Friday, December 5, 2008

Blog Roll Part 2

Since I've received positive feedback from my Thanksgiving post, I thought I would do a part 2! This time, I'm going to include review sites/blogs and important writer sites. If you have any other great links that I haven't posted, please post them in the comments section! I'm always looking for great blogs/sites to read.

Book Review sites:
  • Big A little a- Great blog for children's lit. If you're looking for interviews, reviews and even a link to Poetry Fridays, this is the blog for you. Currently, there is a great interview with literary great, Judy Blume.
  • Readers' Rants- If you're looking for a blog that reviews children's/middle grade/YA books, look no further. New reviews are posted almost daily.
  • Teen Tuesday- This blog has several members who participate. Each Tuesday, the members post reviews, their TBR pile and what books they're looking forward to. Great blog to just see what's out there in the world of teen books.
  • Readspace- The link posted is for the Teen Lit section, but they review/discuss book in Children's/Teen/Adult Lit and Fiction. Their tagline is 'We read books, and then tell you about them!" That's the site in a nutshell.
  • The Compulsive Reader- Love this review blog. Reviews, contests to win free books and links to book trailers. I've discovered a lot of great books from pursuing.
  • The Story Siren- Great review site that also includes interviews. I really like that the reviews are starred so that I can get a quick idea of if the review will be positive.
  • Want My YA- This review blog is only a few months old, but shows great promise. I went through and read all the reviews the other day and loved the insight. I really enjoy the Tuesday posts with what books catch her eye.
Writing Sites:
  • AgentQuery- I had to start with this one. If you're a writer looking for an agent, this site is a must! Make sure to do your research when searching for an agent that is right for you.
  • Wikipedia- I know this isn't necessarily a writing site, but I thought I would include it. If you need a quick answer, this is for you. Just make sure you varify the research done here because anyone can edit/post information.
  • NaNoWrimo- Most of you know NaNoWrimo and participate during November. If you've never checked it out, it's a must. The forums are great, as well as the podcasts.
  • SSA Popular baby names- Looking for a site to help with naming your characters? This is great because it lists the top baby names by year run by the US Social Security Department.
  • Writers BBS Forums- A great set of forums for writers.
  • Novel in 90- Great community to kick you in the butt. Once the 90 days are over, they start again. The goal is to write 750 words a day (about 3 pages), every day for 90. In the end, if following the "rules" you will end up with a 67,500 page manuscript. Post your word count each day, or a quote of inspiration.
  • Sunday Scribblings- Each week (on Saturday), a new writing prompt is posted. Create a piece of writing (short story, flash fiction, etc) based on the writing prompt. Just post your story on your own blog and use their permalink system to share it. Organized and awesome!
  • Write or Die- I wasn't sure about this at first, but used it in the last days of our 1k-a-day challenage. I LOVE this site. As long as you continuously write (you can set your word count goal and time), there is no penalty. Stop and watch out! Annoying songs, sounds, colors and on the most butual mode, words deleted are what you have to look forward to. If you can't focus and write for a certain period of time, this is the site for you. Just make sure to copy and paste your writing before clicking that you're done, just in case. Talk about a serious kick in the butt!
  • The Zokutou Word Meter- looking for a word meter for your site/blog to keep track of your word count? This is a great word meter that is easy to update. It even has several different options in look.
Misc. Sites:
  • Literature Map- This is just plain fun. Enter an author's name and it will map out authors who write similar books. The closer the names are to your original author, the more alike their work is. I believe there is also a music section.
  • PaperBackSwap- Have a bunch of books lying around you'll never read again? This is your solution. I've been a member for over 3 years and have saved over $450 (they keep track based on the average price of a used book). Fast and easy. I can't say enough about this site. If you have any questions about it, just post your question in the comments section or email me at our address.
Don't forget! Have a blog/site you'd like to share? Post it in the comments section!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And I'm back...

