Friday, March 30, 2012

YA Character Championship Day 5: Stuff Happens

Wooooo.... Woooooo...?

Yeah, sorry guys, my energy is a little on the low side. This YA Bracket update is the last thing I plan on doing before the weeeeekend starts, so I'm not...really...focused...on...


what was I doing?

Oh right! Exciting YA battles and such. All righty. Let's get to it.

The luck is running with plucky dystopian heroines as Katniss rides high, beating my favorite steampunker, Deryn, and Tris knocks out Ship Breaker's Nailer.

Over in Contemporary, Alaska takes on Kristina/Bree and wins, while Cameron conquers Melina of Speak.

We're taking the weekend off, but the YA bracket will be back with match-ups between Harry Potter and Katsa, and Sean and Lyra!

Aaaand...I'm off to take a nap. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wrap Up: Green Shoots Edition

We were delighted to come home from vacation and see that the beloved tree outside our window had finally sprouted some little green shoots! Even though we've been turned into sniffly, sneezely messes, it's lovely to see some green outside our windows again.

This was a busy week in blogging! Let's get down to the posts:

The big news in kids literature this week was the arrival of the Harry Potter e-books! Nathan Bransford takes a look at why the Potter model for selling e-books is revolutionary and why other authors won't adopt it (and can I just say, while I often miss Nathan-the-agent, I am loving Nathan-the-tech-guy-who-can-also-explain-publishing)

Several agents wrapped up their trips to the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Mary Kole discussed how the foreign rights' demands have affected what she's looking for in the slush. Joanna Volpe breaks down just what an agent does at the book fair and why it matters. And Kristin Nelson makes an argument for bringing authors to Bologna.

Rachelle Gardner had a three-part series on how to make a living as a writer. Part one covers amping up volume, while part two discusses variety. Part three takes a look at the challenges writers face making a living off their work.

Those following agent Janet Reid this week know that she's been having a sort of slow-motion nervous breakdown as the result of reading 400+ entries as part of the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Contest. The good news for us writers is she's sharing tips for polishing manuscripts, including basic manuscript format. One her clients, author Gary Corby, has taken pity on her sanity and posted his own manuscript template.

Loved this one: Apartment Therapy posts images of the bedrooms of fifteen famous authors

Over at YA Highway, a discussion on YA book cover models who look suspiciously like famous actors

Holly Black put up an amazing breakdown of her daily word count while writing her latest novel, from first page to last edit

Vickie Motter takes a look at the little details that make your character unique and gives examples of tiny tweaks that can make worlds of difference

Stina Lindenblatt on Querytracker compares the publishing industry to the world of investing and gives some tips and tricks for how to use lessons in finance as a path to publishing success

Justine Larbaleister reminds us all that "I'll Know I've Made it as a Writer When..." can be interpreted hundreds of different ways

Book sales rep Vanessa DiGregorio talks about what life as a publishing account manager is really like

That's it this week! Remember to check back this afternoon to see the latest round in the YA Character Championship, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ya Character Championship: Give It Up for the Thirteenth Century!

It's Day 4 of the YA Character challenge, with some strong showings from the Contemporary and Historical regions. Let's get down to it!

Woah, I totally didn't realize Cameron versus Hazel was like the war between two very brave teens struggling to overcome really terrible, devastating illnesses... Can we just say they're both winners and leave it at that? No? Okay, in that case, Cameron wins for his taste in music and angels.

And the curse continues as Hole's Stanley falls to quiet but strong Melinda of Speak.

In Historical, higher-seed Gemma Doyle's magic can't save her against witty, resourceful Catherine of Catherine, Called Birdy.

And Between Shades of Grey's Lina wins against Infernal Devices' Tessa Gray.

Here's the Round 4 bracket:

I've randomly selected the next two regions for tomorrow's battles, and they are.......Sci-Fi and Contemporary!

That means Katniss takes on Deryn, Nailer battles Tris, Alaska goes up against Kristina, and Cameron will duke it out with Melinda.

The first week is wrapping up and that means favorites are going to fall! If you have a character you're rooting for, let me know!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

YA Character Championship Round 3: Battle of the Boys

It's Day 3 of the YA Character Championship, and things are heating up!

For some reason, without thinking, I lumped a lot of the boy characters against each other, which means two-thirds of them got knocked out in the first round. Whoops. Sorry guys! But at least they made for exciting match-ups!

In White Cat's Cassel versus Sean of The Scorpio Races, Sean's preternatural calm and magical instincts pull ahead (maybe Cassel was recovering from particularly bad blowback and/or a run-in with his crazy mother?).

