Thanks to Alea for alerting me to this --This is the first time ever, I think. And for a fucking awesome book, at it. (That's Audrey Wait by Robin Benway, to you.)
Okay, so I accomplished my happiness quota for the week.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Thanks to Alea for alerting me to this --This is the first time ever, I think. And for a fucking awesome book, at it. (That's Audrey Wait by Robin Benway, to you.)
Rhiannon Hart, email me please? You won a copy of Wintergirls. =)
Annnnd people who asked about having been followers since forever: Waaaaaaaaaaaiit.
Posted by Steph at 7:39 PM
Monday, March 30, 2009
There might be something special for one of the 250-60th followers. Just saying.
Also: HEY. I'm not dead! I KNOW.
Posted by Steph at 7:20 PM
Friday, March 27, 2009
My first sample of Caletti—not too shabby. There are definitely noteworthy things in here, and reading it was fun, considering.
Jade’s got an obsession with elephants, rituals, and she also has Panic Disorder, which makes drama difficult to digest. She always has a window open with the live cam at the local zoo filming the elephants—it soothes her. Then, one day, she sees this guy she feels will have some sort of huge impact on her life. Jade relies a lot on instinct like that. (She also questions this in the middle of the book—how trustworthy is instinct, anyway?)
I once read on this writing advice page that you characters should never be too real—they should be real enough that they come alive, but still have a void where the reader can imprint themselves in. I haven’t given this enough thought to figure out if it makes sense to me or not, but as I read about Jade, I couldn’t shake the thought that she was as close as they came to breaking that rule, or theory, or whatever. She’s spectacularly real. She’s got such a defined personality. Like:
“He’s all right. He’s fine,” Dad says, his usual line whenever Oliver gets hurt. It means: Go away. Don’t baby him. Don’t show too much compassion. The other dads do this too. It’s some kind of group hysteria, based on some fatherly fear that says compassion equals homosexuality.
She’s fascinating and funny, and probably the number one reason I kept turning pages. Also, you definitely get the sense she has Panic Disorder—I’ve never known anyone who has it or anything, but I imagine she’s a great definition of the challenges that come along with The Condition.
And, okay, there are quirks. The elephant thing is pretty detailed and researched, and I loved reading random tidbits about their nature. For animal lovers, or zoology-curious folks, this book is absolutely unique in that aspect. Jade also has—as is aforementioned—this thing with rituals and praying to patron saints. It’s not as in-depth as the elephant bit, but it’s there. I gotta be honest and say I’m not sure I see the point in it, but there y’have it.
But, truthfully? This novel isn’t that great. It dragged a lot in many inopportune places, and the plot’s kind of shoddy. As contradictory as it might be, I had to suspend my belief a lot when reading about one of the most realistic characters I’ve come across in ages. There’s a lot of white noise: minor characters that are just…there and the like. I really felt the novel lost its direction midway through, and even then I struggled to find a point. Like, seriously, here’s what happens:
Jade becomes obsessed with seeing this boy—either on the zoo’s live cam or in person. They eventually meet (after a two month break between chapters—I hate fragmented installments like this, but if it dragged under these circumstances, imagine otherwise) and he’s got a kid and not much personality and she’s absolutely enamored by him.
That’s basically your entire trajectory right there. And it takes 288 pages to get it across.
Still, the voice was awesome. Even if I was skimming by the last pages, the voice rocked. C-
Further: This review is pretty spot-on about my thoughts.
Simon & Schuster | 288 pages | February 27th, 2007 | Deb Caletti's site | Elephant stuff on Deb's site | GoodReads
Thursday, March 26, 2009
IS MEGAN MCCAFFERTY ACTUALLY SPEAKING TO ME? ABOUT MY HAVING READ PERFECT FIFTHS? ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME??
BLESS YOU KHY.
