Monday, December 20, 2010

We'll Be Back!

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let you guys know that we're taking a break for the holidays! We'll be back on January 3rd.

Merry Christmas for those that celebrate & have a happy new year!

-The YA Lit Six Girls

Saturday, December 18, 2010

On Talking to the Voices in Saturday's Head

Or: On developing characters.

First of all, though, I want to point out that thanks to Katie we have a brand-new blog button. I think it is absolutely adorable and quite love it myself. We also have a new Twitter avatar thanks to her, so go follow us there, too, if you're on twitter.

Okay, so onto my post. When I started rewriting my NaNoNovel, Berserk, I realized that my characters were not nearly as well developed as they could be. So of course, like any writer worth her snuff, I turned to Google.

I found this. Now, I know what you're saying. "But Laaaaaina, those are so BORING."

With me, the trick is to let the characters answer the questions, in their voices. Which for me is first person, but whatever works for you. And if it ends up turning into soundling more like a journal entry/running log of their thoughts, try running with it. For me, it helps me learn how the character thinks, and if I know how they think, I know how they'll react to things.

And... um, this is short. How about I promise to do better next week and we'll call it a day? It's the holidays, we're all busy, right?

Peace and cookies,

Friday, December 17, 2010


I don't really have time to write a proper post, so y'all are going to get some awesome writerly video's.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


As I work on my latest book, I've become increasingly frustrated with one thing: the repetition. I'm pretty sure every writer has this problem, but right now I feel like the worst writer in the world. My poor characters. They're stuck turning and saying and frowning, over and over again.

It's ironic; the English language is abundant. There are dozens of synonyms for just one word. Why, then, can't I seem to stop myself from using the same ones?

My technique is strict, if I do say so myself. Once I realize that I'm overusing a certain word, turn, for example, I won't let myself use it again. For the rest of the novel. Then as I go through it later, I'll deem it okay to use in certain places.

And that's it. That's all I have to offer for this week. I'm quite consumed with bashing this habit down with a crowbar, so I really do need to get back to it.

What are your methods to avoid turning and saying and frowning a million times?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quoteable Movies

A few weeks ago I talked about quotes, specifically in books. However, I've spent my bus rides this past week watching Mean Girls on my ipod, and it had me thinking about quotable movies as well. After all, someone (like Tina Fey!) wrote those quotes somewhere first. So, they're quotable quotes from a writer. And quirky/quotable movies always give me motivation to write quotable lines in my books.

Quotable quotes from quotable movies I've watched recently:

Mean Girls: (duh!)
"It's like I have ESPN or something!"
"There's a 30% chance that it's already raining!"
"That's why her hair is so big, it's full of secrets."

Steel Magnolias:
"My secret's out. I am having an affair with a Mercedes Benz."
"You are evil, and you must be destroyed."
"Smile! It increases your face value."

500 Days of Summer:
"It's love, it's not Santa Claus."
"You know, Henry Miller said the best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature."
"That's why I called her last night and told her I was sick, like a ninja."

See? What are your favorite quotable movies?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ask Harmony!

This week is insane for me. It's the middle of the marking period, when absolutely every assignment I've had so far is due, it's almost Christmas, I still have to fundraise like crazy, and life in general is just piling up on me. I had a friend change my Facebook password and my phone has been off most of the day - it's that crazy.

So, instead of writing a long post today, I'm going to open it up to questions. What questions do you have about me, my books, or anything writing-related? I'll answer the questions in the coming weeks.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Gets Distracted By the Holidays

Or: Saturday has been reading and blogging and watching Christmas specials instead of writing.

I think the holidays are an easy distraction for a procrastinating writer. Case in point, my blog has posts scheduled all through December, I read The Hunger Games trilogy in one night where I couldn't sleep, and I've planned my work themes pretty much up to March 2011. I hadn't quite gotten to the point of cleaning the house yet, but I was getting there.


