We Haz Winners!!

Celebrating Song of the Day: “The Winner” by Drake

Sooo, remember when we threw this contest? You know, where we celebrated the fact that we finally had 100 followers? Well, ever since then, you guys REALLY stepped up to the plate. We’re at 174 followers and counting!!

As promised, we have some awesome prizes to give away. Let’s have a recap, shall we?

1. A 10 page critique from both Quita and myself.

2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis, and preorders of Kirsten Hubbard’s Like Mandarin and Veronica Roth’s Divergent.

3. A $25 gift card to Amazon.

4. A query critique from the Simon Pulse author, KM Walton (her YA novel, Everything’s Not Lost, will be released in Spring 2012!)

Okay, have we stalled enough? What’s that? You don’t want to see these random, cute pics of shameful animals??

Okay, okay….without further ado (and with the help of Random.org), the FOUR WINNERS are:

Amparo Ortiz
Nicole Zoltack
Lauren
Elizabeth Tan
Congrats winners!! Here’s what to do next:
  • Send an email to: marquitahockaday@gmail.com with “CONTEST WINNER” in the subject line.
  • Rank the above prizes from 1-4 (1 being the prize you REALLY want).
  • Whoever gets in touch with Quita first will get first dibs on the prizes.
  • You all have until midnight EST on Wednesday, February 2nd to respond. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll have to choose another winner. *sad face*

Thank you all SO MUCH for participating. Who knows? Maybe when we reach another milestone we’ll celebrate again. Hmm, 250 doesn’t seem THAT far off…

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99th Page Blogfest!!

Reading Song of the Day: “99 Problems” by Jay Z

This is IT you guys. Quita and I are joining some of our writer buddies in the 99th Page Blogfest. Basically, we show you all page 99 of one of our WIPs, and you all let us know if you’d continue reading or not. Cool, right? Right? Oh, and be sure to click here for other Page 99 madness!

Here we go…

Pam’s Excerpt

This is an excerpt from my baby, Wants. As some of you may know, this is told from 4 POVs. All you need to know for this scene is that Alicia is insecure and having doubts about her relationship with her boyfriend, Austin:

My heart leaps to my ears and pounds right against my skull. I fold my arms across my chest, but my breasts get that swollen feeling again. “Um, what?”

“You’re breaking up with me, right? I could hear it in your voice over the phone.” He lights up and takes a hit. “I’m used to it. Just didn’t think it would be this soon.”

His voice shakes, but I can’t tell if it’s from sadness or the weed. The room seems to sway and I have to spread my legs to keep steady. My eyes land on the Rebel Without a Cause poster hanging right above Austin’s headboard. Great, I forgot how much he liked James Dean. “Why do you like me?”

I expect him to flinch or do something else comical, but he just puffs on his joint. “Really?”

“Really.” I spread my arms, revealing me in my size fourteen glory. “I don’t look like everyone else.”

“Neither do I.”

“You know what I mean.” I try tucking a strand of hair behind my ear but it just bounces back. “You could have anyone.”

He nods. “Probably.”

I remember in ninth grade, Sarah Bishop slapped him in the auditorium right in the middle of freshman orientation. I never knew what happened, but I really wish she was here right now.

Quita’s Excerpt

This is an excerpt from my yet to be titled (b/c you know I suck at titles) contemporary YA mystery. Blake Farmer is trying to figure out what’s happened to his best friend who he hasn’t spoken with in over four days. He is speaking with the school’s heartthrob football star who was rumored to have seen Blake’s friend at a party two nights before.

I roll my eyes and huff. “Can we skip all the bullsh**? When did Kyle get there?”

“Oh, yeah. He came around midnight. David had just decided that he would sell to us, though. Kyle walked in when David had his goodies all laid out on the table. I mean, you should have seen Kyle’s face.”

I could imagine. One thing that Kyle hated more than people in general, were people who went back on a deal. David was never supposed to sell to the high school kids, that was their truce.

“When Kyle saw that, he just went off. He started going in on David—I mean, hard. Calling him a lying sack of sh** and saying that he would ruin him. It was ugly.”

