Debut Author Challenge # 8: How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend…And a Giveaway!!!

Reading Song of the Day: “Girlfriend (Remix)” by Nsync ft. Nelly

We told ya we’d have more Debut Author Challenge to share with you guys ๐Ÿ™‚ This time, we’re going to introduce you to a fun, light (hmmm, that’s slightly debatable b/c there are some high stakes in this book) YA (possibly older MG) novel called How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislan.

The title is pretty self explanatory but just in case you want more, here is what Goodreads has to say:

David Gershwin’s summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad’s new patient Zelda tells him she s from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming. But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David’s hooked, and soon he’s leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David’s going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth or beyond.

Yep, it’s as fun as it sounds. Just in case you need more convincing, here are:

The Top Four Things You need to Know about How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend:

1. The MC has Crazy Voice!: David is the son of a psychiatrist who witnesses crazy teens on an almost daily basis. He’s clumsy, nerdy, and he makes lists to spell out the zany situations he gets caught up in. He is also a typical fourteen year old boy who loses words at the sight of boobs–I loved the authenticity of this character even while being wrapped up in alien politics.

2. The Love Story: When the book begins, Zelda is introduced as a sixteen year old lunatic who thinks she is from another planet. David finds himself enamored by Zelda almost right away and the story blossoms between the two from there. It’s really sweet how it starts as a cute (although abusive–Zelda is fierce!) friendship.

3. Realistic Family Dynamic: Mom and Dad are separated, Mom is evil with a rich lifestyle and a new boyfriend, and David’s older “stepsister” is a Bohemian drifter who hates her dad and David’s mom. All of the characters come to life and again I liked how much reality was in the background of all of the alien craziness.

4. What’s at Stake: What’s more timeless than a story about someone looking for love? Of course, this book takes it to a whole new level when the person looking for love is an alien searching for a celebrity like Johnny Depp. Also, I like how Ghislan doesn’t hold back on the explosions, butt kicking, and alien powers as David and Zelda travel in search for Captain Jack.

If You Like…

Books: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, Roswell High Series by Melinda Metz, and Girl Parts by John M. Cusick…then you’ll like How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend.

Movies: Earth Girls Are Easy, Disturbing Behavior, and The Faculty …then you’ll like How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend.

But, wait! That’s not it… just as we did with Crystal Allen’s How Lamar’s bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy, we are going to give this gem of a book away!!!! That way you can enjoy the alien antics as well ๐Ÿ™‚ All you have to do to win is leave a comment on this post by Midnight on July 5th, 2011 and be a follower of this blog. So easy ๐Ÿ™‚

BTW- have you read any good debut author books lately? If so, share–even though our To Be Read Piles will hate you.

RTW: Best Book in June


Reading Song of the Day: “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne

Due to popular demand, the ladies at YA Highway have brought back “The Best Book of the Month” Road Trip Wednesday topic! We couldn’t be more excited ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll keep this short and sweet b/c we have another book review in store for tomorrow and we know book reviews can sometimes be daunting. This month I read two books for the Debut Author Challenge and finished one that I started a while back. Since the other two already get their moments in the spotlight, I’m gonna name I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore the best book I read in June!

Interested? Check out what Goodreads.com has to say about it:
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic booksโ€”but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.And Number Three in Kenya.They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
I am next.

This book is full of action and has an EPIC plot & premise. The writing is the not the best in the world and it won’t win any Newberrys or Caldecotts…but if you are looking for a good, exciting, and fun read (and a cover that features the YUMMY Alex Pettyfer), then this is your book! Oh, and the movie was awesome, too ๐Ÿ™‚

What was the best book you read this month?

WIP Snapshot: Project J

Writing Song of the Day: “Fake It” by Seether

Okay, so we blatantly stole this idea from the lovely Caroline Tung Richmond (who, by the way, you should SO follow–her blog is incredible!), who has admitted that she stole this idea from super author Kiersten White. Basically, they both gave details on their current works-in-progress. I’ll tackle mine this week–but stay tuned for Quita’s breakdown next Monday. And now…let’s do this!

Title: Some of you may remember me mentioning Project J on the blog. Well, I had to quickly give it a title for an SCBWI novel retreat, and I settled on Faking It. Don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

Genre: Hopefully humorous, contemporary YA

Pages: 283. This is double-spaced with 12-point Times New Roman font.

Chapters: 28–maybe I’ll lose one or two of them during the revision process (which I’m devoting the whole month of July for).

Word Count: A little over 70K. Yeah, I definitely have to ditch a few chapters.

Draft Time: Well, I technically started Project J last summer, but then I hit a roadblock so I went back to my Wants revisions. I had to ask Quita when I started writing it again, and she said she thinks either February or March. I’ll take her word on that. I just know that I FINALLY finished my first draft near the end of April.