I'm a little bit stuck. I hit 36,280 and stopped writing linearly. Er, this is sorta Laina-speak, so I'll explain. I write 2 ways. Linearly, (gosh, I hope I'm using that word right, otherwise I'm going to look real silly... says "Linear: of, consisting of, or using lines") by which I mean starting with a blank document and adding to it, not going back often, and non-linearly, by which I mean going back and adding in descriptions, fleshing out the characters, adding more scenes as they're needed. It's kind of a pre-revision thing, but I consider it part of writing because, well, it's not done.

I think this is one of the reasons that NaNo didn't really work for me, besides that I got sick, because I wasn't writing at my own pace. I rushed a bit too much and so I have a lot of skeleton scenes, one-dimensional characters who don't really have names very often, that kind of thing. Nothing that can't be fixed or would make me give up... but I'm a little bit stuck.

So right now, I'm listening to Harley's playlist trying to get back into her head. All my MCs (main characters) have playlists and they're all a little bit different. Sometimes I'll have the same song on more than one playlist, but they'll mean different things to each character.

Harley's playlist:

Howl - Florence and the Machine
We'll Be A Dream - We The Kings ft Demi Lovato
Good To You - Marianas Trench ft Jessica Lee (This is like Harley and Evan's song. Also, love the video.)
Here We Go - Mat Kearney
Siren Song - Bat for Lashes
Faithfully - Glee Cast
All You Wanted - Michelle Branch
Wouldn't Change A Thing - Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas (Shut up.)
Back to December - Taylor Swift
Sparks Fly - Taylor Swift
Bulletproof - La Roux
Blinding - Florence and the Machine
Kiss Me - Sixpence None the Richer
Breathless - Better Than Ezra (I like the Taylor Swift cover, too, but this one fits better than the other. Weird, but true.)
My Heart - Paramore
Haunted - Taylor Swift

(All songs link to youtube.)

So I'm listening to that... and ending this blog post here before I procrastinate anymore with it!

Peace and cookies,

Friday, December 10, 2010


Motivation is something I lack in writing 80% of the time. I've tried the BIC (Butt in Chair) method and it just doesn't work. Write or Die (which is amazing) only makes me write up until the first 500 or so words and then I just stop caring. It is very hard for me to get motivated to write (and do homework). What do you all use for motivation? There are some people that I know who are just naturally motivated to write. But for those of us who need a little motivation- any suggestions?

I'm thinking that why this is happening is that maybe I haven't found the right novel. I don't really know.

I do have like... 10 different ideas floating around in my head at the moment, so I may start writing one of them.

This is so short because I have mounds and mounds of homework (sorry!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beta Readers

Someone asked a question on Laina's post this last Saturday, and even though it's been mentioned here and there on Y.A. Lit Six, I thought I would expand on it.

Beta readers.

Or betas, critique partners. There are several names for the person that reads your work and offers constructive criticism. This person can be anyone. He or she doesn't have to be a writer and doesn't have to even be a reader. It just has to be someone who can offer an opinion. An aunt, a teacher, a best friend, or even someone you don't know that you met online (though you do have to be careful with the online beta readers sometimes). A beta reader takes your work, reads it, and tells you what they think. That's all. What needs work, what characters are inconsistent, etc.

But where to find them?

I'm going to mention a site that I've been on for years now, and I'm completely sincere when I say that being on it improved my writing drastically. Laina also mentioned it. The Young Writers Society. There are other sites to find beta readers, of course, but this is the one that worked best for me. I love it, and though I'm not browsing the forums or posting my work so much anymore, it still offers that platform for writers.

I realize this post is brief, but if anyone has more questions on this, just e-mail Y.A. Lit Six.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

True Story

In English class, we're in the middle of a really neat unit on African literature. I've read two texts, Things Fall Apart (Achebe) and Purple Hibiscus (Adichie) and I really enjoyed both. Along with this unit we've been discussing "single stories" and how to find the other side of a story or stereotype.

As you can imagine, this unit comes with a super cool project. For mine, I get to write a story. YAY. This is the first time I've gotten to really use a creative writing element in an English project (without a page limit!!) in years.

For a story project, I have to tell "The True Story Of _____." Think of the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. I get to tell the other side of any character from a book or movie.

