Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's In A Cover?

So, the title might not make sense- but it sounded so cute in my head :) Anyway, YA Highway has asked us wannabe authors what our favorite book covers are. I had to take a moment to think on this because I don't necessarily choose a book based on a cover, but after some thought- I came up with a few recent books that I have picked up in the past couple of years.

First, there are two books that stand out because some of the most gorgeous men in the world grace the covers (not to mention that the material inside is pretty good too).

The cover of Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain speaks to me. Of course it is just like the movie cover, but cut me some slack on this one! I just like to stare at it.
The other is Scott Heim's Mysterious Skin...same scenario :) I mean, just look at him.

I also find the cover to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones to be pretty intriguing and then after you read it, it is very telling- like foreshadowing.

Another book that I just finished recently, Chris Lynch's Inexcusable, is another cover that intrigues the reader and makes you want to find out what this field and half-covered female have to do with one another.

A final book cover that I think is really neat is Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The cover plays along with the theme of a colorful and unique narrarator.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thriving Thursday

Once again, keeping you informed with what readers are looking for, here are the top sellers for the week of January 11th, 2010 according to Publisher's Weekly. Both of the top best sellers in fiction and young adult have links to so that you can read what the books are about and decide if you would like to own it yourself.

Young Adult/Children's Literature Top 10:

  1. Witch & Wizard- James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet, Little, Brown
  2. Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press
  3. Fallen- Lauren Kate, Delacorte
  4. The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins, Scholastic
  5. Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic Press
  6. The Book Thief- Markus Zusak, Knopf
  7. Beautiful Creatures- Kami Garcia, Little, Brown
  8. Graceling- Kristin Cashore, Graphia
  9. Lock and Key- Sarah Dessen, Puffin
  10. The Magician's Elephant- Kate Dicamillo, Candlewick

Fiction Bestsellers (Hardcover) Top 10:

  1. The Help- Kathryn Stockett, Putnam/Amy Einhorn
  2. The Lost Symbol- Dan Brown, Doubleday
  3. Noah’s Compass- Anne Taylor, Knopf
  4. I, Alex Cross- James Patterson, Little, Brown
  5. Impact- Douglas Preston, Forge
  6. The Last Song- Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central,
  7. Deeper Than the Dead- Tame Hoag, Dutton
  8. The Honor of Spies- W.E.B Griffin, Putnam
  9. Sizzle- Julie Garwood, Ballantine
  10. Under the Dome- Stephen King, Scribner

For more information on the bestsellers of this week, such as audio, paperback, and biography bestsellers (January 11th, 2010) go to the website: Publisher's Weekly and click on the Bestsellers Tab. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stop Sleeping on Christopher Rice!

YA Highway has done it again with their ingenious questions for Road Trip Wednesday! This week the question asks, what is you favorite book that no one has ever heard of. That is so easy for me to answer because it would be any of the Christopher Rice books I've read (he is the son of Anne Rice). They are all great, but the two that stand out to me the most are A Density of Souls and Light Before Day.

A Density of Souls is based on a group of young friends who grow apart when they reach high school. On the surface it seems as if social status is the only reason for the split, but as the novel continues, the reader finds out more devious and sinister reasons for this groups turmoil. The books combines themes of regret, love, friendship, confusion, denial, and mystery.

Light Before Day is a novel that combines gay issues, crystal meth use (and the whole underground drug-trade society) and thriller/mystery elements. It focuses on a lead character who struggles with his own addictions while searching for his missing lover and trying to figure out what is happening in his gay community.

Christopher Rice has two more books that feature gay lead characters and plots full of suspense and mystery - The Snow Garden and Blind Fall.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Tantalizer

So, I am going to go back to the start of my novel- Chasing Manson. I posted the beginning of Chapter Three without realizing that it would make sense for me to start from the very beginning. The novel is focusing on a group of teenage boys, fresh from high school, who take a road trip to meet Charles Manson. So, here goes...hope you enjoy, and if you don't act like you do :)

