Tag Archives: writing

blog hopping #6

i’m going to be drafting like mad for the next little while. in the meantime, i’m over at the lucky 13s today blogging about this week’s topic: series vs standalones. come say hi!

some writing music for the day: david guetta feat. sia’s titanium.

the lyrics are cool, the video’s cool. the theme is very much like the one in m83’s midnight city: very anti-establishment, kids with special powers, fear of what’s different. it also brings to mind an old classic (i loved this book as a kid), the girl with the silver eyes by willo davis roberts. this somewhat echoes what we’ve been seeing the last couple of years in YA lit “trends” (which will eventually cycle back), if you follow an arc of paranormal to zombies to dystopia and now sci-fi starting to happen again.

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the thesaurus: use, don’t abuse

maybe this is weird, but as a little kid, i really, really wanted to read the whole dictionary. as in pick up the thing and read it from front to back, just as if it were a novel. not only would i learn soooo much, i’d carry it around with me and look smart doing it, too. and i’d never be stumped by one of those cross word puzzles ever again (do  these even exist anymore?).

okay, so it didn’t last long. i got a handful of pages into the As and was bored out of my freaking mind. i even tried flipping to random letters–Q! there’s gotta be some interesting Q words!–only to face the fact that randomness does not necessarily equal fun. not only that, the sucker was waaaay too heavy to lug around on a daily basis, and at the rate i was going, conquering every single cross word puzzle in the world just wasn’t going to happen.

my point is, it’s all about context. reading a new word cold simply because it’s the next one on the page probably won’t stick. but if i come across one in the middle of a book i’m already invested in and have to look it up, then it connects, clicks, means something.

now when it comes to writing, it’s the dictionary’s more seductive half that’ll trip you up every time–the thesaurus. it’s full of pretty, fancy words, but they won’t be your words; they’ll be out of context with your voice, your writing style, and primarily used out of desperation. i’ve never abused the thesaurus too much, but on the occasions that i have, it just doesn’t seem to work out. during revisions and edits, it’s these words that stick out and don’t ring true, and i’ll end up replacing them nine times out of ten.

so if you’re really stuck for a word, when your mind seizes up on you and you’re drawing a serious blank and the caffeine just can’t hit quick enough, leave it. take a break and come back to it with fresh eyes. almost always something will have hit, and it’ll be the right word. maybe not the perfect word (perfection can still come later; it’s why edits always last more than one round), but chances are it’ll sit better than any one you could have plucked from the thesaurus. not to say it’s not good to know a good thesaurus site, but be selective, be brave–the best words are already in your head.

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i’ve been back and forthing with a fellow ya author friend about another author whose books we just love. someone whose books came to form much of our reading and writing foundations. and our clear favourites of the bunch? the ones written when the author had been charged on just a bit more than the normal “writer’s high”.

and i don’t mean just caffeine, either.

it came down to a sense of just leaving everything out there, uglies and dirt and all. there’s edge, it’s raw, and pure feeling poured out in every word and turn of phrase. like there was no care about structure or mechanics as long as the story made its way onto the page. it was almost romantic, the hurry to love before the passion was gone.

i still reread those books all the time. the worlds are familiar now, but no less vivid.

what do you think about needing to be elevated to write well, or write at all? being hopped up on nerve-jumping adrenaline from lack of sleep? chain-chugging red bull? stuffing down sugar-laced candies by the handful? does it just come down to catching that groove that lets you tap into that writer side of yourself? is this when you write most as yourself?

oh. i’m up for my truth or dare this friday on friday the thirteeners. don’t miss!


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year of the dragon

all right, it’s nearly time to usher out the year of the rabbit. i’m a rabbit, and 2011 was an absolutely fantastic year for me in terms of writing goals. but 2012 is year of the dragon, the most powerful, luckiest sign in the chinese zodiac. dragons are ambitious, determined, full of passion for what they do. they love being independent and make great leaders. it’s all about energy, and forging a path instead of following. dragons also have bad tempers, so knowing when to pull back is important.

see how all this totally works for being a writer, too?

you have to be ambitious to want to write a book. nothing but determined if you are serious about finishing it. wholehearted passion to drive you. writing often means being alone for hours at a time, so you have to be independent enough to handle the solitude. learn to look for signs of burn out so you can take a breather. and just taking that first step towards publication is lighting that fire beneath your butt. to get out there and make your way.

i’m a bit torn, myself. sad to say goodbye to a year in which i realized not only was it all possible, but it was actually going to happen. so very excited to say hello to one that’s going to bring me that much closer to holding my book in my hands.

either way, i expect 2012 to be fun and memorable and a GREAT year. hope it’s the same for all of you out there! now go eat some dim sum to properly ring it in.

also, winners for our group blog launch have been announced. so if you entered, stop by at friday the thirteeners and see how you made out! don’t forget to check out the first dare, carried out by fellow (and fearless) ya author natalie whipple!

random: watching (500) days of summer, listening to gym class heroes feat. neon hitch’s ass back home, coldplay feat. rihanna’s princess of china, fun. feat. janelle monae’s we are young, reading stephen king’s 11/22/63, maggie stiefvater’s the scorpio races.

