Friday Fives: Mmmm…Book Covers

Ogling Song of the Day: “Cover Girl” by Jamie Foxx

We’re joining Pam’s awesome bloggy pals over at the uber rad (sorry, didn’t want to use awesome again) blog, Paper Hangover for some Friday Fives fun!

This week, they wanna know:

What five book covers are you lusting over?

As you all know from our Pam v. Quita series, we don’t ALWAYS agree on everything, but this topic was one we could easily agree on. Here are the five book covers (in no particular order) that are so delicious we could just gobble them up.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Aren’t those just gorgeous?! What book covers are you currently lusting over?


I Saw That In A Movie!

Comparing Song of the Day: “For the Movies” by Buckcherry

Okay, so we felt like it was about time that we touch on the age old topic of the movie versions of books. We saw Water for Elephants this past weekend without having read the book. Right after the movie, I promptly bought the book. The same thing happened when we saw the movie version of I Am Number Four (which we’ve heard was a lot better than the book–full report after said book is read)…and of course this occurs the other way around, too. We read and love Twilight, we saw the movie. We read and love The Hunger Games, so we plan to see the movie. You get the point.
Sometimes movies and books work hand in hand, helping each other sell (cha-ching) and bringing the movie/book to a wider audience. On some occasions you get situations where the book is better than the movie (okay that happens on MOST occasions), but we wonder…are there ever times where the movie is better than the book?

When we were younger we couldn’t get through the book Gone With the Wind, but we watched the movie with intensity. Is that an age thing or was the movie better than the book? Pipe in–can you think of occasions where the movie was able to outdo those things that we love and hold dear (books, people-duh!)??

RTW: The Soundtrack of Our Writing

Writing Songs of the Day: “Misery” by Maroon 5, and “Duality” by Slipknot

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic:

If your WIP or favorite book were music, what song(s) would it be?

We LOVE anything mixing music and reading/writing so this should be a fun RTW!

Pam’s Answer:

Here’s a secret: I like a lot of depressing music. You know–Eminem, Chevelle, and anything else you’d listen to while waiting for the apocalypse. So when I was writing my kinda, sorta romantic comedy, Project J, I just blinked at my iTunes playlist a lot.

And then I rediscovered my love for Maroon 5.

I mean, I’ve always been a fan; I even saw them in concert and swooned over Adam Levine’s sexy swag. But I never had a place for them with my own writing until my narrator Jonah popped in my head. Jonah’s a self-proclaimed nerd who tries really hard to win the affections of the most popular girl in school–but in the mean time, he falls for someone else that he may not ever be able to have. Is that misery or what? Hence, “Misery” by Maroon 5. Yeah, it’s not the most creative song choice, but damn if that song doesn’t make me jerk my shoulders to the beat. And have you seen them perform this live? Again–sexy swag.

Quita’s Answer:

Like Pam, I have a lot of slow, depressing songs–the music getting the most play on my iPod right now is Adele’s latest- 21. But, that doesn’t quite fit with the mood and tone. Yes, it is slightly depressing since it involves death–but I want it to the have the feel of a fast paced mystery. And Adele won’t work for that. Blake, my MC from The Blues, is not scorned by a lover, instead he discovers secrets about his best friend after his mysterious death.

So, if I had to choose a song for The Blues, it would be… “Duality” by Slipknot. My MC has to deal with the fact that he can’t change the situation his best friend was in or his current dilemma (and this song got heavy rotation while I was writing The Blues)

Now tell us, what song(s) would represent your WIPs or a fave book of yours?

Chipping Away at Writer’s Block

Writing Song of the Day: “Did It On ‘Em” by Nicki Minaj

Last week, something miraculous happened. Something so awe-inducing, that years from now, townspeople will be celebrating a day in my honor. Yes, ladies and gentlemen–I, Pamela N. Harris, have completed another 1st draft.

Okay, I get it. Some of you may be thinking: “But you write. Aren’t you supposed to complete 1st drafts?”
Why yes, lovely followers, this is true. But as I mentioned here, I’m not a big fan of the 1st draft. And this one–well, this one was a doozy.
I started Project J (no, I don’t have a title yet) in the summer of 2010. I outlined the first 13 chapters, wrote the 1st 13 chapters, and then…

That’s right, I hit a wall. I did have Wants to fall back on since I had to complete some agent-requested revisions. And then in November, I wrote another 1st draft for NaNoWriMo. And then more Wants revisions. And then there’s work and school.
And Project J. Well, Project J started to collect cobwebs. It’s not that I hated it–it’s just that I didn’t know what the heck to do with it anymore. When my lovely agent said that she’d like the idea, I knew I had to get to work. But how do you work on a project when your mind is filled with this: ??????????????????????????????

Here’s my cure to chipping away at this bout of writer’s block:

1. I printed out what I had so far and read through it. Made notes on what worked, what didn’t work.

2. Made (I mean, asked) Quita to read what I had so far, too. Asked her to take notes on what worked, what didn’t work.

3. Listened to music that fit my manuscript. Project J is one of my lighter manuscripts, so I played lots of pop-friendly songs (thanks, Quita–for blasting so many Britney Spears in the office).

4. Watched teen comedies and paid attention to what worked, what didn’t work. Project J is inspired by an 80s teen comedy, so I really wanted to get back to that place of how fun being a teen can be sometimes. Of course, I touch on some “heavy” topics, but I wanted to have a good time while doing so.

