Back from a real-world road trip

YA Highway and friends are at it again for Road Trip Wednesday.

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

This week's topic:What's the best book you read this month (September)?

We just got back from a road trip to southern Utah, where we explored Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Escalante. Beautiful country and we stayed in a great little house, with a kitchen and sunrise/sunset views. It pretty much made the 2-day drive each way to get there worth it (I am not a pleasant long-drive companion--my inner 10-year-old comes out: "when are we going to get there?" "I need to get out and play, we've been in the car for hours" This last whine starting at about the 20-minute mark)

We did listen to the Book Thief on CD; I had read it but my husband hadn't, so that was a great choice. We walked around calling each other soumensch and soukerl for the rest of the trip--although we made sure to do it softly when there were Germans around, which seemed to be a lot of the time. And Italians, too. There was a really cute group of young Italian women that just chattered away the whole shuttle trip, and I'm pretty sure teasing sounds the same in any language. And they teased each other mercilessly.

We also got most of the way through an audio of Bite Me by Christopher Moore, which could almost be YA considering that it's narrated by a wonderfully snarky, annoying Goth teen. She has some of the greatest lines--mostly insults. I would say this was my favorite book of the trip even though I technically listened to it rather than reading it. But I would recommend reading the first book in the series, Bloodsucking Fiends, before tackling Bite Me. Incidentally, the beginning of Bite Me is pretty much a recap of the second book, You Suck, from different POVs. You can skip the second book or savor it, whichever you please.

Phone sex with Stephen Hawking

Ever wondered what it would be like to have phone sex with Stephen Hawking? You know you have! So here's what you do:

1.Get a kindle

2.Download the trashiest romance you can find (I got one called Slow Hands for free)

3.Find a particularly juicy passage (I picked one featuring a velvet member and other picturesque phrases)

4.Turn on the text-to-voice feature and prepare to be wowed. It's like your own sexbot, or the aforementioned phone sex with Stephen Hawking

Bonus points: on a romantic getaway with your husband, put on the sexy black lingerie you stashed in the suitcase, and coyly say, "A little something to put us in the mood . . ." before you start the text-to-voice. Then when you fall down laughing, you're both in a convenient horizontal position. TMI?


The interview that follows up on my story, Ebb Tide, for winning 3rd place in the WOW! Women on Writing Spring 2010 Flash Fiction has been posted! It's actually the second interview that I've done in the last month or so (the first one accompanied my story, Hornworms, on Hunger Mountain) and it's a little strange for me to write about my writing process.

Both of these interviews were done by email, but especially in the first one I tried to preserve the spontaneity of a spoken answer. I typed the answers pretty quickly, and then only edited them for typos or spelling. I sent it off, and of course when I looked at it later, my internal editor said, "You repeat the same things--you could have cut this, and is this really relevant. . ." and so on.

I felt like I was a little more coherent in the WOW! interview, partly because I took some time to think about the answers before I sat down to type. Still followed the same pattern of only fixing typos and spelling though.

So for those of you reading this that have a few more interviews and publicity stints under your belts, any advice for how not to come across as a blithering idiot?

Contest For Crime Novel Writers

Although I write primarily YA for novel-length works, I stumbled on this contest offered by Minotaur Books (an imprint of St. Martin's):

First Crime Novel Competition: open to previously unpublished writers, manuscript must be at least 60,000 words and "Murder or another serious crime or crimes is at the heart of the story" Entries must be postmarked by November 30, 2011.

Now through November 30, WOW!'s quarterly flash fiction is open to submissions. Minimum length is 250 words and maximum is 750 words. They have an open prompt again, so anything goes! All ages (and genders) can enter, too.

Guest judge this time around is literary agent Wendy Sherman, and the entry fee is $10. You can also get a critique for another $10.

My interview for my 3rd place win in the Spring 2010 contest will be going up next Tuesday on the WOW! blog.

That's a very film-noir way to put how I feel about my first novel now. I did a major rewrite a few months back to address some issues with the characters and plot, ran some sections through the critique group, and then happily sent off the "finished" product to betas. I say happily not so much because I was convinced it was a perfect manuscript, but because I was good and ready to move onto something else after working on this one novel for soooo loooonng.

I got the first full beta back today (thanks again to the wonderfully insightful Karla Nellenbach) and, sure enough, some of the things that I thought I'd fixed (or at least addressed) were still there. I'd figured that out somewhat on my own, because I've started the sequel and was running into the same kinds of questions, but Karla pointed it out very eloquently.

One of the issues was to find the balance between the paranormal and the historical romance story elements. I do believe there's room for both in the book-as long as they are both fully realized. The problem is that in their current incarnations, neither one genuinely is. So back to the trenches, and the second book will have to wait a bit, but will ultimately benefit from the wrinkles I'm ironing out in the first book.

How My Garden Does Grow!

Our garden has finally started producing some nice green beans, cucumbers, and watermelons. Everything is about a month behind, except that the fruit trees seem to be on schedule. This is the first year we've gotten any Asian pears, since the tree was just a baby--but what a harvest! They looked so pretty in their basket that I had to do a digital painting of them.

"Hornworms" Live!

My middle-grade short story, Hornworms, is online with the newest issue of Hunger Mountain. Check out the other great YA and MG fiction and more--I feel my hornworms are in great company!

YA Highway and friends are at it again for Road Trip Wednesday.

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

This week's topic:What's the best book you read this month (August)?

I had to laugh this morning when I logged onto Blogger and saw all the posts for Road Trip Wednesday that featured a graphic of Mockingjay, the final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy. Most people that got it on the release date read it in a few days, so I knew it would figure prominently in this topic!

I want to cast my vote for Catching Fire, the second book in the series. I did read it for the first time in August; I read Hunger Games last year and I wanted to wait to read Catching Fire until all 3 were out. So about a week before the Mockingjay release, I re-read HG and then read CF.

I loved the twist in the games that features so prominently in Catching Fire. As a reader, it made me so fired up (had to say it) on behalf of Katniss and the other surviving tributes. As a writer, my mind was spinning at a million miles an hour with all the things you could do with that situation, all the different directions you could take the characters and the districts.

And I was perfectly satisfied with the choices Suzanne Collins made for CF, but I think the biggest reason why I have more affection for CF than I do for Mockingjay is the feeling of hope that it ends with. I've already posted on the violence in the last book so I won't repeat all that here, other than to say I thought the ending was true to the book and the world Collins created. I thought CF ended on a "We can do it!" note, and Mockingjay ended on a "We survived it!" note.

Both valid and true experiences, but it will be a while before I can go back and re-read Mockingjay again.