December 31, 2012

2013 Goals and a Brief 2012 Review

2012 has been a heck of a year. It seems like it passed in the blink of an eye, but when I think back on the year, I realize just how much has happened, and then it doesn't feel so crazy fast :)

My resolution for 2012 was to write two novels. Did I achieve it? Sadly, no :( But I like to think I would have if I hadn't gotten pregnant. Convenient excuse, yes, except I honestly think it's true. That first trimester passed in a nauseous fog, and I got nothing done.

My 2013 resolution will be the same. Write two novels. I have one outlined, two at the idea stage, and one that still needs to be ripped apart and rewritten. So I have lots of options :)

Here are some 2012 highlights:

♥ Getting pregnant was, literally, the last thing I expected to happen this year. But I've made my peace, and I can't wait to meet this little guy!

I wrote a new book! I'm still bummed it's only one new book, but... let's stay positive lol. It's YA science fiction, and it's in the final editing stages. Well, "final" being relative because I'm sure it'll go through more revisions once my agent gets it. I also outlined a contemporary, something I never thought I'd write, and hopefully it'll be written... soon. *cough* And then it's back to fantasy, possibly something dark, because I hear its siren call and I must obey.

♥ I made some amazing new writer friends, many of whom I now wonder how I ever got through this writing thing without. I still wonder at how lucky I am. I love you guys!

♥ I'm trying my hand at something I've always wanted to do, which is professional editing. I even get to acquire books for the digital-first publisher who was crazy awesome enough to hire me. I'm a total nutcase in that I love editing until I have to actually do it, and then I hate it. But when I finish, I totally want to do it some more. Yeah, I'm weird.

But writing is and will always be my first priority.

♥ Exciting happenings that I can't talk about so let's pretend this bullet point doesn't exist.

♥ My CP Mindee sold her second series, and it's THE BESTEST THING EVER. So even though it isn't my accomplishment, it's still a 2012 highlight for me because IT'S THE BESTEST THING EVER DID I SAY THAT ALREADY?

♥ My other CP Lauren also had an AMAZING 2012 in terms of writing and publications. And you guys need to read her work, because she is a world building goddess. FOR REALS.

As I said last year, never give up on your dreams, whatever they may be. Pick yourself up and push on, push on, push on.


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

December 19, 2012

YA Superlative Blogfest: Elements of Fiction

Day three! You guys still with me? :P Here are today's categories with my votes!

Most Formidable World: The dark city in Sanctum aka the place where you end up as a suicide. Bleak and terrifying and miserable.

Wanderlust-Inducing: Ravka in Shadow and Bone, barring the Shadowfold, which I would stay far, far away from lol.

Loveliest Prose: This is easy. Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight.That woman writes in gold and gossamer.

Most Dynamic Main Character: Karou from Days of Blood and Starlight.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role: Thomas from Girl of Nightmares. Everyone needs a Thomas. Cas wouldn't have gotten too far without him.

December 18, 2012

YA Superlative Blogfest: Popularity Contest

DAY TWO! :D Here are today's categories with my votes!

Most Likely to Become a Rock Star: Iko (Cinder). Iko rocks. This is my story, and I'm sticking to it >_>;

Mostly Likely to Start a Riot: Pia (Origin). Pia at the end of the book anyway. Or maybe Tris from Insurgent (and it probably wouldn't even be on purpose).

Biggest Flirt: Mal (Shadow and Bone). Alina all but said he'd tumbled a lot of girls. I can totally understand why. Rawr.

Fashion King and/or Queen: Carmel (Girl of Nightmares). Girl can rock her social status and go ghost hunting with Cas.

Girl You'd Most Want For Your BFF: Lela (Sanctum). She was willing to go to hell for her BFF. Can't beat that. Or Karou from DoSaB/DoBaS. Because hello? Karou is a BAMF.

Boy You Wish You'd Dated in High School: Four (Insurgent). Also Malachi (Sanctum). Boy's got SKILLZ.

Most Likely to Become President: The Darkling (Shadow and Bone). VOTE FOR HIM OR DIE. Okay, this category should actually be 'Most Likely to Become a Gorgeous Overlord.'

Quirkiest Character: Morpheus (Splintered, which isn't a 2012 release, but it comes out Jan 1, 2013 WHICH IS CLOSE ENOUGH). This guy is nuts. I love him.

Favorite Parental Figure: Brimstone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which also isn't a 2012 release, but I'm counting it b/c I read it this year, and he's at least mentioned in Days of Blood and Starlight, which counts, right?). I love Brimstone SO MUCH I WANT ONE FOR MY OWN.

Coolest Nerd: Kate Grable (Bad Hair Day). As if she's got any competition. PFFT.

December 17, 2012

YA Superlative Blogfest: Head of the Class

It's day one of the YA Superlative Blogfest. Woohoo!

These aren't all the categories, just the ones I was able to decide on. I am notoriously indecisive.

