Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blog Tour

Guess what tomorrow is? Right, the first day of June. Guess what tomorrow also is? The first day of my blog tour! Next month (June) I'm doing a blog tour to celebrate the release of Flawless Ruins on the fifteenth. I'll be doing interviews and guest posts, and reviews of FR will be up on some of the blogs!

Here's the schedule:
June 1: Jennifer Wylie http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/
June 6: Just Another Book Addict http://justanotherbookaddict.blogspot.com
June 9: Sean and Conner http://www.seanandconnor.com/
June 13: The Bookish Babes http://thebookishbabes.blogspot.com/
June 14: Coffee and Cliffhangers http://www.coffeeandcliffhangers.com/
June 15: Modern Romance http://robertauld.blogspot.com/
June 20: Harmony Book Reviews http://harmonybookreviews.blogspot.com/
June 24: Carla Veno Jones http://cvj237.wordpress.com/
June 28: Candace's Book Blog http://www.candacesbookblog.com/
June 30: Eating YA Books http://eatingyabooks.blogspot.com/

I'm excited about the tour, mostly because I'm a fan of book blogs, including the ones I'm stopping at. YA Lit Six isn't a book review blog, but some of our contributors are and many of our readers. Anyone have a favorite book blog, or a suggestion of one to visit?

The tour schedule may be updated, so make sure you check out my media page and scroll to Blog Tour - Flawless Ruins.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Say: It's Okay to Write Badly

Or: A pep talk from Saturday.

Sorry about forgetting to post last Saturday. My sleeping patterns have been all over the place and I forgot it was Saturday at all...

Okay, so. You all remember that book I wrote in July 2010? The one I've been revising since I finished it? A friendof mine/my new crit partner read it for the first time recently. She called it all sorts of good things (and may have made me cry a little) but the one that stuck the absolutely most was polished.

Because polished is awesome. That's the whole point of revising, right? To polish your writing until it's, you know, good and stuff.

Here's the thing. My WIP that I'm writing... it's not polished. It's a mess. The plot is all over the place, the characters are flatter than I'd like at times, there are scenes that are mostly skeletons, I'm not working in the mythology as well as I'd like - and a million other things you don't want to hear about.

But here's the thing. That other book I wrote, Berserk? Yeah, the first draft of that was awful. I completely rewrote it before I let anyone read it and it still needs a lot of work.

This new book... it's weird, too. I've plotted with it, I made a calendar for it (seriously, there's like a schedule and stuff), I've done a whackload of research, I know things like my main character's school schedule and holy wow, it's not like anything I've written before. And it's challenging.

So right now, I wouldn't let anyone look at it to save my life. But I know that it can be made better - once I finish it. (I cannot edit as I write. Cannot. If I try, I get stuck. My brain thinks, "Oh, that part's better... but the next part sucks. I can't write more til I fix it!" and then nothing ever gets finished.)

Basically... all first drafts suck. I don't think it really gets much easier, no matter how many times you do it. Not like riding a bike or *mind goes to a bad place* *drags brain OUT of gutter* or cooking or something. And it's okay for them to suck. Revision is a very good thing and you can't revise nothing.

Um. I was on a roll here, then I got distracted by supper, so does this make sense? How do you guys feel about writing first drafts after revising for a long time?

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I write a lot before I sit down and put my fingers to the keyboard.

Well, if we define writing as encompassing all tasks necessary to completing a story.

I call it prewriting, where I sit or walk or stand and play through a prospective scene in my mind, once or over and over, working out major and minor details before actually penning a word. I don't always do this, but I find when I do I tend to write scenes faster and they read better-- perhaps because they've been mentallly carried through already. Just like a revised scene usually goes smoother than a rough draft. I feel like I'm just revising a scene I've already prewritten.

A good time to do prewriting is before you fall asleep. Nothing's rushing you or trying to hold your attention. I would not reccomend prewriting during a math lecture-- you might miss something you need on the test. (Yeah...)

Anyone have any other forms of prewriting?


Friday, May 20, 2011

Zoe is a Flake. She Also Loves Chemical X.

I feel so horrible about not posting last week. The week moves by so fast that I never know I've forgotten to post until a few days after. So on Sunday last week, I realized it was Sunday and that I hadn't posted. Like tonight, I just remembered I didn't post. So, even though I'm a little late- I will be talking to you all today about my chemical X. (for the record, I loved Powderpuff Girls when I was younger. I even dressed as one for Halloween one year)

Like a few other bloggers here on the YA Lit Six, my characters Chemical X is their flawsand various quirks. In the novel I'm working on right now (which has been retitled Lovely Lies), I have a main character who is socially awkward but due to various circumstances, she has been forced out of her comfort zone. I like taking whatever my character fears and putting them in a situation where they are standing face to face with it. I also like to showcase their quirks because that is really what makes one character in a novel individual from all the others.

Something that all my characters have in common when I'm writing the first draft is angst. I don't think that this is their Chemical X per say, but I think through editing (editing and more editing) I eventually weed out most of the angst which enables me to really figure out what makes my character tick.

