Tales From Under the Grave, a YA Spooktacular Halloween event

I love trick-or-treating. I mean, who doesn't? Free candy. Costumes. Halloween is one of the best times of the year!

To celebrate, Khelsea and I had this great idea. We're going to be hosting a YA Spooktacular Halloween event with some our favorite things. Authors, reviews, fellow-bloggers, mini-challenges, giveaways, "trick-or-treating", ghost stories and CANDY!!!

With that said, we are proud to present the first ever....

I know. It sounds awesome right? That's because it IS! More details to come once the event date gets closer and trust me, you don't want to miss it!

(You can follow #YASpooktacular on twitter if you want some as-they-happen spoilers.)
Twitter: @daniellebunner OR @onceuponareview


If you know an author you think would be interested please contact us and let us know! Thanks.
*If you are an author and would like to participate in this event or would like more details, please email talesfromunderthegrave(at)gmail(dot)com

*If you are an author or publisher and would like to donate, please email talesfromunderthegrave(at)gmail(dot)com.


Thirteen Thursday with Tricia Rayburn

Today, I am lucky to have the Tricia Rayburn, author of the Maggie Bean series and Siren, which was released earlier this year with Egmont. Siren is the first in a series for Rayburn and the sequel will be released next year. Without more rambling, welcome to Thirteen Thursday!

If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and why?
Fresh guacamole!  Because it makes everything else on the menu taste even better.  :) 
You are on a desert island and you stumble upon an unlocked chest. You open it. What three things do you want to see inside?
A map, sunblock, and a key to a lovely, air-conditioned, nearby bungalow!
What is your favorite place to be and why?
Home.  It's where my friends and family are.
What are the last five songs played on your i-pod?
Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones
Harvest Moon by Neil Young
Rabbit Heart by Florence + The Machine
I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
Ready to Start by Arcade Fire  
What are your six favorite books—and why?
 I'll give you 131: the entire Baby-Sitters Club series!  I LOVED these books growing up, and without them, I don't think I'd have ever found my way to this amazing profession. 
What is your writing process?
 I usually know four things before beginning any new project: the first and last scenes, the climax, and the title.  After that it varies; sometimes I outline ahead a few chapters at a time, other times I take it page by page. 
Tell us your journey to writing.
I've always loved to write, but for some strange reason, it didn't occur to me to do so for 'tweens and teens until I took a graduate school course called Reading and Writing Children's Literature.  The final assignment in that class was to write the first 30 pages of a young adult novel, which was such fun I wrote another 200 pages!  That became my thesis, and the thesis eventually became The Melting of Maggie Bean, my first published book.  But I was pretty much hooked the first day of that class.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given—personally or professionally?
You know, I can't think of any terrible advice I've been given!  The worst advice I could've been given was to pursue something more practical than creative writing, but fortunately—and perhaps amazingly!—no one ever suggested that.
What is one thing you have learned through your time as a published author?
That while seeing your story on a bookstore shelf is super exciting, it doesn't compare to the feeling you get when a reader writes to tell you your story helped him or her through a tough time.  
Siren isn’t your first book because you have the Maggie Bean books. Was it difficult making that audience transition to a new genre?
To be honest, not really!  What was a bit difficult was the transition from realistic fiction to supernatural fiction.  Writing about characters with special powers was definitely a new experience! It's not a difference so much as it is a realization that fiction knows no bounds! 

Where did Siren and Vanessa come from?
Siren was inspired by my recently developed fear of all creatures of the deep.  Sharks, jellyfish, crabs, you name it—if it lives underwater, I'm not a fan!  This fear made me think about what else might be lurking beneath the surface, and the rest grew from there.
The sequel comes out next summer. What can we expect in to see in that? More Simon!?
Yes, you'll definitely see more Simon!  You'll also see Vanessa return to Boston for her senior year, struggle with her body's new abilities and challenges, and try to make sense of everything she learned over the summer.  AND there just might be a little love triangle in there to mix it all up! 
What is one piece of advice that you were given as a writer that is important enough to pass on to other writers?
 One of the most important tips I can pass on to other writers is one I learned firsthand, and that's to do your best to write your story first and worry about publishing later.  This is SO hard, I know, but the publication process can be trying long before it's rewarding, so the more fun you have, the better!
Thanks so much Tricia for the interview! If you've never read Siren you should go get it right now. It's a really great read. 

Also, things are still in the works but I'm SO excited that I wanted to share with this AWESOME piece of the future. It's two part.
Part 1: Khelsea. 
Part 2:  Tales from under the grave. Bam:

That's all I'm saying right now. Stay tuned.


Book Talk: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Date: October 12th, 2010
Series or Standalone: Book 2 in series
ISBN: 978-0-316-07705-7
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena startsto pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

First line: "I used to think our town, buried in the South Carolina backwoods, stuck in the muddy bottom of the Santee River valley, was the middle of nowhere."

May contain spoilers for Beautiful Creatures, book one in the series.

If there is only one word for this book: Brava. I'm not really sure if it applies to a book but it does now. Forever in history, it will be related to this book, this incredible, marvelous book.

I'll be honest. I liked Beautiful Creatures. I remember I didn't love every second of the book but I enjoyed it--and by the end I was hooked. So, I was excited for the sequel. When another blogger friend let me borrow her copy (because I wanted to read it so very badly!) I was nervous. I tried to start it a few times and never got past the past first page or two. I wanted it to be good and I was nervous about what would happen to Lena and Ethan and Amma. Once I started, I could barely stop to work. This book I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. Honestly.

Link is back. Ridley is back. The crazy aunts are still crazy and Boo still lingers outside Ethan's car. It's a good time for everyone---except maybe Ethan and Lena, who are dealing with Macon's death and the repercussions. The characters are just as real, perhaps more so. They deal with new obstacles and go on new "adventures" and we learn so much about Ethan in this book. The characters all grew through these pages--Ethan, Lena, Ridley and Link especially--and while it was in ways I didn't expect and in ways that left me crying out for everything to work out like I wanted it, I feel like all of it was completely perfect. Every emotion I felt was purposeful.

Kami and Margaret stepped up ten thousand times in the prose department. There are lines that I read that gave me chills, which as we know I like. One of my favorite pieces of writing is toward the end of the Fragment Friday I did a couple months ago.  Everything from BC was weaved into BD and referenced and explained in new ways. There are still questions that aren't answered but hey, we've got a couple more books. After reading BD, I know they will be answered--and probably blow my mind.

I love Ethan. (How can you not?) I think I love him more now. The way he loves Lena, the way they sacrifice for each other and the way Kami & Margaret portray all those emotions and details are just...well, you know how it was it in BC? Double it. It's that good.