Part One- Fall 1972

Chapter One- Somebody To Love
I loved the way she smelled. The way she trailed her finger up and down my side when we lay in bed always made me want her more. And I could tell she loved me. I just didn’t know if I was there yet. She pecked my cheek, sat up and turned to me as she pulled my Beatles t-shirt over her head. Our song was “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” As well as stalking Charlie Manson, I peeked in on John every so often. She was standing by her bathroom door in the house she inherited from her grandparents when she said it:
“Jake needs new shoes.”
“The things that people wear on their feet, Blue.”
“I know what shoes are. Didn’t he just get some?”
“He’s a growing boy. He needs new shoes, dig?”
She was becoming impatient and there was nothing I could do. I didn’t have the money to buy Jake new shoes. I also didn’t have the courage to tell her that I didn’t have the money.
“Yeah, I’ll handle it.”
“I knew you would.” She gave me a courteous smile before she walked into her bathroom. I watched her long brown braid as it touched the back of my shirt. She had the perfect body- slim with the right curves. She had the face of model, a small mole accented her top lip, and her dark brown eyes always seemed to look past me.
“Shoes.” I repeated to myself. I swore Jake grew out of shoes faster than the weeds grew in Sandy’s “garden.” I leaned back against the headboard and reflected on the sex. Sometimes I wondered if that was the only reason I stuck around- I mean sex with her was amazing. It was like taking LSD while riding a roller coaster, but that was where the excitement would end. Our conversations consisted of me begging for sex and Sandy asking for money that I never had. She would throw in an “I love you.” And I would smile back and kiss her-hoping that that would save me from having to say “Me too,” or “Thank you.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Monday: Movie Soundtracks

Since this past weekend was the big Golden Globe Weekend (and the Critic's Choice Awards came on Friday on VH1), I thought I would coordinate my Music Monday with movie soundtracks. There are a few movie soundtracks that stuck with me throughout the years and have impressed me. These could all be inspirational when it comes to writing.

The first that comes to mind is the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. I used to sit around with my sister and cousin and listen to this soundtrack over and over. I was too young to really understand the full meaning of the songs, but they were catchy- like, Mary J. Blige's "Not Gon' cry," Toni Braxton's "Let it Flow,", Brandy's "Sittin' Up in My Room," and of course , Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)."

8 Mile is another impressive soundtrack. Of course, Eminem's "Lose Yourself" is a wonderful song to pull from if you want to write about a coming of age tale. There are a few more gems on this soundtrack like, Boomkat's "Wastin My Time, "Macy Gray's "Time of My Life," and "Rabbit Run," by Eminem. The movie itself could have made a great novel, and the soundtrack helps to move the plot along.

Queen of the Damned is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time! There are so many interesting songs (musically) on this CD. It is not much of an "inspirational" soundtrack for writers, unless you know you want to write about vampires, but it is well done. Some of the highlights from this soundtrack are "System" by Chester Bennington (from Linkin Park and Death by Sunrise), "Slept So Long" by Jay Gordon (from Orgy), "Dead Cell" by Papa Roach, and "Change (In the House of Flies)" by Deftones. The whole soundtrack is amazing and if you have not heard it, give it a try!

Finally, two more recent movie soundtracks that are absolutley genuis would be for the movies, Across the Universe and Once. Across the Universe, of course, highlights some of the best songs from the Beatles catalog. Some of my favorites are "Hey Jude," "Revolution", "Across the Universe," "Strawberry Fields," "Happiness is a Warm Gun," and "I Want You/She's so Heavy."

Once is a movie that features original music from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Some of the best songs on this soundtrack that could offer so much material for writers are "When Your Minds Made Up," "Lies," "Say It to Me Now," "If You Want Me," and of course "Falling Slowly." If you do not know any of these songs, I suggest you use your iTunes or Rhapsody search engine and find them!

I could go on and on, but I kind of have other things to do :) What are some soundtracks that you think should be on my list?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Time Is It?

Due to my recent trip to England (and the fact that I did not get home until 3 am this morning) I will not be posting my tantalizing (teaser) Tuesday piece today. I promise to have something for this day next week. If however enough of you whine and complain to me about not having my post up today, then I might just have to do it :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Writing about Relationships using Song Lyrics

Once again it is Music Monday! (If you missed last week's Music Monday- check it our here: Slipknot- Snuff.) I am so excited to write about this next artist and some of his songs. Whenever I want to write anything romantic, or anything dealing with love, sex, relationships- I turn to - who I consider the Prince of R & B (let's face it, R. Kelly is still the King), Trey Songz!

Not only is he a GORGEOUS man, he also has a sexy, velvet voice and very interesting song lyrics. Obviously if I am looking to write the next literary masterpiece I won't seek inspiration from "LOL Smiley Face :) " but I may look to some of his more intricate song lyrics to help me write a scene in a story from the male perspective.

For example, he has a song called "Yo Side of the Bed"(yes, YO side) he says "All I know is that, Our bed, Our Sheets, Our Pillows, Get lonley...on your side of the bed." Ladies (and some gentelmen), would you not swoon if a man/woman said this to you ????

On the other hand, if you are trying to capture that emotion of losing someone because your love has just died and there is no salvaging it, a good song to listen to by Trey Songz would be "Black Roses." Some of the lyrics help to give some emotional insight to the male side of a break up: "Who knew our love would ever be called a memory? Who knew my home for happiness would soon be misery? Hate that we're so distant girl do you even miss me at all? I guess, life's just not fair."