Hi everyone, remember me? Apologies for disappearing for all of November, but I was knee deep in kids (21 of them!) and they took all my time. Actually, they're still taking all my time until Dec. 20th, but I figured I could go with a few hours less of sleep to do my crit and blog duties :)

Today I wanted to talk about something that I do every year around this time: I start thinking about what my writing challenge for next year is going to be. Every year, I set a challenge for myself, for the entire year. This year my challenge was to create an entire fantasy world, which I kind of put off until the last minute, I must admit, but now I am 20K into my new paranormal series project and having the time of my life with world-building. Last year, it was to write a decent sex scene (which I did, but I am totally never showing anyone). 

I try to challenge myself with writing stuff that I either a) think I need to improve b) others think I need to improve or c) things/subjects/character types/genres I haven't written in awhile. 

After I choose my challenge for the year, I write it down (generally in glitter glue, because who doesn't love glitter glue?) and tack it to my cork board, where it looms above me constantly, whispering: "Tess, remember this challenge you gave yourself? You can't escape me. WORK ON IT OR THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY!"

Let me tell you, it's a motivator. By challenging myself each year with something big, I know that I will be improving my writing throughout the year, I have something to focus on when I'm between books or having trouble with whatever project I'm on. The challenge not only helps me grow as a writer in different ways EACH year, but it also kicks my butt into action when Lazy!Tess takes over. 

So my challenge to myself for 2009 is this: I am going to work on my settings and description and work harder at making the character's world come to life for the reader. I am told over and over again that my dialogue and characters are good, but my setting needs work, so 2009 is the year for creating realistic, fabulous settings, even if it kills me :D 

What about you? Do you challenge yourself?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And the Winners Are...

For week 4... ChickLitGurrl! Congrats! Don't forget to email us the book you'd like from the list below! You are amazing in all that you do. Between your writing, editing and!

The Big Question 3 winner is...HeatherMarie
Congrats! Loved the story. Even though it didn't end the way you probably wanted, at least the kiss was with a crush. Please email us with the book of your choice, plus your name and address!

Thanks to everyone who participated in 1k-a-day and the Big Questions in November. We had a blast and will be doing it again soon!

Here are the books to choose from girls:

ttyl by Lauren Myracle
Valiant by Holly Black (book 2)
Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book 1)
Platinum by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book 2)
When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot (book 1 in the 1-800 series)
Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot (book 2 in the Heather Wells series)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Monday, December 1, 2008

Big Question 3...The Final Question of November.

Okay everyone! Here is your last chance for the month of November to win one of those great Young Adult books (unless you're week 4's word count winner). All you have to do is answer the big question of the weekend. Please post your answers in the comments section of this blog entry by today(Monday), 6pm PDT. We will be picking our favorite answer! Good luck!

We want to hear about your first kiss! Where were you when it happened and who was it with?

Basically we're looking for some awesome stuff. Be specific!

Just to get your mind flowing, here's a list of available books the winner can choose from!

ttyl by Lauren Myracle
Valiant by Holly Black (book 2)
Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book 1)
Platinum by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (book 2)
When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot (book 1 in the 1-800 series)
Size 14 is Not Fat Either by Meg Cabot (book 2 in the Heather Wells series)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech
Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Sunday, November 30, 2008

When The Stories Are Not Your Own

After surviving our 1k-a-Day challenge, I realized how difficult it was to consistently write each and every day – no matter what life threw at me. Frankly, I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped….I know I’d have one hell of a time if I ever entered Nano. I’m not an uber fast writer.

Early into our challenge I found out that a journalist friend of mine, Tracy Wasylow (I know – another Tracy – I personally have a ton of "Tracys" in my world), had left her position at our small town paper to pursue other non-writerly employment. Knowing Tracy also had a WIP tucked away somewhere, which she was keen to dig into, I wondered how her adjustment from writing for a paper to writing fiction would unfold.

She kindly offered to share her thoughts with us here at YAedge.