The other thing I loved are the new characters! We get to meet two important ones: Liv and John Breed. I don't want to give anything away but Liv is unexpected and John Breed is debonair in a leather jacket on a motorcycle. (That's a small a hint into his character.) They are lovely additions to the story and I am very excited to see how their roles continue to develop through the rest of the series.

And the twists! There were so many twisty moments. One in particular that left me kicking myself because I never saw it and I should have.

Yes, Beautiful Darkness has it all. Love. Hate. Death. Life. Loss. Laughter. Twists. Suspense. Confusion. And the incredible urge to run away because it's so much but you can't put the book down. I assure you, once it's over, you will wish a thousand ways that it hadn't ended. But that's another story.

Final thoughts on the book: I love it. It's a great follow-up to the first book with new characters and a moving plot. I can't wait for the next one!

Source: Borrowed ARC


Welcome to Crazy Town.

And no, I don't mean that weird mini-series that NBC had this summer.

I mean my day three.

It is day three without my computer and my car. I miss them both. Tremendously. My computer WAY more than my car. The library, while awesome, comes with restrictions. For example, one hour. I have one hour for computer use. It takes me that long to get focused but I do what I must. I can wait and log back in...but it's 180 minutes. 180 minutes. That's three hours. Yea, it sucks in all sorts of ways. The other negative thing, no privacy. AND no way to access my external. This is the downfall of having a Mac in a PC world (at least, the library world.) In Crazy Town, everyone will have a Mac. Heck, they will have two--just in case.

I mean my brain.

It's crazy. In a good, overly-obsessive and sometimes crowded way.

I wrote the most incredible scene yesterday. Really. You can ask my CP (who's also having a signed Mockingjay giveaway on her blog!) It was random and further into my WIP than I actually am. Truthfully, I had only somewhat envisioned the things that happened before it in my plotting outline when I wrote it. I didn't even mean to write it. It was a line at work on Wednesday and then a page I wrote by hand (since my computer is still in the hospital) and then a "quick trip to the library to type this up." Five hours later, I went to work. Obviously, things don't happen like we plan.

We plan anyway. And plot. And hope.

And sometimes, by chance, we write the most incredible scene. I had to stop at one point and walk around. My heart was racing and my mind was so far into the story, that I could feel what my MC was feeling. It's good when that happens--incredible actually--but it's also the huge reality that this is a "real" story. A "real" person with emotions, desires, conflicts, issues. A person who's limping around bleeding bodies in a corn field. (Wait...what? Nothing. Continue on and ignore that *whistles*)  They are fictional but they are so real to the writer--and if the writer is good, then to the reader too.

That is crazysauce, the number one dish in Crazy Town. I hear it takes like coffee ice cream. It must be awesome.

Though I want to, I haven't made permanent  residence in Crazy Town yet. I'm on the outskirts, inching toward the light, my bag on my back. It is appealing though. The smells, the crazysauce, the characters, the cornfields. It's bright and loud and full of others who have a life there.  I hear they have Macs there...

*Also, totally off subject but I love this post. 
**And this makes me laugh (the part about the muffins...lol)
***And did anyone see Grey's Anatomy? Oy vey. I need talking to friends about my shows.


Thirteen Thursday with Georgia McBride

Today, I'm really excited to have Georgia McBride. Georgia is a YA author and the creator/founder of YAlitchat, an online community of YA authors, bloggers, readers, lovers. She's a great lady and really inspiring with all that she has done and is doing. So, without more delay, welcome to Thirteen Thursday!

If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and why?
Nachos with cheese. My favorite thing to order.

You are a NYC/NC transplant! What do you miss most about city life? And what do you love about country-life?
I miss the city that never sleeps. Everything but Walmart and McDonalds closes by 9PM here. I also miss being able to dress in leather pants 7 days/week. I’m not much for country life but I do enjoy the quiet now and again.

What did you think of that Grey's Anatomy season finale??? (I only ask b/c the premiere is tonight!) 
I love Grey’s. Absolutely love it. I must admit however that I was so hyped over the LOST series finale that Grey’s had less of an impact on me last year. Looking forward to the season premiere. I can’t wait to see about Derek. I love that Chief had a role in bringing things to a successful close.

You are a huge JJ Abrams fan. Have you ever met him? What are your favorite things that he has done?
 I’ve never met him. I still hate that Alias is no longer on the air. I thought Star Trek was BRILLIANT. Cannot wait to see his film with Steven Spielberg. Of course anything he does is amazing. Mission Impossible. Cloverfield. He could bake bread and I would think it was the greatest bread ever.

Tell us a secret that no one else knows. 
One of my legs is slightly shorter than the other. A few people know that and now lots.

You had a lot of really random/awesome careers before writing Praefatio. What are some things that you learned from those positions that have stuck with you? (And, during your time in the music industry, did you meet the Backstreet Boys? Because I was in love with them.)
I learned to listen to people and really engage them successfully. True engagement is fifty percent listening. As for the BSB, I have never met them but have seen them perform. Sorry the marriage did not work out; I was going to marry Rick Springfield.

What do you think writers should look for when writing their story? What are things that new (and old) writers seem to miss?
The thing that always seem to trip writers I work with up is pacing, authentic experience of the teenage life and tension. Writers also need to look out for cause and effect and action/reaction. I find a lot of writers don’t take into account how their characters actions impact other characters, story line or setting in many cases. When you change something in a story no matter how small--you are most likely going to need to change something else. Also think about WHY. Why is my character doing or saying this? I could go on.

What is your favorite part of the writing industry? 
Meeting readers, teens and tweens. I love doing school visits. Kids energize me. I love talking to them about whatever. They are so smart, fun and full of life. They tell you exactly what they think. You never have to guess.

What advice would you give to a writer starting queries and agent hunting?
Be professional, do your homework and never give up.

Can you explain to everyone who doesn't know what #YAlitchat is and how they can be involved?  
YALITCHAT is a young adult book publishing industry non-profit organization for the advancement of young adult literature around the world. What started as a weekly chat on twitter has grown into a world-wide organization of like-minded individuals with one goal. Click here to join the membership organization of young adult book industry professionals.  Visit http://yalitchat.com or http://yalitchat.org for more details. 

How have you seen #YAlitchat grow and develop over it's existence? 
We have over 1700 members from 22+ countries. Our members are NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors, pre-published writers, agents, editors, students, teachers, librarians, book bloggers, parents and readers.

When you look back in 50 years at all the things you have been part of and accomplished, what are the things that you will remember as the most rewarding? 
Being a mom to my kids and dogs.

Thanks Georgia! Check out the trailer for her book Praefatio. It looks so good!

More quick facts about YAlitchat:


Do you have UDS?

I have this theory that I call Up Down Syndrome (UDS for short). UDS is the reality that something bad happens and is them followed by something good. It's a true experience & I think if you reflect in even the small things, you'll see its validity. example: you have a date & you don't bring an umbrella so it rains. Or, like me, you have a bid decision coming up & things don't pan out...them you get to have dinner with a NYT author:UDS.

You ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong? I'm talking absolutely horrible day when everything goes beyond wrong. I had that day yesterday. My car is now dead (blown head gasket.) My computer was sent away by the apple geniuses to a magical place for week long repairs (busted ram, new hard drive & operating system reinstall.) My phone charger snapped. I was exhausted, freaking out & completely unsure. I know things can be worse but it all happens at once and then it feels like the end...especially when I have 20 chapters to revise. W happens when you lose everything?

Well, if you suffer from UDS, then you have the luxury to hope for the Up. I know that when it occurs, it's going to be HUGE. Why? Because the down was huge. I know it may sound crazy but good things have to come after bad. If not, then there's no point to hope. I think the return is equal. I'm not gonna lose a dime and find ten bucks. I may find a quarter. This is how I cope. I've already seen some good. I have great people who are willing to help me get back and forth for my last two weeks at Borders. They have been encouraging and uplifting. Even my Tweeps.

another positive in this has been my writing. just last night, amidst the tears & freakout, I wrote an awesome scene. Like wrote wrote. With a pen. It was glorious. I'm excited to be semi-disconnected and I'm thankful for my phone, which is allowing to me wrote this post. My fingers hurt but now you know what UDS is.


SPEAK. You have a voice

Words are very powerful and this is the one time of year that people realize that, and fear it.

Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, finds the book SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson "filthy and immoral." He calls is "soft pornography." You can read his article here.  The fact that Mr. Scroggins can see this as porn makes my stomach turn. These are his words: 
In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography.
I daresay that teenagers get these things from 9 out of 10 movies and television shows on the air right now. But I digress, as that is a point for another day. He says this of the book:
This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes.
I'm sorry but sometimes, this is the opinion of teenagers. Some families are dysfunctional. Some teachers are viewed as losers (I had some) and yes, girls do have sex--and guys--and they go to church on Sunday like everyone else. There are stigmas on high school and sex and what is "normal." There always has been. (I mean, go watch Grease.) These things DO happen in real life and I daresay that's why Scroggins doesn't like it. But, that's not the point of me writing this post.

I read SPEAK in high school, when my drama teacher told all of us that we should read it. She even bought copies that we could read and kept them in her classroom. (She was a Christian as well, which Scroggins talks about in his article.) SPEAK is a book about a girl who is raped, and her struggles to move on. Her journey to find just how important her voice is.

We ALL have this struggle.

Sure, it's not always with rape, but there is something that we have that we can't always find the words to say. Maybe it is rape, or sex or drugs or goodness, even something as simple as under/over-eating or lying or jealousy. The list is numerous.

I think the point of a book like SPEAK is to give the courage to say those things. Whatever they are.

For Myra, who wrote this amazing post, it's her faith. For C.J., it's her story. These are only two examples. There are more that have opened up about this just today. In response. (And I highly doubt it was the response Scroggins expected.) There's a pretty exhaustive listing here. In addition, he's also called another YA book Twenty Boy Summer. The author of that Sarah Ockler, shares her opinion and also tells you how you can take a stand.

I'll say one of the things on my list: I was sexually abused when I was little. It's one of those taboo things that people don't talk about--and especially in my family. We don't talk about anything real. Even now. When I read SPEAK in high school, it affected me so much because I never, ever told anyone. No one. But it happened. I remember it from first to second grade and later, I as I grew up--until about fourth grade.  In corners, in nooks of the house, in the basement.  It was a long time, a big secret and a lot of pain. Now, they are vague memories but the pain and shame that accompanied them for so many years will always be fresh.

Middle school sucked for me. I was shell of a person. I tried to know something, to have something solid to hold on to, but I never really found it anywhere except books. Not friends. Certainly not family. There was nothing but me and my misery. Even when high school started and I became a Christian. I tried but there was always something missing. And I wanted it. Sometimes, I still wonder if I've found it. God is good to me and he's definitely been there--and is there--even when I'm not sure. He proves it through days like today.

Something C.J. wrote really resonates with me.
Maybe SPEAK isn't Dr. Scroggins' cup of tea. Maybe the idea of having his children read about a highly dysfunctional family is upsetting. Maybe the thought of having rape be a terrible reality in the life of the book's main character offends him. That's his right. But for every child who is blessed with a non-dysfunctional home and who hasn't been broken by something as awful as rape, there's another girl like me. A girl who can't find the words to describe how shattered she feels. Who doesn't even know if she has the right to feel shattered. Who's learned that bringing her secrets to the light results in more pain. That girl needs books like SPEAK to be on the shelves. She needs to know there are others out there like her. She needs to see someone else's path so she can have the language to start thinking about her own outcome.
This was me. The year after I read SPEAK I opened up. I definitely think it was part of the reason was because of this book. Not all of it, as my faith does play a role, but part. There is power in words.  To heal, to love, to grieve, to rejoice. There is power to spark something amazing and painful and full, which if you read either of the posts I linked you will see. The things he has said hurts my heart. Opinions are like noses I guess...but they still leave marks. I support SPEAK.  I always will.

If you've never read it,  buy a copy now. If you have, head on over to Anderson's post about this situation and show your support. If you are on twitter, tweet about it with the #SpeakLoudly hashtag. Promote this.

Words are powerful.

We can either let people like this keep them from being heard, keep us silent, or we can ban together and stand our ground. We can speak. We can shout. The more of us there are the louder will be.


I NEED YA Suggestions...

If you don't know, I work at an independent bookstore. I'm the YA specialist (fancy way of saying I deal with teenagers and toddlers.) I love it. It's so much fun recommending books I love to teens and tweens and kiddos. The sad thing about the job is that our YA section is lacking. Our problem lies in high school books--the MG is pretty solid. They said they didn't sell many, which I think is because there isn't a huge selection.

I talked my supervisor in a passing conversation about the lack of YA staples that we have in the section--and she told me to bring her a list. I've been compiling one--albeit, it's only small right now since this was just today.  It only consists of the ones I love or have read and I know there are a lot that I'm missing.

This is where you come in.

When you go to a bookstore, what are the YA books you look for?

Everyone has that book that needs to be on the shelf...so, please tell me. Help me build a really great list of YA so my store can sell the books that we all love--and hopefully sell to a wider variety of teens. I'm open to ANY suggestions.

I need YA must haves. Classics. Favorites. Everything!

Leave a comment here. Email me. (frenzyofnoise AT gmail). Tweet me (@daniellebunner). Tweet this link. Ask your friends. Share this on your blog. Whatever! This is something everyone has an opinion on.

Some that we already have:
Shiver/Linger, Maze Runner, Hunger Games, Infinite Days, The DUFF, If I Stay, Harry Potter, Paranormalcy, Twilight...