So, of course, I thought Disney.

I'm creating a story about Ursula from the Little Mermaid. I'm so excited to write this-- I must have spent at least 55.7 hours of my childhood watching that movie. And I find the concept of the "true story" and "single story" really interesting...

How about you? What Disney (or, okay, non-Disney) character would you want to know the "true story" of?


Monday, December 6, 2010

Life Experiences

(Just a short post from me today because I'm about half-way through Becca Fitzpatrick's CRESCENDO and I want to finish tonight.)

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I'm currently fundraising to go on a trip to Guatemala. The trip takes place as the end of March and I'll be spending 10 days in Joyabaj, Guatemala. I'm SUPER excited about this for a variety for reasons but today I want to talk about one in particular:

Going on this trip would give me an INSANE amount of things to write about. It'll give me all the experiences of traveling, of being in a foreign country surrounded by people I can only half understand. I'll be exploring ancient Mayan ruins and eating Spanish food. For once in my life, I will be somewhere that's not a one-redlight (literally) town.

Those are all things I've never experienced before. Chances are I'll learn a LOT about myself on this trip and I believe that the more in-tune you are with your emotions, the better you're able to write emotional scenes. And really, how awesome would it be to write a novel written in Guatemala?

I'm not saying this trip is going to make me a fabulous writer. It's not. The only thing that's going to make me a good writer is myself. And a LOT of practice. But, I think to be an outstanding writer, it's important to actually LIVE, to EXPERIENCE, to LEARN. I'm not going to do any of that sitting in this tiny town, like I have for the past sixteen years. This opportunity is too big to pass up.

Which is why I will be fundraising my butt off until I earn every penny I need.

What about you? Are there any experiences that have shaped your writing?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

How a Saturday Writes a Book

Or: A Glimpse Into Why I’m Insane

Warning: This is probably going to be a long post. Also, I might not be here right now. My town’s doing this festival thing Friday and Saturday so I’m not sure if I’ll be around or not.

June or July 2009: Had a dream that inspired an idea for a werewolf novel. Wrote it down. Had the idea linger so much that I started writing scenes and scenes and eventually it decided it wanted to be a novel. I run with this. (There was a novel thingie before this, but it wasn’t going anywhere and was frustrating and I decided it was time to retire that.)

Probably right around this time, maybe a little bit before or a little bit after, had another dream which eventually became the basic idea for Spyder. I can’t remember the exact month, but it was definitely early 2009, probably spring. But at the time I had the idea, I jibed more with the werewolf novel, so I just let it simmer.

For the next… oh, six months or so, I write the werewolf novel. During this time, I write about three scenes of Spyder, but at that point it didn’t have a title. And my MC didn’t have a name. And one of the major characters hadn’t even made an appearance.

On, erm, December 18th, 2009, I finish The Werewolf Novel at 42, 749. (I know it’s short, I’m still calling it a novel. Since it only exists on my hard drive, I have that right. *snicker*)

Since I wouldn’t let myself jump into revising, I fooled around with a possible sequel, but that was mostly just for fun and only got to 11k or so. That petered off, not in a crash in burn way, but in a “what the heck am I doing writing a sequel when I’m barely done the first book” way. That went til about the end of January, I do believe.

At the end of December (2009), however, I did have the goals of revising book one, and finishing book two, and “maybe work on spidervamp if I have time.” (It was a nickname. I didn’t know enough about it at the time to give it a good title. I know how cheesy it sounds, but it was NEVER going to be permanent.) I didn’t plan on explaining or working on it until late 2010.

So, where are we now? Right, January 2010. Working on the “sequel” to The Werewolf Novel til that peters out, then revising, revising, revising The Werewolf Novel, blah, blah, blah. During this, I’ll admit Spyder was on my mind quite often, especially Sebastian, and I read over those few scenes I’d written a bunch of times when bored, but I was busy since I was rewriting The Werewolf Novel and sending to a beta reader 3 chapters a time.

