung's blog, Babbling Flow.  And make sure you tell her I sent you!

Good Luck, everybody!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wisdom on Wednesdays: Read With Intention

I did kind of an odd thing a few weeks ago.  It was one of those rare afternoons when I didn't have to worry about being anywhere or looking after anyone or even cooking anything, and I had no responsibilities whatsoever, and I had an assignment for this class I'm taking, so I holed up in the YA section of the bookstore and I just read.  And read.  And read.  And took notes.  And read some more.

The assignment was to write the beginning of a novel, so that's what I read - the beginnings.  Seventeen Prologues/First Chapters in one afternoon.  I made myself stop at the end of Chapter One every time, but I made a note of the books I wanted to get back to.

It was eye-opening, guys.  Firstly, there is an actual formula to these things.  Did you know this?  I would never have picked up on it if I had read each novel in its entirety before moving on to the next one, but reading just the beginnings back-to-back like that it became really obvious.  And there is a definite "tone" to the paranormal books.  (My WiP is a paranormal, so I stuck to that genre.)  And when I came across a book that had a really unique voice or a really unusual beginning, it jumped right out and grabbed me.  It was awesome!  Like reading extra-super-incredibly high-quality slush, except even better than that.  The difference between the books that have that buzz surrounding them and the books that don't was really clear to me after reading their beginnings.

So, that's my wisdom.  Read widely, but don't only read in the usual way.  Read with the intention of picking out the hidden formulas, and of picking out those things that stand out, that are unique, and that break from the mold and are better for it.  Read to figure out what makes these books work.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In Which I Bemoan My Schedule

I have tried to make myself into a morning writer. I have to get up at 6:30am anyway to get my kids onto the school bus on time, so I figured it would be the perfect time to get my daily workout in, grab a shower, and still have three solid hours to write, write, write. I scheduled my late afternoons for my kids, and my evenings for blogging and hubby time. Perfect, right?


My body is sleepy in the morning; it doesn't like exercise at 6:00am, or 6:30am, or even 7:45am. And neither does my brain. I sit down in the morning to write and all I get is a long time of sitting and waiting for my brain to stop going, uuuuuuuuuuuuuhn. And then I surf the blogs, trying to wake up. And then my son gets home from preschool, and I still haven't really written anything.

My peak time has always been the night time. In high school, I used to set up shop sometime after 10 or 11 at night, and work into the wee hours. In college, my absolute best ideas and best work happened sometime between 1 and 4am, and the sweetest time of the night for me was just around 3:45 or 4, when the first notes of birdsong would drift through the pre-dawn skies.  The night is my time.  The rest of the world is sleeping, but I am AWAKE.

But, you know, kids. Staying up until 2 or 3am. It's not the best combo. So I'm thinking I'll give it another month before I try to make any sweeping changes; maybe if I can make myself sleep earlier, my brain will be more ready to work in the mornings. Maybe.

How about you? What is your best writing time? How do you make it mesh with your non-writing life?

Monday, October 11, 2010

100 Followers Giveaway WINNERS!

Sorry for the late post, guys - today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so we're taking it easy here at the Mercurio household today - blueberry pancakes for breakfast, cartoons, turkey wrapped in its bacon blanket in the oven... (Mmmm...  Bacon-wrapped turkey...)

BUT, I promised you winners, and winners we have!

The WINNER of a query/first 5/full PB critique by Yours Truly is:

(YAY!  Applause, virtual confetti!)

And the WINNER of a signed copy of SHADE by Jeri Smith-Ready is:

Jemi Fraser!!!
(YAY!  Applause, virtual confetti!)

If you have email addresses linked to your profiles, then check your emails, ladies! If you don't, then EMAIL ME! My addy is up thar in that right-hand corner thar, under my lovely not-a-headshot.

And now it's time to get back to my family holiday-ing. Have a great day, everybody! Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to everyone for playing! And if you missed out on the great prizes this time around, have no fear! Stay tuned for my Halloween contest extravaganza later this month!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Favorites: Picture Books

FIRST: This is your last chance to enter my 100 Followers Giveaway of Awesome - it closes tonight at midnight.  So GO!  Comment!  WIN!