Here's my list so-far:
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Graceling/Fire by Kristin Cashore
everything Cassie Clare (which we really DONT have all of)
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Wake series by Lisa McMann
Beautiful Creatures by Kami & Margaret
The Chronicles of Vladmir Tod by Heather Brewer (we only have 3 & the new)
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Willow by Julia Hoban
North of Beautiful by Justine Chen Headley
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce


Thirteen Thursday with Alexandra Bracken

Today on Thirteen Thursday I have the lovely and talented (and fun!) Alex Bracken. She is the author of Brightly Woven which came out earlier this year with Egmont. This is one of my favorite books of this year and if you've not read it then you need to!

Alex has taken a different approach to the interview. She did a vlog! So, that is fun. You have to watch the whole thing because if you do, you'll be able to enter the giveaway.

Here are the questions I asked. 
  • If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant, what you be and why? 
  • Pogs or Silly Bandz or some other pointless fad? 
  • You have $12.80. What do you buy with it? 
  • If you could have dinner with one person—dead or alive—who would it be and why? 
  • How did you end up living in New York City and what’s your favorite thing about it and least favorite thing? 
  • What are your 6 favorite books and why? 
  • What is your writing process like? 
  • How did you develop it and how do you keep focused? 
  • Tell us the story of Brightly Woven. It was written for a friend but why? 
  • How did the idea of the story come about and (the question I wonder the most,) how in the world did you do that and manage to graduate?  
  • Recently, fans have rallied in support of a sequel to Brightly Woven. What are your thoughts about this petition? 
  • Fans love North. I mean, really love North. What do you think makes a good love interest in a story? And why is North so compelling/awesome? 
  • Who was your favorite character to write in BW and if there’s never a sequel, will you give us a sentence to ease our curious minds? 
  • What do you think you learned from writing BW
  • What are you working on now?

Watch the video to get her answers!

Thank you Alex for a great interview!

If you want to sign the Brightly Woven petition, click here.

It's giveaway time! Alex has so gracious offered to give a lucky winner a signed copy of Brightly Woven and some other winners are going to get bookmarks! So, if you watched the vlog and want to win, follow all the rules below. (This form has questions about the vlog. Each question you get correct is an additional entry. They are required for entry) The contest runs until midnight EST tomorrow--which is Friday.

You must: 
Fill out the form to completely to be enter
 and have US or Canada address.

To gain extra entries you can:
Comment on this post (+1)
Tweet this contest (+1)
Follow this blog (New follower +2,  Old follower +3)

Click HERE to enter!


Nothing to say

Have you ever just had nothing to say?


This is me right now and it's problematic. I'm a writer. There is always something to say. However, I'm pulling up blanks, staring only at the blinking cursor. It's not writer's block--that would indicate that I didn't even know where to go next. I know where to go I just have no motivation to write it, no words to say about it, no time to do it. That's a lie, I have time. Maybe I'm just in a rut.

Really. Even writing this post has taken me ridiculously long--and it's not even that good. I don't want to read. I don't want to write. I don't want to revise or edit. All of these things are problematic.

Perhaps, I'm just tired and overwhelmed by decisions. My best friend says I had the writing weekend so it's okay but it's more than that. I have nothing to say, even to my mother. I know it will pass and I will look back on this dry week dumbfounded at the problem and lack of resolve.

But for now, it sucks. My characters are napping. The story is frozen. I'm a wordless writer.


Book Talk: Halo by Alexandra Adornetta

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Date: August 31, 2010
Series or Standalone: Book 1 in series
ISBN: 978-0312656263
Format: Hardcover, 484 pages
Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels, Ivy, Bethany and Gabriel are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings.
But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls for the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him?
Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

The angels and Xavier must work together to overcome the dark forces - but will Beth survive the battle?

First line: Our arrival didn't exactly go as planned.

Let me start this review by saying two things. First, look at the most amazingly, intriguing cover. Really, honestly, truly beautiful. It is the reason I picked up the book. I'm not a huge fan of most of the angel books I read so I tend to avoid them to stall the disappointment that usually accompanies but this one was not in that category. Second, Alexandra Adornetta is only seventeen and this is her fourth novel. And if I say so, it was pretty good.

Halo started slow and I wasn't really into it. I wasn't sure if it was going to turn around--and didn't until about page 50. From then on, I was hooked. This is a big book and Alexandra did a good job with pacing the rest of the story. Usually, somewhere in the middle, things can get muddled and move too slowly but I don't think this happened here. The characters, the story kept changing and evolving and kept a quick pace.

Of all the characters, Xavier was my favorite--but how can you not like the snarky, heart-throb, knight-in-shining armor boyfriend? Sigh. He and Beth were really great counterparts. I partly kept reading just to get to another scene with him. He was fun and free and devoted in the ways Beth annoyed me with her occasional blase attitude and lack of focus.  She seemed juvenile at times where Xavier was strong and stoic and amazing, which I guess was part of the point. Beth really evolved toward the end but it ended too quickly to enjoy it. I also really liked Ivy. I think she is very interesting and I'm so intrigued by her. I really hope we get more of her story. And Gabriel...I like him too.

There were some scenes where things were slow and unimportant--like the build-up to prom, prom itself, and all the annoying preparations therein. But then, this is for teenagers and they love prom so I understand it's relevance. Aside from that, the prose is pretty flawless. Alexandra does a great job of painting Beth's feelings and new experiences and desires...even her conflicts. I'm not sure if Alexandra is religious in any way but she did her research. The images she creates of heaven, angels and their archistructure, communication with God and etc. are all really beautiful.

My major qualm with the story was the ending. The last couple of chapters have so much squeezed in that I would like to have seen unfold instead of just mentioned in passing. Especially a scene toward the end, one that whole book was working toward, that I had to read a couple of times to understand. Even now, I'm still curious how some of things happened and I want to know--this is one of the drawbacks to first-person prose, that you can't see everything--even when it would be helpful to the story.  Since this is the first in the series, things were only somewhat wrapped up but they were wrapped enough so I'm not stressing as I wait for the next one, which I will be reading.

Alexandra presents many things to think about in this story, more than I've seen in most YA novels (especially some of the angel/paranormal ones.) I am very interested to hear the thoughts on it. There are a lot tough things that she tackles with ease and poignancy--not just faith or religion, also love, acceptance, life, beauty, self-esteem, hatred, evil, trust, purpose and knowing who you are. They are all addressed in off-handed ways and maybe I'm reading too much into it but I saw it there. I think that really set the story apart for me. So, if you read it, let me know what you think!

All in all, it was an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend it. If you like angels, love, (forbidden love!), snarky characters, cheesy romantic teen lines, dances, mystery and discovery--or if you just like the cover--you won't be disappointed.

