Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Overdose

It's the end of the month, so of course YA Highway wants to know:
What's the best book you read in June?

Here's what I feel about these books this month. While none of these books were terrible, none of them blew me away. I can't pick just one as being standout, so amazing, that it's all I've been thinking about.

I read a lot, and it's getting harder and harder for me to be blown away. Most of the books I read are great (very very few I stop reading only a few chaps in). All of the books I read have things I love about them and things I don't. Most of the books I read I finish and think, well that was good, but that's about it. I've really come to understand how hard it must be for agents to pick through their slush, to find something that really knocks everything else out of the water, especially when that water is full with some great things.

I think maybe I overdosed on reading this month. The funny thing is that while I might have read a bit too much, the fact that I read SO much indicates that all of these books were un-put-downable in their own ways.

So here's what I propose: if you want to know the best of this bunch, YOU go and read them and then you can decide which is best. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Opal Circus

It's Teaser Tuesday again, hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading I can't help but do two teasers every week because I just want to SHARE. I love reading and I love to spread the love all over the place. (I'm totally picturing myself throwing teasers in the air like confetti.)

Anyway, here's my first teaser from The Cirque by Ryann Kerekes. I "met" Ryann last year from a contest she hosted on her blog, and I've been dying to read this ever since. (FYI, Ryann also writes books of the steamy sort under the name Kendall Ryan.)

Gabriel didn't make eye contact with me.
"What was that about?"
"He wants to spice up our act," he said walking past me.
I hurried to keep up. "Spice it up? Like how?"
"He wants me blindfolded." (page 76)

And from the book I'm reading right now, Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout:

A slow, wry smile teased Daemon's lips. "Simmer down, Kitten, before I have to get you a ball of yarn to play with." (page 17)

I love how he calls her Kitten. ANYWAY... what are you reading today?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sway Spotlight #3: Lacey

Lacey Musgrove: best friend of Mari, Ava's sister. Sister to Charlie, Ava's best friend. (That totally sounded like one of those- she's my best friend's sister's aunt's cousin's friend from college...) Lacey is beautiful, naive, outgoing, optimistic, and fun. She works at a clothing boutique, wants to marry someone famous, and begins dating Eric.

Lacey was difficult to write. Obviously my dislike of her (she's stealing Ava's man!!!) was coloring my first few drafts. I had a few beta comments of "she's too caricature-ish" and "give the girl a chance, otherwise why would Eric even be with her?" Good point.

Ashley Benson- the actress I'd pick to play Lacey

Since I cut Lacey's sister Halle, I infused Lacey with a lot of the sweetness that Halle had. I also tried to put some of myself into Lacey- as in, what would I do in that situation? Lacey lives a little bit in la-la-land (which is something I connect with), and so when she's faced with one of her dreams sort of coming true, I wanted her to act in a realistic way- a little selfish but still likeable. I learned to feel a little sorry for the poor girl, caught in between very gigantic feelings she doesn't realize are still going on. I hope I made Lacey a little more real, a lot less caricaturey. And I hope, despite the fact that we don't really want her to end up with Eric, that she's still likeable and relateable.

Lacey isn't musical, but in one scene she starts busting out these Just Dance 3 moves. Another bit of me I put into Lacey- I rock at this song!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Black Widow Wannabe

I completely forgot to link up to Road Trip Wednesday last week, but hopefully I'll be more on the ball this week. YA Highway's question this week is:

In our Bookmobile selection this month, Amy Tintera's REBOOT, the main character has died and been reborn as a robot-like soldier. If you were reborn faster, stronger, and quicker healing, what's the first thing you'd do?
First: run away from the crazies who made me like that. Second: run to the nearest fast food joint because girl would be hungry! Third: (which probably should come before stuffing my face) I'd run home to my family!

After that, I'd definitely want to test out these cool new powers of mine. I've already tried out the running, so I'd probably have to lift some stuff. Like the car.

Yep, this would be me. Except without the big belly.

I'd throw some things around, to see how far they'd go. Then I'd probably want to get in a fight, just to prove how strong and quick healing I am. Then I'd probably get whooped because despite my super-strength, I don't have fighting skills.

So I'd learn how to fight. Once I could totally kick-A, I'd get me a sweet costume.

What? I could totally pull this off!

Then I'd take the next logical step: join the Avengers!

What? It's my daydream!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Two Teasies

I'm going to Teaser Tuesday you twice this week. Are you ready for it?