Back?  Good, 'cause today we're talking favorite picture books.  Yippee!

Not many people know this, but picture books are actually my favorite kind of book for pure joy.  I have novels that I've read and loved, (more on that in a couple of weeks), and I re-read them when I can and talk about them with other people, but a great picture book can make me crack a smile so big it's a wonder my jaw doesn't just drop right off.  So I thought I'd share some of my favorites, in no particular order.

THE GRUFFALO, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  I love this book - I love the story, I love the rhythm of three, I love that it's in verse, I love that it circles back on itself, and I LOVE the twist at the end.  I also love reading it - the language in this book is superbly done.  And don't even get me started on the artwork - it's perfectly pitched for this age group.

FUNNYBONES, by Janet and Allen Ahlberg.  This is a book I read as a child, and although it is not in verse, it does have a rhythm to it which I love.  I love the way certain words are repeated throughout the story, and it's wonderful the way the kid is the one who solves the problems.  This is another book that circles back on itself at the end, which is great.

OLIVIA, written and illustrated by Ian Falconer.  This book makes me laugh out loud every time.  The contrast between the very, very understated text and the completely over-the-top illustrations really makes this book.  And who doesn't know a little "Olivia"?

I could go on, but I think I should stop at three and hand the floor over to you guys.

What are some of your favorite picture books?  What sets them apart from the rest?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Heart Thursdays

Thursday is my favorite day of the week.  More accurately, Thursday night is my favorite night of the week.  TV Night.  

I know some writers shun TV - I used to do that.  But you know what?  My writing was stuck back in the '80s, and my dialogue was in the toilet.  (Some of my writing is still stuck in the '80s, but #donttellmyteacher - I'm working on that, I promise.)

TV is a way for those of us who don't live with representative members of our target audience to get with the program in terms of our dialogue.  Why pass up an opportunity like that?  I say, pick a new show every week that your audience watches, make up a big bowl of popcorn, grab your notepad, and settle in.  You just might learn something.

What do you think?  Are you a TV lover, or a TV shunner?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wisdom on Wednesdays: List Love

FIRST: If you haven't entered my 100 Followers Giveaway of Awesome yet, go and do it now.  All you have to do is be a follower, and leave a comment to win either a signed hardback copy of SHADE by Jeri Smith-Ready or a critique of your work by me.  Okay, now that you're back, we can move on to today's post.

I have major List Love today.  Lists are great.  Lists turn a daunting task into a simple achievable one.  Lists have items that get crossed out.  (And we all love sweeping our red pens through the completed items on our lists, don't we?  YES, I have FINISHED you, my life is COMPLETE!  Bwa-ha-haaaaa!)  Lists are how we remember everything.

I'm talking all kinds of lists: shopping lists, to-do lists, character lists...

Yeah, I said Character Lists.  When you get a piece of paper for each character in your WIP and write on it everything you know about that character, so you can refer to it as you write and make sure your character stays consistent and true to form.

You have those, right?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And the Award Goes To...

Almost two weeks ago, I was honored, thrilled, and deeply touched to receive the Versatile Blogger Award!

My very first blog award, guys!  Isn't it beautiful?  Now, we have already established my 21st Century Caveperson status, so of course, it has taken me a couple of weeks to figure out how to get it into my sidebar.  Anticlimactic, I know.  But I finally did it, and it's there, and I just want to take this minute to thank Angela McCallister over at Jaded Love Junkie for this award.  She's got a great blog, so go check it out!

Now, nothing good really comes free - those of us with Little People in our houses know this, yes? - so this thing haz rules, guys.  Rule number one is that you thank the person who gave you the award and link back, which I have done.  Rule numero due is that you have to post the award on your blog, and you can see it over there in the sidebar all shiny and new-looking and beautiful.  Rule number three is that I have to choose fifteen others upon whom to bestow this award, and rule number four is that I have to let them know ('cause not to would be kind of mean, wouldn't it?).

