A is for…Addiction

Controversial Song of the Day: “Addicted” by Kelly Clarkson

Quita and I admit that we haven’t been the most loyal bloggers as of late. That’s why when we found out about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge we knew we had to jump all over that. What better way to fall back in love with the blogosphere?

It’s best to pick a theme when trying to blog everyday (especially after a long absence). Our theme?

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS IN YA

And today, we’re focusing on ADDICTION.
Did You Know….?

*Aside from alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug among high school seniors

*Only 50% of high school students consider marijuana use to be a risk

*83.9% of teens say it’s easy to obtain marijuana

*8.5% of high school seniors have tried cocaine, and 1.4% have tried heroin

*25% of students from grades 9-12 admit to being offered drugs on SCHOOL PROPERTY

*All statistics taken from teendrugaddiction.com
When critics complain about YA being “too dark,” they tend to point the finger at mentions of drug use in these stories. However, the numbers above show that a significant number of teens have been exposed to drugs–whether they themselves have tried it, or know of a classmate who uses. Even as a middle school counselor, I’m sad to say that I’ve even heard stories of how easily accessible drugs are in my students’ neighborhoods.
Despite the flack from critics, do Quita and I mention drug use in our stories? Yes–but only when it fits with a character. In fact, in Quita’s story, The Blues, one of her characters is a drug dealer, and a secondary one faces addiction problems. True, these may not be the most popular stories–but I’m pretty sure there are teens out there that can relate.
So what other YA novels can you read about addiction and drug use until The Blues hits the shelves?

So what are YOUR thoughts of drug use in YA? Have you written about it yourself? What are some of your fave books that mention drugs and/or addiction?

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RTW: We Wish…

Reading Song of the Day: “Wish You Were Here” by Incubus
It’s Wednesday and we’re ready for the companionship of road tripping with the lovely ladies of YA Highway!
This week they wanna know:
What was the best book you’ve read in October???
*sigh* If only we had the time to read!!!! Yes, we’re technically cheating on this RTW post because we have not completed ANY books this month. We know…stop gasping so loud! Anyway, we thought we’d tell you what we wanted to read and hopefully when November rolls around we’ll be able to participate in the best book RTW post forrealz.
What Pam wishes she can read:


I’ve started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, but with two part time jobs, one full time job, plotting for NaNo, and a demented puppy, I’ve yet to finish it. I also plan to read The Iron Queen, the third in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series. Oh yeah, and I’m hoping to Beta read The Blues for the cuz this month, too.
What Quita wishes she can read:

Like Pam, but w/out the two part time jobs, I’ve got way tooo much to do. SO, I started Kody Keplinger’s Shut Out, but can’t find the time to finish it 😦 I am hoping to read Sweetly by Jackson Pearce and also FINALLY take a look at Alica’s fantasy manuscript.
We shall see how successful we are in fulfilling these wishes! What about you all–what was the best book you’ve read this month, or what are you trying to find time to read?

RTW: Our Writing Journeys…And Boy Are Our Hands Tired!

Writing Song of the Day: “Tie My Hands” by Lil Wayne ftg Robin Thicke

Can you believe that the ladies at YA Highway have hosted 100, count it, 100 Road Trip Wednesday posts?? Well, they have! And this week, in honor of reaching the 100 Mile Marker, the ladies want to know:

How has your writing journey gone so far?

You mean, we get to shed light on our successful (okay not always successful) writing stories thus far? Don’t mind if we do!

Pam’s Response:

Wow, where do I begin? I have definitely been on a journey since I participated in my first RTW. First of all, this blog began as a solo venture, but then I joined forces with my annoying/lovable/most-awesome-person-in-the-world cousin, Quita. Second, I’ve written three, count them, THREE YA novels: one is a hopefully funny contemporary that I’ll soon be revising, another is a supernatural modern tale about fairies that I wrote for NaNo 2010. And the third? Well, the third is my baby, Wants. And why is it my baby? Well, because it landed me the incredible Sarah LaPolla, who has just put my shiny new version of said baby back on submission (fingers crossed).

So what lies ahead? Well, I’m trying NaNo again this year, and I’m possibly delving back into my dark, contemporary roots this time around. I have a couple of ideas for future novels scrawled in my journal, so now I just have to find out which one is calling me next. Oh, and even though I graduated with my MFA in creative writing this past summer, I actually have to defend my thesis, gulp, TODAY. Wish me luck!

Quita’s Response:

Since I began to take my writing seriously (about two or so years ago now) I’ve completed three novels, and “graduated” from my MFA program (for which I wrote a collection of short stories). Two of my novels have been through the ringer numerous times. My historical, In Limbo, is completely different from its first draft (which I wrote over a year and a half ago). It’s moved from a single POV story about a white boy in love with a white girl, to a two person POV novel–and that white girl is now African American. Two agents have a full of this manuscript at the moment, one of which seems like she’s REALLY excited about it–we’ll see where that goes.