Though I'm on the first draft of Lovely Lies, I've had to edit it various times to help fully develop characters. Doing that really helped me realize that my MC wasn't totally a hopelessly angsty character. She's angsty, socially awkward, an annoying person to be around, and likes pushing people away- I know that. But I've finally realized why she's like that. For those who don't know what Lovely Lies is about (and I don't think most of you know what it's about. Unless you are on Absolute Write, and if you are on AW- I love you very very much), Lovely Lies starts out six months after my MC's brother was murdered. She was always really close to him, where as she was never close to her mom or dad. So naturally she has issues getting close to people because the person whom she was closest to, died. I think her fear of being friendly and social and caring towards people stems from her brothers death, and all of that is her Chemical X.

If she weren't socially awkward and loved pushing people away, then I would have no story and she wouldn't be the character that I know and love.

So that is my story and I'm sticking to it. For me, I get Chemical X out of my characters imperfections and quirks. The thing that helps me find that Chemical X is editing. Tons and tons of editing and late night pondering of characters.

Sorry for being a flake and forgetting to post.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


If I didn't usually type with only two fingers (shush, I'm good at it anyway) I probably would be typing very slowly right now. That's because I can't use my left middle finger or bend my right elbow. Why? I gave blood today. Ow. (But yay, good cause.)

Anyway, my writing-point: I now know what it feels like to black out.


Have you noticed how in many, many books and movies, characters black out a lot? Whether it's after an intense battle scene, from shock, or from the good spy ramming the bad spy on the head with a dictionary or something, someone always loses consciousness.

[Be warned: I've asked some experts (ish) and the hitting-on-the-head-then-character-blacks-out-but-wakes-up-with-just-an-eensy-headache is only acceptable in the literary world. I'm pretty sure in the real life world you get more than a headache if you black out for more than a few seconds from head trauma.]

Anyway. Since I'll probably want to use a blackout scene someday, I have the experience of going woozy after donating blood. (Don't freak out...I didn't eat enough breakfast.) The world started to glow and I heard everything from a long, long way away. I remember leaning over and then people were telling me to prop my feet up and I was on my back. I still couldn't hear (which freaked me out the most). I was okay in a few minutes, but my second thought after holy crap I can't hear was great! I'll use this in a story. If I can ever hear again.

Any thoughts on the blackout scenes?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Hates Geometry*

Or: On love triangles.

This post is semi-rant, semi-discussion post, so... you've been warned. Anyways.

Sometimes, when you say a book has a love triangle these days, people roll their eyes or talk about how sick of them they are. They're over, been there done that, there's too many, they're all the same.

I'll tell you a secret.

My books have love triangles. And I'm not going to apologize for them because they mean something.

In one book, one character is terrified of losing the person she sees as her only anchor, the only person who she thinks won't leave her. (She has issues. Long story. 80 thousand words long, to be exact.) So she shuts down any sort of feelings she has for that person until she can't anymore. And it means something.

I have another book where a character goes out with somebody who is not the "love interest" in the book. It's not truly a love triangle, in my opinion, but it does mean something. This is a character who has been depressed and numb for a year, and her going out on a date with somebody and enjoying herself, is a sign she's healing. It's important.

I would tell you about my latest WIP, but my crit partners would kill me because they don't know as much about it...

Anyways. I won't disagree that love triangles are used a lot in YA books these days, and that sometimes they can be used just for the "hook" of it, but I also won't apologize for having ones in mine, not as long they're important to the book and true to it, and I don't think I - or my books - should be judged for having them. Thoughts?

Peace and cookies,

*I totally wrote geography when I first typed this. I hate that, too. I'm bad with directions... I get lost if you spin me around three times in a circle.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chemical X

I remember doing one interview for a blog tour where I was asked a question about the "everygirl" character. The question was, did I purposefully make Mel, the main character of Rain, very different from the "everygirl"? (If you need clarification on everygirl--I did--I found this to be amusing and helpful.)

My answer was, no, I didn't purposefully write Mel as pretty much the opposite of an everygirl. But while I see the value in such characters, that description could never. Ever. Be. Mel. So I never could've written her as an everygirl in the first place.

This ties into my Chemical X formula: defy stereotypes. Highlight traits of your characters--main or secondary--that contradict their role or even other characteristics. And, tangentially, give them definitive dialogue.

In a sense, know your characters so well you could be (and especially talk like) them for a day. (Then try it.) (Kidding. That'd be weird.) (But still.)

In Rain, Mel has a habit of contradiction, both internally and in dialogue, responding to innocent questions such as "Don't you have an elevator?" with "Of course not, stupid," from chapter one. Her contradictions would probably make her come off as obnoxious--different from the unassuming everygirl--but in the story it adds some Chemical X to her system.