Posted by Steph at 10:25 PM
Posted by Steph at 12:01 AM
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Daily Beast: 'The Next Twilight?' Talking about Gayle Forman's If I Stay, a novel that's already somewhere along the process of going to the big screen (Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight, has been assigned to direct), though it only hits shelves April 2nd. I was actually quoted for this article (pages 2 and 3), but I'd call it more of a misquote because the paragraph in question implies that I think adults reading YA are creepy, when it's the exact opposite: I want every single adult ever to read YA. I just find TwiMoms who're, like, living in function of Edward Cullen and obsessed with his very word choice and depressed their lives are not complete because they don't sparkle, are creepy. In fact, I would say that if you don't find them creepy, you are similarly creepy.
But, people who've read this and are adults and enjoy YA and read my blog and were put off by that? Don't be. I think you rock. Don't think I'm dissing you cos I'm not cos, like I said, you are - as we teens so eloquently put it - the shit.
She gave it to him.
No response. It's a waiting game now, which in my opinion means it's failed already.
Posted by Steph at 5:09 PM
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
What is everyone's opinion of them?
My super down-to-earth, math fiend of a friend up and surprised me at school today with a love letter she'd written to her senior crush. She wanted me to tell her what I thought.
I read it. It is...omg.
It is sappy. It is not gonna work. Guys, the words "I can't stop you from getting hurt, but I can be your shoulder to cry on" are on there. It's a nice sentiment and I can see where one would think it's romantic, but they've known each other for all of a month. She'll ruin any chance she has with him.
Seriously, guys HATE it when you hand it to them on a silver platter. Where's the wonder? Where's the mystique?
This is shit. I feel horrible posting about it online but I need help being gentle in letting her know I think it'll suck majorly for her. Anyone wanna 'help a sista out' or whatever?
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I saw a recent discussion about this on another author's - Sarah Prineas's - blog (via Courtney Summers) and it got me thinking... how well does online marketing get the job done? And further, how does it differ from other types of marketing in terms of effectiveness?
As a book blogger, I have a pretty decent look at how publishers do the whole online promotion thing. There are a lot of ads, fan pages, dedicated websites, and blogger mailings involved, not to mention blog tours and book trailers and interviews and special promotions (like Penguin's free ebook thing). There are sites to defer to - like LibraryThing, among others. I've even seen book blogging communities started by publicity departments as a means of bridging the two. And hell, the list is evergrowing. People get creative every once in a while.
Then there are author efforts - interviews, guest blogs, review copies, contest copies, blog groups, communities (like the 09 Debs).
But anyway, how much of that actually attracts readers and results in sales? The bottom line is, they're all efforts to get some buzz going (well...maybe not author blogs. But an online presence, maybe). And how often does that really happen?
Now, for my moment of truth:
1. I don't watch book trailers. They do nothing for me.
2. I don't read most author interviews. I hate to say it, but most people are not that interesting. Also, many interviews are badly formulated. It's the reason why I don't do that many anymore. It's hard to find something that's worth doing, if you know what I mean.
So the question remains: What works? What can authors do to promote themselves? What interests you as a reader? Is online marketing any good or are people just kidding themselves?
Some examples that worked off the top of my head: John and Hank Green's vlogbrothers and Lisa McMann's online promo for Wake before it hit shelves last year. She wound up on the NYT bestseller list and I heard from others she was quite aggressive online.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Okay so I have about a zillion ongoing contests... If I miss any, please let me know?
Winner of the Dust of 100 Dogs contest is Shelly!
Ruth (Bookishly Awesome)
1 scoop vanilla
Death by Bikini
Addresses all go to reviewerx at gmail, k?
Also: Please put the title of the book you won on the subject bar. My inbox is a mess and if you don't do this, chances are I won't see it, and if I don't see it, I pick another winner. Sorry, but I am exam-ridden and if my absence of posts is of any indication, I honestly don't have time.
Any contests I have missed?
Posted by Steph at 2:35 PM
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Welcome back to Manhattan,
So, Elizabeth’s dead, right? But there is no body. As with so many high profile cases, there are conspiracy theories surrounding her death, and a close eye is being kept on those who were closest to her—Swoonmaker Nate, Blairbitch Penelope, Green as Jenny Lina, Di(e), etc. Further: Could it be the young Miss Holland will engage in an affair with her deceased sister’s fiancé, Natedoll? Could it be that his super jealous ex-fuck bunny (only worth a) Penny is all, “Over my—or yours, or Elizabeth’s, or hell, the queen’s—dead body?”