5. With all that said and done, I finally was able to have a bare outline of what should happen next. After that, I set myself goals on actually writing it. Some days it was 1 chapter, some days it was 2–it all depended on how much work I needed to do for my two jobs and school.

6. Gave myself an incentive for when I was actually done. And me being me, my incentive was food. Even though I whined when I was too tired to work, I always reminded myself how much I wanted those Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster. Yum!!

And now–1ST DRAFT IS DONE! Of course, the hard work is next: revision. Call me weird, but I love me some revising, so I’m actually looking forward to the next step.

What about you all? How do you all overcome writer’s block? I’m always looking for new tips!

Friday Fives: More Please!

Wishing Song of the Day: “Gimme More” by Britney Spears

We’re joining my lovely group blog, Paper Hangover, again this week for the Friday Fives. This week we want to know:

What are five things you wish to see more of in fiction?

1. More diversity. In most of the books Quita and I like to read, we don’t nearly see as many ethnic characters…or GLBTQ characters…or characters with disabilities. Of course, none of these need to be an “issue” of the book–but it would be nice to read books that were reflective of the world. Speaking of which…

2. More realistic YA. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a total fan girl of Cassandra Clare and Quita is ga ga over Maggie Stiefvater, but we’d like to see realistic fiction receive the same attention. Nothing excites me more than seeing a contemporary YA deal on Publishers Marketplace. Well, except for pizza and/or chocolate chip cookies, but still…

3. More love stories that actually make sense. Sure, it’s great to think that the hottest guy in school will suddenly open his eyes and fall head over heels for you–risking his popularity and even his own life just for your well-being. But that ain’t happening, cap’n. We like love stories with a more authentic feel, just like the one in Anna and the French Kiss. The chemistry was there between Anna and Etienne from the beginning, but their actual relationship took time–which is the way it usually happens.

4. More stories from the male POV. Sure, girls usually read more than boys, but this could possibly change if there were male narrators. Thank you John Green, Hannah Moskowitz, and Blake Nelson for breaking the mode. And on the POV front…

5. More multiple POVs please. Sometimes a story works even better when you get to see everything from different angles. Steve Brezenoff did a wonderful job with this in The Absolute Value of -1 and Jackson Pearce rocked it out with Sisters Red. I like to dabble with this method, so I’d LOVE to see more examples.

What about you all? Anything you’d love to see more of in fiction?

Right on the Kisser!

Kissing Song of the Day: “Kiss” by Prince (obviously)

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This Week’s Topic:
Compare your first kiss with your favorite characters first kiss?

Okay, so here are one of my fave couples in YA, Jace and Clary:

See the passion? The heat? The lust that just oozes from this picture?

Now, here’s a dramatization of my first kiss:

‘Nuff said.

What about you all? Were any of your first kisses anything like the books?

Query Letter Blogfest!

Critiquing Song of the Day: “All the Critics Love You in New York” by Prince

It’s blogfest tiiiiiime! Once again, we’re joining the lovely Alicia, Holly, and Erinn in a new blogfest-this time it’s a Query Letter Blogfest!

If you are paricipating, don’t forget that we’re asking each person to critique at least five query letters–you can definitely do more though!

Since query letters are always so subjective, what exactly should you be looking for in your critique? Here are some helpful suggestions:

*Tell whether or not the letter hooks you–is there a pitch line apparent somewhere through out the letter?

*Determine whether or not you GET what the novel is about.

*How is the sentence flow? Transitions?

*If you were an agent–would you request pages? Why or why not?

*Try to stay away from grammatical errors- that’s a little nitpicky. We just wanna know what you think about the content.

So, obviously one of us will not be posting their query…*coughs* Pam already has a super agent *coughs* But I am braving the masses and posting my query letter for all to see and critique.

I’m fragile, yes–but critical feedback is good…even for those as precious as me. Show me what you got!

Dear Agent,

Solving the murder of your drug-dealing best friend can be difficult, especially when you’re only sixteen.

Blake Farmer’s suburban neighborhood in North Carolina has always bored him. The worst crimes ever committed on his street were from teens pushing pills to their peers. But one summer night after the tenth grade, Blake’s father is murdered following a car jacking. A suspect is never found, and despite his mom’s efforts to get Blake to see a counselor, he buries his emotions by working at a skateboarding park and getting high with best friend, high school drug dealer Kyle.

But then Kyle misses a day of school without letting Blake know. At first, Blake believes the text messages from Kyle—he’s just under the weather. He even trusts the updates that Kyle’s boyfriend, Evan, gives him. Eventually, dependable Kyle doesn’t show up for too many commitments and Blake knows something is wrong. With help from Margo—the target of Blake and Kyle’s teasing in middle school—Blake tries to figure out what’s happened to his best friend.

Not wanting to rely on the police who let him down before, Blake and Margo start their own investigation. They both become entangled in a long-standing drug war that Blake had no clue was happening right under his nose. Confused about new feelings for Margo and the real identity of his best friend, Blake becomes overwhelmed as he uncovers an entire underground drug ring and makes enemies out of people he never thought twice about before.

The Blues is a contemporary young adult mystery about the violence, drugs, and betrayal that ensues when trying to get to the bottom of a small town crime.

I am currently a secondary history teacher and a member of SCBWI and AWP. I am working toward my MFA at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) and I read for the FDU Literary Review Magazine. I have included the synopsis and the first ten pages per your submission guidelines. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.