Origin: I was inspired by the 80s classic, Can’t Buy Me Love. I knew that I wanted to write something a bit lighter since Wants was so dark (though it does have its light moments, too). I also still wanted to tackle “heavy” issues and underrepresented populations. I haven’t read many stories with gay/lesbian parents, so I found a way to combine the ideas together.

Random Facts:

  • My protagonist’s name is Jonah. I recently went through another revision of Wants and noticed I had a minor character named Jonah. Wants Jonah is a douche–which is the complete opposite of my new protag.
  • Jonah’s mom’s name is Beverly–which I also realized is the name of one of my character’s moms in Wants. I really need to visit one of those baby names websites more often, huh?
  • I’ve written three YA manuscripts so far, and basketball is featured in every one of them. I have no clue why since…well, I have NO CLUE about basketball. Which sucks because Jonah was trying out for the basketball team. Let’s just say I utilized Google and my dad a lot.
  • My story is set in a small city in Virginia, which is pretty much where all of my stories are set. Can you guess where I’m from?
  • Jonah doesn’t use a lot of profanity, which makes this one of the “cleanest” stories I’ve ever written. Hmm, I wonder if that’s why it took me forever to complete the first draft…
  • When Jonah was younger, he was in a school production of A Christmas Carol. His only line was: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Scrooge.” I so stole that memory from my dad.

There you have it–this is what I’ll be working on over the summer. I’m hoping to send it out to betas soon so that I can really dig into the heart of this story. What about you all? How’s your writing going? We’d love to read about your WIPs. ๐Ÿ™‚

Friday Fives: Go With the Flow

Brainstorming Song of the Day: “Go With the Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age

After a week off, we’re hopping back in the saddle with the Paper Hangover gang for the Friday Fives. Today they want to know the:

FIVE things that get your creativity juices flowing
Hmm, this is a tricky one, but let’s give it a shot:
1. Music. I think this may be a popular one for many writers. Quita and I differ on this, though. While I LOVE listening to music while I write, if it’s a song I know too well, I’m going to be singing it from the rooftops instead of getting the words down. Quita can sit down and write through a rock concert, though. So, YES, I love music–but I prefer to listen to lesser known artists while I’m first drafting.
2. Other books. We’ve heard it all before–in order to be a great writer, you need to read, read, READ. I especially like to keep my eye open for techniques that I need more help in, like setting. Quita likes to look for pacing. Reading work from well-respected authors (and not even just in YA) helps us up our game.
3. Movies. Every Friday night, you can find us at the movie theater. In fact, I got the ideas from the last 2 WIPs I wrote from movies that I loved as a kid. It’s not necessarily stealing–it’s taking what you love so much about those movies and applying it to your own world.
4. People watching. So, we’re no longer teens, but we love writing about them. How do we make our writing authentic? Well, by watching teens of course–and we mean that in the not creepy way. We love eavesdropping in on conversations, or just watching interactions in public areas to make sure we’re nailing that teen voice.
5. Attending conferences. We LOVE going to writing conferences! Just mingling with other writers, and hearing words of wisdom from publishing insiders makes it money well spent. Every time we leave a conference or some other writing-related event, we’re so motivated to pound the keys on our laptops.
What about you all? What gets your creative juices flowing?

Debut Author Challenge # 7: Possession by Elana Johnson…AND a WINNER!

***Ummm…yes, we did schedule a post without adding in our winner…EPIC FAIL. But we have fixed that mistake. Sorry, guys :(***

Reading Song of the Day: “I Will Posses Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie

It’s been awhile, but we’re still at the Debut Author Challenge game…and we’re doing pretty well! We’re already on # 7 (out of the 12 required) and there will be two more to come in the upcoming months. This time we present to you another much awaited YA novel: Possession by Elana Johnson. Doesn’t the title alone just pull you in???

Well, if the title isn’t enough, we shall give you what Goodreads has to say…

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them…starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous–everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

AND, now we will convince you even more with:

The Top Four Things You Need to Know about Possession:

1. Holy Tech Overload: If you’ve read the book, then you get that line. Point being, this book is full of so many awesome and engaging technologies that it kinda boggles the mind at first. It’s so cool, though…I mean, the characters can actually teleport! This book offers a scary but realistic view of where technology may take us.

2. Vi: The MC has such a strong and engaging voice from page one that I didn’t want to stop reading. I had to get to know this girl. I had to get why she wanted to be bad. As I read on, I realized how refreshing it was to be reading a book from the POV of someone so headstrong. Vi is definitely NOT a damsel in distress.

3. Action: One of the things we struggle with the most is writing action scenes that are engaging and well-written. Elana Johnson obviously does not suffer from this writer’s kryptonite. The action in Possession starts on page four and did not let down from there.