This one is only a slight step up from The Luxe in terms of historical accuracy. I really think there is some gold in the idea of creating a sort of historical soap opera books like such as a sort of alter ego for Gossip Girl (and you gotta admit, of all the spinoffs, this one is by far the most creative in its variations)—at least for the series’ fans. But this utter disregard to the period covered and its culture kinda weakens the whole affair and comes across as rather lazy.
Also: the word ‘circumspect’ was use a dozen times too many. Seriously, now, it’s not even that great a word.
It occurs to me there would be that much stronger a hook if there was some plausible way with which to incorporate all the dramatic tropes herein—starting with the dialogue not sounding so en vogue a la now and all the promiscuity the plot resorts to being contextual and not just a tad bit green.
All of this notwithstanding, I liked reading Rumors a lot more than its predecessor. The characters could all still use a little sculpting to enhance the renowned z-axis and all, but there’s something here that just works. It’s a lot of fun watching these people all screw themselves over, make amends, plunge the knife yet again, and repeat in some sort of vicious cycle. As long as there’s a conscience of when to stop when it gets tireless (under 12 books, please) I’ll keep reading.
It’s kind of like watching that voodoo with the pins and the dolls—lemme tell you, totally satisfying. And fun! God, I sound like I have some sort of complex. I should get Envy sometime, hmm? Hopefully we’ll learn what makes Penny-for-your-fuckup such a psychopath!
ETA: I forgot to mention this, but has anyone who has read the series noticed how the big huge twists are usually presented without much fanfare? I am talking about, like, starting book one with Elizabeth’s funeral and starting this one off with how she’s not dead and all? This structure goes right over my head...
HarperTeen (with Alloy) | 432 pages | June 1st, 2008 | GoodReads | Retailers (compare prices)
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This Elizabeth chick is dead in the prologue, and then in the first chapter they go back in time and she’s not, and it tells the events leading up to her death—how she unwittingly got engaged to her cow of a best friend’s shag-of-the-moment boy, how her awesome/pain in the ass sister fell in love with him, how her maid is secretly green as Grinch, and how she’s being buried on the day of her wedding. Also, you will find that her beauty is apparently noteworthy, for the amount of times you are reminded of it.
This is Manhattan,
This book fails so hard. It fails sooooooooo hard. I know historical fiction fails when I can feel the Taren on my mind screaming in agony:
“They wouldn’t have talked like that back then, bitch!”
“This narrative is so pitch imperfect a tone deaf loser could pick up on it!!”
“WTF EVEN THE COVER FAILS. THAT DRESS IS SO NOT NINETEENTH CENTURY.”
“Why is there no mention of royalty here?! WHEN WILL I GET MY FIX??”
(That last one is a joke. Kind of.)
So, I mean, it fails. It really, truly, fantastically does, and I’m going to emphasize this until the end of the time. It FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAILS.
But I actually enjoyed it. There’s something to be said about a book that doesn’t even try to hide how it’s Not Even when it comes to historical fiction, how it’s Not Even when it comes to subtle (I submit that Henry’s last name was deliberately chosen so it’d resemble Swoonmaker), and how it’s NOT EVEN CLOSE when it comes to convincing me the characters want so much as a glass of water—and yet keeps you reading.
Okay, so I gave up on getting good characters or good setting pretty early into the story, but the overall plot—while in equal parts indiscernible and SOOOO EDWARD-IS-ADONIS OBVIOUS—worked for me. There were truly some parts where I thought, “Where are we going with this?” and “What’s the point?” but I was still propelled not to finish studying History (which maybe the people involved in this didn’t either, actually), get fucked on the exam, and not feel like it was all for nothing.
You can see the Gossip Girl counterparts present—the Natedoll who’s so static to the reader but a force of nature to the characters, the Blair bitch, the Serena annoyingly-awesome-Mary Sue, etc. It’s not Gossip Girl, though, in that Gossip Girl is much more GROWL. (Love Gossip Girl; think the books suck. Too.)
