Friday Fives: You’re the Inspiration!

Reading Song of the Day: “Hard Wired and Inspired” by The Subtle Way

Hey, peeps! It’s been awhile since we’ve participated in Friday Fives but this week we’re joining Paper Hangover. This question was too good to pass up on! The gang wants to know:

Who are the FIVE authors that inspire you?

This is a lil’ hard b/c we are fangirly over SOOOO many authors. But if we have to narrow it down to the five that really inspire us, we could’t think of a better list than the following. Here are the top five authors (in no particular order) who inspire us to keep the writing dream alive:

1.) Judy Blume AKA The MOTHER OF YA!

WHY? She was the first person that made me (Pam) fall in love with reading AND writing. One of the first stories I ever wrote was pretty much a copy of Superfudge. She just understands children so well, and you can tell how much love she puts in her words. It was so hard not to cry when I saw her in person at the last LA SCBWI conference. Maybe if I’m so lucky again, I’ll work up the courage to actually speak to her.

WHY: She writes both contemporary & historical fiction and she does it with ease. Her historicals are more about the story than the backdrop and therefore, they stay relevant. This is what I (Quita) strive to do with my own historical novel. Also, her contemporary novels focus on the “edgy” side of YA and tells the stories that parents wish weren’t true.

WHY? No one understands teen angst better than her. I (Pam) get anxiety sometimes when reading her novels because her depiction of high school is so real, I feel like I’m going through all of those emotions again. I can only hope that my writing is half as good as hers.

WHY? Because he freaking nails the teenage voice. Whether he has a male or female protag, Blake makes the MC and all supporting characters relatable and realistic. His novels are genius nuggets of contemporary YA.
5.) Tie between Jodi Picoult and Joyce Carol Oates:

WHY? Pam on Jodi Picoult: She truly is a Jill of All Trades because she understands both the teen and adult voice. After reading a bunch of stories I wasn’t quite fond of for literature classes, Jodi Picoult reminded me of what it was I loved about reading. She can take a hot topic in the news and turn it into a heartwrenching story. She inspires me to write about what I see around me–and maybe I’ll be able to help others just like she’s helped me.

WHY? Quita on Joyce Carol Oates: Because she writes stories that focus on heavy and hard topics. Her prose is magnificent without being too flashy, and it’s obvious that she writes the stories that others shy away from. She inspires me to write what I want without fear.

What about you all–who are those authors that inspire you to keep on writing?? Have a great weekend!

Friday Fives: Tasting the Forbidden Fruit

Reading Song of the Day: “Forbidden Love” by Madonna

OMIGOD–it’s finally FRIDAY–and it’s finally the last day of September. This first month of school has dragged by soooooo slowly. But, we hit a highlight, today! Paper Hangover’s Friday Fives, baby πŸ˜€
To honor Banned Books Week, the gang wants to know:
What are you FIVE favorite “banned” books?
Like Pam mentioned yesterday in her post on the Banned Books we are adding to our TBR piles, we are always going to be those people who read/watch those books/movies that people try to get banned. We’re just strange like that. So it wasn’t surprising to find that we have read a good number of books that are on the 2010 and the classic’s banned books lists. With that being said, here are our FIVE favorite books that have been banned in no particular order.
1.) Crank by Ellen Hopkins: A novel written in poems–and me and Pam loved it. Who would have thunk it? We’re both not huge poetry fans, but Hopkins’ effortless story telling and beautiful word choices made this one of our favorite books of all time.
2.) Lord of the Flies by William Golding: This was required reading for us in high school but neither of us felt like it was. The story is so unique and believable that we both couldn’t stop turning the pages.
3.) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Once we decided we’d be writing YA, we didn’t stop hearing about Laurie Halse Anderson and how she is one of the “mothers” of YA. And we weren’t disappointed when we picked up Speak. It’s real, it’s raw, and it’s a book that can help many teens deal.
4.) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This was another required school reading for us. And just like LOTF we fell in love. We loved the plot, the time period the book was written about and how REAL it all felt, and of course, we loved Scout πŸ™‚
5.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: We first heard about this during a conference two years ago. Once we heard the premise, we knew it was a must read. Anyone can say what they want about the trilogy, but the overall plot is pure genius.
That’s our five, what about you all? What are your favorite banned books?
OH YEAH! We were supposed to announce the winner of The Near Witch yesterday. Alas, life got in the way. So, without further adieu, the winner is….
Jamie Manning

