Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Music Crush of the Month: Theron "Therry" Thomas

I tried really hard, I did. But I just couldn't find a Book Crush this month.  

Not Kent from Before I Fall, neither Ky nor Xander from Matched, and definitely NOT Jace Weyland. (I really hate that hot-cold thing.)

Dimitri from Vampire Academy almost did it, but I still can't get over the "he likes a high schooler" thing.  (I've only completed Book 3, so no spoilers about Dimitri!!)  Maybe by next book he'll get into my blood. Har har. Yeah.

So I had to go into the music world for my March Crush.  I present:

Theron "Therry" Thomas
Lead singer of church a capella group Committed, the winners of The Sing Off Season 2.
Therry's the one in the sweater...although all these fine brothers get an Amen...

I literally just watched the season finale tonight.  Over 4 months after the fact. And managed to have it not spoiled this entire time.  Being that I sing in an a capella group, this is quite a feat.  But most of you know by now how spoiler-averse I am.

Normally I don't like skinny guys. Like at all. But there's something about Therry's perpetual smile and innocent face. And preppy clothes. And of course, the singing.

Take it away, boys.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prologue...Or Not

I'm guest blogging over at Jamie Grey's site today about the dreaded prologue!  Check it out!

Teaser Tuesdays: Shadow Kiss

She felt pale and washed out compared to me, skinny next to my curves.  It was surreal, considering how often I felt scruffy next to her luminous beauty.
from p. 220 of Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy Book 3) by Richelle Mead

Monday, March 28, 2011

Karaoke in Ktown

Krispy and Sophia
I finally busted out of my suburban discontent this weekend!

Krispy from A Nudge in the Right Direction invited me to her bff's K-town birthday extravaganza.  I finally have photographic proof that bloggers are real people you can eat Korean food with (IN REAL LIFE).  Who also sing "I'm On a Boat"* at karaoke.  Creepily well too.

Due to nsfw language, I've refrained from posting incriminating videos of both Krispy on that boat and what I like to call "White Guy 'Rapping' Inappropriate Lyrics," but I do have a paparazzi shot of Krispy singing Destiny's Child:

Style AND singing chops, hurry up boys and put a ring on it
Today I'll be spending the afternoon at the mall with Alz using up both my Borders 40% coupons and eating at the food court.  No Hot Dog on a Stick please.

* parental warning: poorly-bleeped expletives

Friday, March 25, 2011

#100factsaboutme...Or Just Five Book-Related Ones

Q. Inspired by the inane twitter trend of #100factsaboutme, give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you.

  1. Every year when I was a girl growing up in New York State (like Almanzo Wilder) I would read the Little House series over winter break.  No you don't understand, this was an event.  I put on a long white nightgown (made of fire-retardant polyester, not wool, unfortunately) and walked carefully down the dark hallway as if I were holding a flickering candle.  I had to drink hot chocolate while I read because Laura Ingalls Wilder's food descriptions were so detailed.
  2. I'm so deathly afraid of spoilers that I won't even read the entire jacket flap.  All I need is the one-line hook and I'm good to go.  Just last week I had to stop reading an email from Krispy because she told me which guy she preferred in Matched and I didn't even want to know their names.  I couldn't read that part of her email until I finished the book a few days later.  I still haven't actually finished the email because she goes on to talk about another book series.
  3. In the last 10 years, I've NEVER re-read a book.  EVER.  Except for the Twilight series.  ::ducks::  I think it has to do with the spoiler thing.  Once I know how a story ends, I lose all impetus to read it.  I'm a diehard "what happens next?" girl.  In fact,
  4. I've continued to read/listen to series that I'm completely bored with just to see what happens next to the characters.
  5. I don't count non-fiction books as part of my "books I've read this year" number.  And I don't put them on Goodreads.  This is partially because I rarely read a non-fiction book cover to cover.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Using My Powers for Good, Not Emo

I'm guest blogging over at A Nudge in the Right Direction today!