AND, BITCH PLEASE, IT BEARS NO RESEMBLANCE WHATSOEVER TO GEMMA DOYLE, SO DON’T GO THERE.
If you don’t mind slow-moving plots, kind of cliffhanger endings, and just want a fluff/filler type of book, the 450-odd pages in this tome might to the trick. Good for a rainy day (which it was, yesterday).
Look, it’s very complicated and contradictory and confusing, how I feel about it. I honestly did enjoy it. But but but... Whatever. All I know is, Rumors is on its way to my bed.
Oo lala. ;)
HarperTeen (with Alloy) | 464 pages | December 1st, 2007 | Series Site | Excerpt | Amazon | Other Retailers (available for $6.99 in one place...)
Monday, March 9, 2009
Annika Truman desperately needs her kid brother Jeremy, who has a brain tumor, to believe in the power of positive thinking. So, to inspire him, she goes out and buys the rapidly selling out Robin Hood (his favorite show) action figure. Then, instead of just giving it to him, she tells him to wish for something—anything—and that she can guarantee it will come true. Of course, Annika’s covered her bases. She knows he’ll be asking for that Robin Hood doll.
Except…he doesn’t. He asks for the star of the show to come and visit. And Annika’s got to make sure it happens, and that it happens fast. With his surgery as a deadline, she sneaks off to Hollywood. The way she sees it, if Jeremy’s wish doesn’t come true, nothing will make him believe he might get his medical miracle.
And she’s just not having that.
I definitely got the sense from reading that Janette Rallison knows how to set up camp, build a fire, entertain with marshmallows and stories, and leave discreetly. This is a good example of an effective high-concept novel that works. With the cute packaging, I had a gazillion people asking me what it was about, and being able to feed them a one line premise* and actually pique their interest was awesome. It’s strong hook matched with strong storytelling, the combination of which resulted in an entertaining and above all engrossing read.
Now, I don’t say this only because of the plot, because—yay, repetition—I need good characters 95% of the time, too. I mean, here, it was just all so lucid and effortless—quick characterizations that made sense and worked for the novel, and a lot of cute quirks (we’re talking about a premise centered on Robin Hood—how is that not quirky-cool?). Annika, for instance, isn’t at all needy or static like you would think given the circumstances. She’s got spunk and she takes LA to town with it, pushing through barrier upon barrier to get what she wants. She’s driven by her love for her sibling on top of it, which makes her that much more sympathetic. She rocks.
Now… oh, gosh, how I loved this book when I began it! But. It must be said that I always think an author is playing with fire when they choose to play the celebrity card. It’s hard to make me buy a storyline in which the stars descend upon the mortals and sparkle and all, and I thought the book lost a lot of its grace by forcing what I thought was unfeasible—even for the context—down my throat. There’s even a little romance that sparked between Annika and Robin Hood actor dude and, well…
Look, I really enjoyed this novel. I just thought the way it progressed toward the end was taking the easy way out. The ending in question, however, was definitely not “easy”—it was taking the road less traveled, and for what it’s worth, I think it took a lot of bravery from the author. The sincerity of Annika and Jeremy’s relationship touched me, and while I have conflicting views on some of the plot devices, there’s absolutely nothing to find at fault about that. C+/B-
* “A girl promises her younger brother who has cancer anything he wishes thinking he’ll ask for a certain rare toy, but then he asks for the lead character from his favorite show to come visit him and she needs to find a way to make it happen.”
Putnam | 272 pages | March 5th, 2009 | Author Site | GoodReads | IndieBound | Amazon | Other Retailers
Further: The cover story
Sunday, March 8, 2009
On Thursday, agent Colleen Lindsay hosted an event called Queryfail in which agents and editors live-blogged via Twitter why they rejected the query letters they’d just read in an attempt to educate queriers. The snippets posted were stripped of any identifying material (names, titles, etc) and many times was just impersonal descriptors: “Four paragraphs of why the writer’s cat is blue but no mention of a plot.” It was huge and well publicized on other blogs, as well as the participants’, and Ms Lindsay claims many aspiring writers even wrote to her expressing their gratitude.
