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Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo, you're going down

November is here. The time has come again to attempt the intimidating and seemingly impossible. And I'm saying now that I am not afraid.

Starting tomorrow I begin the 30 day journey through National Novel Writing Month AKA NaNoWriMo. Basically that means I am committing to being a recluse for the next month. I will be giving up television, dinners out, time with friends, hobbies, and anything else that makes me a normal human being. I will cease to be a social creature all for the good of a story. (If you want to be my writing buddy, I'm wastepaperprose, as always.)

For those of you who aren't familiar with this ancient and painful writerly trial, the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. That's 1,667 words a day. Outside of a sense of accomplishment, you can wind up with a few parting gifts less desirable than a complete draft of a novel. Increased neurosis, death of brain cells, hair loss, poor hygiene, dwindling social skills (including an inability to hold conversations with people you did not create), and sudden on-set agoraphobia.

The whole process goes a little something like this:

Day 1: I should have done more planning.
Day 2: This isn't as hard as I thought. I think I've finally hit my stride!
Day 7: Today someone asked me if I was a masochist. What's that supposed to mean?
Day 12: ssxn:?shsogvfi@fkhnbkgkv#:"sbksnviwc
Day 15: You haven't left your house, which has become a cesspool in two weeks and you're not sure this is worth it.
Day 20: You are incessantly checking your word count and take-out has become a way of life.
Day 22: Still no plot? No problem.
Day 26: Troll your manuscript in search of contractions. You're only cheating yourself.
Day 30: Hopefully you have 50,000 words. You can sort out the details later.

But NaNoWriMo is a fickle mistress. It lures you in with pretty lies and empty promises, causes you undue stress, and, when you're teetering on the brink of insanity, it drops you on your keister. You might find yourself trying to churn out those last hundred words for the day at ungodly hours of the morning and looking much like this:

I tried to take on the challenge last year and fell too far behind the curve. NaNoWriMo had all these expectations of me. I was developing guilt and inadequacy issues as a result of not living up to them. Long story short, we broke up.

This year will be different. I'm making the commitment to do this, and I will do my best to blog about my efforts. There will be no break-up letter this year. I will crush you NaNoWriMo. Oh yes, I will.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Author Insight: Publishing Phobia

What scares you the most about writing/publishing?

"Honestly, it’s that A Touch Mortal will do well and Book 2 won’t live up.  I know it’s only because I’m writing Book 2 now…we tend to forget how hard each first draft is.  But the reality is this. The only difference between a person without a book deal and a person with a book deal is a piece of paper. And those fears that it’s not good enough never really go away." - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

"I don't want to disappoint my readers!" - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"Disappointing sales.  I might not have a bestseller, but I hope to earn back enough that my publisher is glad they took on my books (and is willing to take on more!)" - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.


"Obscurity." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nevermore Party & Giveaway

Over the past few months I've become a roadtripping champ, but one place that I'm getting particularly good at going is Louisville, Kentucky. Just last month I was there to celebrate the release of Kelly Creagh's Nevermore at a special party she invited myself and a few other bloggers too.
Stacey, myself, Kelly Creagh, and Monica
On Friday, September 10 Monica from Bibliophilic Book Blog and I hopped in the car as we so often do and headed west on I-64. After a short detour to my favorite strange Virginia tourist attraction, Foamhenge, it was a smooth ride into West Virginia.

Monica & I at Foamhenge in Glasgow, VA.
We even stopped in White Sulphur Springs (great town name!) for lunch and I had "Honey Stung Fried Chicken." How delicious does that sound?

I'll skip over all of the details about traffic jams and neverending construction zones even though I know you want to hear all about it. All I'll say is that, if I had the power, I would remove the offending land mass that is West Virginia and push Virginia and Kentucky together. It would shave a good two hours off the trip.

After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to the hotel and crashed hard. The next morning we met up with Julie Kagawa at Borders and kidnapped her for the day. We ate endless breadsticks at Fazoli's, traversed the city in search of copies of Nevermore, visited a hobby shop for sealent, and finally wound up back at the hotel where we kicked off arts & crafts time.

