We’re In New Yooork…Well, Almost!

Writing Song of the Day: “Empire State of Mind” Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys

Taken from: SCBWI

Yep, you read that right. We’re about to take our SECOND trip to New York. The first didn’t really count since it was one of those day trips on a bus. This time, we’re gonna spend a WHOLE weekend there. And we’re gonna be amongst our brethren, other writers! We are attending our very first, SCBWI New York Conference.

While we’ve gone to the LA conference four years in a row, we wanted to change things up this year and try out the New York winter conference. We’re hoping to take in NY on Friday, experience the whirlwind conference on Saturday, and hop back on the plane Sunday. The goal of attending the conference is to get our mojos going again. With the hectic schedules of our lives, our writing has definitely suffered. We want to get to work on revising our 2013 NaNo novels and hopefully the panels and keynote speakers will inspire us to get our crap together.

Don’t worry, we’ll tweet and Instagram throughout the weekend and give you a brief wrap up when we get back next week. Yes, we’ve given you promises before on this blog that we haven’t kept…but this one we promise to keep. Promise. We swear on all that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And you all know how we feel about him!

Taken From: http://fashionvertigo.com/joseph-gordon-levitt-covers-out-october-2013/

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?

Looper and Layering Plots

Soundtrack Song of the Day: “Have Love Will Travel” by the Black Keys

Taken From: Screenrant

We won’t pretend that we were not on a looooong hiatus, but we also don’t want to bore you with the details of WHY we’ve been away. We’d much rather discuss the future of this blog–which we hope will interest you much more!

We love writing and reading YA more than most things in life, but one of the things that comes close to our love for all things YA is watching movies and TV. Sooo, we’ve decided to combine those loves on this blog. Every Monday we are going to share a recent movie that we’ve viewed and what we learned about writing from said film.**

This week we begin with:

LOOPER

Logistics:

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels

IMDB Says: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

We Say: The movie is full of bad-assery. From JGL, to Bruce Willis, even to Emily Blunt. The trailers and the interviews will make you think that you’ll get bogged down in the sci-fi-ness of it all, but no–the heart of the story is what gets you in the end.

Writing Connection: 

Layering Plots- A novel will not survive on one plot alone. If that’s all you got, you may be better off penning a short story or a novella. More importantly, a YA novel will not survive with one plot. Teens are complicated, puzzling, and always changing–a YA novel should follow suit. Without giving away too many details, the various plot twists and turns that occur in Looper will keep you intrigued, engaged, and in tune with the characters. The movie begins with a possibly unlikable character who has one goal and then progresses to include more characters with even more goals that cause complications and forces the character to change. This  = layering plots!

Okay we don’t want to spoil it for everyone, so if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch Looper and see how it’s done!

Links:

Looper- Official Movie Site
Looper- Tumblr
Looper-IMDB
JGL Twitter
Looper Movie Twitter

Now Watch This:



If you have seen Looper did you make any connections with the film and writing? Do your novels usually have several plots?

**This blog is not limited to ONLY discussing the relationships of movies and writing, however this will be the weekly feature that you can ALWAYS expect.

Writers: Totally a Labor Organization

Writing Song of the Day: “Holiday” by Madonna

So, it’s Labor Day. What does that mean for you?

A pool party?

A cook out??

A day of relaxation???


What about what the holiday was created for originally? The United States government made Labor Day a national holiday in recognition of various labor organizations. It’s supposed to be a day for those labor groups to be revered and loved on. But what have we, Americans, turned the day into? A day to either lay around and do nothing, or a day to mourn the end of summer and the beginning of dun, dun, dun…the school year!
But what does labor day mean to us writers??? Well, if you are like me and Pam and you don’t have children, it’s our last full day to possibly get some writing done. If you do have school aged children it’s the last day (besides the weekends) that you have to entertain your kids instead of sending them off to school. Either way, we are a labor organization, aren’t we? And just like those groups that Labor Day was originally created for, we deserve to be recognized and celebrated.

