NaNo Update #1

Writing Song of the Day: “Half Alive” by Secondhand Serenade

So, we stole this idea from the awesome Katy Upperman. We had planned to give you all weekly updates on our NaNo novels but…well, we were doing ALL THE THINGS in addition to writing our NaNo novels. Since we both have crossed over the halfway point (woo hoo!), we felt this was a good time to let you all know how we’re doing…

Pam’s Update:

Progress (word count or a general status update): 26,404

Current Mood: Hungry. A bit overwhelmed. But, surprisingly, I still like my story.

Inspiration: Not a quote from anyone–but this is the first time during NaNo that I’ve written a story that I ACTUALLY believe that I’ll return to and revise. In fact, I can’t wait to start revising it!

Goals as of Today: I usually try to reach at least 2000 words, but I’m a little stuck. So tonight, I plot a little more and make up the word count over the weekend.

Recent Favorite NaNo WIP Bit:

“I see you didn’t have to go far for your costume.” I tug at his basketball jersey. I actually tug it. I guess a beer and a half does wonders to my confidence.

Brandon shrugs. “Lots of kids want to be basketball players when they grow up.”

“Lots of kids want to be Brandon Lane when they grow up,” I correct.

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): Well, Quita and I had the AWESOME opportunity of seeing one of our favorite actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in person (more on that next week)! In less exciting news, I injured my foot in an accident last month, and it’s still bugging me. Alas, I have to report to the doctor next week to see what’s going on. Boo.
  
In my downtime (ha!) I’m reading: I’ve been starting and abandoning lots of novels lately–with hopes that I can return to them once I get some extra time (because THAT will happen). I most recently cracked open Ellen Hopkins’ adult novel, Triangles. So good so far!!  

Quita’s Update:  

Progress (word count or a general status update): Over 26K

Current Mood: Agitated that I can’t just write and instead must be responsible. However, I am also getting excited about where my novel is going.

Inspiration: Two words: Five Guys.

Goals as of Today: I want to try and get at least 4k done by the end of this weekend.

Recent Favorite NaNo-WiP Bit:

“What do you know about voices?”

Walker tapped his chin. “Like cartoon voices? I’m pretty sure I know who talks Bart Simpson.”

Kenzie laughed. “No…like, voices, voices.”

Walker stopped walking and stared at Kenzie. “Like, voices in your head and sh*t? Like schizophrenia?”

Kenzie continued to walk, already regretting that she said anything to Walker.

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): We just saw JGL LIVE last night. Also, I’m working on finding more internship opportunities in the publishing world.

In My Downtime (ha!) I’m Reading: Rage Within (Dark Inside # 2) by Jeyn Roberts. Proving to be just as good as the first book!

Both of Our Updates:

You should read this blog post: Shady Business by the uber smart literary agent, Sarah LaPolla. A very informative look at the legitimacy of newer agents and publishers.

Gratuitous Photograph (because we love ‘em!):

Joseph Gordon-Levitt at The National in Richmond, VA (11/15/12)
The moment where Quita lost it & cried…

For all of our fellow NaNo-ers out there, how are you doing? For the non NaNo-ers, what have you all been up to?

MAY I Tell You Something About…Um, US?

Revealing Song of the Day: “Swagger Like Us” by M.I.A ft. Jay-z, Kanye West, and T.I.

Throughout May, we will be participating in the Blog Me MAYbe blogfest, which you can learn more about here

It’s Tuesday. And according to this blogfest that means today is all about us. Meaning, we have to talk about ourselves. If you know anything about us, we kinda don’t enjoy doing this. I don’t think most writers do. That’s why we create characters and new worlds, to escape from who we are. But, alas, we’ve joined the blogfest and we vow to follow the rules. Lucky for us, a new bloggy pal of ours tagged us awhile back. Rachel tagged us in a game of 11 questions. This is a good way to tell you something about us!




1. What are the top three books in your TBR pile?


2. Who is your top book boyfriend, dare I say husband?

Pam:  Hmm, tough one. I get book crushes like ALL the time. Right now, I’m leaning toward Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door. He’s so adorkable (wait…do people still say that?)!

Quita: Hands down Cole from Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger and Forever. Hmm, maybe not hands down b/c I loves me some Four from Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Can I have a tie?
3. If you could have written any YA book in history, which book would you choose and why?
Pam:  Goodness, another toughie. Right now, I’m leaning toward anything written by Courtney Summers, Steve Brezenoff, or Ellen Hopkins. They’re geniuses!

Quita: Omigod. So. Many. Of. Them! I can’t choose just one. There are FIVE that really stand out. I really wish I wrote Divergent, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, Liar by Justine Larbalestier, Recovery Road by Blake Nelson, and What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (sorry if I cheated).

4. If you could live the life of any book heroine, who would you choose and why?

Pam:  I have a feeling that Quita’s going to agree with me, but any book written by Stephanie Perkins. She has a way of making her girls so relatable–and she brings setting to LIFE! I want to live in Paris for the first half of the year, and San Francisco for the second. 🙂

Quita: I don’t envy the lives of most of the heroines from the books that I read, and since I’m one of the last people on the planet to have read Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door, I’d have to say Anna from Anna and the French Kiss. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to Paris for school and fall in love with a sexy, smart English boy?

5. Choose one: your book is a literary masterpiece with tons of critical acclaim but very, very lacklustre sales, or your book is a blockbuster of a novel with millions upon millions of copies sold but others question its quality and it is nearly universally bashed in the writing community, a la Twilight. There’s no in between choice (Nice try!)

Pam:  Yikes! No clue. On the one hand, I wouldn’t mind the money that books like Twilight would bring (being able to actually make a living from writing? Yes please!). But also, I would love for my colleagues to actually, you know, respect me. I choose John Green! His books are successful AND well loved by critics. Wait, is that cheating?