Favorite Dystopian:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Admittedly, I didn't read many dystopians this year. But I did really enjoy this book and Four so I think it's earned the spot. Except for that ending which still has me scratching my head with questions, but I suppose that's why I must now have book three ASAP.

Favorite Science Fiction:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

STILL CAN'T WAIT FOR SCARLET OMG WHEN WILL IT BE HERE? I thought the world was awesome, and I loved Cinder. Kai wasn't half bad either :P

Favorite Fantasy:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

One word: DARKLING. That is all. Heeeey, Darkling, I'll be your Morozova's Collar if you know what I mean *coughcough* >_>;;;

Favorite Action/Adventure:

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

I don't know that this book fits this category exactly, but there's plenty of action and adventure in it. And there was just no way in hell I wasn't somehow mentioning this book so there you go XD

Favorite Comedy:

Bad Hair Day by Carrie Harris

I don't think it's possible to not love Kate Grable. She's brilliant and hilarious, and my review for this book is coming as soon as I find the time to write it.

Favorite Paranormal:

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Anna is a BAMF. But I'd rather not run into her in a dark house. Unless Cas is with me, in which case it's okay. Maybe. I kind of like Cas. I don't think that would endear me to Anna.

Yes, I was only able to decide definitively on six. I KNOW, I CAN'T BELIEVE ME EITHER.

Looking forward to seeing what your picks are though!

♥ Happy Monday!

December 14, 2012

YA Superlative Blogfest (Coming Soon)

The 2012 YA Superlative Blogfest starts next week! I skipped out on participating last year, but this year, I'm so in! The blogfest was created by Katy Upperman, Jessica Love, Alison Miller, and Tracey Neithercott, and you can read about what each of the categories are here :D

Happy Friday!

December 12, 2012

Pitch Wars: Team Announcement!

Teams have been announced!
(Click the above link to see the full list of teams.)

First, I want to give a sincere thank you to every writer who applied for me. I am so beyond grateful and humbled that you shared your work with me. Contests like these aren't easy, and the fact you put yourself out there is, itself, incredibly brave. So here's to you.

For Team Lori, I selected:

Sam the Shadowman by Leila

The premise was intriguing. The sample pages were well-written, and the voice was stellar. Leila's MC made me laugh, and then she creeped me out all within the first five pages. (Admittedly, I am easily creeped out, but I think there was genuine creep-factor here.) I'm super excited to read the full!

Yesterseer by Sophia
Those Who Can't Speak by Jani

Congrats, ladies!

December 5, 2012

WoW: PROPHECY by Ellen Oh

Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Book blurb (from goodreads):
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Available January 2, 2013

Fantasy based on ancient Korea. What's not to love?! So ridiculously excited to read this book :)

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

December 4, 2012

Pitch Wars: Agents!

Are you ready for this? We have 16 incredible agents vying for our Pitch Wars team manuscripts. We're so excited to see what pitches they fall in love with, and what teams will win the coveted Pitch Wars Most Requested Manuscript title.

And, in no particular order, here are the agents...

Louise Fury
L. Perkins Agency
Twitter: @louisefury

Louise is seeking teen Sci-Fi and Young Adult horror. She's also on the hunt for deep, dark contemporary YA and select Middle Grade fiction with a literary feel - it must be realistic and thought provoking and the characters must be authentic and original. Louise loves horror and romance, especially Regency and Victorian.

Jessica Sinsheimer
Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
Twitter: @jsinsheim

Jessica is seeking Literary, Women's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Fiction.

Natalie Fischer Lakosil
Bradford Literary Agency
Twitter: @Natalie_Lakosil

Natalie is looking for commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), and upmarket women’s fiction. Specific likes include historical, multicultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, and middle grade with heart.

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg
Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
Twitter: @BookaliciousPam

Pam represents young adult and middle grade children’s book authors, and adult romance authors.

Jordy Albert
The Booker Albert Agency
Twitter: @bluedragonfly81

Jordy is on the look out for Romance (contemporary, historical/Regency, and paranormal). YA contemporary/historical or dystopian, sci-fi/fantasy with romance elements. She's also open to YA GLBT within those genres. She'd love to see unique, well-developed plots featuring time travel, competitions, or travel.

Andrea Somberg
Harvey Klinger Inc.
Twitter: @andreasomberg

Andrea's looking for the following categories: Fiction; literary, commercial, women's fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, middle grade.

Jennifer Mishler
Literary Counsel
Twitter: @literarycounsel

Jennifer is seeking Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Literary, and Young Adult Historical.

Suzie Townsend
New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
Twitter: @sztownsend81

Suzie represents adult and children's fiction. In adult, she's specifically looking for romance (historical and paranormal), and fantasy (urban fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, epic fantasy). In Children's she loves YA (all subgenres) and is dying to find great Middle Grade projects (especially something akin to the recent movie SUPER 8).

