Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review - The DUFF by Kody Keplinger


I'm not usually one for contemporary YA, I lean more paranormal. Here's why: contemporary YA never gets it right. I can really enjoy paranormal YA because it doesn't matter if it's totally right, because dude, vampires aren't real anyway. When you're trying to reflect REALITY, it has to ring true, and I hadn't found a contemporary YA that did.

Note the word hadn't.

The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger, is incredible. Here's the thing. I'm a grown up. I went to high school kind of a long time ago. But when I read The DUFF, it was like I was Right. Back. There. When Bianca runs out to her car after school, I don't picture her running out to her Saturn. I picture myself and my friends piling into my '77 Dodge Dart Supersport. I am *transported* back to my own 17 year old self, and it's an amazing feeling.

I know Wesley. I swear to god. When Bianca hooks up with him, as I eagerly devour the words on the page my mind is filled with memories of myself bumping into him in an elevator at the Best Western of all freaking places, and, well...if you'd like to know more, Aerosmith wrote a whole song about it.

In The DUFF, 17 year old Bianca Piper is going through a lot of turmoil. Family, boys, everything. To silence the deafening roar, she turns to the person she hates most, Wesley Rush, total male slut. You know the type, don't you? Certainly you do. There's one at every school. But it turns out, Wesley isn't everything Bianca supposes him to be. Is he really just good for a 'no care, no strings' mental escape, or will she get in too deep?

Ahhhh. I absolutely love this book.

It's not officially supposed to be out until September 7th, but there are apparently copies "in the wild" which is how I came across mine. I'd had some very brief interaction with Kody on Absolute Write, and she was so super sweet and encouraging that I wanted to get her book, to be supportive, even though I didn't really like contemporary YA.

If I can find more contemporary YA like this, consider my opinion changed.

Buy this book. Really. And let me know what you think!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Hundred Word Exercises

Yes, I have entered another flash fiction writing contest. I. Love. Prompts.

I know it takes a good 30 minutes or so that I really don't have to do these things, but their purpose is two-fold.

One: It's fun. I love crafting something that uses specific words within a limited constraint. In this case, five distinct words had to be worked into a story of 100 words or less. It's challenging, and I really like to do it.

Two: It reminds me, that in my longer format novels, every word matters. Once I've revised for the fourth or fifth time, what I'd really like to do is burrow into the book in 100 word chunks. Have I done each chunk justice? Are there extra words I don't need? Is there a better way to say something? If I have a 25 word description, would it be clearer and more vibrant written another way, using 20 words?

I don't want to rip the heart of the book out or anything, but honestly, when I'm at 103 words in one of these writing contests and I have to trim it to 100 or less, it's not about finding 3 words I can delete. It's about looking at those 103 words as a whole and figuring out how to say what I want to say just as well or better using 3 fewer words.

And truthfully, it usually improves the passage to find a way to be more brief.

I don't really want my word count to change much in my 45,000 word middle grade novel, but if I was at 40,000 words and it was way better, then I'm not going to complain.

I recently reworked the opening to eliminate a confusing description of a bridge and I found a couple of tense inconsistencies (Egads! They're still hiding in there? I think I finally got them all.) I've got a full and a 50 page partial out there. Oh, and a partial from, like, April. I don't even consider that one active anymore, but maybe it is?

Both the agent with the full and the one with the partial are agents I would LOVE to have, so we'll see. My book doesn't make anyone cry. When I wrote it, I was specifically going for "something fun to read." It doesn't seem like "something fun" is really big right now. There is some thought provoking middle grade out there that I absolutely adore, but when it comes to my MG, mostly I just like to laugh and be amused. Think early Gordon Korman. That's what I was going for. Is there a market for that right now? I hope so!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congratulations, Both Belated and Current

Hello there!

Several of my bloggy/twitter friends have won great things, accomplished something huge, or made great leaps forward. I'd like to take a moment to recognize them!

Tina Lynn at Sweet Niblets: Entered the query wars!! I'm so excited for her and proud that she's reaching this thrilling (and hugely nerve-wracking) point in her writing career!

Melissa at Chasing the Dream: Finished her manuscript! It's a great story, and I can't wait to see it in print someday!

Julie Cross at Diary of an Unpublished Wanna Be Writer: Received representation from Suzie Townsend at FinePrint Lit and sold a three book deal (Tempest series) to Brendan Deneen at St. Martin's Press. Great job!!

Roni Griffin at Fiction Groupie: Won first place in NTRWA's Great Expectations contest AND first place in Passionate Ink's Stroke of Midnight contest. I see great things for you now, and in the future!

Sierra Godfrey at Sierra Godfrey on blogspot: Won second place in Roni and Julie's epic summer contest. She gets to choose from fabulous prizes like critiques from assistants and agents at a great literary agency or a critique by an editor, or BOOKS!! Decisions, decisions. What a nice win for her!

I've had a hard time staying current on all the news, there's just so much to do, especially during the summer when there's no preschool! If I've missed something great that's occurred in your life, let me know!