First, from Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi which I finished yesterday (I have this weird habit of finishing books on Monday's. I don't know why.):

"That's not anxious nonsense, Aria. It's what's happening. It's truth." He squeezed her hand and let go. "Please don't ever spare me that." (page 149-150)

And now, a teaser from the first ebook I've ever bought, One by Leigh Ann Kopans:

"No one back there cares about Ones."
My heart stutters. He's a One, too. "So... you never even got a chance at Superior Public?"
He shrugs. "I fit in fine here. I'm okay." The fact that he's smiling shows me he thinks he is, but the catch in his voice tells me the opposite. (page 38)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sway Spotlight #2: Eric

I've seen Captain Wentworth in a few different incarnations:

 The 1971 version. Somehow, you can see the '70s in this guy.

This was the first movie of Persuasion I'd ever seen.

And of course, my favorite...

Stop smoldering at me

Favorite, why? Well, my character of Eric Wentworth was just a teensy bit (okay a lot) inspired by this last guy. Yep, I totally pulled a Bridget Jones. Or maybe I should call it a Helen Fielding, since she's the author. (And if you have no clue what I'm talking about, Helen Fielding based her character of Mark Darcy on Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy, then she got lucky enough to have him play Mark in the film!)

Anyway... my Eric is a total old-school crooner. While Eric's looks were based on Rupert Penry-Jones, I modeled his career and song choices a little bit after Michael Buble. Of course, I couldn't forget Jane Austen's original Captain Wentworth, so I had to make sure my Eric made it rich rather quick, is optimistic and lucky, but also super bitter at being dumped by his first love.

The letter, oh the letter! *swoons* (I'm such a cheeseball)
Eric's parents died when he was young, leaving him and his two-years older brother to be raised by an even older sister who wasn't around much because she was trying to start her own career. Eric and his brother get sent to a fancy school and there he meets Ava who becomes first his best friend, then girlfriend, fiancee, ex-fiancee, then someone-who-is-worse-than-a-stranger.

Eric is talented, gorgeous, confident, and fun. He takes his music seriously, he's a hard worker, and he has this secret wish to be part of the Rat Pack. Eric was nothing but a total joy to write. Sometimes, I hated how awful he was being (Cry Me A River, anyone?) but I also got it- seeing someone you used to love, dredging up all those awful memories, feeling like you've moved on, but at the same time trying hard not to see the good in the them, trying not to remember all the reasons you loved them and all the ways they're even more amazing now. Eric has a personal journey to make through the book, and although it's not in his POV, I hope I did justice to that journey.

Some Buble inspiration (Bubspiration?)


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thanks, But No Thanks

This week YA Highway wants to know:

If you time-traveled to a post-apocalyptic future, what would you bring?

Um, so this is easy. I'd bring my time-travel device, whatever it may be: DeLorean, TARDIS, self-invented machine, a wormhole... Why? So I could turn around and go right back home.

I would NOT be going back to 1985 though.

Seriously, if I had a time machine, I would be going to the PAST, not some crappy post-apocalyptic future where they make people compete in games to the death, where robots rule the world, where we have to live in closed off cities to protect us from zombies, or where love is a disease and we all have to take the cure.
I'd be one of the first to die

Yeah, no thank you.

FYI: If I was going to the past, I'd make sure I had a camera. And lots of batteries. Because I'd want some wicked proof.

And speaking of time-travel, which I lurve, have you seen a preview for this movie?

Hey- it's Bill Weasley! (And Rachel McAdams sure likes her lovey time-travel movies)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Scarlet Wedding Night

Yesterday I finished Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, and as per usual when I read her books, I laughed through the entire thing. She's the master of hilarious chick lit, let me tell you. Here's a tease because for you because, of course, it's Teaser Tuesday!

Suddenly I remember I'm wearing his fencing helmet. My stomach clenches with fresh embarrassment. Let's see this through his eyes: I'm standing in his house in his dressing gown, wearing his helmet, and talking about a double wedding. (page 154)

And on to what I'm reading at the moment... Scarlet, the sequel to Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. Which is as good as I remember Cinder being, FYI.

"...she just watched me do it, and she cried... but they asked her the same questions, and she still wouldn't answer them. She wouldn't answer them." His voice hiccuped, his face flushing with sudden anger. "She let them do this to me." (page 44)

What'cha reading?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sway Spotlight #1: Ava

Sway is my modern-day retelling of Persuasion by Jane Austen (in case you haven't heard me post about it before a million or so times). My main character- Ava Elliot- is a sort-of spoiled rich girl, Juilliard graduate, lover of pretty clothes and classical music. She has a deep attachment to her childhood home, mostly because of her Mom, who died when she was fourteen.