Quita: That’s just not fair! I don’t know, sometimes me and Pam both get a little over the bashing of novels like Twilight. Just because it’s not a literary masterpiece doesn’t mean it’s not a good book and that it didn’t do wonders for the YA community. So, yeah, I’d go for a book like Twilight because it changed so many people’s lives and it had a huge impact on our community.

6. If you could have a super power of any literary hero/heroine, which would you choose and why?

Pam:  Umm, next question please. (*is clueless*)

Quita: This is a hard one. I don’t really want super powers at all, but if I had to choose (from a book that I’ve read) I’d choose Briony’s power from Franny Billingsley’s Chime. Not sure why–could be because it was such an awesome book. I don’t want to explain too much, cause then I’d give away the book for those who haven’t read it.

 7. You’re stranded on a desert island with just one other person. For life. It’s a fellow author. Who is the author and why?

Pam:  I’d go with my cuz, Quita. She’s already familiar with my weird habits, and I hers. But hopefully we’d get rescued soon because we’d like…attack each other after the third or fourth day.

Quita: It would obviously be Pam. Not like I wouldn’t want to be with any of my other fellow writers, but of course I’d bring my cuz and other half b/c she might keep me sane for a day or two on the desert island. Then we’d probably kill each other…
8. You’re forced to re-live one day of your life over and over again for eternity. Which day would you choose and why?

Pam:  This is strange that this is one of the toughest questions. I’ve yet to experience the really “happy” moments–such as getting married or having a baby. It would probably be some moment with my family–or maybe when I found out that Sarah wanted to represent me. 🙂

Quita: Wow…this is a great question. I find it kind of sad to admit that I haven’t had many days that I’d like to re-live. If I had to choose one it would be the last time I was out with my dad (and the rest of the fam), having a good time dancing. 

9. If you could be invisible for one day, what would you do with your time?

Pam:  READ!! And WRITE!! Due to the day job, I have so little time for doing two of the things I love the most. And maybe peek in on some hunky celebs. Wait, is that weird…?

Quita: I would read and write all day with no interruptions. I’d also stalk the BLEEP out of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alex Pettyfer, Channing Tatum, and all the rest 😀

10. If you had to be reincarnated into an animal, which would you choose and why?

Pam:  Um, eww. Next question please…

Quita: Ugh. I hate animals–well except my dog, of course 🙂 I guess I would choose an ape or a monkey because at least they have opposable thumbs.

11. If you had to rename yourself, which name would you choose? And if you have a pen name, it doesn’t count! Pick again.

Pam:  It feels like I’ve answered this before…I think I said Nadine Hunt or Nadine Shelton. Nadine’s my middle name (which I despise, so I’m not sure why I’d use it), Hunt’s my mother’s maiden name, and Shelton’s my dad’s first name. Or maybe I’d just call myself John Green. 🙂

Quita: I would name myself Sherie (my middle name Sha-ree) Hunt. It’s a little easier than my “government” name and it will fit better on a book spine!

So, the way this is supposed to work is that we tag more of you to play along. However, we thought we’d cheat a lil’ bit (why stop now?) and open this up to ALL of you! Go ahead and play…if you dare. *insert maniacal laughter here*

We’re Back…and in FULL EFFECT!

Social Networking Song of the Day: “LOL :)” by Trey Songz

You read that title right. We’re here and ready to stomp all over social media.  Not only are we back and ready to take the interwebz by storm, but we also are ready to hold another contest! I mean, we did cross 300 followers a while back.

We’re no contest virgins, but this time we wanted to offer a prize that’s a little different–we are going to give out, TWO, count them, TWO query critiques! Wanna know more??? Watch the following video:

Yep, you heard us right (that is if you could understand my words through all of my mumbling). My agent, Jennie Goloboy, and the owner of Red Sofa Literary Agency, Dawn Frederick, are BOTH willing to critique two query letters. Pretty awesome, right?

And if that’s not enough, we are going to throw one more prize in there–just for kicks. This isn’t mentioned in the video, but for those of you who are already agented, how would you like a TEN DOLLAR gift card to Barnes & Noble. We just keep making your life better, huh? All you have to do is fill out the form below and show us a lil’ love on our social media takeover scheme. Not hard. At all. Oh, and make sure you enter before Sunday March 18th, 8 PM EST!

‘Kay? Thanks, bye!

RTW: Words With Friends

Writing Song of the Day: “More Than Words” by Frankie J

Wednesday: I used to HATE spelling this word in elementary school. I would never get it right. But now, I’m cool with it. Mainly because it means it’s Road Trip Wednesday day with the ladies of YA Highway. And guess what we’re talking about this week: WORDS!

The Highway-ers wanna know:

What words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?

As writers,  of course there are several words we adore! As of late these have been our favorites:
Now on to the hate, here are a couple of words that we cannot stand to say/hear:

What about you? What words do you absolutely love and hate?

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: 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?

Say What?

Reading Song of the Day: “Say It To Me Now” by Glen Hansard

Wednesday. Middle of the week. Road Trip Wednesday with the ladies of YA Highway. All the best things. Today they want us to:

Write a dialogue between two of your favorite YA characters.


So. Hard.
This would have been fun if we had the energy to come up with this post in more time than one day. We’re running on fumes that are not quite creative…so, instead, we’re gonna show you what most dialogue in YA novels consists of:

First: Conflict

Second: Conflict solved…people are happy for awhile. Alas, not for long…
Third: More conflict and we’re left waiting for the next book OR dreaming up a happy ending. Unless, of course the book is by Stephanie Perkins or John Green AKA Masters of Delicious Dialogue!

 So, this is what happens when our brains can’t function. We promise to be more creative next time! What do you guys think dialogue in YA novels is like?