Blueberry distractions and Boom Chika Contests!

Surprise!
I’m alive.
And I’m back.

Life called.
Love beckoned.
Distraction thrashed around.
Blueberry puddings filled in my stomach.

But oohtralalala…blogosphere, I’m not gonna be M.I.A for much longer.

So with a quick update:
I’m reading: Jackson Pearce’s As You Wish. (Thanks to Nomes and her freaking lovely lil contests). Urban fantasy is so saturated right now, I’ve been passing up most of the books from that genre for the past year. But I was so pleasantly surprised with this one. The writing flows effortlessly and there’s this aura of mysticism where the fantasty world (in this case, Caliban) is concerned. I’m liking it so far. Which is an essentially good thing since the lack of likable books prior to this (recently) was a contributing factor to my blog drought.

I’m writing: What Was Mine is being reincarnated. I think. For the past few weeks I’ve been in a slump and haven’t produces a word, and especially now when I’m so close to getting it done, the WiP drought killed me. Almost. And the reincarnation? Well, I like where it’s going.

Around blogosphere:
— Sarah Woodard shares Five Things She Would Love To See In YA. And she’s speaking my mind.
— Also, where Banned Books Week is concerned, Malindo Lo shares her thoughts, while Ravenous Reader shares an Ellen Hopkins poem and gives away signed copies of her book.
— Still on contests, Karla Nellenbach talks about Five YA books that Inspire her to be a Better Writer, thrown in with a contest to win one of them. Boom boom chika chika!
It’s hard to compile a list but because I have my eyes on one of them, here’s my choice:
> Jenny Downham’s Before I Die
> Angela Morrison’s Taken By Storm
> Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry For Celia/ the Year of Secret Assignments
> Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere
> Anne Cassidy’s Missing Judy

I think it’s the ‘Better Writer’ tag that counts here, my fave list could stretch on forever 🙂

Meanwhile, what have you been reading/writing all this while?


LAUREN MECHLING HIJACKS BLOG! (+ Gateway To Fame Contest)

Hello book (blog) lover!

Lauren Mechling, author of the Dream Girl books, here. I have hijacked Bee’s blog in order to convey some Very Important Information.

 
You might not know it by looks alone (no pink hair, no metal bar through my septum), but I’ve become a total hacker worthy of her own “Dragon Tattoo” installment. And I’m not just talking about how I’ve cracked the code and broken onto Dreamcatcher’s Lair. My new book MY DARKLYNG, which I co-wrote with Laura Moser (my hilarious co-author on the “10th Grade Social Climber” books), is a YA thriller chockablock with multimedia awesomeness that will be appearing in serialized form on the awesome website Slate.com. The first installment runs today, and there will be more excitement every Friday for the rest of the summer. Also: it’s free!

 


Slate is calling MY DARKLYNG its “juicy summer read for vampire lovers (and haters!).” It’s about a normal 10th grade girl named Natalie Pollock whose own fiction addiction gets her into major trouble. She’s been reading Fiona St. Claire’s yummy “Dark Shadows” book series since middle school and when she sees a post on Fiona’s blog about an open casting call for the model for the next book’s cover, well, she can’t resist. What she had thought was just a random field trip turns into a dark and terrible new-best-friendship, scarier and more thrilling than any of Fiona St. Claire’s vampire novels.

 MY DARKLYNG is different from anything you’ve ever read before–it’s a first-of-its-kind story told in simultaneous platforms. Huh? you ask. Okay, so here’s the deal: While you are perfectly free to follow the MY DARKLYNG chapters on Slate and leave it at that, we have been milking the magic world of the Internet for all its worth. Why limit a story to mere words? What about pictures and videos and weird Tweets and scary Facebook wall posts that bring texture to the story and bring the characters to life? With that in mind, we found real (and really awesome) teenagers to play our characters. Here’s a picture:



Pretty, right? Expect to get to know these faces really well over the course of this book.

Without further ado, this is the Slate page that will host the chapters. 
Here is Natalie’s Facebook page–well worth “liking” so you can follow when weird things start happening on it.