Victoria Marini
Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc.
Twitter: @LitAgentMarini

Victoria is looking for literary fiction, commercial fiction, pop-culture non-fiction, and young adult. She is very interested in acquiring engaging Literary fiction and mysteries/suspense, commercial women's fiction (romantic suspense, sci-fi, fantasy), and Young Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller and horror ).

Kerry Sparks
Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, Inc.
Twitter: @Kerry_Sparks

Kerry is looking for Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction, both commercial and literary. She tends to shy away from werewolves, zombies, faeries, and the like, but she’ll read anything with a fresh voice and compelling characters. She is particularly keen on contemporary YA, quirky MG, books with a strong cinematic element.

Drea Cohane
The Rights Factory Literary Agents

Drea is currently seeking: fiction, memoir, crime, non-fiction and YA. Her roster consists of British, American, and Canadian clients. International talent is welcome.

Katie Shea
Donald Maass Literary Agency
Twitter: @AgentShea

Katie specializes in fiction and memoir, especially women’s fiction and commercial-scale literary fiction, and realistic YA. She is most interested in coming-of-age stories and stories of unique relationships.

Elise Capron
Dijkstra Literary Agency
Twitter: @EliseCapron

Elise is interested in serious character-driven literary fiction, well-written narrative nonfiction, and short story collections. (Note: She is not interested in Fantasy, young-adult/middle-grade, picture books, romance, and sci-fi.) She aims to work with writers who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience.

Jodell Sadler
Sadler-Caravette Children's Literary
Twitter: @picturebklunch

Jodell is interested in YA, MG (especially funny), fiction and nonfiction, book proposals, and picture books. She will also coach writers wanting to self publish. She simply loves a well-paced story that moves her between joy and tears.

Corvisiero Literary Agency

Brittany and Michelle are teaming up to look for Adult, YA, and MG manuscripts.

Michelle Johnson
Twitter: @MJsRetweet

Michelle's published one novel, The Footloose Killer, and edited several others for publishing houses and private clients. She also is a Script/Story consultant on an independent film in Halifax, NS, Canada, and enjoys working closely with writers to help them develop their voice and craft.

Brittany Howard
Twitter: @brittanydhoward

When reading, Brittany loves to be introduced to new and interesting people and places. She looks for strong voice, good storytelling, and fascinating relationships between characters—romantic or otherwise. More than anything, she loves when a book surprises her.

There's just one more day to get your applications in for Pitch Wars. Make sure to check out this post here to get all the details.

November 30, 2012

The Summer I Became a Nerd - Cover Reveal

Double Friday post zomg! :D

A lovely author friend, Leah Rae Miller, unveiled her cover today for The Summer I Became a Nerd, and here it is!

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become... and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

This book sounds ADORABLE. Being a geek myself who has cosplayed numerous times at anime conventions, I can't wait to read this book and meet Maddie and Logan :)

Add to Goodreads
Preorder from Amazon
Preorder from Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Born and raised in northern Louisiana, Leah Rae Miller still lives there on a windy hill with her husband and kids. She loves comic books, lava lamps, fuzzy socks, and Cherry Coke. She spends most of her days reading things she likes and writing things she hopes other people will like.


In the weeks leading up to The Summer I Became a Nerd's release on May 7, 2013, there will be a Marked-to-Read contest on Goodreads. Watch Leah’s site for details on how to enter.

Let Leah know what you think of her cover in the comments :)

Have a great weekend, guys! ♥

November 28, 2012

WoW: FALLING KINGDOMS by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Book blurb (from goodreads):
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Available December 11, 2012

I'm curious how the plot will divvy up time between these four characters, hopefully giving us enough of each to really get an idea of who they are. Plus, that cover totally screams high fantasy. Love it.

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

November 26, 2012

Pitch Wars: Mentor Bio

Hi guys! This post is for those planning to participate in Pitch Wars. If you're not sure what Pitch Wars is, click here for more details!

Submissions start today (11/26)! The cut off time to get your applications (query & first five pages of manuscript) in is 8PM EST on December 5. Submission details below!

About Me: I write YA fiction in whatever genre strikes my fancy, whether that's science fiction or contemporary. But my heart ultimately belongs to fantasy and all its permutations. I'm a content editor for a small publisher, and I'm represented by the fab Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary.

I'm open to mentoring Young Adult manuscripts in the following genres:

♥ Fantasy (from urban to epic)
♥ Science Fiction
♥ Dystopian
♥ Steampunk
♥ Cyberpunk
♥ Horror
♥ Gothic
♥ LGBT (in combination with any genre)

I love everything from dark and disturbing to light and fluffy. Give me a strong plot, compelling characters, and high emotion. Make me care, and I'll love you forever.

