Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Fluffy Book Club Needs Your Help

So besides reading middle grade, I'm in two book clubs (a regular read-it-all and a fluffy). My Fluffy book club reads books that fit in the thriller/YA/Mystery/ChickLit categories. You know, the books you read and love but there's no discussion except: Did you read? Can you believe? That was awesome.

So we're putting together a list of books to vote which ones to read. This is where I need your help, I need to know what fluffy books you are drooling over. I've been out of it and offline. I'm trying to unplug from the Internet more this year and complete the stories that tug at me each night. HELP ME PLEEEEAAASSE. please.

What YA/Thriller/Mystery/ChickLit books would you want on the fluffy book list?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

She's Crafty: Pacing

Yeah, it's almost 2 in the morning, I've been writing my brains out. Then I powered up with a burrito and thought I would break for second to talk about pacing.

What is pacing? It's the flow of your story (that's my late night opinion). What does it mean for my writing? Specifically, it means my story starts too slow. My story definitely picks up in the middle but I need to drive the first fifty pages with higher stakes and more action to keep my reader invested.

In order to up the stakes, I've slashed chapters, cut character backstory and woven character decisions into the action (that hopefully develop my characters more than the slashed backstory). I'm not going to lie, it was messy. I didn't like myself in the morning sometimes, but it had to be done.

So how do I decide if my pacing is okay? It's all about the stakes and whether I feel genuine concern for my characters. My story is an adventure, so I want to feel peril, anxiety, stress, or adrenaline on every page. It should read like a roller coaster, saving the biggest drop/loop till the end. If I don't feel it on the page, I evaluate what is lacking.

Why is pacing so important? Because kids will stop reading.

I was talking to my sister today and we were talking about what page number we stop at if the story doesn't hold our interest. I used to give a book 100 pages before I put it down, now it's twenty. Yup, Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is a drink coaster at my house. Seriously, what is up with its crazy boring beginning? Props to those of you who hung on for the whole thing. My sister stops reading at 80 pages, she's kinder than me.

My daughters: Lore (9) stops at page 30 but she drags her feet if it doesn't pick up. She put down Mockingbird at page 10. Who wants to read about a dead brother, Mom?

Bryn (almost 8) stops at page 5 if it doesn't amuse her or make her laugh. And she's still in the reluctant stage where she won't finish the book if a chapter gets mildly boring. It's frightening how quickly she can become uninvested.

When do you stop reading?

And how do you keep your pace strong and stakes high in the beginning and/or middle of your story?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I binged on middle grade

And I just realized I forgot to do MMGM yesterday. These weeks are flying. Anyway, I had to go to the bookstore for something small and came home with a stack.

What I bought:
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Wyss (Classic)
  • My Weirder School #1: Miss Child Has Gone Wild! by Gutman (the destination book)
  • The Invisible Tower by Johnson-Shelton
  • The Cabinet of Earths by Nesbet
  • The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Gutman
  • Snow in Summer by Yolen
  • Tuesdays at the Castle by George
  • Winterling by Prineas (I heart the cover)
  • The Last Musketeer by Gibbs
  • Hallowed by Hand (my YA splurge)
Ten books: that's not too bad, right?

Which would you want to read first?

I'm kinda leaning toward The Last Musketeer. I'm a sucker for Dumas-inspired stories.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Shadows (The Book of Elsewhere #1)

I bought this book because I heart the cover. Seriously, heart it. So I thought I would start the year with cover love and title love and story love too.

My MMGM pick:

The Book of Elsewhere (#1): The Shadows
by Jacqueline West
published 2010

Other Books by this author:
Spellbound (The Books of Elsewhere #2) 2011

The Hook: When 11 year old Olive moves into an old mansion she discovers the house is hiding secrets and that she can enter the paintings that are stuck to its walls. She uncovers a power that wants to destroy her and the house, and it is up to her to stop the dark shadows.

Why I loved it: Characters and imagination. The story is very clever and I love the fantastical element of the paintings, Elsewhere, and the plot. The story can be a bit scary at times but it is a fabulous adventure. I haven't got to book 2 yet but want to--it is definitely on my to-buy list. This is a great book for both boys and girls. I would also recommend this to reluctant readers; the story moves quickly and should hold their attention.

So I'm trying to decide what books to pick for this month's middle grade mash up, what new middle grade new releases are you most excited to read?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy New Year and the Ebook Surprise

Yes, I took an extended blog vacation from Thanksgiving till now. What can I say? I love to party...and write. I wrote a ton over the break. I read a ton over the break too.

But now I'm back and full of thoughts and book recommendations. Plus I'm a goals girl, so I have a new idea for the new year.

A Monthly Middle Grade Mash Up
I will pick two new release MG books at the beginning of each month. Then I will read said books during the month and determine a winner. Then if you choose to read along with me, you can comment on my judging skills. (So now I've said it out loud, I've got to do it.)

Now for the Ebook surprise...

This Christmas, most of my (9 yr old) daughter's friends got Ereaders for Christmas. What, What?!?! 9 year olds. So I take back what I asked a few months ago about whether middle graders had e-readers, because now my daughter is one of the few without. From a marketing perspective (yes, I was a marketer before a stay-at-home mom), that means e-readers are no longer in early adoption but early majority.

And with Kindle's library enabled readers and possible rent-a-book system that works like Netflix, what does that mean for middle grade authors?

Should we continue to seek traditional publishing? I still think yes to this because it comes with a marketing team but only from the big houses.

What does this mean for small publishers? I know a girl that just got dropped from her small press and is now shopping her polished manuscript to other publishers.

As a hopeful debut author, the temptation to self publish is growing. I still want to get an agent and a house just to say I did it the hard way.

I don't know, what do you think?