Source: purchased


Fragment Friday #4: Halo

It's FRIDAY again. Which means it's time for Fragment Friday! Fragment Friday, hosted by James of Book Chic, is where you read excerpts of your favorite books or what you are reading now.

I finished Halo by Alexandra Adornetto today so I share a piece of it. Also, if you can guess the song that I use here (full title/artist) then I will give you a prize. :) Maybe....haha.



Thirteen Thursday with Natalie Whipple

 Today, I'm really excited to have Natalie Whipple, YA author and blogger. If you follow this blog often, then you'll know that I like to link her because the things she says about writing...spot on. It was fun to get to interview her and I hope you enjoy it.  Welcome to Thirteen Thursday!

If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant menu, what would you be and 
Wow, I can honestly say no one has ever asked me that before. Can I just be the whole menu? I haven't met a type of Mexican food I didn't like, and I suppose I'm kind of like that. I try to find the good in eerything. 

What is the scariest thing you have experienced?
I won't go into details, but probably the birth of my son. His heart rate began to drop at one point, and the thought of losing him was pretty terrifying. Luckily, things worked out okay. I took most of the damage instead, and it was a pretty rough recovery

If you could have dinner with one person—dead or alive—who would it be and why?
Honestly, I'd kill to just go out to dinner with my husband more often. I really like hanging out with him, and it seems like we can never get away enough. Of course, I guess that's not a bad thing, to feel like you still don't get enough of the person you love. 

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
9 Ways To Walk The Line Between Sanity And Certifiable

What are your six favorite books and why?
 Six? Man, it always depends on my mood. I guess I'll go with The Giver, Catherine Called Birdy, Emma, Into The Wild Nerd Yonder, The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian, and Paranormalcy. 

I love your blog. It has been so helpful and sometimes, I read something that is so relevant to where I am. I even have a post somewhere begging you to be my friend. (don’t look!) Why did you start blogging?
Ha, you're funny. (And now of course I have to look...) I started blogging to keep myself accountable to writing (that, and writing was taking over my family blog and I felt bad). For some reason, when I wrote out my goals and struggles it helped me get through them. Of course, the reason I blog now has changed some, but I still enjoy it. I wouldn't do it otherwise!
Tell us your journey to writing. 
Wow, I don't know. It's wasn't some huge moment or whatever. I've always liked to write, and one day I decided I'd really try. And not only really try, but keep trying even when it got hard. I decided I should at least see what happens, that I wouldn't be happy with my life if I didn't try to make that dream come true. 

So I try. I don't know what'll happen or when, but I try.

What has been the “best” part of this life as a writer?
Friends, hands down. I never really belonged anywhere. I always had a few friends, but mostly they'd move on to other friends when our activities changed or whatever. I never fought with friends...they just kind of left me. And I suppose I let them leave because I didn't feel like I belonged with their new friends, etc.

But now I feel like I have friends I could potentially have for the rest of my life. No matter how hard this journey is, that's something I try to remember. 

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
Ha, you ask as if I sit around imagining how I'll answer Matt Lauer's interview questions when I'm on the Today Show...no, I've never fantasized over that...

I can't really think of anything now that you ask though! Why is that? Maybe because I'm way over that fantasy. I've lowered my standards a lot. I'd be happy for the day when someone asks:

"When is your book coming out?" And I can actually give them a real answer, an actual date. That would be super nice.

 Do you have a writing process? If so, what is it like.
 Basically, I write some stuff. I try to write every weekday until the book is finished. Then I give it to people, who tell me how to fix it. Then I fix it. Then more people tell me what's wrong with it. Rinse and repeat. 

You are a really great artist! Does the affect the way you write? (like being able to draw your characters…)
 I think it does affect my stories in ways. Anime (and even RPG video games like Final Fantasy) has probably had more influence on my stories than, say, traditional books (hmm, maybe I should be writing that instead...). When I think of my childhood, sure, I think of Narnia and Little House on the Prairie and such. But I also think of Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Escaflowne, Evangelion, Fushigi Yuugi, Utena, etc. There's no way anime hasn't influenced my writing.

I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing, though. Anime tends to be more accepting of "out there" stuff, of blending comedy and drama, action and romance. Sometimes I feel like my fiction doesn't fit in the right boxes because of that. 

You are a big supporter/promoter of crit groups. How does a crit group differ from a beta reader?
They don't! A crit group is just what I call all my betas combined (like Captain Planet!). Actually, not all my betas even read for each other—they kind of have their own groups. I'm just one part of theirs, and they are one part of mine. 

You dole it out daily on your blog, but what is the biggest piece of advice that you would give to aspiring writers?
If you really want it, keep trying. The game isn't easy, but it doesn't end until you put down the controller.

Thanks Natalie. She's so great! Make sure you are connected with her blog, where she talks about all things writing and revision, publishing, anime and shares some great pictures.


The Writing Process is Like Dieting

I love writing. I love the way words come together and create this scene--especially when it's such a good one.  I love seeing where characters take me and being frustrated and awed that it's not where I expect. It's a need, a joy, like nothing else.

Writing is a feast. It is a large buffet filled with possibilities. You can walk down the line, grab a little of this and a little of that, cram it all on a plate and go to town. You pick what you want, do what you want, create what you want. It's filling and you don't stop until you've had all you want. It's really the best thing in the world. I love it so much, that sometimes I forget there are so many other parts to telling a story. Some of them, are probably more important than the writing.

I had the weekend off from all three jobs and I knew I wanted to spend it well. I never get the chance to really spend hours and hours doing writing-related things so I took this weekend to do exactly that. It was filling, enjoyable like that feast.  Each hour I spent with Skeeter (my computer) I learned more and more about this craft that I love. I did things that challenged me and for the first time ever, I saw how the writing process is more like a diet than a feast.


I'll be the first to admit that I am a writer who outlines. I like to let the characters go and see what happens. Yet, I have learned the joys of outlining--even loosely--and having something to work with, especially with my new project. This one is so involved and the time line has to perfect. I knew automatically I would have to sit down and write everything out but leave room to breath. On Saturday, I parked my rear in the corner of Panera, put on my awesome Pandora station and started plotting.

I wrote down all the scenes I knew already--or had written already--on paper. Then, I pieced together the order of things (b/c the characters are traveling) and the purpose of each place, what needed to happen there and even some smaller scenes. Sometimes there was just a word like "cleaner," sometimes there was an action, "they argue," and sometimes there were conversations or lines that happen in that piece. I think this will allow me to give the characters room to move, while still pushing the story forward. This project is in three parts and part one and two came together nicely and clear. Part three on the other hand, it's not as pretty. I'm hoping that once everything else comes together, it will open up for me more. Five hours, five Mountain Dews, a great conversation, approx 75 songs and seven pages later...I was finished. I even wrote a couple of the scenes.


