RTW: Come Sail Away With Us

Daydreaming Song of the Day: “Daydreamer” by Adele

It’s Wednesday, AKA the best day of the week for daydreaming and completing a Road Trip post from YA Highway. Okay, maybe not the best day for daydreaming, but the topic this week makes us do just that. This week, the ladies are asking us:

Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?
Funny that this question is coming up right when we’re considering taking a writing retreat in the summer. If we had things our way and didn’t have to worry about money, this is what we’d do.
Where We’d Go:

Beautiful St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands (Close runner up: A quiet area–not desolate–but quiet, somewhere in Italy).

Who We’d Bring:
We’d bring, each other- DUH, also our lil’ sis Racquel, our Weekend of Awesome pals, Alicia, Erinn, Kat, and Holly (not pictured), and our buddy Megan (also, not pictured). Hmm, we need some pics with these girls…
Racquel, Pam, Quita

 Erinn, Kat, Quita, Pam, Alicia
What We’d Bring:


iPads:  ‘Cause we’re kinda obsessed with them. And also because they will be full of musical inspiration, novels to read (for the times we’re stuck on what to write), and hopefully (by that time) the Scrivener App.
Netbooks/Flash Drives: For writing. Nuff said.
Moleskin Notebooks: For those moments that we need to jot down something we might forget later.
Novels: Actual ones that we can hold in our hands–because some novels MUST be held.
Forms of Lubrication (get your minds out of the gutter!): Lotion for Pam & Chapstick for Quita. Also Sun Tan Lotion–’cause ya know, sometimes we’ll have to go on the lovely St. Croix beaches to relax before getting more writing done.
Colored Pens: If we’re revising a printed draft.
Candy and snacks: To refuel and whatever other excuses we can think of to eat all the bad things.
And,um,some adult beverages: Hopefully these will be provided by the wonderful people at our luxurious Virgin Islands resort…for free.
Oh and we also wouldn’t mind bringing a nice, smart (and HOT) island boy back home with us ๐Ÿ˜€
What about you? Where would you go and what would you bring with you??

Friday Fives: Light Reading…And a CONTEST!

Reading Song of the Day: “Summer Love” by Justin Timberlake

It’s that time again…the freakin’ weekend! And once again, me and Pam are traveling. This time we’re headed to Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia for what is sure to be an ah-may-zing SCBWI novel retreat. But we couldn’t leave without participating in Pam’s group blog Paper Hangover’s Friday Fives.

Also, we have a few announcements to make…so make sure you don’t leave until you get to the end!

This week’s Friday Fives is:

What are the Five Best Summer Reads?

Here is our list in no particular order:

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: We have raved about this book here and here. I don’t think there’s more we can say– except the book is fun, light, and absolutely clever. A must read for the summer!

2. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare: Okay, so this may not be “light” reading, but the summer is a great time to get caught up on the series. There are 4 books out already and more to come. If you want to be a part of the craze for the next book in the series, then use the summer to read what you’ve missed thus far.

3. The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa: I brought these books for Pam for her birthday b/c she is working on a fairies book and she wanted to see what else is out there. She’s going to use the summer to get caught up on the series so she can be ready for the next book.

4. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Pam bought me the first book for my birthday b/c I told her I wanted to start reading them. I am now hooked! I’ll be using the summer to read ALL of the books and hopefully start watching the movies as well.

5. Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz: Pam read Gone, Gone, Gone and RAVED. So, we figured Invincible Summer must be just as good, if not better. Plus, you can’t go wrong with the word “summer” in the title!

Okay…now it’s time for some announcements!

Announcement # 1: We are going on a blogging hiatus. Fear not, loyal followers! We shall return in ONE WEEK- June 20th, 2011. So, you have to go one week w/out us…don’t celebrate too much.