This would involve origami. Why you ask? Because when Monica, Julie, Stacey from Page Turners and I were together in May she told us all how amazing and moving the stop motion trailer Maggie Stiefvater created for Linger was, and described it thusly:

"With the tree and the cranes, and I was like...*fanning herself with one hand and feigning sobs*"

The notorious petal fold.

That description got her mocked for an entire weekend, during which Julie and I brought up trees, cranes, and crying at every opportunity. They got drawn on napkins and pictures of trees and cranes got tweeted at Stacey pretty much non-stop and there was much laughter.

So, when we sat down for art therapy, there was no maccaroni art. Julie did her best to teach us how to paint Grimalkin on a rock while Monica listened to the monotone man on her phone describe how easy it is to fold a paper crane, all the while cursing under her breath. One day she will master the petal fold. Oh yes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Author Insight: Publishing Phobia

What scares you most about writing/publishing?

"How difficult is can be, even when published--to stay published."- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"The daily roller coaster ride." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"Surprisingly it's the first draft.  I'm always terrified that I'm going to take the book in the wrong direction, that my outline is wrong, or that I'm making huge errors that will prove impossible to fix.  I can't control any aspect of publishing, so I keep all my stress localized." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"One of the things that scares me the most about publishing is the fact that it will get even harder than it is to sell a book." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CSN Preferred Blogger Review

A few months ago CSN Stores gave me the opportunity to giveaway a gift card to one lucky reader as part of their preferred blogger program. Now, they've contacted me again and offered me a chance to review one of their many products.

They have absolutely everything you could want in over 200 stores, including vanities, coffee tables, pet products, and much more. How ever will a girl choose?

Well, that was the easy part. I'm an avid reader and book blogger with way too many books. I have books on shelves, books on the floor, books on my desk, books in the living room, books in the car... My house is a beautiful booktastrophe!

Naturally, I chose to review a bookshelf in hopes of bringing order to the chaos. This is wishful thinking, I know. But the bookshelf will make a dent in the overflow, right?

The fantastic little corner number on the right there intrigued me. It's unique looking, and it mounts to the wall, so I won't lose any more floor space to my bookshelves. (I already have four standing shelves in my office, so space is at a premium.)

Don't get me wrong. I love my books, but lately they seem to be aiming for household domination. I'm hoping that this new addition will help me put my books in their place. I'll definitely let you know how it goes, and if I don't then you can assume that the literary legions have gotten the best of me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Author Insight: Relationship Troubles

What is the most difficult type of relationship to write – platonic, familial, or romantic – and why?

"I’d say platonic, though I’ve never tried familial and think it would be hard for me.  I think love drives most of our relationships, and with romantic love, it’s easy to call out, shift, break.  I think it’d be harder to write a story about strictly friendship or families." - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

Familial. They are fraught with drama and far too easy to write melodramatically. Finding the delicate balance and truth in a familial relationship is challenging, but oh so rewarding when you accomplish it." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"I find the challenge with familial and romantic relationships is making sure they’re not too cheesy or stereotypical, but their rhythm and dialogue comes pretty easily.  Capturing the feeling, banter and camaraderie of close platonic relationships is much harder for me." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"I think that varies for each writer, but for me, romance is always the most challenging. Not because romance is more difficult to write, really, but because of all the societal expectations and assumptions placed upon that kind of relationship." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beautiful Darkness Blog Tour & Giveaway

  I'm a girl from the South with a huge love of the paranormal, so naturally I have high standards for fiction about either. That's how Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl hooked me. (See my review here.) It had both and did them proud.

The second book of the addictive Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Darkness, released on October 12, and takes readers back to small-town Gaitlin, South Carolina, which is the middle of nowhere and the center of everything. It's a place run by gossip and rooted in tradition, much like the town I grew up in, and I wanted to find out more about how Gaitlin came to be.

And what better way to find out than to ask Kami and Margie...