I like to give a balanced critique of what works for me and what doesn't in regards to world building, characterization, and plot. While my feedback is never unnecessarily mean, be aware that I am very honest. We can discuss beforehand exactly what sort of feedback you're looking for :)


Send your applications to Writers can apply for up to 3 coaches. The coaches' categories are set. Coaches can only consider the categories they've signed up for. Writers cannot apply for a coach that is not in their category.

For additional information about this contest, go HERE.

  This is open to finished manuscripts only.

  You may only enter one manuscript.

  Only the genres requested by each coach will be considered for the contest.


Subject line: Pitch Wars Application: Coach Name you want to apply for: Title (Example: Pitch Wars Application: Brenda Drake: GONE WITH THE WIND)

Name: Your Name

Genre: The genre of your manuscript

Word Count: The word count of your manuscript

Query letter here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentations. A space between each paragraph.

First five pages of the manuscript here (embedded in email). Single spaced. No indentations. A space between each paragraph.

REMINDER: You can send an application for up to 3 coaches.

Check back soon for a complete list of the amazing agents participating in the contest. There's over a dozen!

All the coaches have posted bios/wish lists on their blogs. Please check all the coaches' posts in your category before deciding your top 3 picks. To jump from blog to blog, just click on our pictures below.

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with family, fun, and food!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

November 21, 2012

WoW: THE FRIDAY SOCIETY by Adrienne Kress

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Book blurb (from goodreads):
An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all.

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Available December 6, 2012

This sounds like loads of fun. Plus, I love me some steampunk. I'm curious as to why these women are all assistants to powerful men, as opposed to being their own bosses, and I'm also a little wary of potential Asian stereotypes, but I'm willing to go into this book with an open mind. Hopefully it'll surprise and delight me :)

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

November 19, 2012

Cover Reveal: AVOW by Chelsea Fine

The FINAL installment in the Archers of Avalon series by Chelsea Fine


Scarlet remembers. Everything. Her past lives, Tristan, Gabriel, Nate: she remembers it all--including how to get to the Fountain of Youth. But time is running out.

Heather and Gabriel have been kidnapped by Raven, while the curse that has plagued Scarlet and Tristan for centuries has shifted, putting the star-crossed lovers in more danger than ever before. Water from the Fountain of Youth is the only thing that can save Scarlet and her loved ones. But the water comes at a price.

With lives--and hearts--at stake, Scarlet leads her friends on a dangerous journey to the Fountain of Youth. Where eternal life is possible, but death is certain.

Available December 11th, 2012!

Don't miss the first two books in the Archers of Avalon series!

ANEW (book one)
Kindle    Nook
AWRY (book two)
Kindle    Nook

Looks awesome! ♥

November 14, 2012

Coming Soon: Pitch Wars!

We're extremely excited to announce an upcoming event where agented authors, industry interns, and editors team up with aspiring writers to shine up their manuscripts and pitches to present to some awesome agents.

Here's the deets...

November 7, 2012

WoW: TAKEN by Erin Bowman

Taken by Erin Bowman

Book blurb (from goodreads):
There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends...and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Available April 16, 2013

First thing that caught my attention was that the narrator is a boy. I love male narrators! Second thing is the premise, because it sounds awesomely mysterious. I'm already intrigued. The fab cover doesn't hurt either :)

Also, why is this book not coming out until April? *dramatic flop*

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

November 5, 2012

Taking Time on Things That Matter (To You)

A few months ago, my sister and I were in the bathroom putting on make-up as sisters sometimes do. I was about to shade in my eyebrows, and a semblance of the following conversation happened:

Sister: Oh! I've finally found the perfect way to do eyebrows. I'll show you.
Me: Okay...
Sister: Take your brush and shade the wing then fade out the front and fill in with liner and smooth out with comb and fill in again and--
Sister: *while laughing* Yes, but then your eyebrows look like this. *gestures to her own which, admittedly, are fab*
Me: But I don't CARE. I'm going back to my one-step eyebrow shading.

So I did. But my sister has always liked what she could do with make-up so she didn't mind spending the extra time to perfect her eyebrows.

And it got me thinking about how we all spend a little more time on the things that matter to us, even though others might think it strange or a waste of time.

My sister is also a photographer (and a dang good one), and she spends hours upon hours reading up on the latest techniques, lenses,and equipment. She's always practicing her skills or imagining her frames, and she stays up late scrutinizing every shot to make sure her clients are happy. And she does all this because that's what she's passionate about.

What I'm passionate about is my writing. I spend ages trying to find the right words for a single sentence, or hours rewriting a paragraph because it just doesn't sound right. For people who don't care so much about writing, this would be crazy to them. And, yeah, I guess it kind of is. But this is what matters to me, so I'm willing to take my time.

So no matter what your passions, if it's something that really, truly matters to you, take the time to learn it and perfect it and ENJOY it.

Happy Monday! ♥

October 31, 2012

Interview with YA Misfit Chessie Zappia

Today, I get to share an interview with YA writer Chessie Zappia, who blogs over at Zap's Lobster Tank about writing and books. Basically, Chessie is kind of the shizz.