Fiesty Lyra Silvertongue wins out against Daughter of Smoke and Bone's Karou, because hamsas can't do nothin' against alethiometers.

In Sci-Fi, boy-genius Thomas of The Maze Runner falls to the street-smart and brave Nailer.

And in our last battle of the day, Tris from Divergent handily defeats The Giver's Jonas.

Here's the bracket for today:

Check back tomorrow, when Hazel of The Fault in Our Stars goes up against gnome-totting, mad-cow-disease-infected Cameron from Going Bovine, and Speak's Melinda battles Stanley of Holes!

And in the Historical region, witchy lady-in-training Gemma Doyle will duke it out with the original Catherine called Birdy, and The Infernal Devices' Tessa takes on Lina of Between Shades of Grey.

Risky Writing

The closest picture I could find to illustrate "risk."
Because, like, you're climbing a staircase, right..?
It's a metaphor!

After weeks of research and debate and false starts, I finally sat down yesterday and wrote the first chapter of my next book. It was awesome. Not the writing (which is still a first draft ugly duckling), but the feeling of finally capturing my main character’s voice, of finally getting a sense of what this book will sound like. I definitely had one of those “writer’s high” moments, fist-pumping and reading lines out loud to the husband.

Once I had the first chapter, I could see clearly the kind of book this could be, and, I’m not gonna lie, it has me a little nervous.

I really enjoy writing commercial fiction. It just makes sense to me—the pacing, the plot, when to ratchet up the tension, when to give the characters a break. Even though I know I still have a lot to learn, I can see the pattern that these kinds of books follow, which helps for plotting, structure, character development.

This book, not so much. This one wants to be full-on literary. Like, literary without much of a plot. Like, literary and playing with tenses and POV. No cute boy to distract my main character, no we-have-to-save-the-world element.

Loosely, the book will be about three generations of women and the choices they’ve made with their lives.* I can’t really think of a YA book that fits that sort of “sprawling family history” format (although, dear readers, if you have suggestions, please please pretty please let me know!), but the books I’ve been sort of using for inspiration are East of Eden, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Notice any common threads? Maybe that its authors count two Nobel Prizes and two Pulitzer prizes among them? Yeah…

Not like there’s anything wrong with looking to great works of literature as examples, but it’s a little…intimidating. What else is intimidating? I’ve never written something super literary before (unless you count the pseudo-memoir essays of my early college years which…I don’t), and I’m really not quite sure what to do or what (if any) model to follow.

But, I really like pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I like the challenge and the research and building new skills, even if the potential for crash-and-burn is maybe higher than it would be if I stuck to one genre or style of writing.

Anyway, I really want to turn this question around on you guys. Do you like to take risks with your writing? Do you tend to stick to one genre and go for depth and expertise or do you tend to hop around and try new things? There’s no right or wrong answer—excellent examples exist in each camp—I’m just curious to see what you think.

*Am I being cagey with the details? Yes! I am suuuper uncomfortable putting the details of a project out into the Real World before it’s finished. Suffice it to say, there are people and they do…things…

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

YA Bracket, Day 2: A Top Seed Falls!

It's Day 2 of the YA Character Bracket, my silly experiment in trying to remain relevant during basketball season!

The big news today comes from the Historical region. Top seed Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation, has been defeated by War Horse's Joey! Was it Joey's kind spirit and enduring courage that trumped Octavian's Enlightenment sensibilities and dubious parties? Or did I just secretly want a horse to win this whole thing? The world may never know...

Meanwhile, Liesel Meminger knocks down Ha, via a vote from my mom who thought "pluck" had nothing on loving books so much that you're lead to a life of crime. Crime!

And in Contemporary, Alaska Young handily out-quirks Cullen Witter, while sweet Anna of Anna and the French Kiss learns the hard way to avoid meth addicts who go by two names.

Here's your Round 2 bracket:

We're back to Fantasy and Sci-Fi tomorrow, as water-horse-whisper Sean Kendrick goes up against (spoiler alert!) White Cat's transfiguration curse worker, Cassel Sharpe.

Lyra Silvertongue battles Daughter of Smoke and Bone's Karou (no daemons or chimaera allowed!).

In the Sci-Fi region, the boys fight it out! Thomas from Maze Runner meets Ship Breaker's Nailer--they survived devastating ecological disasters, but who will survive the bracket?