I have a crit partner (CP) and she is amazing. I will call her X because I'm too tired to write Christina over and over again. We met randomly, as I've mentioned before, and it has been a really great partnership. We complete each other. Where she is strong in description, insight and making things more emotionally charged, I'm good at characters, story movement and dialogue. She's more technical; I'm more practical. It really works for us. 

I spent most of day two editing her manuscript because we've just set some major deadlines for ourselves and it was time to jump in a little deeper. In addition to editing for X, I also edited some of my own work for the current project. I learned that it's important to keep things fresh as you write it so I like to look over the things I've been working on, tweak it, add to it, make it prettier. It takes a little longer and edits aren't always fun but they are definitely needed.

Side note: If you don't another writer giving you helpful feedback, then you should find one. It's so important. There are great tools out there to find one too...and great references. Natalie Whipple offers a lot of great advice on this subject and this is my favorite post about it.


The biggest thing I've learned about revising is that it's different than editing. Edits are more of the point of the problem and revision is changing it. Flaws are easy to find while perfection is harder to build.

I think of the plotting-edits-revision process like a diet.

When you go on a diet, it usually starts with realizing there is a something that needs to be changed (the writing or the plotting process). Then, you spend time figuring how to change it, planning new meals, grocery shopping, joining a gym (edits). The next step is start eat the food, go to the gym and make the effort to change it (revision). It is hard; it takes discipline and time and energy but in the end, there is a result. Without the result (or the revision), all you have is a problem and talk of a solution that instead of solving, you are sneaking cookies from the cookie jar (or cupcakes or your choice baked good) and wondering why there are no results.

Revision is not for the weak-hearted. It requires so much. Lucky for me, I've learned that revision is an amazing tool for my OCD tendencies. Really. I'm one of those people who want things perfect, thus revision is fun for me. I like making things better, crisper, cleaner and more entertaining. I, however, am not good at diets. I like to talk about doing it but I tend to forget about the planning process, the tackling of the problem. And, without that, I'm not able to change anything. They come together, in a set...just like writing/plotting, edits and revision. 

Don't overlook one just because you don't like it. In fact, maybe that means you should explore it a little more. After all, it's better to fill a plate with a variety of things rather than just one. A plate full of desserts would be delicious but it would give you a stomachache if it's all you had...


Book Talk: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (WITH SPOILERS)

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: August 24, 2010
Series or Standalone: Series, book 3
ISBN: 978-0439023511
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

First line:  "I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather."

My thoughts on this will be random. So, bare with me. I wanted to post a non-spoiler review and tell everyone that it was awesome and I loved it but I didn't know how much of that I could say before it was annoying.

I am sorry about the spoilers. Well, I'm half sorry. The other half of me is excited to jump in and talk about a few moments. These are only my thoughts & opinions. There is no proven validity to them at all. Again, there are spoilers. If you want my non-spoiler thoughts, you can go here. Anyway, spoilers. Many.


The girl who is on fire
That's probably one of the most genius lines of this series...and it's one that plays a role, a deep, meaningful role, in all three books. It's beautiful in ways that I can't explain beauty. It's a moving scene throughout this story and I never expected it. When I look back on the series as a whole, I can only think of the genius of this move.

The beginning and everything in between
I love the beginning. It's exactly where we were in book one, yet it's completely different. Then, it was home. Now, it is a graveyard. (which, I find symbolic, considering she is pretty dead on the inside, like District Twelve. Lost, like the bodies in the dust. A graveyard being built over but not fixed, like the ending.) Immediately, we see District Thirteen  and know that is different than any of the others. They, perhaps, are more controlling than the Capital. I believe, they pulled all the strings--more than we saw.

I love so many things about the early chapters: Katniss hiding in closets. Katniss finding Buttercup--who ends up being an unexpected metaphor for Katniss. The lines that are drawn between Katniss and Plutarch and Coin. The fire of Gale. The role of Mockingjay that Katniss is thrown into. And, of course, Haymitch, who I've always loved.

I think from the first moment she sees Peeta on the screen, she realizes his love for him and the story, even though it's early on, takes on a new purpose. Yes, there's the war but more, there is Peeta and he is all she wants to save. He and Prim are the only ones she ever wanted to save. She's done everything for them.

Hi-jacking of Peeta and Katniss  
I almost lost it. Peeta--soft, kind, loving, hopeful Peeta--is gone. The hi-jacking of Peeta made me want to quit but I didn't. I knew the ending, that she chose him and honestly, if I didn't, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep reading. The suspense of it would have killed me. (I have issues.) Those scenes were the hardest thing to process and read. It was a bold, genius move on SC's part. This could be the end of them, but we all know it's really the beginning.
"Finally he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly.  And I hate him for it." (page 232) 
I think when she flees to District Two, she is fleeing the fear of losing Peeta forever. It's such a possibility that it's unbearable and there, she comes to terms with it. She expects it so she's not disappointed. Katniss, if you look at it deeper, is always disappointed. In others, in her mother, in her father, in life, in her expectations, in herself. I'm not saying she's perfect--she's not--but she's got validity.

The traps in the Capital
Some of these scenes were disappointing. I wanted to see more, to know more than she passed out. I was explaining the book to a co-worker and I believe I said "she wakes up and..." three or four times. It's a major part of the story where there should be story.  I digress. All the deaths were devastating...especially Finnick. I'm glad that we got to see him happy. That he got married, that we learned the truth about him before he died. His death, though disappointing, was understood. They all were. There had to be sacrifices. There had to be reasons for Katniss to go on, for everything to be made right. There are always sacrifices for love and happiness.

The parachutes
Sacrifices. This scene was the one the one that made me lose my grasp on anything. Prim. I don't have words still to express the emotions.
"Even in my deadened, drugged condition, this sends a stab of pain through me. Reminding me that there are no limits to his cruelty. And how he will go to his grave trying to destroy me." (page 356)
However, the next chapter was the most beautiful thing I've ever read. It's my favorite part.
"I am Cinna's bird, ignited, flying frantically to escape something inescapable. The feathers of flame that grow from my body. Beating my wings only fans the blaze. I consume myself, but to no end." (page 348)
Why she said "yes...for Prim"
There has been some debate on why she says yes when Coin tells the surviving tributes about the Hunger games for the Capital children. I have a thought. I thought it when I first read--and re-read--the section. It threw me too but I came to some kind of an answer and in that answer, I have found peace with the situation.

When she says "yes...for Prim." I think she already knows that she's going to kill Coin. She already knows that Coin is the enemy because as Snow says, they agreed never to lie to one another. At that moment, sitting there and listening to this ridiculous idea that she's been fighting against--this game that has changed her life FOREVER--she realizes it's true. Coin is the enemy, too, and all of her suspicions are confirmed.

If she said no, then she wouldn't have a "legit" reason to kill Coin--but Coin could kill them. They would become the traitors. All of them. Now, it looks like Katniss has a solid reason to kill Coin: to stop the Hunger Games. So, when she says "yes...for Prim." it affirms the reason she's done everything she's done.