I talk about composing music as a facet of creating characters and story setting for my novels.

And how I was emo as a teenager.

Go check it out and support Krispy and Alz!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quake Relief Bracelets + Query Critique Contest

Boyfriend: You have a child wrist right?

As a matter of fact I do. But you can order these Japan Quake Relief bracelets from Bungie in adult as well. 100% of the proceeds go the Red Cross - yay!


To celebrate 300 followers, Oasis for YA is giving away a query or first chapter critique by all 5 bloggers!  Don't enter, so I have a better chance. :P

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ebook Publishing Vs. Self-publishing

Another great guest blogger for you today!  Author Jamie Grey (and my critique partner) is here to discuss the newer trends in publishing - and she should know! Her short story Princess for Hire debuted in eBook form this month.  I have it queued up on my Kindle as we speak.

There has been a lot of talk lately about indie publishing (otherwise known as self-publishing) and the amazing success people like Amanda Hocking, Zoe Winters, and JA Konrath are having. To say they’re making millions on their self-published work is hardly an exaggeration! The eBook revolution has made a real difference in getting works out there that traditional publisher might not be interested in. But there’s another aspect to the eBook trend that doesn’t get touched on quite as much - eBook only publishers. This is a huge, growing market, and one that’s primed to take off just like the indies. So what’s the difference between the two?

eBook publishers (the reputable ones at least) are still publishers

They have a submission process, they comb carefully through their slush pile for works that are well written, and fit with their publishing house. They use editors to edit those stories into shape before publishing, and provide professional cover design. Some ePublishing houses even help with marketing and reviews. Basically, you’re getting all of the perks of a hard cover publisher, but your book is released electronically. Some of the better known ePublishers are romance or erotica based, such as Samhain or Ellora’s Cave, but there are other, smaller houses who do a little bit of everything (My own publisher, MuseItUp included). But just like regular publishers, you must do your research and find the one that works best with you and your story.

Self-Publishing is easier than ever

People who choose to self-publish, often have to do all of this work themselves, or hire someone to do it for them. It can cost a lot of money out of pocket. The plus side is that they have complete creative control over their work – from the images, to the format and the venues to publish. Amazon makes it really easy to self-publish through their Kindle program, and I know Barnes and Noble are moving that way themselves. Other places you can post your work to include Smashwords, Bookstrand, and Kobo. If you’re comfortable marketing your work or already have a good online presence through your blog, facebook or twitter, self-publishing can be a good way to go.

How to Decide

So how do you tell if your novel or story is something that might work well as an eBook? And should you try to self-publish or find an ePublisher? I think the easiest way to answer that question is to ask what you want out of the publishing process. There is no right or wrong route to take, but you do need to be aware of all of your options and do enough research to decide which path is best for your work.

In closing, here are some questions to consider:

1.       Is your work long enough to be considered full length? Or is it an odd length – novella, short story, short novel? ePublishing or self-publishing might be the way to go.
2.       Are you comfortable finding your own cover designer and formatting your book properly for each different eBook format? Or do you need help with that? Whatever you decide, remember that people do judge a book by its cover, even an eBook, so you want it to be as polished as possible.
3.       Has your book gone through extensive editing or do you need additional help? Are you willing to pay for this? You can’t always expect ePublishers to provide extensive editing help or take on a story with a lot of problems, but most do provide editors and feedback for making your story the best it can be. If you go with self-publishing, you should expect to pay for editing services, or find yourself a fantastic critique group.
4.       Are you in this for the money? If so, stop right now. Most of us will never have the success of Amanda Hocking or JA Konrath. Self-publishing eBooks is significantly cheaper than a hard copy book, but it is still an investment, in both time and money. And it is HARD work to start from nothing and build a readership. Be warned that it will cut significantly into your writing time.
ePublishers offer varying royalties, most still better than traditional publishers, but again you will still need to work hard to advertise your work and create the name recognition that will help your career move forward.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop #2: Multiple Reading

Announcement: Jamie Grey has a debut short story Princess for Hire through Muse Publishing this month!  She will be guest blogging here about e-publishing vs. self-publishing this Monday so come back and check it out.