Natalie’s Twitter page is here.
Fiona’s (the vampire writer) Twitter page is here.
Natalie’s best friend Jenna tweets here.
James (the vampire model) tweets here.
And Fiona’s loving sister Tilly uses this Twitter page.

Natalie and Jenna post Youtube videos here. Here’s a sample video that shows them getting ready for the audition that will change their lives.




Now YOU can help make our great experiment in Internet fiction even more amazing. There is an upcoming scene that has a missing detail. We need to come up with something that Natalie and her best friend Jenna got in trouble for doing at a slumber party. Please write in your suggestions in the comments section. The winner will be chosen in a week and featured in MY DARKLYNG–if your answer is selected, it’ll be like the story is actually winking at you from the screen.

I know this is all a bit much to wrap your head around. Sorry for any confusion–just read the first installment and take it from there. Please please post comments or send us emails telling us how you’re finding the series. We can be reached by my website.

And if you find yourself feeling afraid, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

your humble hacker,
Lauren Mechling

WHAT. FRESH. NEWS. IS. IN.

Contests. Yes! What better than some free books and swag?
In celebration of reaching 150 followers (CONGRATS!), Lydia is offering a B&N gift card, Starbucks gift card, as well as Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light. Rush HERE.
Kathy Brady is showering her followers with love! Up for grabs are Amazon Gift Cards for first, second and third prizes. How awesome is that? BAG IT!
Also, my amazing twinsie, Rachel is holding a “Massive Giveaway”, which, quite honestly, if you miss, you”ll be doomed. And you don’t wanna be doomed, do you? I don’t want you to be doomed either, since a lot of this blog is about spreading the cheer..so you might as well Head THERE.
And, bestie Tahereh has quite literally a contest that will IMPLODE YOU BRAIN (a follow-up of the Contest That Cracked the Earth into Two). I can’t even begin to list all the jazz that’s up for your taking. Join in and even if you don’t win, you’ll win a bucketful of Tahereh’s love for lifetime. Yeah, Go AHEAD.
Kathleen Ortiz has YA/MG books and ARCs, bookstore gift card, query critique, synopsis critique, first chapter critique or an extra book. (I’d go for the bookstore gift card. Or the first chapter critique. Or the extra book. Or..oh, I dunno, they are all so tempting!). Aren’t you tempted enough? Head OVER.
Since my comp’s still out and I’m-typing-this-out-at-the-British-Council-Library, you can guess why I have been sorta M.I.A for a while. I’ll be back. Promise. Though for how long, considering that the exam cloud is hanging over my head, is doubtful. But I’ll be back, ‘cos I so love you all and I can’t stay away from you for long.
For now, here’s to free books!

What You Can’t (rather MUST NOT) Miss

Something along the following lines happened yesterday afternoon:

Brother smelled smoke. I saw smoke tendrils blanketing the balcony. Rushed to find a bucket, a stool and a chair reduced to a heap of ashes on the ground. No wire or fire-instigating tool in sight. No crazy people around our neighbourhood who’d throw anything inflammable into our balcony. Nobody in our house as so much as loves playing with fire. No sworn enemy wanting to take revenge aka Bond-style. Creepy. Very, very creepy.

We still have no clue as to how or why the fire started in the first place. This morning we did some cleaning up, and even after after vigorous washing and scrubbing this is how it looks
Our poor balcony at the back the house, which used to be my fave writing hideout as a kid, is damaged. RIP.
Then, the other day at the supermarket, somebody left this filled trolley in the middle of the slope-y aisle and bam! it crashed into me and injured the middle finger of my right hand *grumble, grumble, stupid trolley, stupid trolley owner* While I can still write, it hurts and it’s been a frustrating two days. Grrr..
Ah, well.
On to better things now. The reasons for this post being written. The What-You-Can’t-(rather-MUST-NOT)-Miss reason(s). Oh yes, it’s time for contest updates!
–> Check out Punk Writer Kid Emilia’s BOOM DE YA DA contest featuring an epic I-love-Publishing video and a copy of Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are.
–> Head over to back-from-hiatus fellow YA writer BECCA’S contest of Artistic Proportions. Honestly, this kinda contest happens once in a while!
–>Drop by badass book reviewer CHOCO’S 600 Follower Giveaway to win Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Julia Hoban’s Willow.
Look, if you’re still wondering which to enter, I’ll say you’re being stupid deciding. They are all international and all supremely amazing, so take the chance and shoot off entries for all three!