BUT. Then the criticism began emerging. “Queryfail is unprofessional because there was a lot of snark which doesn’t ‘educate’ anyone at all.” “Queryfail is unprofessional because who gave these agents/editors the right to publicly post part of a confidential correspondence?” “Queryfail is unprofessional because __.”
Most surprising of all was the amount of backlash on non-participating agent Nathan Bransford’s blog on Friday, a good portion of which directed at Ms Lindsay (and the participating agents by default). I especially loved the anonymous commenters bagging on Ms Colleen, yet ironically enacting a reverse version of Queryfail: anonymous writers “reject” the agent(s). You would think people have enough sense to at least sign their name to their bitching. If we’re talking about common courtesy and all.
Anyway, let me get some examples of Queryfails:
"I'M I'M TYPING MY QUERY IN ALL CAPS SO YOU WILL BE SURE TO NOTICE IT." Okay, now that my pupils have stopped burning...
I'm sure this one's been mentioned a thousand times." I've been working on this novel for twenty five years." No 2 book contract
"It's a unique combination of memoir and novel." oh good; we'll sell it on the barnes & noble memoir slash novel shelf.
"My book is about a friendship based upon mutual vomiting practices in high school." AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
(The quotes are from queries; the unquoted stuff are the agent’s/editor’s comments.)
Most of the participants (maybe all) have blogs in which they repeatedly talk about half of this on a weekly basis. (1) Your query shouldn’t result in a visit to the ophthalmologist. (2) You never mention how many trunk novels you have or how you spent a quarter century working on a book or whatever because it only draws attention to the fact that you’re not published and/or that your productivity is way too slow to be profitable. (3) Memoir is nonfiction marketed like fiction but it is not a novel. Writing a fictional memoir is a good way to get slaughtered. (4) You need to have an idea of the goddamn market and what is bad-creepy before you set out to waste an agent’s time.
So, are the comments snarky? Maybe, yeah, but so what? Anyone who’s a good prospective client would be aware of such blogs that talking and remixing and using and reusing the same punchlines about all of these issues week after week. They would know not to make these mistakes. An ignorance to these blogs’ existence is indicative of a writer with no industry savvy and frankly, considering how high profile some blogs are in any writing website (and you should have visited at least one writing website before you query—search, research, and re-search, people), I don’t see how that’s even possible if the writer stands any chance whatsoever at publication. It is a total disregard to submissions guidelines which you should already know.
This information is right there. I have no sympathy for those who got snarked for lack of attention to it. In fact, I’d even go on to say that they probably won’t even see it because I doubt they even know these agents have a blog. Or if they do, this is doing them a favor: They need to be disillusioned, stat, if they wanna see their book in print with a pretty, well-known colophon on the bottom of the spine. Publishing is evidently a tough business and aspiring authors as well as published ones should grow a backbone.
I don’t see the logic behind the ‘this is confidential correspondence’ argument: if the agent isn’t naming anyone or posting titles, it’s moot. I don’t even see where it’s unprofessional at all. To me, Queryfail isn’t such a departure from other similar features you find on these blogs.
Janet Reid (another agent) brought up a good point, though, in criticism of Queryfail: “My problem with Queryfail is that these truly egregious examples of people who don't know what they're doing, are a MINISCULE percentage of the overall queries received.
Saying Queryfail educates people is like telling someone they will improve their piano playing by watching a toddler bang on the keys.”
Maybe that’s true. I really do think it’s an excellent point. But I gotta say that while it might not help the truly dense at all, it might help those who follow guidelines and do their homework see what they’re up against. The way I see it, Queryfail is good for both sides: The people getting rejected at least are getting a personal response, which is rare enough without the sudden influx of queries; the educated onlookers get a glimpse of some of the utter shit on the slushpile. Ms Lindsay’s initiative is awesome and I hope she keeps up with it, no matter the criticism.
And? Give me a fucking break. People should stop getting their knickers in a twist about 140 characters of unidentifiable bad query text used as an example of the shit agents get, and focus more on that fact that said shit is taking up time these agents could be using to consider their work instead.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Am stealing this from Liv's blog.