4. Jag’s Jaggy-ness: OMIGOD, Jag’s one of the sexiest, dreamiest, hottest (did I say sexiest?) love interests created in YA. From his tanned skin, to the cocky smile, to the muscles, the shrug, the way he says “Nice”…*sigh* It’s sad, I know, but that is one dreamy mofo! And even though he was supposed to be the “bad” boy, I didn’t view him as all that bad. And I think that’s crucial to creating the relationship that he and Vi form.

If you like…

Books: Matched by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, or Delirium by Lauren Oliver…then you’ll like Possession.

Movies: Terminator, Never Let Me Go, and Aeon Flux…then you’ll like Possession.

Have you read Possession, yet? If so, what’d ya think? If not, what are you waiting for???

Oh, yeah! We also are announcing the winner of the awesome-tastic book from editor extraordinaire Cheryl Klein! So, without further ado the winner of Second Sight: An Editorโ€™s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults is….

JESSICA LOVE!!!!

Check your e-mail soon ๐Ÿ™‚

RTW: The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fi-ya (and a winner)!

Saving Song of the Day: “Light My Fire” by The Doors

It’s been a minute, but we’re joining the lovely ladies of YA Highway for another Road Trip Wednesday. This week they want to know:
Your house is on fire and you can only grab 5 things. What are they?
This question is so unfair! But we still had fun compiling this list:
1. Our laptops. Are you kidding us? Our laptops have EVERYTHING: vacation photos, our iTunes playlists, and most important–OUR WRITING! These definitely will be the first things we look for in the midst of all that smoke.
2. Photo albums. Yeah, our laptops have a few photos, but the memories from our childhood are in the actual albums. Where else can you find Pam posing with her dad in Bart and Homer Simpson T-shirts…or Quita crying at her preschool graduation. (Side note: I SO wanted to post that, but Quita has threatened my life)
3. Tote bag of books. Okay, we cheated a little with this one. We couldn’t just choose ONE book, so we decided that we’d each have our own bag of our faves. For Pam, she’d have to have something from Ellen Hopkins, Courtney Summers, John Green, and Stephen King. For Quita, she’d grab books from Joyce Carol Oates, Blake Nelson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Maggie Stiefvater.
4. Jewelry. Our class rings are completely irreplaceable–and so are our rings from Quita’s beloved dad, Duke.
5. Car keys. To get the hell away from the fire–duh!!
Whew, hard stuff, but what would YOU grab?
Oh wait! We have to announce our winner of the signed Brendan Halpin book, Notes From the Blender, as well as Fill in the Blank Plotting. And the winner is….

Vivien!!!!!
Congrats, Vivien! Expect an email from us shortly. ๐Ÿ™‚

While We Were Away…Plus ANOTHER Contest!

Revising Song of the Day: “Back Down South” by Kings of Leon

Hey, all! Fancy meeting you here…where have we been this past week, you ask?
*Working on MFA requirements (still doing that a little…)
*Revising our YA WIPs and completed manuscripts.
*Attending an awesome SCBWI Novel Retreat in Shenandoah National Park!!!

The last item on the list was probably the most fun and informative and we would love to share that experience with you. After traveling on a train, a bus, and then a taxi cab,we FINALLY arrived in Shenandoah National Park Friday June 10th. We went to our room which looked like this on the outside:


And the view looked like this:

And this is what sunset looked like:

Oh, and this is us posing with the awesome bear at Big Meadows Lodge (cuz we were in bear country!):
Then we proceeded to have dinner and after that was our FIRST (out of four) sessions with the amazing, super intelligent, uber literary, spectacular Cheryl Klein from Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic). In the first session Ms. Klein gave us general ideas about what we’d be discussing later in the weekend, and probably gave one of the coolest pieces of advice ever. Ms. Klein told us how she has her clients write a letter to her when it’s time for revisions. In the letter, Ms. Klein tells her clients to answer the following questions:

What were you trying to do with this book?

What’s the story or your vision?

What’s the book about?

What do you love most? (Characters, scenes, lines etc.)

What do you suspect needs the most work?
That was just one of the major highlights from the retreat. The rest of the weekend was full of peer reviews (with problem scenes and first page critiques) and insight on revising novels from Cheryl Klein. Ms. Klein gave sessions on character, plot, and voice with specific outlines, questions to ask, and exercises to complete in order to make your novel better. Most of her talk is featured in her writing resource: Second Sight: An Editorโ€™s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults

We stood in a line like this to get our books signed:

Now…there was a limited number of these excellent books, and essentially me and Pam are one person. So…we decided to get one signed for us:

And then get the other signed for one of YOU!!!!

Okay, since we just finished a big contest (winner will be announced Wednesday June 22nd) this one will be easy. To win all you have to do is be a follower of the blog and comment on this post with your e-mail address. Simple, right??
We hope that you all will enter because Ms. Klein’s book is a priceless tool that we guarantee will only make your novel better. Good luck! You have until Wednesday(June 22nd) at Midnight EST to enter.

In the mean time, do you have any revising tricks you’d like to share??