Yay!!!! We’ll be sending you an e-mail shortly πŸ™‚

Tempted by the Book of Another

Reading Song of the Day: “Tempted” by Squeeze

First, sorry about the lame title of this post; I lack creativity this early in the morning. Second, as some of you may already know, it’s Banned Books Week. My group blog, Paper Hangover, is having coverage on it all this week, and my lovely adopted sis, Racquel, is holding a contest.
So part of the reason why Quita and I love reading and writing YA is because we’re eternal teenagers–which is why if someone tells us we can’t read anything, we’re DEFINITELY going to read it. Tomorrow, Quita and I will join Paper Hangover and share our five favorite banned books–but today, we want to share some of the banned books we haven’t read yet, but is in our TBR pile:

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. As much as some people disapprove of it, there are kids out there with homosexual parents. Why can’t these kids have a picture book that they can relate to? Furthermore, why can’t other kids read it to learn about acceptance and differences? Whenever I’m blessed with a child, I know this will be on our bookshelf.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I first discovered Mr. Alexie when I read one of his short stories in a magazine. Needless to say, his voice hooked me–so I’m a little stunned I never got around to reading his YA novel. This will be mended soon.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. Come on, the title alone is catchy. Quita and I saw Ms. Mackler speak at a conference last year and we wanted to become her best friends. Our admiration for her only grew when we found out she wrote about a girl who thought she was fat–something that Quita and I had issues with in high school, as well. Come on–teen girls with body issues (which is pretty much all of them) should be able to read this book.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. I first heard about this book from one of my former 8th grade students. She HATED school–even more than that, she HATED English class. But she couldn’t stop swooning over this book. She said she read it in two days. If a book can convert one of my struggling students into an enthusiastic reader, I’m sold.

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. We know, we know. Where have we been? Quita actually had a chance to read the first book, but we both know that we need to eventually read the whole series. We have never met ANYONE who disliked this series. These books helped mold a new generation of readers–we were a little shocked that they are banned in some areas.
Okay, so that is just a mere sampling of “forbidden” books we’re tossing into our TBR piles. What about you all? Which naughty book are you dying to read?

Friday Fives: Our Writing Nooks

Writing Song of the Day: “In My Place” by Coldplay

Friday is here, and Quita and I could not be more excited! Our week has been…hectic. But we’re still taking the time to join Paper Hangover for the Friday Fives. This week they want to know:

And our choices are:
1. Our home office. It is a requirement now for both of us to have some kind of space at home to complete our writing. Of course, some times we’re too lazy to make it there so we use our…
2. Living room. Yes, we have imprints of our butts on the couch. We each have our own side, and we sit like zombies in front of laptops–completely quiet, completely focused (well, sometimes…hence why I used the term “zombies”).
3. Starbucks. We recently had to go there due to a power outage. I didn’t think I would get much work done since I’m EASILY distracted (oh look…an airplane), but I loved the environment. Everyone there was so productive, which really rubbed off on me.

4. Our patio. The sunshine. The birds. The neighbors that provide endless amounts of writing material. Need I say more?
5. A writing retreat. Quita and I were lucky enough to attend two writing retreats–one with our Weekend of Awesome buds, and another organized by SCBWI. The amount of work we got done at both was truly outstanding. There’s nothing like going away with the sole purpose of writing–we’ll deal with life’s drama when we return home.

What about you all? What are some of your fave writing locations?
P.S. Don’t forget to enter our The Near Witch book giveaway!

Friday Fives: Best Summer Reads

Reading Song of the Day: “You’re So Last Summer” by Taking Back Sunday

*sigh* The Summer has officially ended and we are wrapping up our first week of school. That means four days down, 176 to go! But we can still relish in the ah-may-zing books we read over the summer…

What? Paper Hangover wants us to do that???

Well, okay then…

This week’s Friday Fives from that awesome blog group mentioned above is:

What are the FIVE best books you read this summer?
In no particular order, here are the five books we loved on over the summer:

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga : Pretty much any book about a child or a young student being molested by a teacher seems like it would come off “messagy”. But according to Pam, this book doesn’t. It helped her to make sense of why children/teens blame themselves and the healing they go through in order to move on.
Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff: Pam gave love to Brezenoff’s new masterpiece here (and also loved on him in other spots on our blog). This book made her feel. And she loved, loved, adored the imagery and mysteriousness of the MC and his/her love interest.
Recovery Road by Blake Nelson: I’ve already loved on this book enough here…but just in case you need to know MORE, know this–Nelson is a master at pacing. The story moves along fast, but not so fast that you’re wondering what the *bleep* happened with that plot line or this conflict. MASTER, I say!
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa: Pam discussed before why she loved this book so much here, but she will add that it’s one of the rare fantasy books that hooked her from the beginning and never let go.