And last but not least, Abnegation-turned-Dauntless Tris Prior, of Divergent, dukes it out with The Giver's kind-hearted and courageous Jonas.

Cast your votes and check back tomorrow!

Monday, March 26, 2012

YA Bracket: Wizards and Vampires and Midshipmen Oh My!


In today's matches, two Fantasy and two Sci-Fi characters advance:

The Boy Who Lived lives to see another round as Harry Potter defeats The Mortal Instruments' Clary Fray.

Katsa, Graceling's resident badass survivalist, proves vampires are no match as she knocks down Twilight's Edward Cullen (who was probably too busy brooding or smirking to see her coming).

In Sci-Fi, Katniss Everdeen rides high on the Hunger Games love this weekend, beating Narnia's Lucy Pevensie without breaking a sweat.

And for our last match-up of the day, an upset! Super-fied Tally Youngblood of the Uglies series has been defeated by the cross-dressing aerialist with a heart of gold, Leviathan's Deryn Sharpe! I can almost hear the wee beastie perspicacious lorises (lori?) cheering.

Here's how the bracket looks after Day 1:

Tomorrow's matches: the top seeds in Contemporary and Historical will have to defend their titles* as manic pixie dream girl Alaska Young meets Holden-Caulfield-descendent Cullen Witter and traitor to the nation Octavian Nothing fends off the bites and bucks of War Horse's Joey.

Also coming at you tomorrow, Crank's manic, drug-fueled Kristina/Bree takes on sunny Anna of Anna and the French Kiss, while Liesel Meminger of Between Shades of Grey The Book Thief goes up against There and Back Again's plucky Ha.

As usual, you can vote in the comments, send me an email with your favorites, or wait and see what my cuh-razy mind comes up with. Until tomorrow!

*Book humor!

Writing Spaces: Home, Home Again

I am back at my beloved little desk after a wonderful week traveling and seeing friends and family. We played with our little niece and nephew, went into New York to see Newsies (again. soooo good!), ate some birthday cake (I pass the mid-twenties point on Thursday!), cheered on friends in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, did a little location research for my next book, and generally ate and slept better than usual. It was great!

But I am definitely one of those people for whom walking through the front door is the best part of the trip. I couldn't wait to get back home to my tea and homemade furniture, bake some bread, and relax on the couch.

Since I featured a photo of my little desk way back in the beginnings of this blog, I thought today I would post a drawing of it, in all its cluttered, cartoony glory.

It's actually even messier than that...

Some other points this week!

My YA-character bracket is still going on, despite my radio (blog?) silence on the matter. Here's how we're going to do things: My in-house NCAA tells me the championship game will be played next Monday. I don't really want to extend the bracket beyond then, but I also don't want to wrap things up in a week, so I'm going to run the bracket until next Friday, April 6.

There are 31 match-ups (aka "games" aka "YA fights to the deeeath!!!"), and I'll reveal winners every weekday at 5PM CT. Every day will feature four match-ups until we get to the final two. The winner of Sci-Fi vs Historical will be revealed Wednesday, April 4. The winner of Fantasy vs Contemporary will be revealed Thursday, April 5. And the big winner will be showered in praise/love/something on Friday, April 6!

Sooo, what does this mean for you, dear readers? You're welcome to vote for upcoming matches in the comments section, or you can send me an email with your picks. I'll pick winners based on fan feedback and how I think characters would do in actual death matches. It'll be fun!

Also, I am not unaware of the tremble that rocked movie theaters this weekend. How many of you saw The Hunger Games? I tried to get tickets but (silly me!) thought I didn't have to pre-order them. But I did reread the book (maybe my fifth or sixth time...) and stayed up until 2AM, devouring every page, so, yeah, it's as good as I remember.

That's all! Have a great week, and come back today at 5 for the first four winners! Today, it'll be:

Wizard against half-angel! (Harry Potter vs Clary Fray )
Vampire against professional survivor! (Edward Cullen vs Katsa)
The girl on fire against the Valiant Queen (Katniss vs Lucy Pevensie)
And two Scott Westerfeld heroines! (Deryn Sharpe vs Tally Youngblood)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing Spaces: Gone Vacationin'

Image via

Well, folks, as you read this I'll be off for some Spring Break vacation, visiting friends and family on the East Coast (despite the lovely, sunny, beachy photo, there is neither sand nor surf in the immediate future).

This means this week's posts are coming to you from the paaaaast...! and there will be no Friday Blog Wrap-Up. I will try to update the YA Character Bracket (and if you haven't already, vote for your favorites!), otherwise you get another week in which to ponder my bad handwriting and the various character mash-ups.