My other novel, The Blues, a contemporary mystery (I began writing this one a year and ten days ago), came close with three agents and finally one requested a revise and resubmit. I’m still working on the revise part. The final novel was a NaNo project–my foray into the world of paranormal/supernatural and I hated it. I think I’m just not good at telling those kinds of stories–at least not in one month. Maybe if I try and revise it, it might be okay…you never know. Now I’m on my way to taking another shot at NaNo–this time with a quiet story, and I’m gearing up to defend my MFA thesis next week. WHEW! I think that’s it.

Now that you know all of me and Pam’s bidness, how has your writing journey been so far?

RTW: This Seems Familiar

Writing Song of the Day: “Deja Vu” by Beyonce

It’s Wednesday which means road tripping with the ladies of YA Highway. This week they’re asking us:

What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

I was a little lost on this one at first, but then Pam pointed out that we have discussed certain elements that continue to show themselves in ALL of our writing.

Pam’s Answer:

Okay, my answer is really strange because:

A.) I’m a daddy’s girl.

B.) My dad is pretty much awesome and

C.) Did I say I’m a daddy’s girl??

With that being said, the recurring element that pops up in both Wants and Project J is daddy issues. My major characters either have a physical or emotionally MIA pop. Now that I think about it, this could stem from the fact that my dad was in the military for most of my childhood and he was gone for at least a year when he fought in Desert Storm.

Quita’s Answer:

The recurring element that surfaces in my writing would be literally killing some of my darlings. For some reason I kill every single one of my character’s best friends. Not just the associate they talk to in school sometimes–their best friends. In both In Limbo and The Blues the killing of the best friend serves major purposes, but still–I don’t know why this keeps happening. It’s not like I want to kill people–it just seems like the right thing to do. Wow. That sounds pretty creepy…

Your turn! Tell us what keeps popping up in your writing??

Debut Author Challenge # 9: Ashes, Ashes…And a GIVEAWAY!!


Reading Song of the Day: “Ashes” by Embrace

This has been such a cr-az-y summer thus far. And it’s nice to just be able to love on some books. That’s why we’re continuing on with the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. This week, I read Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari. Although the book had a lil’ bit of a slow start, it is one that I would still recommend…and why do I recommend it, you ask? Read on, loyal follower…read on.

Here is what Goodreads has to say about Ashes, Ashes:

A thrilling tale of adventure, romance, and one girl’s unyielding courage through the darkest of nightmares. Epidemics, floods, droughts–for sixteen-year-old Lucy, the end of the world came and went, taking 99% of the population with it. As the weather continues to rage out of control, and Sweepers clean the streets of plague victims, Lucy survives alone in the wilds of Central Park. But when she’s rescued from a pack of hunting dogs by a mysterious boy named Aidan, she reluctantly realizes she can’t continue on her own. She joins his band of survivors, yet, a new danger awaits her: the Sweepers are looking for her. There’s something special about Lucy, and they will stop at nothing to have her.

Deep stuff. But if that ain’t enough for ya…

The Top Four Things you should know about Ashes, Ashes:

1. It’s written in Third Person: And written WELL in third person. That may not mean much to you, but for me it was like freakin’ magic. I struggle with third person, but plan to revise The Blues in 3rd *maybe* so I took a few pointers from this book.

2. Lucy pretty much rawks: I couldn’t imagine living on my own as a teenager out in the wild. Lucy does this with skill– I mean, the chick kills a turtle and makes herself some stew! Also, she holds her own against those evil sweepers.

3. Authentic Relationships: For example, the boy and girl do not love each other from the beginning. We get to see things build… and of course Aidan, the love interest for Lucy is quite swoon worthy 🙂

4. Aidan has two girls after him!: This is something that me and Pam have discussed wanting to see more of in YA. There are enough love triangles where the girl has two boys fighting for her affections, but Ashes, Ashes is fresh because it has a boy caught between two girls.

If You Like…

Books: Plague by Jean Ure, Z is for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien, and Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer…then you will like Ashes, Ashes.

Movies: 12 Monkeys, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012…then you will like Ashes, Ashes.

Since we’ve been gone for so long, why not celebrate this week of our return with a giveaway? If you’d like to own a gently used copy of Ashes, Ashes, leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address by Midnight August 2nd, 2011. We keeps it simple! As always, we love to hear your book recommendations, too! Do you have any debut authors to tell us about???

WIP Snapshot: The Blues

Writing Song of the Day: “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

First off, Happy Fourth of July all!!! We’re glad that you took a moment to stop by the blog! As Pam mentioned last week, we took this idea from Caroline Tung Richmond (remember follow her blog !), who has admitted that she stole this idea from super author Kiersten White. Basically, they both gave details on their current works-in-progress. Just like Pam did here last week, I’m going to attempt to break down one of my two current WIPs.

Ready?? Here goes!

Title: The Blues–I hate titles. Like, loathe them. But there’s a place of significance in the novel called The Blues, plus it pretty much conveys the mood.

Genre: Contemporary YA (with some mystery elements)

Pages: 256 (double spaced, 12 point Times New Roman Font)

Chapters: 22–some are as long as seventeen pages, others as short as five. I might need to fix that…

Word Count: 56,838–I always have the issue of adding more to my work. In Limbo started at 52,000 and after revisions is at 60,334. Hope I can do the same with The Blues.