She's done everything for Prim...the HG, the reaping, the returns, surviving, caring, loving. She's done it for her sister and now, she's gone. She's gone because of Coin. It is Katniss' reminder that revenge, the final death on her list (Snow and now Coin), the peace that she's been fighting for and losing, is for her sister too. Even if her sister is gone, she can still protect the rest of the children and I think this is her last and truest personal act of leadership. This is her being the revolutionary that others saw her as, a role that she doesn't really fulfill anywhere else by choice. It's always forced upon her until this moment.

I don't believe she ever intended them to go back into the arena. It was a game she was playing with Coin...and Haymitch saw it. That's why he agreed. After all, he knows Katniss. They are the same and I think he understood from the moment he looked at her and agreed. In light of the ending and everything else, it makes some sort of sense. To me anyway.

Katniss wasn't the revolution
Peeta was. We know this. He is the reason, the inspiration. He, with the words about being a pawn in book one, make him such. Sure, she's the one who gets blamed and gets the role of Mockingjay but  he's the persuasive one; the face of the people; the victor. Katniss is along for the ride. When she says yes to Coin to be the Mockingjay, she's doing it to save him. To save them all. She does it because it is what he would've done. It's not for her or for leadership or about her. It's about Peeta and Annie and everyone else. It's about hope.

Why it could never have been Gale
I read HG and CF in May for the first time. When I finished HG, I heard some debate at work about Team Gale vs. Team Peeta. I hadn't read CF so I was confused. Where did Gale come from? I never saw him as a love interest until someone mentioned it. Even then, I didn't understand it. Gale didn't make sense. He was her friend, her provider really. There was never anything romantic about them. There was safety and provision. They were a team but they weren't lovers. I was always for Peeta because it made sense.
"Back in the old days...Gale said things like this and worse. But then they were just words. Here, put into practice, they become deeds that can never be reversed." (page 205)
As Katniss said, Peeta was her calm, her dandelion. Gale was a fire all his own. Fire needs air to survive and Peeta is that. Fire and fire would only destroy. And, let's remember, she is the girl on fire.

The epilogue
It's disheartening that readers have been disappointed. There is no other way it could have ended. There is hope in the ending for the future. Their children are the future, the hope, the gift, the fear, the promise all at once. The simple idea that she did have children is the reveal of that hope. It took her "five, ten, fifteen years," but once the peace spread around Panem, she had them. The debates that Peeta forced her or hurt are beyond ridiculous. Read it again.

I've also heard a few times that the epilogue is like Harry Potter. My reply is: It's not. I wasn't a fan of the epilogue in HP (I wanted their not to be one because of his permanent death in the battle...) and I don't claim to know why JK wrote that. But did that epilogue make you hate the whole book--or the whole series? No. It didn't. And I don't see them (MJ/HP-DH) as parallel endings at all.

I think this one was purposeful. It's all about looking for the purpose--and wanting to find it. I was pleased with it. If I had been Team Gale, I would've still been pleased. They all followed the right course. Gale moved on, didn't look back. And sucky as it is, sometimes it happens. Peeta and Katniss rebuilt their lives, together and separately. Peeta loved her. They healed together. They loved each other.

I borrowed this from Alex Bracken, who defends the girl on fire bravely. I agree with it and I wanted to share it. I agree with ALL of the post. (You should go read it too.)
I think people who saw this trilogy as a big statement on war and politics and revolution must have been disappointed by MOCKINGJAY (especially that guy that came up with the whole Pearl Conspiracy Theory). For me, it’s always been a look at how violence and grief affects us on a personal level. This is why I valued the romance aspect of the series, even as everyone else was saying that the politics were the most important aspect. Romance was important, because it was important to Katniss and any future life she might have had.
At the end of this book, I was just glad to see Katniss out from under the thumbs of others. She was free from being forced to be a player in a game she never wanted to play.

The Hanging Tree song
If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on that, please share them with me. I get the relevance of it...somewhat. Sometimes, I'm not sure why it's there. Maybe I'm missing something but I didn't want to address it and be completely off-base. If you have ideas, I'd love to hear the explanation.

Final Thoughts on the book: I loved it. I love the whole trilogy. One bad scene does not outweigh hundreds of great ones.

Source: purchased


Fragment Friday #3: Fire

It's FRIDAY. Which means it's time for Fragment Friday! Fragment Friday, hosted by James of Book Chic, is where you read excerpts of your favorite books or what you are reading now.

I chose one of my favorites to celebrate it's return to me. It was a hard decision to pick a scene so I asked my bestie to pick a page number. This was the winner: 247. And it was a good one. Enjoy! :)

PS. Yes, I did get my haircut. Thanks for noticing! :)


"Half Moon" Cover Reveal Book Tour

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordan Deen, the author of The Crescent. And now, I'm happy to host her cover reveal for the sequel, Half Moon, which is released on January 13, 2011.

It is likely that you are doing the cover scavenger hunt right now and you should have come here to me from www.MyOverstuffedBookshelf.blogspot.com. If not, see the list below to figure out how you messed up. If you have no idea what's happening, keep reading. I promise it will make sense! If you are in the right spot and the right time then congratulations. AND you are almost done. (Take a moment to celebrate with a little dancing...Really. It is said dancing will increase your luck and luck will help you win a prize. Prizes are fun.)

Speaking of prizes...Do you want to win all these great prizes? Because you can...
  • Half Moon Swag
  • $25 B&N Gift Card
  • Journal
  • Jewelry Box
  • USB Camera/Video recorder
You think they are fun and you want them? I thought so. Those are some pretty awesome prizes. How do you win this? Well, let me remind you (or tell you, if you are just tuning in to this scavenger hunt...)
  1. You must follow this blog and Jordan's to participate.
  2. You must comment this blog post and Jordan's.
  3. You must retrieve the one word from the Half Moon post on this page in the order of the words from the blogs.
  4. When you finish here, go to the next site until you finish. This hunt started and will end on Jordan's site so it's never too late for you to start!
  5. Once you are done, email the secret phrase to Jordan. (email: info@JordanDeen.com)
That's all! Once you have commented, followed everyone, and emailed Jordan--you are done. You get to wait until the hunt ends and see if you are the lucky winner. (I hoped you danced.) If you want extra entries you can tweet this contest, add it to your blog roll, or share it on facebook. You will need to provide the links for in your email to Jordan. The contest starts today and ends at midnight on September 9 (California time).

Finally. We're at the fun part. Here's some more of chapter two of Half Moon--and it's a super fun piece. (You can read chapter one by visiting Jordan's website here and clicking on the Half Moon link to the left.) 