The interview topic is antagonists, which is something I love talking about. Hope you guys enjoy her answers as much as I do!

Lori: What do you think is the single-most threatening or terrifying aspect of a memorable villain?

Chessie: Hey, Lori! Thanks for having me. For me, the most threatening/terrifying aspect of my favorite villains is that tiny little detail--something they repeatedly do or say--that is so obviously them. Darth Vader? BREATHING. Dude needs help with that respirator. But when you hear that kwooo-pwahhh you KNOW who it is. And you know the Force is about to crush your esophagus.

Lori: Haha! That's a great detail I've never actually thought about. Who is your favorite book villain and why? And is there a villain you absolutely loathe?

Chessie: It's funny, because my favorite book villain is also the villain I positively loathe.

Dolores. Expletive. Umbridge.

I mean, COME ON. Her name means 'pain'! But what always killed me with her, the very moment I knew I hated her guts when she first said it, was her throat-clearing, sentence-interrupting hem-hem. Voldemort's bad and evil and nasty and all that jazz, but if Umbridge isn't the nastiest pink-wearing cat-loving toad-faced she-devil to ever emerge from a book, I don't know who is.

Lori: AGREE 100% Does your villain have that little detail, that repeated something about them, that might give readers the same reaction they would to Umbridge's 'hem-hem'? And, if it's not too spoilery, what is it?

Chessie: I actually can't think of it, except maybe the phrase that's written across his face and his clothes, which would be a dead giveaway for who he is, if anyone could read the script the phrase is written in. I think, once I actually have the chance to write him as a villain, that detail or trait will come out. I try not to think too hard about the small stuff when I'm in the drafting stage, because then things tend to sound forced. And the last thing you want to do when writing a villain is force things, because if you force something that should be terrifying, it ends up coming off as silly or hilarious instead.

Lori: What's your thought process when crafting a villain?

Chessie: Usually when I'm crafting a villain, the first thing I ask myself is "What do they want?" Every character needs motivation, villains especially. If your villain doesn't have a reason for doing what they do, they won't be nearly as threatening as they could be. Then I wonder what got them to the place they're at, and what shaped their methods. (I also find that the best villains often don't have villainous goals, but rather villainous methods to acheiving neutral goals. That is to say, they chose the Dark Side. [Or were forced to choose it, depending on the story. Oh look, backstory!])

Lori: Do you have a favorite villain among your own stories?

Chessie: Oh, but I do. He's called The Spectator, and a lot of the stuff I've written actually shows you how he got the way he is. He's my favorite (among a lot of the others) because I think he's the best example of a villain who you can sympathize with, knowing everything he's gone through. I also think, at the end of the day, the reader won't really be sure if he was the villain, because A.) his goal isn't villainous, B.) he's fighting against forces stronger than himself, just like any main character, and C.) if they were in his position, would they do things any differently? Could they?

Thanks again for having me! And for everyone else, don't forget to check out the other YA Misfits' posts here.


Chessie is always full of writing wisdom :) As she said, please don't forget to check out the other posts!

Happy Halloween! ♥

October 29, 2012

What Scares You?

This post is basically all about what a giant wuss I am.

But that's no secret. I love Halloween because of the crazy costumes and the decorations and THE CANDY. But even though I was and am a HUGE R.L. Stine fan, and I began writing stories about ghosts and exploding heads when I was in Elementary School, I've never liked SEEING scary things (reading is A-OK though).

Maybe it's something to do with the culture I grew up in--illnesses are attributed to bad spirits which need to be either placated or sent away with complicated ceremonies, ghosts and demons have to be warded off with talismans, funerals are long and drawn-out ceremonies in which a shaman must guide the spirit back to their place of birth so that it's not left to wander. It's a highly superstitious culture, and the ghost stories my mother used to tell me (stories from back in Laos, where apparently bad spirits were really plentiful) sometimes made it difficult to fall asleep at night.

It didn't help that I grew up in a house that was haunted. My mother would see things, and my siblings and I all experienced the usual stuff like moving shadows, footsteps when no one was there, weird noises, etc. I'm still not sure if the house was actually haunted or if it was just really dang creepy. The basement was a place of nightmares--dank, dark, and filled with spiders and centipedes. The stairs were ridiculously steep, and I lost count of how many times someone fell down them. I was terrified of going ANYWHERE in the house once the lights were turned off at night.

We lived there for seven years, but after we moved out, a succession of families moved in and out within the next couple years. One of them was a family my mother knew, and they told her a rather alarming story about locking themselves in one of the bedrooms while someone/thing rattled the doorknob as if trying to get in.

So, possibly as a result of the culture I grew up with and my childhood in a house that STILL provides the setting for all my nightmares TO THIS DAY, I'm never quite sure whether I trust some of the things I've seen because I'm just not sure what's real and what isn't.