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Wrap Up: Sunny Days Edition

Wish I was here...
It is gloriously, deliciously beautiful outside, like the weather decided to make a big ole present to all of us, and I love it. I even unpacked all my skirts and cute summer dresses! I'm wearing flip-flops, people, FLIP-FLOPS! In March! To which I can only say, keep the good times comin'.

I am off for a week of vacation and relaxation, and for my last bit of blog-business, here are this week's posts:

Agent Jim of Dystel & Goderich talks conferences, and the new reaction he's getting as an agent now that self-publishing is rising in popularity and agents are seen as less-necessary to publish books

Continuing the agent speculation, Janet Grant discusses how agents will need to adapt in order to stay relevant and continue to provide services to their clients and how readers are already changing their reading and buying habits

Via Galleycat, personalized "Go Away I'm Reading" book covers (I'm partial to the LOTR one)

Rachelle Gardner breaks down the process behind when a book goes to auction and goes behind the scenes on the agent-author contract

Direct from her house boat on the Seine (seriously), Mary Kole gives some tips on how to seamlessly integrate a character's thoughts into the narrative

K.M. Weiland takes a look at a popular narrative structure, the multiple POV, and describes some of the most common pitfalls and problems

And in my favorite post of the week, Nathan Bransford takes us step-by-step through the DoJ's potential lawsuit of publishers and Apple for allegedly colluding on e-book prices. As usual, Nathan is straightforward, clear, and compelling, and this should be required reading for anyone in the industry. Seriously, after reading this, it was like mind-->blown.

That's it! Have a wonderful, sunny weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Completely Arbitrary, Completely Unnecessary YA Characters Bracket

There’s something going on with basketball now! I know this because when the husband watches sports while I am elsewhere in the apartment, the sounds I hear the most are the squeak-squeaks of sneakers on a court (versus the crashes of football, the soft thuds of baseball, and the maniacal swearing in foreign languages of soccer).

Every year he makes me fill out a bracket and every year I get knocked out in the first round and then he laughs at me. BUT NOT THIS TIME!

After yelling across the apartment at the husband, “What is the thing with the things and you pick them?” and getting his detailed instructions, I’ve made my own bracket, and it is YA based.

I split it up into four regions:* Fantasy/Paranormal, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, and Historical. And out of those regions, I picked eight of my favorite characters and lined ‘em up.

Okay. Take a deep breath. Here it is (click it to make it bigger!).
(because sometimes my handwriting is messy and because those little boxes are freaking tiny,
I've pasted the complete ordered list with full book titles below)

Are you still breathing? Have you recovered from the shock of not seeing your favorite character and/or my obviously arbitrary rankings?

I know, pretty arbitrary, right? HOW COULD I FORGET [insert character name here]?!? GEMMA DOYLE IS CLEARLY PARANORMAL AND NOT HISTORICAL!!! WAR HORSE IS AN EIGHTH SEED**?!?!

I know a lot of good characters got left by the side of the road. I favored recent releases, as well as books that I had read, and decided to throw in a few older/more beloved characters just for fun. If any of this upsets you, remember that this is just a thing on the Internet and probably doesn’t matter too much.

Which brings me to…voting! Every Wednesday I'll update the bracket with the winners of each YA battle. If you’d like to cast any votes for bracket winners, you can leave a comment any time before 12PM CT the Tuesday before, otherwise players will advance based on my (remember, arbitrary!) opinion. Change in rules! Battles will be held and winners revealed every weekday at 5PM CT until Friday, April 6! Vote in comments or via email.

So spread the word! Lobby for your favorite character! And may the odds be ever in their favor!

*What-whaaat basketball terminology!!
**I am killing it with this basketball lingo!

1. Harry Potter, The Harry Potter Series
2. Lyra Silvertongue, His Dark Materials Trilogy
3. Cassel Sharp, The Curse Workers Trilogy
4. Katsa, Graceling
5. Edward Cullen, The Twilight Series
6. Sean Kendrick, The Scorpio Races
7. Karou, Daughter of Smoke and Bone
8. Clary Fray, The Mortal Instruments Series

1. Alaska Young, Looking for Alaska
2. Melinda Sordino, Speak
3. Cameron Smith, Going Bovine
4. Anna, Anna and the French Kiss
5. Kristina/Bree, Crank
6. Hazel, The Fault in Our Stars
7. Stanley Yelnats, Holes
8. Cullen Witter, Where Things Come Back

1. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games Trilogy
2. Tris Prior, The Divergent Trilogy
3. Nailer Lopez, Ship Breaker
4. Tally Youngblood, The Uglies Trilogy
5. Deryn Sharp, The Leviathan Series
6. Thomas, The Maze Runner Series
7. Jonas, The Giver
8. Lucy Pevensie, The Chronicles of Narnia

Historical Fiction
1. Octavian Nothing, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing
2. Lina, Between Shades of Gray
3. Gemma Doyle, The Gemma Doyle Series
4. Liesel Meminger, The Book Thief
5. Há, Inside Out and Back Again
6. Catherine, Catherine Called Birdy
7. Tessa Gray, The Infernal Devices
8. Joey, War Horse


Monday, March 12, 2012

Writing Spaces: Ahead of His Time

First of all, what is with the weather? 70 degrees and sunny in Chicago? Is it June?! This is a city that, last May, my flight back to New York was cancelled because of several inches of snow and freezing rain. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, CHICAGO!

Okay, rant over.

Today's Writing Space comes via special request from the husband. My love for my standing desk being well-documented, he suggested that I do a writing space for Victor Hugo, the original standing-desk enthusiast. So here it is!

Hugo wrote all his novels standing up at his desk, which makes tomes like Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame even more impressive.

Photo via
I've never read Les Mis, but the husband has made it through at least twice. Which is pretty surprising, considering his "pleasure reading" is dense academic articles (although maybe not that surprising considering Hugo's writing...).

Here's one of the husband's favorite parts in the book, when the bishop forgives Valjean and Valjean must accept what it means to be forgiven:

He set himself stubbornly in opposition to the angelic deeds and the gentle words of the old man, "you have promised me to become an honest man. I am purchasing your soul, I withdraw it from the spirit of perversity and I give it to God Almighty." This came back to him incessantly. To this celestial tenderness, he opposed pride, which is the fortress of evil in man. He felt dimly that the pardon of the priest was the hardest assault, and the most formidable attack which he had yet sustained; that the hardness of heart would be complete, if it resisted this kindness; that if he yielded, he must renounce that hatred with which he found satisfaction; that, this time, he must conquer or be conquered, and that the struggle, a gigantic and decisive struggle, had begun between his own wickedness, and the goodness of man. - Les Miserables, 1862

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wrap Up: Cadbury Creme Egg Edition

I want to blow up this picture and hang it in my house
Oh man, Cadbury Creme Eggs... I know, I know, you're probably one of the millions of creme egg detractors, aren't you? The ones who say they're too sweet and sugary or who are still mad that they've shrunk over the years? But for me, there is nothing like heaven in a creme egg, and I simply can't wait for that blissful stretch of time when they're available in stores (every year I try to save some in my freezer to get me through the 9-month creme egg desert, every year I get maybe a month out before they're all eaten).

After a long week, I'm looking forward to kicking back with some creme eggs and enjoying the (one hour shorter!) weekend. But before I head off into my sugar-induced coma, here are this week's top blog posts:

Peter Brantley at PW talks about the e-book price hike at Random House and the impact it could have on libraries and communities

As the hype for Bitterblue grows, I loved seeing Kristin Cashore's photo of all the different versions of the manuscripts

Rachelle Gardner continues her look at authors and social media. This week? Photo-quote-thoughtboard site Pintrest

Amanda Hannah at YA Highway discusses diversity in writing, why authors shy away from diversity and why it's important for readers. And Amy Lukavics leads a discussion in how critical reading impacts writing.

Writer's Block! Veronica Roth tackles the beast

Mary Kole covers character details: the ones that matter and the ones that don't

Over at QueryTracker, Jane Lebak discusses how to develop an ear for your character's voice and language

Will self-pup be the next Internet bubble? Nathan Bransford gives a resounding no.

Via Finding Wonderful, Indiana authors are banding together to raise funds and collect books to help libraries and schools in Henryville, IN after tornadoes devastated the town

Vickie Motter breaks down why it's so important to have three-dimensional characters, especially when pitching your story in a query or synopsis

Elle Strauss of The Indelibles proclaims her love for stand-alone books and asks why trilogies can't still have endings

Happy Friday everyone, have a great weekend and don't forget to set your clocks back!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

That Flash of Inspiration

Actual image of my desktop.
Actual blank page that I'm not writing on.