“Let me guess…you got in the fight.”

Jaron shakes his head. “Not at first. I mean, I like Kyle and all…” Jaron coughs a little. “But when he started going at my girl, I had to say something.”

“He went off on Kendall?”

Jaron nods. “Big time. Said she was a slut and asked what she has to do to get her brother to buy her all those nice things. Kendall almost slapped him. Like I said, Kyle’s a good dude. I didn’t want to do anything, but he accused my girl of like, incest or whatever. I couldn’t let that fly.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing. I just pushed him a little,” he answers, avoiding eye contact.

Omigod! We did it!!!! : ) So, what’d you think???

It’s Not Too Late!!

Writing Song of the Day: “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace

So tomorrow, Quita and I will share our souls with you all. Okay, that’s a tad dramatic, but we will be hosting the 99th Page Blogfest along with Alicia, Holly, and Erinn. Basically, we’re going to post page 99 of one of our WIPs and see if you all would like to read more. Sure, it’s scary, but the writing community is SOOO supportive. Won’t you join us? Click here for more deets.

Also, Quita and I are still celebrating the fact that we’ve reached over 100 followers. We’re AMAZED at how that number keeps growing!! Thank you all so much, and please be sure that we’ll have plenty of amusing (yet informative–we hope) posts and maybe a few goodies every now and then for you all. Have you entered yet? Then what are you waiting for??

That’s our news break for you all. Do you have any news to share? Any contest of blogfests you’re participating in? Please spread the word in the comments!

RTW: Living in a YA World

Reading Song of the Day: “Dream World” by Robin Thicke

Guess what time it is, lovelies? It’s road trip time! And yet again the ladies at YA Highway are asking us a unique and thought-provoking question. This week they want to know: If you could live in the story world of one book what would it be?

Our reaction to this question???

*quiet*

*thinking*

*Got it!*

A bunch of dystopian worlds came to mind right away, but seriously–who wants to be a part of the Hunger Games?? So, here are a few areas we wouldn’t mind living in:

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare–A world where supernatural creatures exist but only a select few are aware of them. We probably never really want to come across a werewolf or a vampire, but the underground world Ms. Clare creates is both fun and gritty. Not to mention Jace would be there. *swoon*

Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris– Bon Temps, LA doesn’t exactly sound like the best place to live, but if you can chill with people like strong-willed Sookie and her boss/friend Sam, wouldn’t you move there in a heartbeat? Not to mention that vampires are recognized members of the normal society and if you wanted to, you could get to know Bill and Eric. Oh, and don’t forget the werewolf with the heart of gold, we love you Alcide!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins–Ummmm, it takes place in Paris. Need we say more?? We have been DYING to tour Europe one day. A few days in Italy, Spain, and France would pretty much complete our lives. We went to England for our MFA program and practically had to be dragged kicking and screaming back home. If only we could have taken more days from work while we were already in Europe. *sigh*

Hey, that was kinda fun 🙂 We’d love for you to join in–what story world would you want to live in?

BTW- The YA Highway ladies that mentioned above? The ones we stalk? Yes, them. They’re hosting a contest full of ALA ARCS- it’ll blow your mind. Check it out here!

Debut Author Challenge # 1: XVI by Julia Karr

Reading Song of the Day: “Uprising” by Muse

A month ago we posted here that we are participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by the magnificent Story Siren. We could hardly wait to get started reading the books on our list!
So, I’m kicking off the DAC with a review of Julia Karr’s XVI (released January 6th, 2011).
First, here is part of what Goodreads has to say:
Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear…
Second, me and Pam realize that book reviews are sometimes a lil’ taxing to read. So, we want to make this quick, easy, and hopefully fun for you all.
*Top Four Things You Need to Know About XVI:
1. The protag, Nina, is relatable, strong, and you will feel/root for her.
2. The world building is not the center of the novel. Karr weaves terms, new technology, and setting throughout the story without pulling away from the character development and conflict.
3. The pacing is spot on–you won’t be left with with rambling passages of description; the action keeps going and going…
4. Sal, Nina’s love interest, is pretty much swoon-worthy. He protects Nina, doesn’t compromise what he believes in, and he’s dark but not brooding.
* If you like…
Books: If you like The Hunger Games trilogy, Matched by Ally Condie, and 1984 by George Orwell, then you will like XVI.
Movies: If you like Minority Report, Gattaca, and V forVendetta, then you will like XVI.
There you have it. Review # 1- woo hoo! If you read XVI, please share with us what you thought.
***Don’t forget- our 100 Follower Celebration is still alive and kicking. Click here to enter–you have until January 28th, 2011!!