And now on to...
Book Blogger Hop
"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

I try to keep it to 5 books at once otherwise my brain can't hold all the storylines (plus my own and my CPs'). And I'm very methodical with my multiple reading.  Here's my system by type with what I'm currently reading:
  1. a current obsession: Vampire Academy By Richelle Mead (I may get into Nicholas Sparks next)
  2. a paranormal on Kindle: Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
  3. a YA contemporary voice (can be dystopian/fantasy): was going to be The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong but it's so terrifying I think I'll start Matched by Ally Condie instead
  4. something long that can be read in tidbits (something I'm having a hard time getting through): The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
  5. an audiobook for driving in LA traffic; this category must be a contemporary voice: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (I'm in the epilogue now so I might switch Vampire Academy back to audiobook)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The MFA in...Fantasy?

Gracious readers, it is with great pleasure that I present my guest blogger today: Alz from A Nudge In the Right Direction, who discusses her MFA...for which she wrote a fantasy thesis!

Hello, hello! This is Alz, and this is my first time guest blogging and I'm so excited I could dance if I weren't both criminally lazy and so uncoordinated that it's a matter of life and death simply to rise from my computer chair to go to the bathroom.

Today I'm going to talk a bit about what it's like being in an MFA program for Creative Writing—and more specifically, what it's like going into such a program as primarily a fantasy writer.

I wanted to go into the program not just because I thought it would be totally awesome to get a degree in something I love doing, but also because I wanted to hone my craft, get (and learn to give) some serious critique, and be pushed into writing outside of my comfort zone.

Now, these are all things you can accomplish outside of an actual degree-giving program. Thanks to the internet, there are writing circles, forums, critique groups, and various other excellent resources for writers. But discussing things face-to-face in a structured environment was a far more challenging, stimulating, and rewarding experience than anything I've ever gone through anywhere else.

A diversity of graduate classmates and professors all dedicated to the writing craft makes for a very different environment than an undergraduate course or online writing circle. For one thing, they're all there because they want to be there and for the same reasons as you (camaraderie!); for another, since it's a program that they're paying a metric boatload-and-a-half of money for, of course they're going to show up, provide feedback, and contribute to discussion (get your money's worth!). Due to the small class size and the closeness with which we worked, we were as much friends as peers. To watch the evolution of each others' work and trace the growth of your own over the course of two years is amazingly gratifying. Just thinking back on it makes me feel all warm and caffeinated and chocolaty and peppery inside.

Getting and giving serious critique is what helped me grow the most. Between critique from my classmates (whose varied perspectives and questions were invaluable) and my professors (who never failed to praise as much as push for growth, and never pulled punches), I was able to recognize where my weaknesses lay in terms of style and prose, to build on my strengths, and experiment in an encouraging environment. You might need to grow a thicker skin or learn to roll with those peer-and-professorial punches since sometimes critique can be brutally honest, but growing pains are growing pains.

Giving critique was just as important, because in pinpointing what makes a piece work and what doesn't, I became aware of those same issues in my own writing. I'd tell a classmate, "This description is too long and slows down the pace of the story," and then realize, "Oh crap, I did that myself right here, and here, and here too."

This is the major benefit of a dedicated in-person weekly workshop: You become familiar with each other as people as well as authors, and to understand each others' styles and goals. It's all very well for a person to tell you your story is good or bad; it's another thing entirely for someone to tell you specifically how and why, and suggest ways to make it even better or fix it.

Now on to the fantasy part! Alas, hear ye all my lament: Fantasy does tend to be looked down upon as a genre, along with (but perhaps not quite so poorly as) science fiction. Point of fact, I was pretty much the only self-proclaimed fantasy writer in the program, though some of my classmates wrote in surrealist, horror, and experimental genres. Lest I sound like I'm making myself out to be the lone toucan in a flock of sparrows, this was by no means the case—I was an odd fish in a pond full of fantastic and equally odd fish, for we spanned a rainbow of genres and delicious flavors. Have I mixed enough metaphors into that sentence?