When the idea for Beautiful Creatures and the series was forming in your minds, which came first the characters or the setting?

Kami: We knew right away that we wanted to write a Southern gothic.
Margie: We feel like the South is a place where magic can still happen, and we knew we wanted to set our book there. Then the words “sixteen moons” hit – then “casters” – then the ball started rolling…

Is Gatlin based on an actual town or is it a mish-mash of small southern towns?

Kami: We didn’t pattern it after a specific town, but it’s very similar to the small towns our families are from – and lots of small towns our readers are from. We call it the Casserole Belt.
Margie: But as we have traveled through the South, there are several towns that remind us of Gatlin. Moncks Corner in South Carolina and Beaufort in North Carolina would probably be the closest. It’s right by the real Summerville and the real Lake Moultrie.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Release date: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age group: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 563
Buy: Fountain Bookstore / Amazon
Description: Fountain Bookstore
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
Beautiful Creatures is a wild ride full of secrets, spellcasters, small-town prejudice, and, of course, romance. Before the end of Chapter 1 I loved it. By the time the action was in full swing I was having heart palpitations. When I finally reached the last page, I found myself itching for more.  

Garcia & Stohl have delivered a beautifully crafted southern gothic novel with a unique take on the paranormal set in a small Southern town that makes Mayberry look a little like a metropolis.

As a girl with roots in Virginia and North Carolina, I know my southerners. The behavior, the colloquialisms, the gossip, the kooky traditions, the skepticism and irrational fear of outsiders… Beautiful Creatures has it right, down to my favorite line.

“…Religion and superstition all mixed up, like only it can be in the South.”

It rang so true when I read it that I burst into laughter and didn’t stop smiling for hours afterwards. Statements like that one set the tone for this book - familiar, yet dark and otherworldly. Tiny bits of southern truth wrapped up in a paranormal tale that kept me turning pages.

Ethan's voice is clear and distinct. Lena's struggle to define who she is and take control of her life  is one everyone can relate to, caster or not. Beautiful Creatures touches on the themes of human existence from being an outcast to losing a loved one to the exploration of culture. I happily lost myself in it.

Note: I read this title prior to Wastepaper Prose officially becoming a book blog in 2010, but had not reviewed it to date.

Author Insight: Relationship Troubles

What is the most difficult type of relationship to write – platonic, familial, or romantic – and why?

"All of them have posed problems for me at one time or another!"- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"They are all challenging in their own way. I have the easiest time with romance, the hardest time with casual friendship." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"Romantic, because I think that at sixteen/seventeen, our idea of romance and how we go about it is completely different from how we view romance as adults.  So for me, it's hard to shut off that logical part of my brain sometimes, and just let things play out how they will." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"I would say platonic between a girl and a boy. I think those type of relationships are hard to come by. Usually one person will develop a crush on the other one and therefore the relationship will no longer be platonic." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Release Date: July 13, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 224
Buy: Fountain Bookstore / Amazon
Description: Fountain Bookstore

Eron DeMarchelle isn't supposed to feel this connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce his human charges to sleep. Though he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn't encouraged to do so. After all, becoming too involved in one human's life could prevent him from helping others get their needed rest.

But he can't deny that he feels something for Julia, a lonely girl with fiery red hair and sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved.

In the past, Eron has broken rules to protect Julia, but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can't reach her. Eron's time as a Sandman is coming to a close, and his replacement doesn't seem to care about his charges. Worse, Julia is facing dangers she doesn't recognize, and Eron, as he transitions back to being human, may be the only one who can save her. . . .

Even once they've become human again, Sandmen are forbidden to communicate with their charges. But Eron knows he won't be able to forget Julia. Will he risk everything for a chance to be with the girl he loves?

It’s taken me a long time to write this review. I should have posted it weeks ago, but I couldn’t figure out what to say about this book. I had some strong likes and dislikes and just couldn't figure out how to reconcile them.

