RTW: All My New Favorites

YA Highway often does a "best book you read" for the last Road Trip Wednesday each month, and a lot of us have trouble picking just one title!

So for today's blogfest, they want us to list our "Top Five Favorite Books of 2011" Yay, we get five whole books to list! Many of these titles will be familiar to other road trippers, because they were recommended by me or other participants in posts throughout the year. And I'm a visual person, so I'm including all the covers.

In no particular order (confession: because I couldn't decide how to rank them), here are my Top 5 Favorite YA Books of 2011

I do have a warning included for Scorpio Races in a previous post here.

So what are your top 5? Do you have any recommendations to add to my reading list for next year?

Christmas Bird Count!

Yes, I know today's the day after Christmas, but it's the day selected for the Folsom Christmas Bird Count so that's when we got out to take a tally of the bird species in our area. It starts very early in the morning, but I do not, so I'm going to join my husband a little later in the day.

He's much better at bird identification than I am, but I must admit I'm an excellent spotter. That should give you some clues about our personalities: he will take the time to stay in one spot and confidently identify a single bird. I spot a bird, and then I'm trotting off, "oh, there's another one! and look over here--skunk poop!"

So whatever your plans are for today, have a good one! And may they not involve too much skunk poop.

RTW: Where Do You Get Your Fix?

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 through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging! (hey, YAH, is this a secret book marketing poll?)

I've found all sorts of places to support my book habit, which started back when my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I worked in a glorious huge independent bookstore. Now our bookshelves line just about every available wall.

We give books as Christmas and birthday gifts, so our favorite fix is the book sales put on by the Sacramento Friends of the Library and the Sac SPCA. I have a dresser drawer that is constantly filled with books for all ages, and whenever an occasion comes up I just burrow into the pile and select some favorites. Many of the books have library markings, but I've also picked up wonderful gift books that don't look like they were even cracked open.

We also have a marvelous book-warren called The Bookery in Placerville, and they are total enablers since we can bring in books to trade for more books. How great is that?

Since our local Borders closed, there aren't any new book shops (though Bookery can order things) within a doable radius. So I admittedly have been buying mostly through our Amazon Prime account, with some supplementary orders from B&N. And, I've been buying a lot more e-books and getting both print and e-books from the library. Anything to make sure this bibliophile gets her fix!

What about you? Have any great book-buying opportunities where you are? Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!

Yes, I really am allergic to chicken, so you'll have to enjoy this cool chicken (the graphic address changed, so there's no dancing chicken, sorry) while I draw names (well, the numbers assigned in the order you commented) with random.org.

And the first winner is...

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Kris Atkins, you wanted the Amazon gift certificate, so expect an email later today from me and Amazon!

and the second winner is . . .

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Christina Mercer, you wanted a lovely Faces of Fat Kitty City Calendar, so let me know if you want me to mail it or deliver it!

And winner the third is . . .

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Sophia Chang, you wanted the Amazon gift certificate, so expect an email later today from me and Amazon!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and all the followers that have stuck with me all this time! And if you didn't win but wanted a Faces of Fat Kitty City Calendar, you can still get one through Fat Kitty City.

(name gifs from 123glitter.com)

100 Followers Celebration!

Contest closed! Thanks for entering and check back on Monday to see the three randomly chosen winners!

Okay, so I've been planning on doing a giveaway once I hit 100 followers, and I've been hovering at just under 100 for some time. (And BTW,if you're thinking of doing a giveaway of your own, here's a post on legal things to make you tear out your hair.)

I logged on this morning to do my post anyway, planning on calling it the "Close Enough to 100 Followers Celebration". Imagine my surprise and delight when I peeked at my followers and it showed 101! A big thank you to the Blogger community for sticking with me.

But I'm sure you want me to stop blathering and get to the good stuff: what are the prizes?

There will be three randomly chosen winners from the comments on this post, and each will get their choice of:

A digital or hardcover Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (see my post on it here)

A Faces of Fat Kitty City Calendar; a donation of $20 will be made in your name to get the calendar (see all the pages here)

Or an Amazon.com gift card for $15 and pick out what you want!

Now for the rules:
Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to U.S. addresses (unless you're able to redeem an Amazon.com gift card or get the electronic edition of SR anywhere--tried to find if you can do that outside the U.S. and the site was vague).

Tweets and shares are always appreciated, but not necessary to enter or win. You also don't need to be a follower, but you must leave a contact in your comment, or have it available through your Blogger profile. My last contest, I had to do a lot of online legwork to track down one of the winners and this time around if I can't reach you easily, I'll pick another name.

Also leave which item you would choose if you win in your comment, please.

The contest will end December 16 at 11:59 PM, Pacific Standard Time, and the winner will be announced December 19 on my blog. I do have an Amazon Prime account, so there's a chance that your prize will get to you by Christmas if it's the hardcover book; I can email the gift card or the code for the electronic edition, so those could reach you even quicker. The calendar will be shipped via media mail; the USPS site says that can take 2-8 days.

Addendum: As a Pay it Forward, I'd like to direct your attention to Christine Johnson's YA Authors Against Animal Abuse auction. Some great swag up for auction from the likes of Carrie Ryan, Cassandra Clare, Julie Kagawa and more. I'm hoping for the Carrie Ryan books myself, but higher bids for the critters are good too!

RTW: I Can See Shangri-La from Here!

(Graphic from the YA Highway site)
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 through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: How far would you go to get published? We writers can form quite an attachment to our characters and stories. But we also know publishing is a business, and sometimes to make it in said business--to really build a career from it--we have to bend a bit. How far would you go to break into the publishing world?

I've been a little spoiled with my freelance articles--I've never been asked to revise them or change them. Reshoot the photos, yes, and the magazines have done some light copyediting but that's it. Pretty sweet, but it kind of established unrealistic expectations about how much revising I would be expected to do because that didn't carry over into fiction.

I lost my first "sale" of a short story when my college lit mag asked me to change the ending and I refused. I did give it some thought, but decided not to do it. Unfortunately, I didn't find out that it killed the deal until they actually released the lit mag, and mine wasn't in there (after I'd told everyone it would be, of course!). So I have no idea if I'd known that, whether it would have changed my mind. And of course, years later, I did change the ending but for different reasons. Aspects of the story changed, and that meant the ending no longer fit. (And I eventually found a home for Hornworms in Hunger Mountain)

Earlier this year while querying, I got a revise and resubmit request from an agent. When she was setting up the phone call to go over her concerns, she let me know they were "not minor". So that sent me into a panic (and I do mean a panic--how a writer's imagination can run away with her!) over what sort of changes she might request and whether I would be willing to make them. Fortunately, they were suggestions that worked for the story and made it stronger, so I was glad that I gave them a chance.

But I do know that there are aspects of my book I would not be willing to change. Usually if a character or plot device isn't working, I spend a bit of time trying to discern whether it's just not working in this form and I can write it differently, or whether it truly doesn't belong in the story at all. And when my CPs give me advice that I don't agree with, I try to examine why they would have made that suggestion. So most of the time even if I feel their suggestion was way out there, I can find the flaw in the passage that made them feel it needed something else. My fix may not be what they suggested in the end, but hopefully I will have addressed the issue.

What about you--how far are you willing to go? Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!