Ava has two sisters. Her relationship with older sister Beth is strained and awkward. These two have never been close. With Mari, her younger sister, Ava is more like a mom- taking care of her whenever Mari goes a little off the rails.

If I had to pick my Ava, Alexis Bledel would be it

At the start of the book, Ava's had two big loves. First, Eric Wentworth. Best friend at fifteen, dating at sixteen, engaged at nineteen. Then came the big break-up. After that, Ava fled to New York. At Juilliard, she met her second big love, Kazuo Takahashi. She fell for his beautiful cello playing and his quiet way of living. But that love was just a bit too quiet, and so after the break-up, and her graduation from Juilliard, she goes back to LA to start over, yet again.

Ava was a tough character to write. Anne Elliot- who Ava is based on- is just so good. Aside from dumping Captain Wentworth eight years before, she says and does all the right things. She is the model of female excellence in that time. So to write a character like that, I was afraid Ava would come off a little boring or unrelatable. When a CP suggested I make the original break-up with Eric more her fault, that was hard.

But Ava was also... I wouldn't say "fun" to write, but I enjoyed writing her. I enjoyed exploring the depth of Ava's emotions as she's trying to start over again, trying to figure out exactly what she wants, all the while dealing with Eric back in her life and the memories she has of him, AND a new boyfriend. Another thing I love about Ava is her love of music. Finding a way to add music to her voice and the way she sees the world was a challenge, but a welcome one.

A song Ava plays after an awkward moment with Eric

I've always felt a connection to Jane Austen's Anne Elliot, and so I hope that I did both Jane and Anne justice. I hope that if I ever have readers of Sway, they will connect to Ava the way I have.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Query Revamped

So I got booted in the first round of QueryKombat (dang), BUT the hosts have given us a chance to post our revamped queries for another round of crits. Go to Writer's Outworld if you want to sign up- those who didn't make it into the contest can join too- or if you want to critique some queries.

OR... just stay here and crit mine. Cuz, you know, I need it. Queries kill me.

Title: Sway
Word Count: 92k
Genre: Adult Contemp Romance

When Ava Elliot was nineteen, she broke off her engagement to Eric Wentworth and fled to New York, leaving both fiancĂ© and pretentious family behind. Eight years later, armed with a Master’s degree from Juilliard but no job, she has returned home to the twisted symphony that is her new life: her dad has lost their Hollywood Hills mansion and Eric has gone from struggling musician to successful crooner.

While Ava is trying to start over, Eric is back in LA after a sold-out tour. He doesn’t want to see Ava, but it’s hard to avoid each other when they share the same friends. Despite Eric’s spiteful songs, Ava goes out of her way to prove she’s long over him. It’s okay when he starts dating her sister’s best friend because she’s met someone new, too—Gage, a handsome actor with sweet words and chocolate kisses.

During a trip to Vegas, Ava’s long buried feelings for Eric start to replay like notes from her favorite sonata. Ava is faced with a choice: stay with Gage and finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. That is, if Eric will even forgive her.

Will Ava’s uncertainty sway her to make the wrong choice yet again?
(ps- the big swirly title was because I didn't have a picture and I NEEDED a picture!)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aiden, Daimons, and Gods, Oh My!

Here's what YA Highway wants to know this week for Road Trip Wednesday:

What's the best book you read in May?
May for me was an almost exclusive Jennifer Armentrout month. Here's what I read:


It's almost impossible for me to pick a favorite here. I loved When You Were Mine, which is a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet, told from Rosaline's perspective. But I can't call it THE fave when the rest of the month was spent with Alex, Aiden, and Seth, and the world of Gods, daimons, and the Covenant. In general, I tend to love first books in a series more than later books, so I guess Half-Blood should take top honors but I hate to even call that the best when they were all really good! (FYI- Daimon and Elixir are both novellas.)

What was the best book you read in May?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Arise and Asunder

I've got two book for this week's Teaser Tuesday, both sequels. First, Arise by Tara Hudson, which I read over the weekend:

"But in the last few minutes, you were... shouting."
"Shouting. Loudly." His eyes darted to the front of the car and then back to mine. "Even my dad said he thought he heard something. That whole inactive-Seer thing, I guess?" (page 80-81)

And from the book I'm currently reading, Asunder by Jodi Meadows:

Every scale I played, every arpeggio and trill, the sylph echoed it and hummed closer. Heat brushed against my skin like breath as the shadows drew ever nearer, but did not attack. The scent of ozone filled the clearing, though, and the front light seemed to grow dimmer. (page 18)

Head on over to Should Be Reading for some more great teasers!