My husband is a grad student in economics, and despite how different our worlds tend to be, there’s occasionally a funny overlap. Right now he’s working on the topic for his research paper, which could turn into his dissertation which could turn into his job market paper which could turn into the reason he gets hired when he graduates. But it all comes down to how good the idea is.

It’s not uncommon for him to pad around in socks in our apartment, head bent, a frown on his face, puzzling ‘til his puzzler is sore.

“I just need a good idea!” he says, and I laugh. I’m “between books” right now, aka wasting my days on Wikipedia trying to find what next to write about.

“Tell me about it,” I say.

Last night, I heard his footsteps race up the stairs outside. He burst through the door, tossed his backpack to the ground, and gave me a kiss, all in about two seconds.

“I ran all the way here!” he said, face flushed.

I seriously wondered if he’d been mugged. But—no. He had an idea. He was so excited, he almost couldn’t even explain it to me, but he knew this was it, the idea he’d been waiting for. I couldn’t help a twinge of jealousy.

Writing is all about inspiration, and that flash—that excitement—is so important. I don’t really lack for ideas; there’s plenty I feel like I could write about. But ideas that get me so excited that I run four blocks home to start working on it? Nothin’ yet.

Probably the most frustrating thing is that there’s really not much to do about it. The point of “flashes” is that they occur when you least expect them, sitting on the bus, taking a shower (my last one came while I was making an omelet for dinner).

I think every writer is scared that the next big flash won’t come for them. There’s a lot of trust—in your own ability, in letting yourself relax, in giving your brain room to work—and writers, twitchy little loners as we are, can sometimes be not so good at trust.

Right now, I’m taking lots of deep breaths, checking out lots of books from the library, and giving myself long moments to just mindlessly sit while I wait for the big flash that will get me over the mooooon happy about my work.

What about you? When was your last big flash of inspiration? What do you do when the flashes ain't comin?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Writing Spaces: Signs of Spring

Spring is in the air, here in Chicago. Despite being warned that Chicago winters would "blow fear into [your] bones," I've found the winter here downright tame, like going up to a rottweiler expecting to get your face bitten off and instead being smothered with kisses. It's nice!

What's also kind of nice is that the warm temperatures have tricked the little flowers into thinking it's Spring, so the sidewalks outside are loaded with little snowdrops and peeking-out daffodils. It gave me happy thoughts of sunshine, flowers, and no longer having to wear my giant fuzzy neon blue robe around the house. It also inspired today's writing space: a sweet, flower-patterned, minimalist office.

How charming is this? Like writing in a field of flowers all the time! And those lovely little touches: rotary phone, vintage photo, vase full of wildflowers. All it needs is a window smack in the middle of the wall to give it a bit of sunshine.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wrap Up: Beautiful Bread Edition

Ohmygosh you guys.

Remember last week, my No-Knead Bread experiment?

I have the results:

That came from my oven!!! It was soooo amazing--a crunchy, crispy crust, the interior light as air, a heavenly smell... I couldn't believe that I had made it myself! I now see no reason to ever buy bread again, it was that amazing. Since this first loaf, I've made two others, equally as easy and delicious, and I've decided to schedule it into weekly cooking: a new loaf every Sunday and Wednesday night. This means Saturdays and Tuesdays I have to prep the dough, but since that takes all of ten minutes, it's really no biggie, and we're guaranteed fresh bread twice a week. Seriously, No-Knead Bread has changed my life. Go. Bake. Eat.

In less delicious, but as satisfying, news, here are the blog posts this week that I found especially interesting:

Rachelle Gardner explains why it's important to know your competition

Mary Kole talks about obstacles in YA, and what makes an obstacle believable or just frustrating to the reader

At BookEnds Literary, Jessica looks at book promotion, what it involves and how it can (or can't) impact sales or increase readership

YA Confidential hosts a chat with teen readers about how relationships, sex, and intimacy are portrayed in YA

Nathan Bransford asks whether publishers have a public perception problem

Over at The Indelibles, author Lisa Nowak talks about writing YA boy books, the difficulty they face, and how to promote YA to boy readers. She's also putting together a promotional group for YA boy books and asks any writers, teachers, or librarians interested to contact her

Publishers Weekly takes a closer look at famous book titles and their poetic origins

Janet Reid is looking for the next great debut author in the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Writing Contest. If you're an unpublished author with a full-length novel, you can enter to win a basket of great prizes, including entry to the Backspace Writing Conference and lunch with Liz Norris's agent.

Agent Joana Volpe talks about the changing role of the literary agent, why agents still matter, and how they can best serve their clients