Here are a few things that never fail to creep me out:

Child ghosts.

~ My daughter used to get up at night to sleep with me and my husband. When my sister spent the night once, she was awoken by a sound, and when she opened her eyes (she was sleeping on the sofa), she saw my daughter's little figure walking through the living room in the dark. Creepiest thing ever? Possibly :P

~ This one time, I was in my bathroom cleaning up for bed and I heard, quite clearly, a voice whisper, "Mama." Thinking it was my daughter coming over to sleep with us early, I said, "Yes?" When there was no response, I glanced into my bedroom to find it empty. I went to check on her, but she was still asleep in her own bed.

~ My husband was doing something in the front yard around 11 PM for a reason I can't even remember. He had the front door open and through it, he saw what he thought was our daughter standing in front of the dog kennel, talking to the dog. He waved at her. When he came back inside only a minute later and found she wasn't in our bed with me, he went to check on her to find she was still fast asleep curled underneath her blankets.

Dolls, especially old ones.

~ When I was a kid, someone thought it'd be a brilliant idea to manufacture dolls with eyes that followed you. And my mom thought it'd be a brilliant idea to get this doll for me and my sisters. We threw the doll in the porch, and I was forever scared of going into the porch after that.

Reflections in mirrors that aren't really there.

~ Can't even count how many times my eyes have played tricks on me, and I've caught something in the mirror that wasn't there when I turned around. Creepy as heck. Also, driving at night on a dark road (or passing a cemetery), don't tell me you've never been just a tiny bit scared of looking into your rearviw mirror and seeing someone in your backseat.

Anyone/thing that wants to kill me.

Well, it's true >_>; Crazy people. Ghosts. Certain wild animals. This is why I can't watch horror films. EVERYTHING ALWAYS WANTS TO KILL EVERYONE. Although like I said, I think it's just the visual media, b/c I love reading horror stories. Go figure.

Okay, now your turn. What scares you? Any creepy stories to share?

Signing off with a pic of my husband's Halloween costume. He's quite proud.

Happy Halloween! ♥

October 24, 2012


That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

Book blurb (from goodreads):
A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake—and facing a terrible tragedy—Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi’s mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn’t there…but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus’s fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi’s ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it’s Lexi’s own future that’s thrown into question...

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, last heartaches, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

Available April 2013

The moment I saw this cover, my face went :O

I love everything about it, from the colors to the typography to the sense of setting. And then I read the blurb, and it sounds so fun and different. This needs to go on everyone's to-read list!

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

October 22, 2012

On the Value of NaNoWriMo

Last week, I read this post from Farrah Penn, and it got me thinking about what I've taken away from NaNoWriMo about myself and my writing, even though I haven't officially participated since that first time three years ago.

For the first half of 2009, I'd been playing with an idea for a book, but it had been years since I'd written anything other than fanfiction (which I talked about here). Fanfiction was a necessary detour on my writing path, but it was emphatically just a detour, and I needed to get back on the main road, the road I started on when I was a kid using my saved-up dollars to enroll myself in writing programs instead of blowing it at the mall. But my progress was stalled because of the irrational fear that I wouldn't be able to make the transition back into writing my own stories with my own characters.

I thought about it and dithered a lot and then I heard about NaNoWriMo. It sounded insane. 50k words in one month? IMPOSSIBLE. And yet, people did it every year, and it sounded like just the thing I needed to kick my butt into gear and jumpstart the book. So, trepidation high and half-expecting to burn out after the first week, I joined.

Turns out NaNoWriMo is an AMAZING idea and not nearly as crazy as I once thought. I reached the 50k mark around November 20. I did burn out around 57k words, and the book was a phenomenal mess that would need mounds of editing and rewriting, but the fact was I did it. I DID IT. And that small (HUGE) accomplishment forever changed what I thought I was capable of.

What NaNoWriMo taught me about myself:

♥ I am capable of writing 50k or more within a month, regardless of other obligations like funerals, parties, holidays, and weekend trips (all of which happened that particular November).

♥ I can do it again if I put my mind to it. Every first draft I've written since has been completed within a month or less. Editing is something else entirely, but spitting out that first draft isn't something that scares me (much) anymore.

♥ I'm a plotter. My outlines do change, and I keep it flexible, but I have to have an outline.

♥ Writer's block can be overcome. Sure, there are times when the writing feels bland and nothing comes out right, but I write through it anyway. And when I go back to edit, I find they were either not as awful as I remembered or easily reworded for better flow. Editing words already written down is easier than staring at a blank page.

♥ I am horribly competitive. Seeing my fellow NaNo-ers' word counts jump up every day was exactly the motivation I needed to keep writing, to push for a few more hundred words, to keep going even though I'd already reached the day's word count goal.

♥ Even though fanfiction was my greatest teacher, the joy of writing my own story again eclipsed everything else, and I have never looked back.