I was at first filled with trepidation at introducing my fantasy-based writing to my peers and professors, whose tastes were as far-ranging and different from each other as buffalos are from immortal jellyfish. Turns out my fears were unfounded—I was surrounded by writers who treated my writing as writing. For some, it was their first foray into fantasy while for others it was not their genre of choice, but just because it's not something you'd pick up in a bookstore of your own volition doesn’t mean you can't enjoy it. After all, I read pretty much exclusively fantasy and science fiction on my own, but I thoroughly enjoyed my classmates' writing.

A bemusing and interesting thing is that the people reading my fiction were not my presupposed target (fantasy-reading) audience. Having a perspective exterior to that POV was an eye-opener as my classmates asked me questions about things I hadn't really thought about, such as if the number of hours in a day were different in this fantasy world, and why the trees were the same species as our own trees, and was this taking place in our world but in the past or on a different world or was it an alternate world and if it was alternate then how alternate was it?

Hmm. What things I took for granted and that I thoughtlessly expected my audience to take for granted! Their input expanded my worldview (which I had never before considered narrow) and made me aware of my own blindspots

Mind you, it wasn't all ice cream and sprinkles—there was blood, sweat and tears, and pain, oh gods the pain, the stress, the agony of keeping deadlines and cranking out embarrassingly sub-par work and wanting to die and dying repeatedly only to claw your way back to life because, dammit, you're going to finish that story and revise that bastard and hand it in and succeed.

Ultimately, my sentiments boil down to these: You get out of a program what you put into it. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Force will be with you. The cake is not a lie. Rock on, and keep writing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My First Stalk = My First Guest

two stalks are better than one

So I crossed the digital divide and asked out IN REAL LIFE two of my favorite bloggers: Krispy and Alz from A Nudge in the Right Direction.

I wish I had a photo of how freakishly adorable they are IN REAL LIFE (sorry I'll stop shouting that now), but 1) I didn't have a camera 2) Alz doesn't put up public photos of her face.  So instead, here is a photo of me stalking.

(Yeah I actually wrote that.)

It's such a rare treat in my part of town to meet two girls in real life (better?) who I can sit down with and share our love of writing and reading, particularly of YA and fantasy.  Lately I've been wishing and hoping for more female friends - especially after a tough day like today, I could really use some gals to talk to!  So any ladies who want to meet up - in know the rest - or call just to chat, let me know.  Seriously.  I really will give you my number. 


I've managed to coerce  ask Alz nicely to guest blog  this week about her MFA experience, for which she wrote a fantasy thesis.  Yes writers, it can be done.

Check back in a few days for her post!

And Happy Pi Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Relief Links

Three things to keep in mind:

1) The Huffington Post provides a list of legitimate organizations you can donate to, as well as timely updates on the situation in Japan.

2) I know you're all savvy readers, but spread the word to friends and neighbors to beware of scammers.  A large crop has emerged out of this crisis.  (It's disgusting, I know.)

3) Specific needs are still being assessed so you can wait to see where donations are required most, or donate a bit now and a bit later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Woman's Space, A Woman's Voice

This week was the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

In light of the recent New York Times victim-blaming screw-up (Kristin Cashore wrote about it here and you can sign the petition here), I wanted to give some positive energy to women and highlight some things important to women writers.

Wordle: Room of One's Own

Laurie Halse Anderson is a lucky lady!  She and her husband designed and built an eco-friendly writing cottage complete with a "magic window" rescued from a church.  I teared up at the end of the video when she thanked her husband for giving her the best gift possible. It truly is!

My space is the loft in our house where I keep my desktop PC, a pink beach monkey lamp I got from Target, and my weighted keyboard where I play everything from classical to pop to my soprano part for my a capella group.