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YA (and more) books for your stocking

rounded up some of my very lovely fellow YA writers for which YA books they want to find in their stockings this christmas. some great recommended reads from some amazing authors. so, go. buy. read. you can’t go wrong–and there’s tons of cross over appeal for most of these books, too. (and i cheated, because some of these books aren’t out until 2012, but that’s because YA love knows no bounds…)

ellen oh (PROPHECY: THE DRAGON KING CHRONICLES, harpercollins childrens, 2013)

CINDER by marissa meyer (jan 2012)
BORN WICKED BY jessica spotswood (feb 2012)

marissa meyer (CINDER, feiwel & friends, jan 2012)

SHATTER ME by tahereh mafi
LEGEND by Marie Lu

brandy colbert (A POINT SO DELICATE, penguin/putnam, 2013)

IMAGINARY GIRLS by nova ren suma
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by ruta sepetys

betsy cornwell (TIDES, clarion, 2013)


ashley elston (THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, disney hyperion children’s, 2013)

FRACTURE by megan miranda (jan 2012)

alison cherry (RED, delacorte, 2013)

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green (jan 2012)

kristin halbrook (NOBODY BUT US, harperteen, 2013)

IMAGINARY GIRLS by nova ren suma
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by ruta sepetys
NOTHING by janne teller

corey haydu (OCD LOVE STORY, simonpulse, 2013)

AUDITION by stasia ward kehoe
REALITY BITES BACK by jennifer pozner (non YA, nonfiction)

jessica young (MY BLUE IS HAPPY, candlewick press, 2013)

DIVERGENT by veronica roth
MONSTERS OF MEN by patrick ness
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by ruta sepetys

elizabeth may (THE FALCONER, chronicle, 2013)

FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by melina marchetta

debra driza (MILA 2.0, harpercollins/kt books, 2013)

AUDITION by stasia ward kehoe
SHATTERED SOULS by mary lindsey
LEGEND by marie lu

april tucholke (BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, dial, 2013)


erin bowman (TAKEN, harperteen, 2013)

CINDER by marissa meyer (jan 2012)
BITTERBLUE by kristin cashore (2012)
THE SCORPIO RACES BY maggie stiefvater

cat winters (IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, amulet, 2013)

THE APOTHECARY by maile meloy

emma pass (ACID, random house, 2013)

THE FEAR by charlie higson (2012)


EVE by anna carey
THE BEGINNING OF AFTER by jennifer castle
BLOODSPELL by amalie howard
UNTIL I DIE by amy plum (2012)

jennifer mcgowan (MAID OF SECRETS, simon & schuster, 2013)

SWEET VENOM by tera lynn childs

lydia kang (THE FOUNTAIN, dial/penguin, 2013)

LEGEND by marie lu
HOURGLASS by myra mcintyre
LIKE MANDARIN by kristen hubbard

caroline carlson (MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT, harpercollins, 2013)

THE NAME OF THE STAR by maureen johnson
BUNHEADS by sophie flack
ACROSS THE GREAT BARRIER by patricia c. wrede

imogen howson (LINKED, simon & schuster, 2013)

TANKBORN by karen sandler
POSSESSION by elana johnson
COLD KISS by amy garvey

kasie west (PIVOT POINT, harperteen, 2013)


sarah skilton (BRUISED, amulet, 2013)

LEGEND by marie lu
MY BEATING TEENAGE HEART by c.k. kelly martin

rachele alpine (CANARY, medallion, 2013)

BUNHEADS by sophie flack
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by john green (2012)

elsie chapman (me!) (DUALED, random house, 2013)

THE SCORPIO RACES by maggie stiefvater
THE TINY BOOK OF TINY STORIES by joseph gordon-levitt. love him as an actor, and what a cool project (though not YA). created by thousands of artists.

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opening that first editorial letter in your inbox is like being delivered a ticking package. how bad is it going to be? can you handle it? should you fortify yourself with something first?

my post on what to expect, from the very cool lucky 13s blog.

writer edan lepucki’s reasons why she decided not to self-publish. and writer kirsten hubbard on why authors disappear from ya highway.

and i know it’s totally not economical, but i’ve been using my tassimo machine for plain old coffee. caffeine has been essential around here lately…novel numero deux done and on its way into my agent’s hands. we’ll see how it goes from here. wish me luck.

6 weeks of pvr’ed shows to catch up on. not sure if i’m more excited or drained at the thought.

random: listening to bruno mars’s it will rain. reading nigel slater’s toast. eating everything trader joe’s, especially their peanut butter filled pretzels. enjoying/tolerating visit from sister (jk).

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food for thought

ever notice how you think better when you’re eating/drinking/ingesting some kind of material with a caloric content? the higher/starchier/sweeter/saltier/fattier the better?

or, maybe it’s just me. but when just caffeine won’t do…

by default, it needs to be able to consumed one handed, so you can still type/write with the other. bonus: eating straight out of the box/bag/jar means no dishes or cutlery to wash afterwards.

nutella or speculoos spread (scraping the bottom of our last jar from paris, sniff), both eaten with a spoon. popcorn. popchips. dry cereal, esp life or honey bunches of oats or mini wheats (only if there’s lots of icing, otherwise you might as well be eating plain shredded wheat). dried mango slices and young coconut chunks. dark chocolate.

(anyone ever notice how brad pitt’s character rusty is always eating in ocean’s eleven? i have no clue how this really relates, except that it’s got brad pitt and food.)

on a more writerly note, fellow writer and lucky 13 blogger liz coley (pretty girl-13) has just posted her interview with young adult author leanna renne hieber (darker still) on our blog. go take a peek!

random stuff:
listening to: ti f. rihanna live your life, david guetta f. usher without you, rihanna w/calvin harris we found love, coldplay paradise, t-pain f. wiz khalifa + lily allen 5 o’clock in the morning

watching: pulp fiction

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