Looking For Alaska by John Green: I am such a late passenger on the John Green train, but I ain’t getting off! This book hooked me from the first page. The MC is likable, believable, and made me feel every single emotion that he was going through. LOVE!

What books did you love all up on this summer?

Friday Fives: OMG, I LOVE You!

Greeting Song of the Day: “Hello, I Love You” by The Doors

It’s Friday. Quita and I are usually WAY happier about that, but this weekend…we have to present our MFA theses. Gulp. On the plus side, we also get to graduate and party–woo hoo!!

Another plus? That we get to share Friday Fives with you! This week, Paper Hangover wants to know:

Which FIVE authors are YOU dying to meet?

We got to meet so many ah-may-zing authors last weekend at the SCBWI Conference–many who would’ve made this list, such as Ellen Hopkins, Steve Brezenoff, and Laurie Halse Anderson (who we found out actually mentioned us to other people at the conference. Say what?!!!). However, there are still five–okay, we cheated–SEVEN more authors we’d love to rub elbows with:

1. John Green: So yeah, I almost cried when I found out he couldn’t make it to the conference last weekend due to gallbladder removal surgery. However, having had this procedure myself, I’m aware of how much it can suck–so I hope he recuperates well so that I can stalk…I mean, MEET him some time in the near future.

2. Cormac McCarthy/Joyce Carol Oates: Quita loves these two. I mean, really LOVES them. She couldn’t stop raving about Zombie after reading it, and her fan-girl moments over McCarthy inspired me to make one of my characters in Wants be a huge fan of his work, as well.

3. Courtney Summers: What can I say about Ms. Summers that I already haven’t said on this blog? That I think she’s awesome? Yep, already went there. That I want to be her when I grow up (despite the fact that I’m older)? Yeah, check that off too. Every page she’s ever written just leaves me in complete awe.

4. Blake Nelson: Another favorite of Quita’s. She says that he NAILS (yes, she was that enthused) the teen voice, and even when it seems like he’s writing about nothing, she can’t peel her eyes away. Hmm, I think it’s about time I pick up one of his books…

5. Jodi Picoult/Stephen King: I couldn’t choose between my two favorite adult writers! King is the Master of Suspense–if I ever have a problem with tension or pacing, I like to refer to one of his works. And Jodi? A few years ago, when I was bombarded with reading things that I did NOT want to read for my English classes, Jodi reminded me what it was that I loved about stories in the first place. Her characters are so real and heartfelt.

So, I know we left a few of our faves out, so maybe we’ll update this list in the future. What about you all? What authors are you loving up on?

Friday Fives: The BEST First Lines

Reading Song of the Day: “Where the Lines Overlap” by Paramore

It’s Friday! That means two things:

1.) It’s exactly one week until SCBWI in LA! Woo hoo!!!

2.) It’s time for Friday Fives with the Paper Hangover gang πŸ™‚

This week’s topic:
What are your FIVE favorite first lines?

We’ve answered this before for the lovely YA Highway ladies, so some of our answers may seem familiar. Hey, we don’t mind showing love to some great opening lines more than once!

Without further delay, here are our favorite first lines:

1.) “When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.'”-Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Greene and David Levithan

The line sets the tone for the book. You know it’ll be a slightly humorous tale about friendship. And this intro just pops with voice.

2.) “Imagine four years. Four years, two suicides, one death, one rape, two pregnancies (one abortion), three overdoses, countless drunken antics, pantsings…But everything you do here counts. High School.”-Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Whoa! The conciseness, the listing…these brief images pretty much paints exactly what kind of school the narrator attends.

3.) “I was born with a light covering of fur. After three days it had all fallen off, but the damage was done.”-Liar by Justine Larbalestier

It’s a simple first line that doesn’t seem to make sense, but once you read the whole book it’ll mean so much more.

4.) Daddy said, “Let Mom go first.”- Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Go first? For what? When we read the first chapter preview months before the book’s release, we just knew we had to know more about this adventure.

5.) “They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”-Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Right away we know what to expect–the narrator has died. BUT, after reading that first line, we were dying to find out exactly how it happened for her.

Bam! There ya have it! So, what are some of your fave first lines???

***Today is the release day for Black Fox Literary Magazine Issue # 1!!! Please support us and check out the mag here (we will go LIVE later on this morning). Also, there are print issue for sale :)!***

AND, don’t forget about our contest to win Jo Treggiari’s Ashes, Ashes–deets here πŸ™‚