So, if you are looking for inspiration for writing raw human emotions when it comes to love, sex, relationships, and romance- go for Trey Songz' CD: Ready.

Are there any other artist/song that help you write about relationships?

Go here to check out a live version of: Invented Sex/Say Aaah:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Free Friday

First off, yes, I realize that today is Saturday...I had a busy, busy day in London, England yesterday and did not get the chance to come online. I was gone from around 9:40 a.m., until 11:00 p.m. looking at things like Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. I was dead tired when I got back to my room.

Anyway, on Fridays I will blog about anything from a movie I want to see on the weekend, a recipe that I have tried (that may or may not have turned out well), or random thoughts on books that I have read. Today, I would like to combine the two. I found myself at one point trying to determine who I would cast in a movie version of The Hunger Games (this doesn't seem too far-fetched. There is bound to be a movie made from the book soon). I would like to share my thoughts with you on who I think would do well in the major roles:

Katniss Everdeen: AnnaSophia Robb (she would have to have dark hair of course- she is the girl from Bridge to Terabethia and Race to Witch Mountain)

Peeta: Jake Abel (Check him out on

Gale: Rafi Gavron (see Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist or Inkheart)

Primrose Everdeen: Elle Fanning

Mrs. Everdeen: Julianna Margulies

Haymitch: Steve Buscemi

Effie Trinket: Susan Sarandon

If you have read the books, or have any idea of the characters at all, who do you think will be a good person to fill any of these major roles? OR is there a book that you have read and you automatically thought about who would play the major character (or characters) in the film? You have? Then tell me about it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thriving Thursday

Hi again :) It is my goal to give you updates on the thriving world of fiction and children's literature, as these are the areas I will write in, on Thursdays. I will give you links to check out Publisher Weekly's (PW) website in order to participate in some of their blog discussions and I will update you on the top sellers in various categories. This way you can keep an eye out for where your work will fall in!

According to Publisher's for the week of January 4th, 2010 the fiction and children's literature bestsellers are (by category/top 10):


The Lost Symbol. Dan Brown, Doubleday

I, Alex Cross. James Patterson, Little, Brown
Under the Dome. Stephen King, Scribner
Pirate Latitudes. Michael Chrichton, Harper
U Is for Undertow. Sue Grafton, Putnam
The Help. Kathryn Stockett, Putnam/Amy Einhorn
The Last Song. Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central
Ford County. John Grisham, Doubleday
The Christmas Sweater. Glenn Beck, Threshold Editions
Breathless. Dean Koontz, Bantam

Children's Literature:

The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins, Scholastic

Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins, Scholastic Press
The Book Thief. Markus Zusak, Knopf
Million-Dollar Throw. Mike Lupica, Philomel
The Magician’s Elephant. Kate Dicamillo, Candlewick
Beautiful Creatures. Kami Garcia, Little, Brown
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Sherman Alexie, Little, Brown
Graceling. Kristin Cashore, Graphia
Shiver. Maggie Stiefvater, Scholastic Press
Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. David Benedictus, Dutton

If you would like to see more, visit Publishers Weekly's site:

This week, I wanted to provide a link to a blog over at Publishers This discussion focuses on authors taking risque topics and not writing to their full ability because they feel as if they can rely on the fact that there work is obscure. The writer of the blog discusses Mario Acevedo's forthcoming Werewolf Smackdown , which they credit as a good book as Acevedo generally gets good reviews. Go to the following link, read the opening paragraph and decide for yourself whether you agree or disagree with this generalization.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Once Upon a Time...When I was Young

Yeah, it's time for YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday question I've missed this! There is nothing a writer likes more than writing/talking about him/herself. :) This week's question is so awesome and I can spend hours writing about it, but I will limit it to the next few paragraphs- promise!!!

The question is what did you write when you were young?

I started seriously writing when I was about 10 to 11 years old, before that I would scribble some ridiculous poems and short stories about me and my mom going to the store, or my grandmother straightening my hair. My first poems were all about the things in life that I had not yet experienced, but that I thought would happen to me eventually. Love, shopping, best friends betraying me etc.

I also kept a journal of poetry in my teenage years and they were pretty much about my social awkwardness, the boyfriends I wish I had, the experiences I wish I had, and a few were about teachers that I couldn't stand :)

After writing my first poems, I realized this wasn't enough. I started to then write stories and "novels." At first, I felt like my stories and novels had to focus on my lifestyle and my race/culture. My cousin, sister, and I would write about African American males and females living in the "ghetto," getting high, having sex, joining gangs- all things that I had never done and couldn't imagine doing. I completed a novel around the age of 13-14 about a African American male dealing with family trouble, girlfriends, and murder/gang violence.