MY LITTLE RED BOOK is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from light-hearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today's teens. And while the authors differ in race, faith, or cultural background, their stories share a common bond: they are all accessible, deeply honest, and highly informative. Whatever a girl experiences or expects, she'll find stories that speak to her thoughts and feelings.
Ultimately, MY LITTLE READ BOOK is more than a collection of stories. It is a call for a change in attitude, for a new way of seeing periods. In a time when the taboo around menstruation seems to be one of the few left standing, it makes a difficult subject easier to talk about, and helps girls feel proud instead of embarrassed or ashamed. By revealing what it feels like to undergo this experience first hand, and giving women the chance to explain their feelings in their own words, it aims to provide support, entertainment, and a starting point for discussion for mothers and daughters everywhere. It is a book every girl should have. Period.
Okay, so the description is a bit didactic, but doesn't it sound awesome?
I am unconditionally, irrevocably fabulous. My fabulosity sparkles in all its neologism's glory. I work for my fabulous worth, am nothing without my Fabulous Factor, have no personality without the ease of fabulous. When my fabulosity leaves me for any period of time, I am a mess, a blasphemy to human existence, and I am under a perpetual state of crying and sniffles.
Five things I am addicted to:
1. Learning. I *know* you're all itching to tell me to shove it, or to cut the crap, or to be real, or to be like, "OMG NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD." But I am. If I had the option of going to the US for college where you don't have to declare a major upfront to be accepted and where you can do double majors at the same university and stuff, I would totally try to shoot for triple majors. I'd want to do a million minors. On some days, I even aspire to do a physics degree one day, just for the heck of it. (And yes, I know, it takes a lot of studying and effort and isn't something you do on a whim. But, bitch please. A person can never know too much, and I am up for a challenge.)
2. Yelling. Pfft, screw 'inside voices.' There is nothing that isn't more effectively said in very raised tones. Unless you're one of the enlightened individuals who can use silence to your advantage - I'm trying.
3. Little Dude and Prune. They're the best kids ever.
4. Frogs. I have a million of them - cute stuffed animal versions, that is (the real thing = the nasty) - in my room. If anyone's looking to surprise me on my birthday on something, clip $5000 to a tiny frog and you're golden. :)
5. Wordplay. There's just nothing I like better than parodies, sarcasm, irony, and best of all - wordplay. I love language. I'd even look into doing linguistics if I didn't already have such trouble making up my 15-year-old mind about what I want to do for the rest of my life within my more prominent interests. (I have to decide in a year and five months, about. When I'm 16! WHAT?)
I tag-- oh this is too hard! You're all fabulous! BUT...
Reader Rabbit *
Posted by Steph at 4:49 PM
I've always wondered if these were any good. Then I received word about the new release's - Hunt's - video and thought I'd share.
First chapter here.
Second (only available in audio format, it looks like) here:
There are (according to the email I received) 3 million of these books in print. That's insane. Anyone who's read 'em wanna give their opinion?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Bless Megan McCafferty.
Anyway, so I've finally decided that the optimal procrastination method is to download songs because my iPod is mysteriously empty. :S And since my lappy is new and my old laptop is residing somewhere in the depths of hell, where it shall remain until I'm feeling particularly masochistic, I don't have a library to boot.
As I'm always open to trying new things and I figure no time like the present (and my blog is sorta dead), feel free to recommend your lalalala favorites below! (Band and a couple of songs to get myself started would be perfection.) My taste in music can best be described by 'eclectic', so anything goes.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Okay, so, exciting news: There's a new Sarah Dessen networking site, official and all, called Sarah-land.
Got SD books on your wishlist? There will be giveaways!
Want to know more about SD or her books? There will be special, exclusive content written by Sarah herself for the site.
Want to celebrate your Sarah-love? Gogogo!
I know SD has a huuuuge fan base (and not only among the bloggers!), so this is a fantabulous initiative to bring this-kind-of-awesome people together. Hope to see you there :)
P.S. I was the first member on Sarah-land. First! This makes me happy.