Draft Time: I started writing the very first version of this September 2010 and got serious about it in December, right after NaNoWriMo. I wrote about thirty pages in third person, and played around with two POVs, then I gave up and worked on In Limbo. THEN, I came back to it in February 2011 and completed the first draft right around March 2011, the second draft at the end of April and I’m working on the third now.

Origin: It all started because I wanted to write a contemporary YA after being in historical mode. Then I went to a conference (Hampton Road Writers Conference in September 2011) and set in on a session about writing an effective mystery. I already had a main character in mind and an idea of a relationship with him and a girl…then I added in the mystery element and started writing from there.

Random Facts:

  • In the beginning of the novel, Blake’s (the MC) history teacher always shows videos. This came from hearing about teachers that do this…and we’ve even enountered teachers who show TV episodes for no apparent reason.
  • Margo’s name (Blake’s love interest) was Millie at first…yeah, Margo’s not that much better–but Millie, really?
  • After reading Ellen Hopkin’s Crank (per Pam’s recommendation) I decided to make crystal meth the central drug in The Blues.
  • Blake and his Ma are Italian mainly because I was trying to teach myself Italian and I wanted to throw in phrases every now and then 🙂
  • Blake is somewhat of a low class computer genius because I like to think I’m pretty handy with electronics, even though I’m not–at all.
  • Blake drives a two door light blue Chevy Cavalier POS (remember this means piece of sh*t)…because I drive a two door white Chevy Cavalier POS.

Okay, there it is. I have The Blues out with two betas right now and can’t wait to delve back into revising it. Just as Pam asked last week, we’d love to hear about your writing. So, how goes it?

***BTW– That smashing new header on our blog? Yeah, that comes from the lovely Jess at Jest Kept Secret. Thanks, girlie–we LOVE it!!

Why WOA Was so Freakin’ Awesome!

Reflecting Song of the Day: “I’m Awesome” by Spose

What better way to celebrate our official one year blogging anniversary (more to come on that front later this week) than meeting our bloggy pals IRL? This past weekend was so…well, AWESOME! We met up with Erinn, Alicia, and Kat in Hilton Head, South Carolina for a three-day writing retreat dubbed Weekend of Awesome (WOA) and it was totally AWESOME! BTW- stay tuned to our blogs throughout the month of June b/c we’ll ALL be giving away awesome prizes…are you tired of us saying awesome? Forewarning–you will see the word “awesome” quite a few times in this post.

This entire week we will be blogging about the awesomeness of WOA and we’re gonna jump off with the TOP 5 Awesome-est things that we experienced this past weekend:

1.) Meeting our bloggy pals IRL–Putting faces and voices to the witty and sarcastic tweets and blog posts was ah-may-zing. We feel like we’ve known these girls forever and now we’re pretty sure that we have a tight knit groups of writer friends for life!

2.) Cheesy Movie Night–We gathered around to watch Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. If you have seen The Room, you know why this is AWESOME! Anyway, we learned so much about writing from this movie. Make sure you check out all of our blogs on Wednesday to see our writing tips.:)

3.) Critiquing/Pitch Session– We took a walk and shared our favorite scenes from our WIPs. Then, we pre-read short selections from each other’s works (Pam bravely gave away THE first draft of a problem scene from Project J, Quita used The Blues) and critiqued them. This was extremely helpful and enlightening. It’s sad to admit it, since we are in an MFA program, but this was some of the BEST critiquing we’ve ever experienced. Also, we workshopped our elevator pitches, then had a mock pitching session where someone (*cough–Holly Dodson–cough*) pretended to be an agent & asked us questions before determining if they would request pages. It was uber fun and a great learning experience as well.
4.) Giggle Fests–Whether while watching The Room, participating in the mock pitch sessions, talking about our fave (and not so fave) books, or discussing concerts and crazy uncles–we had our share of giggle fests throughout the weekend. Of course there was an abundance of sugar and “spirits” consumed.

5.) General YA love–We discussed books (those we raved about OR warned to never read–EVER!) and we shared resources. It was great to talk to other YA writers in person and see their mannerisms when talking about books. Erinn was very animated with her synopses of the Artemis Fowl series and Alicia and Pam spent quite a few minutes discussing the awesomeness of Cassandra Clare and the Mortal Instruments series. Also, Erinn set up an…yes, you guessed it–AWESOME Skype chat with YA/Adult author Brendan Halpin (again, stay tuned to our blog throughout June for some cool prize packs–hint, hint). He was hilarious, intelligent, helpful, and just overall WINNING 🙂
There’s so much more we could tell you–like the fact that we got a swag bag full of goodies, including a WOA compilation CD with our fave songs on it, and we had tons of junk food! But we don’t want to bore you all to death–or make you eternally jealous of our awesome weekend. This was a wonderful experience and we can’t WAIT to do it again next year–oh, yes there will be more awesomeness to come. We hope some of you think about joining us next year. Until then, what do you consider to be an awesome weekend??