Winner of Writing Journal

In case you’re wondering, no I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I’ve been lazy (or busy -hey, it’s all about how you put it) what with writing, reading, upcoming exams, incessant power cuts (it’s happening *wails*) and life in general, but I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN.
So, yes, I have a WINNER.
I bet you’re happy now. *makes I-told-you-so face here*
In all honesty, those were some great entries. Heck, who wouldn’t want a writing journal -one where you can scribble all those little too-dark thoughts you wouldn’t want the outside-journal world to know? You want it and I want it too (really unfortunate I couldn’t enter, because if I did I’d win, wouldn’t I? Ah, well, you guessed it *whines*)
Lauren Bjorkman, proud writer of My Invented Life and proud designer of the MIL Writing Journal, did the honours. Somewhat like this:

I wrote down one word to summarize each lovely entry, and then had my son look at them all, close his eyes, and touch one with the tip of his pencil. He chose “love” which I had written down for mfhed@yahoo.com ‘s entry. She is the winner!

So, yes, now you can shake that sparkling champagne and wait for Lauren to email you 😀
If you didn’t win, don’t lose heart. As long as Dreamcatcher’s Lair is here and you’re a part of it, you know there will be more contests coming this way (this one’s the 3rd, btw).
 
I heart you all!

CONTEST OF THE CENTURY

…THAT CRACKED THE EARTH IN TWO!

Bestie Tahereh (arguably the coolest blogger in blogosphere) is holding a contest of EPIC PROPORTIONS. Oh yes, you heard that right! This one will blow the top off your head.
You ask why?
Well, firstly, you get a $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD *punches air*
Or, TWO YA BOOKS OF YOUR CHOICE + Surprise
Or, ONE YA BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE + Surprise
Or, if you impress her enough, an HONORARY MENTION (with a SURPRISE)

Of course, you have to work for it (I mean, get creative). Go, look for the details and join!

        CONTEST SUPREMO

GO, GO, LET THE CREATIVE JUICES FLOW!