Announcement # 2: This one is much more EXCITING! We are giving away TWO books to celebrate our one year blogging anniversary (as of 5/31/2011–Pam and I have been blogging together for one WHOLE year!) AND to celebrate all of the awesomeness that we experienced at Weekend of Awesome. Because we want to celebrate that joyous occasion we will give away two books that we learned about from our new real life friends ๐Ÿ™‚

Book # 1: Notes From the Blender by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook. You can read what Goodreads has to say about this novel here. We got to do a Skype chat with Brendan during WOA (thanks to Erinn) and he is so funny and witty. Those elements are sure to show up in his novel and we KNOW you will enjoy it! But, wait…there’s more! This book will be signed by Brendan Halpin himself!

Book # 2: Fill-in-the-Blank Plotting by Linda George: The link will take you to the Goodreads page where you can learn more. But this book was introduced to us by Alicia during WOA and it is AWESOME! It’ll help you to plot your novel based on the Hero’s journey and the Three- Act structure.

Enter to win by filling in the form below. Easy peasy!

Now that that’s over with…we’d love to know what books you all are looking forward to reading this summer!

Plotting 101: The Room!

Writing Song of the Day: “In the Next Room” by Neon Trees

On Monday, we mentioned the awesomeness that was Weekend of Awesome. On Friday night, we all gathered around the tube to watch the monstrosity–whoops, I meant “epicness” that is The Room.

Quita and I first learned about The Room from this article by Entertainment Weekly. We promptly rented it, and then stared at the screen like cliched characters in shock: our mouths agape and eyebrows lifted. Needless to say, we were more than thrilled when we discovered some of our WOA peers have also seen this movie. You see, The Room is so, so awful, that it’s deliciously good. It’s the kind of movie that’ll make you look at your POS first draft with pride.

We, along with Erinn, Alicia, and KO, have decided to share what we learned about writing from the cinematic masterpiece that is The Room. And now…

The Three Don’ts of Plotting:
1. Don’t Drop a Bombshell and then Forget About It.
Protagonist Johnny has a skankified fiancee (Lisa) who no longer loves him, as she’ll remind the audience a bazillion times. However, even more irritating than Lisa is her mother–who’s pretty much a prying, judgmental you-know-what. During one of their “heart-to-hearts,” Lisa’s mom reveals that she has breast cancer. Lisa tells her mom to focus on the positive, and the cancer was never. Mentioned. Again.

Um, WHAT??? Sorry, but cancer sucks. You can’t just think good thoughts and will it away. And you also can’t reveal something that extreme to your audience and then abruptly disregard it. Writers, this is why we revise. Make note of when something this HUGE is in your story. But, if you wrote about an element this serious in your first draft and then forget about it, you have to ask yourself: Is this important? Does this push my plot forward?

2. Don’t Create an Unrealistic Climax.
SPOILER ALERT! Basically, Johnny’s fiancee cheats with his best friend, Mark. All throughout the movie, Mark was riddled with guilt for his actions. However, out of nowhere, Mark becomes a jackass–at Johnny’s birthday party no less!

I get it. Johnny needed to learn about the affair in order to make a life-changing decision. That is the purpose of a climax after all. But–HUH?? Why did Mark become a jerk? Why did he all of a sudden not care about Johnny’s feelings?? Writers, remember–character development plays a HUGE part in plotting. Don’t make your characters do anything–well, out of character–in order to move your story along.

3. Don’t Pull Something Out of the Blue Just to Make Your Ending Work.
There’s this creepy kid that Johnny takes care of named Denny/Danny (his name changes depending on who says it), that has a dangerous encounter with a drug dealer.

Yeah, apparently Denny/Danny owes a drug dealer money–but this wasn’t mentioned before OR after this scene occurred. Basically, the gun that Johnny takes from the big, bad drug dealer is significant for the conclusion of the film. I get that–but you want to avoid deus ex machinas, which is a HORRIBLE plot device. Try to find natural ways to lead readers to your ending–or they may not just make it there.

There you have it. The Room in all its horribly decadent glory. If you haven’t checked this out yet–GO. RENT. NOW. I promise you, you’ll want to pat yourself on the back after watching it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t forget to check out Erinn, Alicia, and KO’s blogs for their writing tips from The Room.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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??