Since the moment I heard about this book I had wanted to read it. Sandmen, an existence somewhere between life and death, and a strange love triangle. I was instantly enamored, and, at the same time, concerned this book wouldn’t live up to my expectation.

After all, reading about a book on Amazon is like having a virtual love affair. When the two of you meet, you might have nothing in common. Sometimes you hype someone or something up so much that the reality can’t live up to the fantasy. And a paranormal without vampires, werewolves, or any other traditional creepy crawlies had a lot to live up to. I'm such a skeptical, picky reader that I was pretty sure one of us would be calling a cab mid-date.

Well, I was wrong. It didn't just step outside the box. It shattered the box.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Author Insight: Message in a Novel

Do you feel like it is important for a book to have a message?

" I don’t think a message is something that should be obvious. You should take something away from every book you read, not have it thrown on you." - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

No, though I think it can be great when a book does. But it's sort of like movies - I enjoy a good talking animal flick as much as a deep meditation on life and love in film. It's the same for books." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"I think it’s important that readers take whatever message speaks to them most.  Stories are filtered through the lens of experience so a flexible, even ambiguous message is usually more interesting and forms a deeper, more personal connection than something really clear cut." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"Yes. But a message should be more than just an idea, concept, or cause. It should be a living human experience. Something so vast, so distinct, that it can only be communicated in something as vast and distinct as a novel. Otherwise, just write an essay or post it on your blog." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Uncovered: The Near Witch

This ain't your grandma's cover reveal. Oh no!

Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch (August 2011), saw the cover art for her debut novel months ago and has been anxiously waiting to unveil it, but when she finally had the okay to share it with the world she ran into a snag. So there won't be a cover image on this post.

I know you're disappointed that there won't be a static image here for you to fawn over and debate, but Disney-Hyperion's policy of watermarking covers with a rather large "Cover Not Final" banner takes the shine off the cover reveal a bit. That's why there's not an extra large The Near Witch cover right below this paragraph.

But Victoria, genius that she is, decided to hold off. Instead of posting the watermarked image she waited for her ARCs and revealed the cover (and several other cool things) in true Victoria style.

That's right. She vlogged it!

Now that you've seen the beautiful cover, do you want to know more about the book? Of course you do. So here's the jacket blurb:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

 There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
 As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

And, as if that wasn't enough, here's Victoria (or Victoria's mother) reading from the first chapter of The Near Witch.

Doesn't it sound awesome!? You're desperately searching for a way to order it right now you say? Well, luckily Amazon put it up for pre-order this week.

Click on Victoria to pre-order your copy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Author Insight: Message in a Novel

Do you feel like it is important for a book to have a message?

"I grew up in the 1980s, when "message" books were very popular. I was not--and am not--a fan of them. Why should a book tell you what to do? Aren't you your own person? Can't you think for yourself? Of course you can. (in case you can't tell, I despise message books!)"- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"I think a  book needs to have a POINT. Which is different from a message." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"I think it's more important to tell the story you're trying to tell than anything else.  I subscribe to the Mark Twain method - any symbolism or deeper meaning in my books is totally accidental.  I just want to tell the story I want without feeling like I have to impart wisdom at the same time." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"No, I feel like it's important to write the book that you want to write and not to write what you think people want to read. I think if you follow your heart, there will always be something to learn from each book." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Author Insight: Getting an Agent

What was the agenting process like for you, and what's your best advice for someone seeking representation?

 "I used QueryTracker.net to keep everything straight and did a ton of research on agents before I sent. I wanted to make sure everyone I sent to was a good match. I sent out in batches. My best advice would be to keep trying.  You won’t always get representation on your first book. I didn’t. (And no, the trunked novel will NEVER see the light of day! Lol They were right to pass on it, but it was a great and very necessary learning experience!)" - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

Be persistent. Finding the right agent is like dating. You don't always hit it off with everyone, or even most people. So don't take rejection personally, but do believe in yourself and your work. Move on gracefully if rejected and always do you research on agents and their dos and don'ts." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"Long.  My advice?  Stick with it…to a point.  If you’ve gotten requests for pages, there’s something to your idea.  If you’ve gotten requests for a full, there’s something to your idea and your writing.  If you’ve submitted to 50+ agents and gotten only one partial request, turned rejection (like me with my first, never-to-be-published book), something isn’t working.  Set it aside and write something new." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"I was introduced to an agent who was just starting out herself. I sent her a letter that basically said, 'I'm new, you're new, let's take a chance on each other.' People seeking agents should look for someone who really gets their work. Otherwise, that agent will have a tough time selling it." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blog Makeover

I'm sure you notice that it looks a little bit different around here...