Interview with Lauren Bjorkman + A Writerly Contest

I have a super-fun guest with me today – LAUREN BJORKMAN
Lauren and I met on Facebook -she liked my status messages and I liked her book- and she’s is so much fun to talk to! Get a glimpse of her awesomeness as she talks about her debut book, people watching, agents, fictional crushes and much more.
Your book is about..
My Invented Life is a comedy of errors with mistaken identities, ambiguous sexuality, skate Gods, stage geeks and true love. It’s about two sisters who adore and sabotage each other in ways that only sisters can. It’s also a romp through the theater geek crowd and a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
What about you?
I grew up on a boat and sailed all over the world with my family. When I became an adult (more or less), I kept on traveling by less watery means. Because I’m afraid of the ocean. Doing things outdoors in cities and in nature makes me happy. I love people watching.
What sparked the idea for My Invented Life
It took me some time to figure out what to write. First, I tried travel stories with a humorous twist. Think Pico Iyer or Tim Cahill. Later, I wrote a novel set in a middle school based on my personal experiences of re-entering American life after living overseas. Which gave me a taste for writing fiction. I found out that semi-autobiography, though, hampers my creativity.
Events around my high school reunion inspired me include LGBT characters in my novel. The drama of coming out to one’s classmates, even years later, intrigued me. I had to write about it!
After I finished My Invented Life, I suddenly had an insight into why the subject called to me. During my childhood and teen-aged years, my dad had asked me to keep a family secret, a secret about how my mom died. Which made me feel like an outcast—someone who is socially unacceptable. I could identify with teens that kept their sexual orientation a secret.
Also, during the writing process, I told many of my friends and acquaintances about my project. In return, many shared their secrets with me. Some were actually bi, or had a lesbian phase in college, or had a crush on another woman once or twice. This made me want to write about the in-between sexual orientations, and greatly influenced the direction my story took.
How much of yourself do you see in your characters?
I based Roz very loosely on a young woman I noticed while people watching. She gave me the idea for an energetic, slightly clueless, center-of-attention-craving character. While I’m kind of quiet and careful with other people’s feelings. Except for being the annoying little sister! Of course, I share some things with all my characters—a sense of humor, and a way of looking at the world.
I think the cover’s pretty cool. Did your input go into it?
My editor asked me for ideas, so I showed her covers I liked, and we brain stormed concepts. In the end, an in-house designer at Holt came up with the cover, though. Luckily, I like it. One blogger commented that it looks like a photo of two friends in a booth at a fair. I agree.
How did you bag your agent?
First, I researched how to query an agent, and then sent five letters to start. One agent bit, and requested a full manuscript. After reading my novel, he passed, but gave me excellent editorial feedback. I wrote him back, and he agreed to look at it again if I revised. These revisions took me almost a year! When he turned me down a second time, it broke my heart. After I recovered, I started on another project. My instructor at a novel writing workshop liked the piece I’d submitted, and referred me to his agent. The rest is history.
Give us a glimpse into the glamorous life of a published author.
LOL! I won’t be buying a mansion or hiring a driver any time soon. Actually, though, there are some glamorous parts. Like getting fan mail. And the fact that my dad keeps telling me how proud he is. I don’t mind being on the radio and in the newspaper J. And when a fan sent me a My Invented Life book trailer he’d made, I had a heart attack (the good kind). What an amazing gift.
Outline or wing it?
Outlining ruins the experience for me and wrecks my imagination. I do character sketches and loose plotting in advance, so that I have an idea where the story is going. During the first draft stage, I jot down ideas that come to me—scenes or bits of dialog—on scraps of paper or at the end of the mss if I’m on the computer. I refer to these if I get stuck. I also use them while revising.
This method means writing scenes that get cut later, or extra characters that have to be telescoped into a single character. It also requires a ton of revision. I spend about a quarter of my time writing the first draft, and the rest revising.
Sagely advice for writers..
Write what you care about. If you choose your subject with only publication in mind, your heart won’t be in it.
Have fun with revision—add in interesting character traits, spice up your dialog, add atmosphere to your scenes, and sneak in extra jokes. Revision isn’t all about commas and grammar.
And if you truly love writing, never stop!
Okay, 5 random things about yourself in the next 5 seconds.
I prefer cheap and fun jewelry. I worry about losing expensive things.
I collect nesting dolls. My favorite is a Japanese Daruma
I love popcorn, but my husband doesn’t like how it makes the house smell.
I hate lumps in my food.
I prefer to go around barefoot.
What can we expect from you next?
My next YA novel, Miss Fortune Cookie, is set in SF Chinatown. It’s about an unstable friendship triangle, love-at-first sight, teen pregnancy, and an advice blog gone awry. It will come out in 2011.
Finally, if you could date any fictional character, who would it be and why?
My first literary crushes were on Finny in A Separate Peace and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. Recently, I’ve fallen for Zack in Waiting to Score, Sammy in Struts and Frets, and Peeta in The Hunger Games. I go for the sensitive, usually talkative, and slightly geeky guys. Vampire boyfriends are out of the question! I enjoy life too much.
Oh man, you had me in splits. Thank you so much for being here, Lauren 🙂
Thanks for having me, Bidisha!
Now, for the Writerly Contest. Actually, anyone, anywhere can join in provided you can write (or, erm, well, lets pretend that you can). Lauren’s giving away a writing journal WITH a My Invented Life book jacket as its cover. How cool is that?
Like I said, anyone, anywhere is eligible to enter. All you have to do is tell me why you want the writing journal in the comments section below (and leave an email link alongside). Go on!
And more importantly, My Invented Life is in stores now!
CONTEST CLOSED