Are you participating, or have participated, in NaNoWriMo? And did it teach you anything about yourself?

Have an awesome Monday, guys! ♥

October 19, 2012

How do you celebrate Halloween?

My twitter feed has been abuzz lately with people preparing for EPIC HALLOWEEN PARTIES. I don't normally do much to get into the spirit of the holiday (I know, shame on me!), but I LOVE seeing what everyone else has been doing!

Amy Tintera tweeted about how she hosts a fabulous Halloween party every year as well, and she's already begun decorating in preparation:
I don't know about you guys, but if that was watching over my shoulder, I'd cry. (But Amy doesn't b/c she's awesome and not ridiculous like me)

October 17, 2012


City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Book blurb (from goodreads):
The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Available February 5, 2013

This cover, you guys. THIS COVER. *loves* I've been following Miriam's blog since she first got her agent, and I was ecstatic when she announced the book had sold. And now it's got this fabulous cover and an intriguing blurb, and I am so beyond excited to read it.

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

October 15, 2012

On Queries and Putting Your Best Foot Forward

One of the most common reasons I hear (or rather, read) for why agents pass on a "weak" query is: "If it's weak in the query, it's weak in the manuscript."

Writers groan when they hear this, but I can understand both sides. The quality of a query can oftentimes be a good indicator of a writer's grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. It's also an example of the writer's style and their ability to summarize information--too much back story, not enough conflict or voice. All of this can be true of the manuscript as well.

But not always! When I read the entries for the GUTGAA agent pitch contest, there were a lot of queries that were either too long, too short, repetitive, or didn't present enough information (character, conflict, stakes, what makes it unique). If I was an agent with nothing but the query to go on, I would have passed on them. But then I jumped down to the first 150 words, and they were solidly written with a great voice that drew me in, and I would have definitely kept reading.

Sometimes, no matter how skilled a writer you are, writing a good query is just REALLY FRACKING HARD. And because agents judge whether or not they want to read your book nearly entirely on your query, this can really suck.

Unfortunately, you can't just say 'oh well' and cross your fingers that the agent will request based on the sample pages alone. Well, actually, yes, you can, but do you really want to? It's true that some agents have said they skip right to the pages to see if it draws them in, but even more agents never make it to the sample pages because the query didn't do its job.

When an agent says they pass because they fear weaknesses in the query will reflect weaknesses in the manuscript, it's because they've read a LOT of queries and pages and generally know this to be true. But the thing is, sometimes--a LOT of the times--it's not, and the agent won't know that because they just don't have the time to check every single query.

So while, as a writer, I think query-writing can arguably be a form of torture, the unfortunate fact remains that it doesn't matter whether or not the quality of your query reflects the quality of your manuscript. No matter what, you have to put your best foot forward and prove that your manuscript is worth the read by proving it first in your query.

And yes, again, that's REALLY FRACKING HARD, and no, there's no single right way to do it, but I know you can! You wrote a whole book, after all. That already means you rock.

Good luck! ♥

Today's art: a SUPER OLD sketch--please excuse the anatomy errors
and my utter inability to draw a guitar *wince*

October 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing meme

The name of this meme makes me cringe a bit, but at least it aims big? :P

I was tagged for this WIP survey by the lovely ladies at A Nudge in the Right Direction, and you should totally check out their answers b/c their books sound fab.

What is the working title of your book?
When I start new stories, I tend to just name them after my MC so it was Ven for a while. Now it's Dragonfly, but that'll change because I'm very 'meh' about it.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My stories are usually the result of several ideas mixed into one. For this one, the setting actually came first. I had this city in my head, and I'd been building it bit by bit for months, but I didn't have a story to go with it yet. Then I was listening to Taylor Swift's Back to December (hush, don't judge) and wondered for what reason someone might leave someone they loved without any notice or explanation. Then I thought about how much I love Naruto, a manga about a ninja who carries around an enormous fox demon inside of him, but I didn't want it to be a fantasy so I came at it from a different angle. And then I just mashed everything together.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA science fiction. I think...

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'm no good at imagining real life people as my characters. And if I tried, it would literally take me weeks.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
I suck at these. Basically, it's about a girl who struggles with the monster inside her, and the boy sent to hunt her down.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My agent gave me the thumb's up for the first three chapters, so hopefully she doesn't hate the rest of it lol.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?
The first draft took me three weeks. That sounds impressive, but it was pretty much a literary mess.

Here's the opening line: The bustle of the market should have been an easy way to shake someone, but Nine's increasing unease kept the back of Ven's neck burning with awareness.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've been calling it Cinder meets Naruto. Not sure how that'll hold up since I doubt most editors are familiar with Naruto.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See question two. Plus, I wanted to write something set in the future, but wasn't quite spaceships and intergalactic travel.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There are three princes, a variety of aircrafts, scrap gangs, sky towers, and a murder mystery. I think it's neat.