I had originally wanted a room with a door I could shut, just as Woolf instructed, but my boyfriend has since learned to play Call of Duty with headphones on so it stays quiet enough.

I haven't appreciated this space enough over the last year, and soon it will be gone when we move into a 1-bedroom apartment in April!

Honolulu Girl Suz posted an interesting (and chilling/moving) video of James Bond becoming a woman in support of International Women's Day.

And lastly I want to give praise for a woman's voice.  The YA community I've entered so far is composed mostly of women writers, which I believe accounts for the warm and fuzzy quality of our community.  This bodes well, gals.

It's not something I consciously think about during the writing process, but the fact that so many women give voice to their heartsongs and work our butts off to share these works with the world is a wonderful thing.

Keep writing.  Keep speaking.  Keep supporting each other.

The word is our power.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Queries, Here I Come

I got my first stab at a query letter critiqued by debut author Susan Dennard through her inaugural Query Day

This is a GREAT opportunity that only comes once a month so I recommend gluing yourself to your computer the way I did.  (She only takes the first 10 queries.  I almost passed out getting mine in at turbo speed.)

The biggest boost is that she didn't say, "Your story is unsalable."  In fact, she said many supportive, positive things.  If only she were my agent. :P

Now that I actually have a real live query to put through the ringer, I feel that much closer to this publication goal.  I'm going to take time and work the crap out of this query letter the way I've done with my MS. 

Anyone else working over their queries right now?  (I know Ali Cross' dojo ninjas might be)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Who's Your Favorite Villain?

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question:

"Who's your all-time favorite book villain?"

Answer: Devlen Daviian from Maria V. Snyder's Glass Series

Although if I were to dress up as a Harry Potter character, I would be Bellatrix Lestrange - mostly because I keep my hair big and crazy too.

(I just loved this question so much I had to jump on the book blogger bandwagon - hope they don't kick me off!)

My all-time fav not-yet-published villain is a gal I'm writing in my third novel.  She has become so important to the plot I've considered making the sequel about her.  I adore her so much that I take glee in letting her win over my protag time and again. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Irresistibly Sweet Guilty Pleasures

My new partner in crime, Rebecca Enzor, has blessed me with another award.  Without her, my award count would be: 0.  THANK YOU BECKA!

The rules:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share four guilty pleasures that you have.
3. Pass the award on to six other blogs.

4 Guilty Pleasures:
  1. Tudors on streaming netflix. 
  2. It started as research for my 3rd novel. Now I photoshop screenshots of the actors for my character bible.
  3. OGR: Obsessive Google Reader(ing)
  4. It's frightening how compulsively I try to keep up with the blogosphere. I probably spend the same number of hours reading and commenting as I do revising and this is NOT an exaggeration.
  5. Seth MacFarlane's twitter feed
  6. The night I discovered it, I stayed up 3 extra hours to read his tweets all the way to last summer. And I STAND at my laptop in the kitchen so my knee joints were tired.
  7. Playing pop songs on the piano really emo like Tori Amos
  8. My favorite is Katy Perry and Timbaland's duet

6 Irresistibly Sweet Bloggers:
  1. Theresa Milstein
  2. Angela Perry
  3. Jamie Grey
  4. Juliana Brandt
  5. Cindy Pon
  6. Slow Panic
You ladies are so frickin' nice and supportive.  Can't wait to see what sorts of sordid pleasures you occupy your time with.

Have a great weekend!

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      I Dreamt of High School, I Mean Beverly Hills

      I've been having a series of intensely vivid dreams this week and after reading Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall yesterday I was sure I'd dream about it.

      "That's it," I thought, "I'm going to dream about complicated relationship structures in a catty high school setting."

      Pretty much.

      I dreamed I was at a posh dinner with Camille Grammer from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills waiting for my suddenly very tall boyfriend to pay attention to me.  (He must have been Rob from the book.)

      She brought her best friend Dee but paid more attention to me.  The food was really good, though I woke up before I could eat much of it.

      How was your night?


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