Agent Interview: Sarah LaPolla!!

Querying Song of the Day: “She Got Her Own” by Ne-Yo ftg. Jamie Foxx and Fabolous

Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with my Agent of Awesome, Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown, LTD! Sarah has worked with Curtis Brown since 2008, and officially started picking up her own clients last year. She also mans the terrific blog, Glass Cases, in which she gives her insightful thoughts of the publishing biz and even features submissions from up-and-coming writers! You can find a brief bio of Sarah here, and follow her on Twitter here.

The Agent-y Questions:

You received your MFA in creative writing. What types of stories/novels do you write?

My MFA is in creative nonfiction. I wrote mostly personal essays, some political stuff that was pretty terrible, and dabbled in memoir. My nonfiction tends to come out only in blog form now and I recently started writing fiction just to see if I could. I’m about ¾ done with a contemporary YA and have a rough outline for an adult literary fiction project. So far it’s fun, but I’m not taking it too seriously.

How do you feel your MFA helps you with your career as an agent?

MFAs are useful in becoming a better writer and a better judge of what “good” writing, which is not always the equivalent of “what I like to read” or “what will compete within a given market.” So, there’s that. More than anything though, my MFA program made me a better editor, which is a skill I use constantly as an agent, whether with my own clients’ work or in deciding whether to take on a new project.

When you’re reading a query/submission, what makes you know that you’ve found “the one”?

If the book has interesting and dynamic characters AND the premise sounds amazing, then it’s golden. There has to be both.

You recently tweeted that you were over vampires, angels, werewolves, and zombies. Should writers with these characters steer clear from querying you, or are you willing to have a look if the concept is unique enough?

Yikes. I guess just steer clear. I appreciate a good vamp story when I see one (and I still love me some True Blood and Vampire Diaries), but I’m just over them in books. I’d like to add gods and other forms of shapeshifters to the list of non-humans I don’t want to see anymore too. I just have no interest.

I do still like witches, aliens, ghosts, and (if you follow me on Twitter, you know this) centaurs! (Seriously, it doesn’t have to be the main character; just plop one in your next fantasy submission.) Of course, you need a solid plot to back up these characters, no matter what.

(Bloggers Note: Pam has a RIDICULOUS fear of centaurs–only to be matched by Quita’s phobia of mermaids. Quita has never been able to watch the Tom Hanks classic, Splash)

Is there a genre that you wish you saw more of in your slush pile?

I get a lot of queries for “magical realism,” but they always turn out to be fantasy. So, I wish I got more magical realism. I’d also like to see more horror and mystery, both on the literary side, for YA and adult. A great YA or MG ghost story that’s scary instead of romantic would be fabulous.

Including a synopsis is part of the submissions process for Curtis Brown LTD. Is the synopsis ever a deal breaker, or would you still request more if you enjoyed the query and/or sample pages?

Honestly, I gloss over a synopsis. It is never a deciding factor for me. If I’m hooked by the query, I’ll go straight to the sample pages and decide whether to request the manuscript from there.

I was lucky enough to receive an offer from you after a revise and resubmit request. What’s the number one tip you’d give a writer in the same position?