Now I'm supposed to tag people. Ummmm. Honestly, I think everyone and their mom has been tagged already so I'll just say if you want it, go for it ♥

Have a great weekend!

October 10, 2012

WoW: THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Book blurb (from goodreads):
London, 1894. Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns her father is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Juliet is accompanied by the doctor’s handsome young assistant and an enigmatic castaway, who both attract Juliet for very different reasons. They travel to the island only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: he has created animals that have been vivisected to resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape the island, even though her horror is mixed with her own scientific curiosity. As the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Available January 29, 2013

I remember seeing this deal on PM and thinking 'Wow, why didn't I think of that?!' Naturally, I was all up on the cover reveal, which is lovely in a sort of stark and haunting way. And now that we've got the full blurb, I am just dying to read this book.

What do you guys think? :)

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

October 5, 2012

My dog: the paradox

Thanks to my fab agent sister Abby who linked to this on twitter:

October 3, 2012

WoW: THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Book blurb (from goodreads):
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Available January 22, 2013

At first, when I saw the cover, I had a 'meh' reaction. But the more I looked at it and the more I focused on the details, the more I realized this is actually a really AWESOME cover. And kind of beautiful too. And the blurb is just fantastic. I'm so excited for this one!

Happy Wednesday, guys ♥

October 1, 2012

Point of View: Take Two

So I've said that 1st person vs 3rd person is a matter of preference, and not something you should spend too much time stressing over. But have you ever started a WIP and then, at some point between the beginning and end (ideally closer to the beginning), you have the mind-breaking realization that maybe... your story isn't being told from the right point-of-view character?

Usually, when we first visualize a story, it seems perfectly obvious whose story needs to be told. 99.9% of the time, that's your main protagonist. (There are exceptions, notably among the classics, but for simplicity's sake, we'll focus on the narrator as the MC)

But sometimes, as you're writing, the story begins to take shape in an unexpected way. The conflict pulls you in a different direction. Who you thought was your main character suddenly fades in importance while the details seem to shine and fall into place around a different character.

At this point, you have to make a decision. Restructure the story and refocus the conflict on your main character, or rewrite the story from the other character's point of view. Either way, it requires some major manuscript reconstruction.

Something similar (sort of) happened to me while outlining my WIP. Two thirds into the outline, it dawned on me that half of the story action--events that would better serve the book if written out instead of mentioned later on--wasn't happening to my female protagonist. I still needed her point of view because she is the main character and her scenes are all still important, but I realized that she's only half of the narrative.

Fortunately, I didn't have to reconstruct the entire story around a different character, but I'd never written in dual pov before (at least not original fiction). The idea of having to do so was daunting, so it took a while for me to accept that this story needed the point of view of my male protagonist. But once I acknowledged that it needed to be just as much HIS story as HERS, everything came together.

I'm a big fan of stories with multiple points of view, but they really do need to be essential to the story you want to tell. Unless you're G.R.R. Martin.

So have you ever experienced the frustration of writing in the wrong character's point of view? Or experienced something similar? And what are your thoughts on dual/multiple points of view?

September 28, 2012

Upcoming Pitch Contests in the Blogosphere

If you're a querying writer, here are some pitch contest opportunities you might be interested in :)

1. Spooktacular Pitch Extravaganza

It's a Corvisiero Literary Agency showdown! It's Brittany Booker vs Jordy Albert! Open to Adult, Young Adult, New Adult and Middle Grade.

For what, when, and how to submit, check out the full contest information!

2. YAtopia's Get Your Pitch On

Commissioning and Managing Editor of Hardie Grant Egmont, Marisa Pintado, will be poised and ready to take your pitches both on YAtopia and on Down Under Wonderings on October 15th.

Marisa is looking for YA in any genre and is accepting submissions from any where in the world.

For what, when, and how to submit, check out the full contest information!

3. Pitch Live! Elevator Pitch Contest

Pitch Live is a video of your best elevator pitch to an agent. The contest is for Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade fiction. The elevator pitch should be creative, as if you ran into an agent at a conference.

For what, when, and how to participate, check out the full contest information!

EDIT: Two more via the lovely Jamie Corrigan :D

4. Trick or Treat With Agents

Trick or Treat With Agents is a contest Kimberly is co-hosting with Brenda Drake, and Deanna Romito. Contest is open to MG,YA, and Adult. (No Erotica or Memoirs)

For what, when, and how to participate, check out the full contest information!

5. Hook, Line and Sinker Contest

On October 13th at 11AM EDT, take your entries to the appropriate blog based on genre. Dee is hosting Middle Grade at, Kat is hosting Young Adult at and Fizzygrrl will be hosting the party for Adult at Agents will be stopping by to play.

For what, when, and how to participate, check out the full contest information!

If you know of any upcoming contests that I missed, please leave links in the comments.

Have a great weekend! ♥


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