The word is... “I need time.” With his hand in mine, I squeezed tightly, wanting him to look down at me. Instead, he turned my hand over and examined my now almost completely faded mark. “I don’t know what we are. When I came here with you, I knew I had to come. I wanted to be with you. You made things so much better. But now I’m here, we’re never allowed to be alone, everyone walks on eggshells around me, and I’m treated like an outsider. If we haven’t fully bonded and I haven’t transformed, then maybe I’m not the one. Maybe I don’t carry the gene and I’m not meant to transform after all? Maybe this is wrong." Did you find
the word is? Brandon straightened from the tree to tower over me with his jaw locked and his teeth grinding. “Even though you don’t feel it, I do. That’s the difference. You consume every inch of my body—thoughts of you, your touch, your smell, everything. You are everything to me. It’s not about whether I live or die. That’s what you are missing. You are missing that need for me—the want. You don’t understand the pain that I felt watching you, everyday, falling further in love with Alex. I’m risking everything for you. You don’t truly understand the danger I put myself in to protect you and be near you. I’d do it all over again if that’s what it will take.” Again, the word was is. :)

Did you spot the word you need to collect? I made it extra tricky for you. I hope you figured it out.

The next blogger you will visit is Jami over at YAaddict. Stay a minute and browse around. I love that blog. Happy touring you bunch of scavengers!

*** If you would like to enter this contest then FEEL FREE!!! Just start at Jordan Deen's website (www.jordandeen.com) and then go to the #1 blog:  www.NarrativelySpeaking.com  (1 of 14)

Here is the full line up of blogs (in order--just in case you get lost) participating in this AMAZING contest

P.S. Might I add... FOLLOW all of the blogs, they are very current and informative. I know, because I borrowed the idea for this section  from #4. :)

  1)  Lynsey N. (www.NarrativelySpeaking.com) Twitter: @LynseyNewton
  2)  Jessica E. (www.TotalBookaHolic.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @Totalbookaholic
  3)  Heather (www.FireandIcePhoto.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @FireandIcePhoto
  4)  Amy (www.ReadingTeen.net) Twitter: @ReadingTeen2
  5)  Sherry S. (www.flippingpagesforallages.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @Ssalach21
  6)  Monica S. (www.bibliophilicbookblog.com)  Twitter: @Bibliophilicboo
  7)  Courtney Rae (www.Courtney-Reads.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @CourtneyyRae
  8)  Alex B (www.AlexReadsBooks.blogspot.com) Twitter: @ABennettBooks
  9)  Amy Stewart (www.SimpleLoveOfReading.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @AmysSimpleLove
10)  Amy Jacobs (www.MyOverstuffedBookshelf.blogspot.com)   Twitter: @StuffdBookshelf
11)  Danielle B. (www.FrenzyofNoise.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @daniellebunner
12)  Jami (www.YAAddict.blogspot.com)  Twitter: @YAAddict
13)  Audrey S. (www.desertlioness.blogspot.com Twitter: @DesertLioness91
14)  Jessica S. (www.JASouders.blogspot.com)


Thirteen *Wednesday* with Kody Keplinger

Welcome to another segment of Thirteen Thursday Wednesday. Today, I have debut author Kody Keplinger. Her book The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) comes out on September 7th but some places have it out now! I'm excited to have her here because she is so sweet. Welcome to Thirteen Wednesday!

If you were an item on a Mexican restaurant, what you be and why?
I'd be salsa! Because I can be spicy, but, at the same time, not to spicy to scare you away. Just spicy enough to keep you coming back and enjoying.  (I hope - this is a weird anology, lol) 

Have you ever played two truths and a lie? Let’s do it now. Two truths and a lie. Maybe some readers can figure out the lie….
I have never ridden a horse.
I made Fs in reading when I was in fourth grade.
I like tacos. 

What is your favorite Paramore song and kind of cupcake?
I'm listening to Paramore RIGHT NOW.  Weird!
Favorite is a tie-- torn between "The Only Exception" (which is on my DUFF soundtrack) and "When It Rains" which I just love.

Cupcakes? Chocolate all the way, babe. 

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Something in film. I LOVE TV and movies, and I still hope to work with one of them some day. Even just for a short time. 

You've said before you read all different genres. What would you say are your top 6 can’t-live-without books?
OH, fun!
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (yes, I count all 7 as one here!)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
4. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
5. Ballads of Suburbia - Stephanie Kuehnert
6. Perfect You - Elizabeth Scott 

What is your favorite or worst high school memory?
Favorite - driving around town with 5 of my friends until 2am just doing nothing but talking.  Simple, but wonderful. 

What is one thing that you have learned about the industry that you wish you would’ve known when you got started?
Deadlines - they really exist!  They aren't just things on TV, they happen, and you have to meet them and it isnt' always easy. It takes time and casues stress, but its worth it in the end.

You published at 18, a rare thing. Do you think that it’s changed you or your future goals?
I hope not as far as changing me. I hope I'm the same girl I was.  I think I am.
AS for goals - yes, it has changed those.  Because getting published was a distant "probably won't happen" goal for me.  Now, it's real, and my goals have to adjust. My primary goals are to write a few more books worthy of publication and finish college with my sanity in tact! 

How do you manage to balance life, college, writing and interviews like these? (Thanks, again!)
Sometimes, I don't.  Sometimes I forget to do the homework assignment or I miss a night of writing or I totally blank on an interview.  I just hold on and hope for the best - I'm really no superhero. Doing it all is hard, but I do my best and that's all anyone can expect, I think. 

Where did you get the inspiration for Bianca and The Duff?
The first thing was GOSSIP GIRL. I was obsessed with Chuck and Blair and thought that "Hey, I wanna write a love/hate kind of romance."
Then I heard the word "DUFF" and joked that that would be the title of a book I wrote one day.  I didn't really MEAN it, but a week or two later, when I heard the song "I Can't Stay Away" by the Veronicas, I realized that my love/hate romance and DUFF may just go together.  From there, Bianca nad Wesley just kind of appeared.  It all fell into place. 

What would you say to anyone who feels like Bianca?
One thing:
You are not alone.
We all feel insecure sometimes.  It's normal. It sucks, but its kind of a uniter.  Just remember you aren't alone. 

There are a lot of lessons and themes that can be pulled out of this book. What is the one that sticks out as the most important one?
To me, its that you can't escape from you problems.  Be they self esteem issues or family drama - you can't just run away and pretend it isn't happening.  It's better to confront your troubles head on instead of letting them fester. Bianca learns that the hard way. 

What is one thing you want people to know about The Duff if that’s all they ever get to know?
It was probably the most fun and yet challenging thing I've ever written, and I hope it is an equally fun and challenging read.

Thanks Kody!!

We also have a giveaway! Do you want a signed copy of "The Duff"?? Yes, I know you do. Well, you can get one. You have until 2pm on Thursday! (tomorrow)

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