Do you know how many deserving bloggers there are out there, guys?  I mean, really, do you have any idea?  HUNDREDS.  Narrowing it down to fifteen was really hard, folks, but I think I've done it.  The fifteen recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1) Christine Fonseca, author of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students
2) Heather Ayris Burnell, author of Bedtime Monster
3) Carolina Valdez Miller, over at Carol's Prints
4) Cynthia Jaynes Omololu, author of Dirty Little Secrets
5) Kate Kaynak, author of Minder, Adversary, Legacy, and Accused
6) Elana Johnson (You don't have to put it up, girl, but I'm giving it to you because your blog is made of AWESOMESAUCE.)
7) Jennifer over at Extreme Reader Book Reviews 
8) Franklin Beaumont over at Flash Fiction Daily 
9) Vic Caswell over at Hairnets and Hopes
10) Holly Cupala, author of Tell Me a Secret
11) Hannah Moskowitz, author of Break
12) Jen Stayrook, of WriteOnCon fame
13) Kelly Polark, whose blog is just too funny
14) Shelli Johannes over at Market My Words
15) Krista V over at Mother.Write.Repeat

Those are some awesome blogs, so I hope you make time to go and check them out.  And have a great day!

Friday, October 1, 2010

100 Followers Giveaway of Awesome!

I've reached 100 followers on my blog, guys!  And there are about a hundred people I have to thank for that.


So I decided a while back that for my 100 Follower celebration, I wanted to have a giveaway!  At first, I thought I`d give away a critique or something.  Then, my husband came up with something even better.

See, when I found out the Smart Chicks Kick It tour was coming to a bookstore near me, I got really excited.  I mean, really, REALLY excited.  Like, buy all the first books by all those amazing ladies even though I hadn't read them yet so I would have permanent records of my couple of hours in the same room as them, grin and giggle my whole way home, tell all my friends EXCITED.  Then when my husband saw my hoard, he 1) had kittens; and 2) refused to continue to finance my literary excesses (and buy the bookshelves necessary to store the evidence of my literary excesses), and he insisted that he would only be okay with this if I agreed to give some of my newfound treasures away!


But, you know, this is understandable.  Our house looks like a book-junkyard.  We have WAAAAY more books than will fit on the shelves.  It's a lot of dusting, and it makes it hard to vacuum.  So, after reading those beautiful books, and caressing their beautiful covers, and gazing lovingly at the beautiful signatures in them, and doing some soul-searching, I have decided to give away my copy of SHADE, signed by Jeri Smith-Ready, to one of you, my faithful followers.

Here's the blurb from the jacket flap:

"Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift."

SHADE is a great book.  I read it in one sitting, and it literally churned my stomach, because it touches on drug and alcohol abuse, and this is my greatest fear when it comes to my kids.  As soon as it got to the drunken party part, my stomach started doing its clench-unclench-flip-flip-flip-clench routine and I thought, Please, God, don't ever let this happen to my kids.  Plus, it kept me wondering throughout the book about Aura and the secret behind her ability to see ghosts.  And Zachary?  Let's just say I have a thing for all things Scottish and leave it at that.  So, it's hard for me to give it up, but I know that one of you will really, really, really enjoy it, so that makes it a little bit easier.

And, Jeri signed it in purple.  How cool is that?

There will be one first prize awarded (SHADE, signed in purple by Jeri-Smith-Ready), and one second prize (a query or first-five pages or full PB critique by Yours Truly).


To enter this giveaway, LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST.  One comment = 1 entry.  You must be a follower to enter this giveaway.  Old followers get +2 entries, new followers get +1 entry.  (So you get a minimum of 2 entries, guys!)

+1 For Tweeting this giveaway, link in your comment.
+1 For every follower you send my way, tell them to tell me you sent them.
+1 For linking to this giveaway in the sidebar in your blog, link in your comment.
+1 For linking to this on your Facebook page, link in your comment.
+5 For writing an actual blog post just about this giveaway, link in your comment.

You don`t have to add up all your entries; I like math.  (Yup.  Big huge NERD over here.  I'm cool with it.)  Deadline for comments is Midnight on the night of Friday, October 8th.  Winners will be announced on Monday, October 11th.

You have one week.