Ever since I was little, I've been making up stories.

It wasn't until I stumbled into journalism in college I figured out there were ways other than being a novelist to write for a living (and you will find the majority of journalists are in fact writing novels - they became journalists to pay the bills).

For the past eight years I've put everything I had into becoming a part of a community and writing about the lives and events that mattered to those people.

It's a tiring job. You're never off. Not while you're in the area you write about.

People flag you down in stores to tell you what they did and didn't like in the articles you wrote. They suggest how you could make things better. They give you names of people they think are interesting and should be written about. They want to hear the latest gossip, and have a hard time differentiating between what is just gossip and what is real.

When you write for a newspaper for a living, you are accountable to every single person who reads your words. If there is a spelling mistake, a grammatical mistake or, worst of all, a mistake in someone's name, they have no problem calling you up (in some cases at home) and giving you a piece of the collective community mind on some perceived error.

As a journalist, it's easy to forget what time it is, what day it is, and yes, even sometimes what year it is.

In community newspapers that only come out once a week, you're constantly working a week in advance. You are on deadline every single day. There are no room for errors and absolutely no excuses for sloppy work.

There are pieces that need hours of research, interviews and rewrites.

In community journalism, you don't get that kind of time. Unless it's a feature piece. If it's a breaking news story, you have less than no time and it will never be long enough, clean enough, fast enough.

This is why you'll find most journalists are also speed readers. We have to be. But after awhile, it leaks into our personal lives.

There was a point the joy I used to get from reading a book was leached out of the process because I was far too busy just trying to get through it.

Now, after stepping back from journalism, I find myself slowing down. I know what the date is. I don't have a deadline for the things I'm writing. And I can make mistakes because I'm now accountable to the only one person in the audience - me.

-- Tracy Wasylow

Big question 3 time extended

Due to the holiday weekend and slow internet traffic, we are extending the Big Question until tomorrow, Monday, December 1st. Please get your answers in by 6pm PDT.

Here is the link where you can post your answers to the big question!

Good luck everyone!

1k-a-Day: Day 30

Well, my friends, it is the final day of our 1k-a-day challenge. This has been such a cool experience. I want to thank everyone for hanging with us and hope we'll see you again in a few months when we hold our next 1k-a-Day.

Tracy's Day 29 WC: 1074
Tracy's overall WC: 23, 306

Mindset: Drained and really winding myself up to get in my 1k today...I feel a bit whimpy saying that, considering we have writers who wiped their noses with my overall word count weeks ago. But life is thundering on, there's a ton of Christmas baking to start and a neglected house to clean. Tomorrow. Today I write.

Tracy's Day 30 WC: 1083
FINAL 1k-a-day challenge TOTAL: 24, 389
Congrats and thanks to everyone who participated!
How'd you do, Tami?

Thanks for starting the post today, Tracy! Love the banner you made! Anyone who participated, feel free to post it on your site/blog, etc. I, too want to thank everyone for participating not only in the 1k-a-day challenge, but the Big Questions. I had a blast this month even though I didn't do as much as I would have liked. It pushed me to write more than I would have, with the holidays upon us. We hope to do this again in the future (hopefully a few times a year) and hope that you join us again. Next time we won't have NaNoWrimo to push us, but that's why it's called a challenge, right?

My main goal this month was to push through the tough parts of Lost and Found. Though I'm still there, I've resolved problems that I might not have without 1k-a-day. I hope you all were able to accomplish what you set out to do. Congrats to all of our winners. Congrats to anyone who sat down to even write just 1,000 words. You're all winners in my book.

Don't forget that the Big Question #3 will end today at 6pm PDT. We will be announcing the winner tonight!

To all winners in the past, your books went out to you yesterday. Please let us know when you received them. Enjoy!

Tami's Day 30 WC: will update later with my final 1k-a-day total
Tami's overall WC for 1k-a-day: I need to add it up again. somewhere in the 14,000s
Tami's total WC: 39,431