I can’t really answer this for all writers. In your case, we were on the same page with the revisions and you understood what I was asking in a way that still allowed you to make it your own. In this way, I guess my #1 piece of advice for writers would be to only revise if YOU agree with the revision suggestions. What one agent says could be different from another, and if you’re only revising to make one agent happy, then what happens with your next project? And the one after that? The last thing I want is for a writer to say “whatever you want, I’ll do it!” That’s not where the best writing comes from.
(Pam’s Note: I couldn’t agree more! Sarah brought up suggestions that I was already pondering with my critique partner. We were so in sync–only thing missing was Justin Timberlake!)

Are you attending any upcoming conferences?

January 22: Writer’s Digest Writer’s Conference/Pitch Slam (NY)

March 25-26: Write Stuff 2011 Conference (PA)

Just For Fun:

We’re avid Joseph Gordon-Levitt fans here at the blog, and we know you are, too! What’s your fave JGL movie?

Oh JGL… I’ve always thought he was adorable, but I didn’t fall IN LOVE with him until I saw him in Brick.
(Bloggers Note: Brick=One of the Best Movies Ever! Truly, we’d love to read or write a YA novel that’s just as clever)

We’re also lovers of music here. Is there any song that automatically puts you in a better mood, even if you’re having a crum-tastic day?

“Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe will pretty much brighten any day. If I need an entire album’s worth of happiness, I’ll throw on The Pipettes or some vintage They Might Be Giants.

Okay, we have to ask a food question. Is there any food out there that’s so delicious that you’d commit a crime to taste it again (it’s sad, but I’d have to say my mom’s lasagna…or Wendy’s new sea salt fries)?

Every time my sister visits me in New York we go to this Moroccan place called Zerza and get their saganaki (fried feta covered in honey). So simple, yet it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Luckily I don’t have to commit any crimes to eat it again. That with a toasted marshmallow milkshake would probably be my choice for a last meal (speaking of committing crimes).

What’s the last book that made you cry?

I definitely cried twice while reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not sure if that was the last book to do it, but it was the most memorable.

Is there any book character that you’d run off with to elope?

Mr. Knightley from Emma is my idea of the perfect man. Just as smart and snarky as Mr. Darcy, but he’s actually a nice guy. Then again, if Oliver Wood asked me to run away with him, I’d do it. (Sure he’s not as smart, but you know he’s going pro, and who wouldn’t want to be a Quidditch player’s wife?)
(Bloggers Note: We’re both totally crushing on Kent from Before I Fall. So different with his bowler hat but SO sweet. Where was this guy when we were in high school??)

Major thanks to Sarah for completing this interview! She’s definitely worth your query, so get those babies critiqued and send them off…unless you’re writing about vampires. 🙂

RTW: Book Blurbs

Reading Song of the Day: “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias

In a world where two cuzzes collide…they participate each week in a rawk hard blogging carnival: Road Trip Wednesday. RTW is brought to us by the talented girls at YA Highway and they always have something clever up their sleeves. This week, they want blurbs. Blurbs of either our favorite books or our own work. This one was a lil’ hard, and we couldn’t get cheesy movie announcer voices out of our head while doing this, so…don’t take us too seriously.
Blurbs for some of our fave books:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

“A chilltastic tale of a love square that can rival the crazy antics on the Bachelor, yo. Oh yeah, and zombies are in there, too. People, we got ourselves a situation.”

MIKE “THE SITUATION” SORRENTINO-the Lothario of the Jersey Shore Boardwalk
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“With mean girls, b-b-b-bowler hats, and The Country’s Best Yogurt, Lauren Oliver will have you falling with Sam Kingston over, and over, and over, and over…Oh, sorry.”

*KING GEORGE VI OF BRITAIN-from the history books…but you probably just know him from The King’s Speech
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“Katniss turns from ugly duckling to a beautiful swan in this thrilling novel that responds to my touch. Attack it! Attack it!”

THOMAS LEROY, AKA- the crazed, perverted choreographer of Black Swan

*Note: We are not making fun of speech impediments–just the movie itself. ‘Cause we don’t get it.

So can you think of any blurbs for these books above. Which celeb/character would you want pimpin’ out your book?

BTW- We are participating in the 99th Page Blogfest on Friday, January 28th. Won’t you join us??