Well, it was time to kick it up a notch at Wastepaper Prose. I know many of you loved my old layout, as did I, but it never screamed me. If you know me, I'm out there. I'm colorful, vibrant, and funky. As one of my fellow bloggers once described me, I'm "Alice in Wonderland gone Tool." And that just about sums it up.

I'd been wishy-washy about a makeover. I had several people toss around ideas with me. I talked to several designers. I looked at countless images and spent just as many hours contemplating what I wanted. Afterallm how does a personality translate to HTML code?

Turns out that an old adage held true. Simplicity rules. Nicole at Word for Teens found me the header image, which was sufficiently funky, and crafted the rest around it. It was colorful without being too happy or cutesy. No other frills were necessary.

There is still tweaking to be done. Not everything is linked yet and some posts may be a little messed up as a result of the conversion, but I'll be fixing it up over the next few days, so bear with me. I appreciate your patience.

So here it is! I know it's a big change, but hopefully you like. If you're averse to change and are having trouble adjusting, counseling will be available between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Happy Reading!

Tweet News (15)

What did you miss on Twitter this week?

Author Melissa Marr discusses the Wicked Lovely series and its thrilling conclusion... TWEET.

Harper Teen reminded you to check out the trailer for Courtney Allison Moulton's Angelfire... TWEET.

Author Brenna Yovanoff's debut novel, The Replacement, debuted at on NYT Bestseller List... TWEET.

Author Laurie Halse Anderson shared the ad Penguin took out in the New York Times in defense of her novel Speak... TWEET.

Penguin Teen told you where you can learn more about The Julian Game... TWEET.

Author Veronica Roth sells new trilogy to Harper Collins... TWEET.

Scholastic revealed that Forever won't be the only Maggie Stiefvater title released next year... TWEET.

Harper Teen showed you where you can watch the first official I Am Number Four movie trailer... TWEET.

Author Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red is now available for pre-order in paperback... TWEET.

Penguin Tee gave you sneak peeks at characters from its five Breathless Reads... TWEET, TWEET, TWEET, TWEET, and TWEET.

Harper Teen let you browse inside The Unidentified by Rae Mariz... TWEET.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Insight: Getting an Agent

What was the agenting process like for you, and what's your best advice for someone seeking representation?

"I would never EVER recommend that someone go about getting their first agent like I did mine. Do your research and above all, query more than one agent, even the ones you think will never, ever notice you. Also, remember agents get hundreds of query letters. HUNDREDS. And that's on the low side. Keep your query very short and to the point--look at it this way--if you have to read tons and tons of emails, what will grab you? The endless email, or the one that comes right to the point? As someone who once had to deal with over 300 emails a day, I can tell you that the emails that get right to the point, that don't dance around or go on and on--those are the ones that grab you because so few people can do it!"- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"Ask around. Authors may tell you straight up most of the time who reps them and why they like or dislike them." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"My hunt for my first agent was very short and boring, about six weeks from start to finish.  I got a lot of "just didn't fall in love with its" from people who read, and two offers from agents who did.  My advice is to start writing your query letter early.  A good query should go through as many drafts as your book does.  Never submit until both are perfect." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"I found the agenting proccess both exhilirating and frustrating. I am lucky that I made a real connection with my agent but I received plenty of rejections too. I would tell aspiring authors to really do their research and find out what an agent is looking for and while you are waiting for an agent, don't stop writing, keep on honing your craft." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.