So, in the spirit of Labor Day, here is what we think belongs at a celebration of what we have deemed the Labor Organization of Writers:
*Party Favor Pack: Consisting of pens, a Moleskin, a flash drive, and Post-It notes.

*Snacks: Of the sweet, chocolatey, and oh-so-bad-for-you variety

*Pictures of sexy celebs: We all need to look at our muses–whether it be Leo DiCaprio or Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

*Balloons: Because what’s a celebration without balloons?

*Music: Moody, deep, and probably instrumental.


*Inspirational Items: Quotes, pics of their kids, or books from authors that we all aspire to be like.
What would you all add to our celebration??? Have a happy Labor Day!

Friday Fives: Distractions

Procrastinating Song of the Day: “Distraction” by Angels and Airwaves

Good Friday, peeps! We hope you all have a great weekend & a great Memorial Day. With that being said, let’s get this weekend started right, shall we?

Via Paper Hangover (Pam’s group blog–check it out here) we’re getting our Friday Five on!

This week they wanna know:

What are FIVE of your most distracting (procrastination-worthy) things (habits, websites, etc.) on the internet?

As we’ve admitted numerous times on this blog, we have diagnosed ourselves with adult ADHD, therefore this list could be A LOT longer than five things. But for the sake of keeping things short we’ve narrowed our Internet distractions to the following five items:

1.) TWITTER–Omigod. We were actually not willing to get Twitter accounts at one point. Now, I don’t think we could live without it. A day that you don’t see us tweet something, anything (even just a re-tweet) , is a day that zombies have attacked our humble Virginia county.


2.) BLOGS- Right after we made our own blog (we used to have individual blogs at one point) we proceeded to find other writers and readers so that we could be on the up and up about any news, advice, or general support.

3.) Pam: As I mentioned in my post from Monday(here), Publisher’s Marketplace is part of my daily routine. It never hurts to see what’s getting purchased. This way I know where my own writing stands and I get more motivated to finish current WIPs.

4.) Quita: E-mail. LAWD, I check my e-mail once every ten seconds. Hoping that I’ll get that response from an agent that I’ve been waiting for since March/April.

5.) Celebrity Gossip Websites: It’s not always trashy stuff (Pam gave up Perez Hilton’s site at least a year ago), but we do like to keep up with the news on the Hollywooders that we stalk on a daily basis. You know, the likes of Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Robert Pattinson, Justine Timberlake, etc.

There, you know how we procrastinate when we should be writing that masterpiece that we’re dying to get out of our heads. What about you–how do you distract yourself on the Internet?

RTW: The Voice

Writing Song of the Day: “Voices” by Disturbed

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 you got to choose a celebrity narrator for the audio book of your WIP or your favorite novel, who would it be and why?

Pam’s Answer:

Project J is still underway and since that is fresh in my mind, I’ve thought of the perfect person to record the audio version of this novel. As I mentioned in previous posts, Jonah (the MC) is 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. So, who could be better than Michael Cera (Superbad, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) to speak Jonah? His sometimes youthful, and nerdy voice would definitely capture the persona and tone of Jonah.


Quita’s Answer:

The Blues, (out to Betas) is my contemporary YA mystery about a boy trying to find out who murdered his best friend and why. It is written in first person, so I would want a male voice who sounds kinda lackluster, yet passionate at the same time. The first person who came to mind? Joseph Gordon Levitt! Yes, I am a class A stalker of this man, but have you seen Mysterious Skin? If not, watch it, NOW! His character in that movie and the way he spoke just reminds me of exactly how Blake would talk and carry himself.

What about you–who would you want to be the voice on the audio recording of your WIP or a fave novel?

Oh…and BTW, it’s Pam’s birthday today!!! *throws streamers and balloons*…hmm, can one throw a balloon?

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. 🙂