RTW: Best Books of September 2012

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What was the best book you read in September?

 I read a few books this month, but the winner is the sequel to my July pick, Girl of Fire and Thorns:


 Definitely one of those sequels that holds up to the first, if not taking it one better. (The other book I felt like that about was Demonglass, the sequel to Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins). Crown of Embers has just enough familiar fantasy elements to make it feel cozy, but it also has such wonderful worldbuilding and characters that it treads new ground.

And I wanted to give a shoutout to a few other books I enjoyed this month:


 I picked this up at a library booksale because it looked like it might be a good comp title for my first book. It is, but it's also just a great book, with eccentric characters and awkward situations abounding.

And the other one is by a local author, Keli Gwyn:


I have a little bit of bias, obviously, because it mentions so many of our local historical landmarks. But truthfully, I was mainly buying this in support and ended up loving it. There is some great banter between the main character and the love interest, and despite this being a "clean" romance, there is plenty of tension. This is one you can recommend as a fun, historical romance without worrying if your grandma will be shocked by the content. (Mine wouldn't have been. She got a red lace thong for her 75th birthday)

So that's what I've been reading!
Feel free to put a link to your post in the comments if you played along with Road Trip Wednesday. Don't forget to go to the YA Highway post and read all the answers!

Spread the Word: Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is from September 30th through October 6th this year, and once again the organizers are putting out a call for the public to submit videos for a Virtual Read-Out. This year, they've expanded the criteria and you'll now have three options for joining in:

From their site:
1) You can submit a video no more than 3 minutes long of a reading from a banned or challenged book. The video should include information on where and why the book was banned or challenged. You may also add a comment about why you believe the book is important. Please keep your remarks brief.

2) A video of an eyewitness account of local challenges can be submitted. This video should be no longer than three minutes long.

3) Create a promotional video for Banned Books Week like the videos featured. The video should be no longer than five minutes long. The video’s message should focus on celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

Follow the links above to find examples of videos, and the celebrity contributions are well worth watching too. And here's the video I posted last year.



If you choose to make a video, I'd love it if you came back and left me a link in the comments!

RTW: Humbaba's Curse



Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: In honor of this month's Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer's CINDER, name a fable or story you'd like to see a retelling of. If you're feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!

Back in my early college days, I took a Children's Literature course that was divided up into Picture Books, Mythology, and Poetry. At the time, I was starting out as a professional storyteller, so the Mythology section held my interest the most. I must have read hundreds of myths, legends, and folktales that semester, between the class requirements and searching for material to include in my storytelling repertoire.

For our final, we had to retell a myth from an unusual perspective, and I chose the Forest Journey portion of The Epic of Gilgamesh--told from the point of view of Humbaba, the monster. I can still remember the first line:

I emerged into the world through a cleft in the Mountain, slick with the waters that ran there and bearing a caul of moss.

I got an A on the project, but I would certainly do things differently now that I've got so many other skills in my writer's toolbox. But I had intended on picking up different parts of the epic and retelling them from different perspectives (like Gilgamesh's mother). And maybe I still will.

In the meantime, whenever I see books on the Gilgamesh epic, I always pick them up and check out the new translations and insights.

Feel free to put a link to your post in the comments if you played along with Road Trip Wednesday. Don't forget to go to the YA Highway post and read all the answers!

And by the way, I loved Cinder! Urged my niece to read it, but her dad won't let her buy books for her Kindle. I'll have to start giving her Kindle gift cards along with the paper books I give her for Christmas.

And nearly forgot this
 

Not Another Cat Metaphor!

Those of you who have been following my blog for awhile (Hi Michelle!) may remember that I volunteer at a cat sanctuary, Fat Kitty City. Yes, the same sanctuary that I ran the Pens for Paws Auction for in May, raising some much-needed funds with bidding on critiques and signed books.*

After missing a few weeks of sanctuary visits while I was sick, I've been back to see all my kitty friends once again. And along with all the old favorites, who are mostly permanent residents, we have some newer adoptable cats. Like Gonzo:




And the thing that strikes me the most is, why don't these great cats have homes yet? Gonzo is so desperate to be close to someone that she'll fall asleep draped over my arm (usually because the competition for my lap is too fierce). And another kitty, Thomas, sounds like you've started a wood chipper when you pick him up, his purr is so loud.

All these wonderful, unique cats just waiting to be noticed and matched up to someone who can appreciate them. Sorta like manuscripts, right?

I've lost count of how many times I've read writing samples, or critiqued entire manuscripts, and thought, "Why hasn't an editor or agent snatched this up yet?" Sometimes the agents and editors wise up and sign the writer, but other times that fantastic manuscript continues to languish in slush piles.

Those of us who have been querying projects for awhile, only to get rejection after rejection, continue to write and query in the hopes that someone will come to love our books as much as we do. And in so many "I got an agent!" success stories, that's what seems to be crucial: a series of circumstances that land the manuscript in the right hands at the right time.

Then, that formerly-homeless book becomes a beloved new member of an agency family, appreciated for what it is as much as what it might become. Just like Gonzo and Thomas, and all the other cats waiting for their new people to find them, have the potential to do.

Maybe we need to start an overlooked manuscript sanctuary? And if an agent adopts one, it comes with a cat to watch you while you type.



*I've already gotten a few commitments for the next Pens for Paws Auction, and will be moving it up to March.

If you'd like to do something to help Fat Kitty City right now, you can go to Purina's Rally to Rescue page and vote for our ambassador kitty, Bogey. He is one of four finalists, and the winner's shelter group gets $5,000 worth of food. Our 100+ cats eat a lot of food, and voting doesn't cost anything but your time. Please help us help other cats by casting your vote for Bogey!

Playlist for Crow's Rest

I've never actually posted a playlist for any of my writing, and I'm not sure why. I definitely incorporate music into my books, as well as listening to it while I write.

So I thought I'd break radio silence and share some of the music I've been listening to while drafting Crow's Rest, my contemporary fantasy WIP. Can't say too much about why they're significant without spoilers so you'll just have to go with it! And it says a lot about how my mind works that I couldn't find a way to organize these to make them smoothly transition--my brain is more like a record skipping.

First up is KT Tunstall's Black Horse and the Cherry Tree


and Blue Moon by Sofia Talvik and the Tall Boys


And an old favorite; can't you just picture yourself driving through Faerie in an oversized car and hearing Waltz in Black by The Stranglers?




And after that, if you need something to calm yourself down, try Blackbird by The Beatles


And finally, the song that captures Crow's Rest the best, and the one I hope to use in my book trailer: Firethief by Karine Polwart


Enjoy!