RTW: Best Book of November '12

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's the best book you read in November?

I've been reading in fits and starts this month--we've had guys working on xeriscaping our yard, and after a few disasters while they were unsupervised I surrendered to the fact that I wasn't getting much writing done this month. But that meant I got to read, yay!

My pick for best book is

I actually won this in a giveaway but had been wanting to read it for some time, probably because I'd seen it on other RTWs. It has a thought-provoking concept: everyone in this world is born with two souls, and one will gradually dominate as the other withers away. Except for the main character, Eva, who is trapped with her other half, Addie, controlling their body while she waits for a chance to live again. I recommended it to my niece last weekend, and too bad she lives too far to borrow my copy!

I also wanted to mention that I signed up for alerts from Hundred Zeros, a blog listing free e-books. Along with their huge catalog, you can get a daily email with new additions--some of which are only free that day. There is the usual mixture of great books and "you get what you pay for" stinkers, but I wanted to mention one that I particularly enjoyed

There's some great banter between the MC and her ghostly companion, plus the promise of the rest of the trilogy being just as good. Only the first in the series is free (but the other two are reasonably priced) and I love it when authors do this so we can get a taste of the series. The majority of the time, I'm hooked and go on to read the other books. I'll be doing that with this one! My only pet peeve is that the MC is one of those beautiful girls who doesn't think she's beautiful--but there is some context here, as she doesn't fit in very well with the social circles she travels in as a medium.

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!

4th Annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest

Serendipity Literary Agency and Gotham Writers' Workshop are once again offering the opportunity to get the first page of your young adult novel in front of select editors and literary agent Regina Brooks.

For a $15 entry fee, your first page (250 words) and title will be read by Ms. Brooks to find the top 20 entries. From their website: "These submissions will then be read by editors from five prominent publishing houses.  These judges will whittle the 20 semi-finalists down to five finalists, and each of the five winners will be provided commentary on their submissions.

Here is a list of judges for this year's contest:

Navah Wolfe, Simon and Schuster
Tracey Sherrod, Harlequin Kimani
Krista Viola, Random House
Nicole Raymond, Candlewick
Rachel Griffiths, Scholastic
Aubrey Poole, Sourcebooks
Mercedes Fernandez, Kensington
Nataysha Wilson, Harlequin teen
Laura Whitaker, Bloomsbury
Anna Roberts, Feiwel and Friends

And here's what you could win:
The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks and receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from Possibiliteas.co.

The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors at five prominent publishing houses and receive a one-year subscription to The Writer magazine.

The First 50 Entrants will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. (Shipped only to addresses in US and Canada.)

Deadline is November 30 so what are you waiting for? Here's a chance to bypass the query system and get eyes on your first page!

P.S. Perhaps you want to take advantage of Pitch Wars to help hone your pitch? The details and schedule are here, and then go here to find the coaches current wants.

More Photo Inspiration for Crow's Rest

Whenever we travel, it just makes me love where we live even more. Not because traveling is such a nightmare, but because we live in a place with beautiful vistas: rivers, lakes, mountains, rolling hills, quaint historic towns, and only a few hours from the Pacific coast.

Makes perfect sense that I would choose to set my WIP in a Sierra foothill town, albeit a made-up one. Crow's Rest is a thinly-veiled amalgam of several foothill towns, some of which can be surprisingly urbane. Not urban, mind you, which is part of their charm, but with fabulous restaurants and impressive locally grown wines.

One such town is now a state historic park, and I used to be a docent there about a decade ago. We went back recently and the pictures I took are the perfect subjects for a photo essay (click on each one to see it bigger):

An overview of the town nestled along the American River

Detail of the oak trees with their woolly fall coat of moss

One of the historic churches

A springhouse along the trail

 And my favorite foothill find--historic cemeteries!

Hope you enjoyed this vicarious trip!

My Name is Angelica, and I'm a YA Addict

Author Beth Revis made good use of her event schedule this summer by scoring signed copies of books by some of her favorite fellow YA authors. And what's more, she's opened up a contest to give away an entire library of said books!

I must admit that I'm a fanatical convert to young adult books. I'd always read them here and there, but at this point I rarely even go into the adult fiction section at a library or bookstore. And even my e-book purchases are about 85% YA, and 15% other (nonfiction and adult fiction).

I do love that YA is full of firsts, and this jaded middle-aged woman can experience them all over again. But I think what keeps me going back to YA the most is the pacing. I've always had a low tolerance for literary fiction because I always felt like I was waiting for something to happen.

YA authors definitely do not have that luxury--if it doesn't hook a teen, they put it down. And interestingly, as a teen I was pretty stubborn about always finishing books. I might start skimming, but I would always want to see how it ends.

It's only as an adult, with more demands on my time plus a greater understanding of what I look for in a book, that I will now set books aside without finishing them. And reading YA has helped me with pacing my own books as well, even if they're not intended for a YA audience.

What about you? What makes you keep coming back to YA?