Free Friday: Shall I Compare Thee…

Reading Song of the Day: “Nothing Compares To You” by Sinead O’Conner

It’s hard out there for a writer. No, I’m not just channeling the infamous rap lyrics from Terrence Howard’s critically acclaimed movie, Hustle and Flow. I’m talking about competitive book titles. Like Pam discussed last Wednesday, there are always books out there that seem similar to your idea…and when you’re trying to sell your book you need to know what your competition is.

And that’s where I’m at with my book, In Limbo, right now. My awesome agent, Jennie Goloboy, and I are trying to come up with books to compare to my 1918 interracial love story/adventure novel. Who knew that the search would be so hard? So far, I’ve come up with the following books as comparable titles:

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever, 1793 (for the epidemic element)

Karen Hesse’s A Time of Angels (it’s also about the Spanish Influenza in 1918)

Anna Godberson’s Bright Young Things (because it’s about two teenagers who leave home in search of something more)

But the major thing that these books are missing is a black female protagonist. Hmmm, isn’t this a problem that we’ve been hearing/talking about for a while now in the YA field? I have Pam to thank (my Alpha reader) for giving me this unique edge to my novel b/c, as I’ve said before, SJ was once white. Since I made that change, it has made it very hard to find a comparable book that is very close to the premise of In Limbo–which is a good thing, but when you’re trying to fill in the competition section of your Book Proposal, it’s a little frustrating.

With that being said, do you guys think you can help me out? Know of any YA historicals that have a black female protag who falls for a white boy??

Free Friday: The Movie We WISH We Created

Viewing Song of the Day: “Movies” by Alien Ant Farm

Another Free Friday post, you guys! That means two things: 1.) The weekend is among us, and 2.) At midnight we can FINALLY get The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 on DVD…

But before I begin my swoon fest over Mr. Pattinson, we want to share with you the movie that has been on our mind ever since we saw it last weekend–that movie would be Chronicle.

Our review? Here it is in a just a few, simple words:

GET OFF YOUR A** AND GO SEE IT!

This movie is amazing. Full of all of the wonderful things that makes a movie work: good story, great characters that the viewer can relate to, a villain that you love and understand, an unlikely hero, visual goodies, action, and heart. I mean, what more can you ask for?

Chronicle had us excited and envious at the same time. Days after watching it we can’t stop repeating: Man, we wish we wrote this story!!!

So, for those of you who have not seen this masterpiece, check out a clip below.

Oh, and this weekend we may be seeing The Vow. Why? Two words: Channing. Tatum. ‘Nuff said 🙂

What are your plans this weekend? Hope you have seeing Chronicle high on that list!

Free Friday: No Name Calling Week and CRACKED by KM Walton

Reading Song of the Day: “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato

Confession: I feel guilty about two things. First, that I gave this post an incredibly wordy title. And second, that Quita and I failed to mention an important event last week. You see, January 23-27 was No Name-Calling Week, an event aimed at middle schoolers that encourages them to refrain from tossing insults at each other.

It’s rare that I collide my day job onto the blog, but I felt this one was worth mentioning. In honor of No Name-Calling Week, my students created their own inspiring poetry that I read over the morning announcements. Also, I asked them all to sign a No Name-Calling Week Pledge. Granted, not every student HAD to sign, so I was pretty impressed by the outcome:


During the week, I also finally read Cracked by KM Walton (which was on my 2012 Debut Author Challenge list), a story told in dual POVs–from the bully and his victim. Yes, KM’s my agent-sister (Team LaPolla rules!), but NO, I’m not recommending this book because I’m biased. I’m saying you should read this book:

Because it gives you an uncensored view of bullying and high school

Because it doesn’t condescend to the readers and stuff your face with morals

Because it makes you empathize for the victim AND the bully

Because despite all of the heartache, it’ll leave you with hope

And in perfect timing, I just won a grant in which I’ll be able to buy MORE books for my school that’ll take on bullying headfirst. In addition to Cracked, here are some other books that I’m considering:

What about you all? Read any powerful books about bullying? Has a book ever helped you out of a bad situation?

Free Friday: Personality Tests for Your Characters!

Revising Song of the Day: “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour
You know that feeling you get when you bump into an old crush? A part of you is excited to see him–to check him out, see how he’s aged, get those butterflies all in your stomach. However, there’s also the chance you’ll be a bit terrified: Oh my God, why did I EVER check him out? Look how he’s aged! I shouldn’t have had that omelet for breakfast…
Yeah. That’s kind of how I feel about revisions. I’m either going to open up the manuscript and get all giddy like a middle school girl…or I’m going to want to puke all over my keyboard (thankfully, the latter has never happened. Yet.).

As you probably can tell, I’m strapping on the fingerless gloves and diving back into revisions for Project J. I’ve always struggled with plot–so during my first few rounds of revisions, I focused on climaxes and conflicts and resolutions, oh my!

But then I lost my character.
That’s right–I struggled with my main character. I NEVER thought I’d have trouble with character, but when I zoned in on plot, I forgot about letting my protagonist guide the story.
So what did I do? I popped open an issue of Writer’s Digest and read a great article by Mike Nappa, “Skill-Builders for Fiction Writers.” One of his suggestions was to complete personality tests for your characters. I thought: hey, I’m a writer. I’m a counselor. This should be fun!
And it was. I knocked a couple of those babies out, and soon I remembered what it was that I loved about my main character, Jonah. I remembered who he was and what he wanted and how he thought–and the butterflies were still there! So, I thought I’d share some of my faves:
Personality Type: This quiz only has 4 questions, but it reveals if your character is an introvert or extrovert. A thinker or a feeler. A scheduler or a freestyler. Pretty cool.
The Stress Test: Allow your character to pick 3 pictures. The one he/she does NOT choose reveals what he/she is stressing about. Great way to figure out potential conflict.
Driving in a New City: Your character gets lost with his/her partner. How does he react? This is awesome in seeing how your character interacts with others.
I could go on and on and on with all the cool quizzes that can help figure out your character, but instead I’ll direct you here so you can choose more of you own.
So what do you think? Can personality tests help you with revisions?