In March, 2010, I tweeted a random teaser sentence featuring Sebastian and got a really good response, and I think that’s about when I realized how much I liked those characters. The MC still wasn’t named at that point, though, and I wasn’t quite ready to write it, so I let it simmer and kept revising. (And rewriting – rewriting was slow.)

Around April or May-ish, I think I finished my rewrites, but my beta got super busy, so I wasn’t doing much of anything besides irritating her. :P I read some, but basically didn’t know what to do with myself. Tried a couple of other projects, but nothing clicked.

Then on June 3rd, 2010, I started a document for Spyder and started writing. In the middle of this, my beta’s crits came back, but I barely bothered reading them because I was so engrossed. I went away for a couple days in the beginning of June and didn’t write, and that irritated me quite a bit. Got so engrossed in it that I didn’t read, didn’t really go anywhere, just wrote and wrote and wrote.

Do bear in mind that I don’t work in the summer because the library hires a summer student, so I had a lot of free time to totally mess up my schedule and not sleep and basically live in the book. I don’t particularly recommend this route.

On July 7th, 2010, I finished Spyder at 61K. (Not sure of the exact number, I didn’t write it down.) That day, I added about 2k reading through the final draft (and things like last names…) and the total final count was 63,601. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep that day, so I might have done some small amount revising the next day just to tidy up any typos.

Around maybe the 8th or 9th, I sent it to a friend of mine to read and since it was summer and she didn’t have school, she read it superfast and between her getting back to me on the 12th or 13th, and the 25th of July, I got up to 73k.

Around July 29th, I sent Spyder to my crit partner and (again, because it was summer), she also read it superfast, but she took longer to get back to me because she really critiqued it awesomely and that takes a while. I revised, yada yada, and sent a much cleaner, tidier draft back to her. That’s the draft she has right now.

Now, it’s summer so I didn’t have a lot to do. Insert lots of reading and reviews, contest entering, an empty Google Reader and me cleaning several rooms in my house. Basically I was bored out my mind. I played with a couple of ideas, nothing clicked (does this sound familiar?), and I tried to write #TheGenieBook from like late August to early October, but that was a hot mess that fizzled out mid-October. I’d still like to write it someday, but that someday isn’t now.

Then around… oh, the first or second week of October, a certain somebody told me I should do NaNoWriMo. I, of course, had no idea what to write about. Then I’m barely awake and the first line came to me. I wrote it down (but nothing else, because that’s against the rules) and researched like crazy, plotted, thought about character stuff.

On October 30th, I woke up with a fever so bad that my head was splitting, I had chills, rolling over took me like a full five minutes… and I had a cold until November 10th or 11th. I stuck it out, though, writing as much as I could, each day. And I was doing pretty good – then I got sick again. November 21st, to be exact. Had another fever, the cold came back and I ended up on antibiotics.

I gave up on winning NaNo and let myself be sick. Read a lot, watched movies, and didn’t write for five or six days. (Honestly, I’m amazed I wrote at all the first time I was sick. Something about the combination of the general icky feeling and the cold medicine makes the words not come right.)

I’m not giving up on the NaNoNovel, though, because I do really like it. I’ve worked on it the last couple days, just not at as fast of a pace as I would have, and I have a feeling I might finish the first draft soon.

So! This is how a Saturday writes a book. I do not recommend this process to anyone, because it’s ever so slightly INSANE, but it works for me.

Any questions? :P

Peace and cookies,

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Dream Guy

We all know of him, don't we? The perfect guy. The one who makes you swoon to the extreme. This YA boy drives me crazy, and not the good kind of crazy. These boys have emotions but not emotions. Despite my dislike for them, I still fall for them when I'm reading a book. When I first read Twilight, I thought that Edward Cullen was amazing (my opinions have changed since then). There are also characters like Etienne St. Claire from Anna and the French Kiss who are totally not perfect and they are even better characters.
I love characters who are crazy emotional and have flaws because they are more like actual people. When I'm writing, I find it really hard to not write the perfect guy. Because writing the perfect guy is easy. So what are your thoughts on the perfect men of YA? Do you find it hard to write guys who aren't perfect?


and PS... I got my dog!