When I got into high school, I branched out. I felt like I didn't want to be this stigma writer- I didn't have to just write about my own race. I started to experiment with the other cultures that I longed to know more about and (at some points) that I wished I were more like. I wrote stories and novels about Latin Americans, and White Americans in high school dealing with normal teenage problems. I wrote a series called Milton High School about a group of friends struggling with relationships, family problems, drug use etc.

The one thing I'm really proud to say that I wrote around the age of 15-16 was a novel called Annette and Jason. It is heavily influenced by R.L. Stine and other authors that I read who wrote thrillers/suspense. It is about an abusive relationship between two high school students.
The writing is extremely cheesy, but I was pretty impressed with my take on the subject matter at such a young age. Maybe I can re-visit it one day :)

Anyway, that's the cheesy crap I wrote when I was a young adult. What about you ???

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday Tantalizer :)

Once again, I have gotten this idea from my cousin, and I am running with it! She said that it is pretty standard for writers to release parts of their work on their blog- so here is my first go at it. I will try and leave it up for awhile, just to see if anyone decides to actually visit and comment on it.

I am working on a novel that I may call Chasing Manson. It is based on a very sloppy screenplay that I wrote some years ago. It is about a main character, Blue, who is fresh out of high school (I am hoping to market this as YA) and he and his friends go on a road trip to California from West Virginia in order to meet Charles Manson in 1972. It combines my love for YA, music, history, and thriller/suspense novels. I am hoping that everyone will get enticed from this little snippet and decide to come back for more :))

Chapter Three-We Gotta Get Out of This Place
The officer didn’t know this of course, but he would become completely fascinated with me. At that particular moment, when we first met, he was just annoyed. He rolled his eyes, fiddled with the low-hung belt around his waist, and sucked his teeth. Occasionally, he used his pen and pad to jot down a note or two.
“What did they look like?”
I looked up at him. We were in the John’s office. I sat in one of the folding chairs across from John’s throne and Jinks sat cross-legged on the floor next to me. The officer rested his butt on the edge the desk.
“They were wearing ski masks. I don’t know what they looked like.”
“No idea?”
He tapped his pen on the pad in a rhythmic tone that reminded me of The Beach Boys’ “Komoko”. I can’t stand The Beach Boys so I couldn’t stop myself from letting out a small huff.
“No, sir. They were wearing ski masks.”
“They sound like you or me.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“Excuse me?”
“Did the
y sound like you, or did they sound like me?" He asked this with an absolute straight face. I didn’t really understand the question. To me, we both sounded the same. White males from West Virginia don’t really have any distinctions in their voices.
“What I mean is they sound like they are from West Virginia, not England or anything like that.”
“Are you sure?” The way he watched me, I knew his question was serious. His burnt brown mustache twitched as he spoke. His hair was the same color and almost as coarse. It bothered me.
“This is John Lennon’s number one fan. He would know an English accent.” Jinks responded as he tapped my leg. He smiled and pushed his hair behind his ear, he was proud of himself- like he was a character witness for me.
The officer was not amused.
“So…no accent?”
“No, sir,” I responded. This time, I kept the huffs to myself. I figured that would make the lame ass interrogation go by a lot quicker if I was polite and cooperated.
“Please, call me Officer Stanton, or better yet- call me David.” David stood and took a card out of his back pocket. He would tell me later it was because he knew how to play the game. He knew what kids like us wanted, if we had to refer to him as Officer Stanton, we would never feel comfortable enough to tell him anything.

“Why don’t you give me a call if you can remember anything else?” He extended the card to me and then put his pad away in his breast pocket.
I took the card and read the bold name in cursive. He looked like he was a David. Davids seem like assholes, like arrogant, annoying, cops.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What is it about "Snuff" by Slipknot?

So, like my wonderful cousin and writing counterpart, I realized that if I gave myself things to talk about each day on the blog, I will be more "bound" to visit and write on my blog- hopefully you guys will start coming as well :)

Anyway, I thought I would like to start off each week by talking about one of my other loves- and I think most writers agree that this goes hand and hand with writing- music. I would love to spend each Monday discussing the music that inspires me to write, or that makes me think about new material.

This week I will highlight one of my all-time favorite songs- Snuff by Slipknot. I can't really figure out why I love this song, but it just does something to me- lyrics like "break yourself against my stones...and spit your pity in my soul." These are the kind of words that I wish I had written! The kind of lyrics that inspire a writer to pick up a pen (or open up that laptop) and just flow... Can you think of a song that you like right now that evokes this same response???

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Posted Blog

My Blog post on Real Life Horrors was posted on YA Highway...please go and check it out here.... Real Life Horrors. Thanks!

By the way---I wrote this in ENGLAND- can't freakin' believe it!! I am here for my MFA program and I am way excited to go and see Oxford and London. Hopefully, I will post some pictures here so that everyone can take a look!!!