In Flawless Ruins (coming soon!!! And if you're going to be near Columbia, SC this weekend, you can get a pre-official-release-copy at the South Carolina Book Festival!) the main character Morgan is definitely nicer than Mel, but in a way she's just as heedlessly confident. A good word might be dogged. Her persistence is once Chemical X trait. (Read it to find out the rest! ;)

And finally, in my current story, the main character Sophie is a...how to describe it...I believe it rhymes with wiiiitch. She mocks everyone, even her best friend-- but she's good at it. Her wit could cut diamond. “Is she one of those weepy girls in the I Have Too Many Feelings Club at school?” But honestly, if Sophie was a nice person, or a stereotype, she'd be lacking something very important: Chemical X!

Since I talked about mean narrators, what are some books or movies with nasty main characters?


Monday, May 9, 2011

Harmony's Chemical X

Until we received that email, I've never given much thought about the "Chemical X" that I add to bring my characters to life. It's obviously something that I do because flat characters are horribly boring but I've only done it subconsciously.

My "Chemical X" is very similar to Laina's - it's the imperfections in the characters, whether it's a major thing that makes up their personalities, like an abusive relationship or a bad childhood or a temper, or a little quirk, like being overly sarcastic or awkward or even the little habits they have, like blasting a certain band when they're angry.

If you're unsure of how to add Chemical X to your story, my suggestion is to watch others - what quirks do they have? Things that they do when they're nervous or angry or any annoying habits they have. What things do you do? Think of your character like a real person and give them quirks and habits that will make them that much more realistic.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Revenge of Chemical X!

Or: Saturday is easily amused. But doesn't that sound like some horror movie from the seventies or something?

Earlier this week we got an email that inspired us quite a bit, enough that we decided to do a sort of theme week.

Julie asked:

I was wondering if y'all would write a post on the "Chemical X" in writing. Let me explain. Earlier today, I had a conversation about the show The Powerpuff Girls and about "Sugar, spice and everything nice... and then some Chemical X." In the story, Chemical X is what brought the girls "to life." During this conversation, my brain started to wonder to my favorite topic writing. I wondered how to add "Chemical X" to my characters to give them life. I understand that every character is different and that the writing "Chemical X" isn't a stencil or anything, but I was wondering what y'all do to add Chemical X to your characters.

Thanks for the question!

Well, I've blogged about how I develop characters a couple times here, but it's always a fun topic to talk about.

For me, one of the biggest thing that adds "Chemical X" to a character is thinking about how they're screwed up. No, seriously. Perfect people are boring to read about. Every single one of my main characters (narrators) have issues.

One character had a seriously not pleasant childhood. Quite obviously, that's given her some major issues. She's sometimes selfish, self-destructive, relationships (with anyone, friends, relatives, boys) somewhat confuse her. She's also one of my favourite characters to write.

Another character also had an unpleasant childhood, in a different way. But she also had something happen to her before the book starts that colours everything in the book. She's depressed, she doesn't trust people easily, she has nightmares. She's heartbreaking to write, but I think she's interesting.

That's one of the ways I add "Chemical X" to my characters. Stick around for more on this!

Peace and cookies,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Romance

Somehow Thursday rolled around without warning, and I found myself scrambling to finish things at work, scraping furniture together for the new house, and trying to come up with a blog post. Not to mention The Vampire Diaries and American Idol were on, so of course I had to set everything aside so I could watch those. (Go Haley!)

Okay, topic for this week. Romantic interests. No, not a romantic relationship with your W.I.P., which I already babbled about. My mind’s been on those guys that sweep away our female characters and take them off into the sunset. In my current disaster of a novel, I’ve been trying to find a balance. See, I don’t want the entire story to circle around the romance. There are other aspects I’m incorporating, other things I want to explore as a writer. Grief, friendships, mystery, suspense. Is adding a little spice of boy in there too much?

People want romance, though. It’s what makes our blood pump, our palms tingle. Hey, I include myself in this group. I love love. I’ve been putting this pressure on myself to push the romance in the story. So how far should I take this thing with my main character and this adorable, awkward basketball player? As I dwelled, the answer became clear.

As far as my main characters allows me to take them. Duh, right? I’ll give these two a scene here and there, but the main focus is my main character, and though she likes him, she’s got other things on her mind. Like staying alive. It’s about the story, yes, but it’s mostly about this all-important character I’ve created.

Take The Vampire Diaries. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the lowdown. Elena is in danger, and two brothers who are in love with her are trying to keep her alive. This season, there has been a few tingly moments, yes. But the focus of every single episode has revolved around ways to keep Elena safe. A potion? A witch? Vampire blood? Kidnapping? (If you haven’t seen this show… I highly suggest you get on top of this.)

So, bottom line of my revelation this week. It’s not about what I want, or readers want, it’s about what my main character wants and how it fits into the story.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I'm glad today is Tuesday, aka my YA Lit Six day, because I have something quite awesome to share...

My COVER! As in, the image that will grace the front of Flawless Ruins, coming out next month (though if you go to the South Carolina Book Festival you might be able to get it earlier!).

Without further ado...

(Yes, that's a blurb from Mandy Hubbard on the cover!) The Flawless Ruins page on my website has been updated, though there's still one or two blurbs that need to go up (hopefully soon).