Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Week 21

Last week, the lovely and talented Mindy McGinnis posted her Next Big Writing Project on her blog, Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. Mindy's debut novel, Not a Drop to Drink, is scheduled to release in the fall of 2013. It promises to be an amazing tale--trust me, on this, as I've critiqued Mindy's work in the past and she's a phenomenal writer.

This week, I get to share a few writers whom I've had the pleasure to work with over the past few years. Each of the writers have extraordinary talents, and I won't be surprised if their names grace book covers in the near future. In fact, a few of them have already published short stories in the YA arena and one has published several YA novels. Their Next Big Things will be posted on October 31st.

But first, a few words about mine.

1- What is the working title of your book? Bryn

2- Where did the idea come from for the book? I have a background in psychology and am fascinated by the inner workings of the mind. While teaching my preschool class, I noted that some of my kids were nose pickers, some tippy-toe walkers and others compulsive liars. It made me wonder just how much of our behavior is set in stone and how much of it is molded by our life experiences. More importantly, what is our responsibility in knowing the genetic potential of certain traits?

3- What genre does your book fall under? It's a YA psychological thriller with a twist of steamy romance.

4- Which actor would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? To answer this question implies that I actually watch television/movies and would have a clue who the current actors and actresses are. Seriously, I haven't turned a television on in a half dozen years.

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? If you knew that certain behaviors were genetic, would you allow the scum to be born?

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'd love agency representation. Better yet, I'd love a publishing contract!

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I plan on thirty days. I'm outlining now and will start writing on November first for NaNoWriMo. Whispering Minds took twenty-six days, so maybe I can reach my goal!

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I think it would be a wonderful shelf-mate to Neil Shusterman's Unwind. They both touch on the ethical issues surrounding the sanctity of life. But if Neil won't have me, I would love to see it placed beside Sarah Darer Littman's Want to Go Private?. She's my writing crush, as I love how unafraid she is to tackle tough issues. She doesn't sugar coat the dirty and writes thought-provoking and relevant novels.

9- Who or what inspired you to write this book? It did. It's such a compelling topic that it hasn't let go of me in over two years. When I read Pat Brown's How to Save Your Daughter's Life, I felt like the timing was right.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? Sex, love, ethics, abortion and death. Ultimately, it's about balancing the good of all against the life of one.

And now for more awesome writers...
Aaron Bradford Starr
Amy Trueblood
Jennie Bozic (not new to writing, very new to blogging)
Khaula Mazhar
S.Q. Eries
T.K. Richardson

Mindy, thanks for the wonderful invite!

Answer the above ten questions.
Name five(ish) new and amazing authors/writers

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teen Tuesday Book Plug: SLIDE by Jill Hathaway

I attended a writer's conference this past weekend and had the distinct pleasure of meeting debut novelist, Jill Hathaway. She's smart, funny and cute as a button. And if she teaches English the same way she presented at the conference, her students are some of the luckiest in the world.

Out of professional courtesy, I bought a copy of Slide. After opening to the first page, professional courtesy went out the window. I was hooked by the premise and the voice.

Vee Bell has the unfortunate ability to slide into the body of another person--an uncontrollable and unpredictable quirk that literally puts her behind the eyes of a killer.

When she awakens holding a dripping knife, she can't tear her gaze from the body of her sister's best friend. Nor can she tell anyone the suicide was a murder without revealing her secret.

Yet for Vee, learning secrets is a by-product of her ability, and her suspect list grows as she slides more and more frequently due to sleep deprivation and worry for the cheerleaders who seemingly have been targeted by a cold-blooded murderer.

As the body count piles up, Vee must learn to use her ability to scratch names off her suspect list before her cheerleading sis is scratched off by the killer.

The things I loved most about this novel are the relationships that populated Vee's life. She has a little sister she's raising, a work-aholic father, a distant best friend and a budding romance. In my opinion, these four main relationships were well-fleshed out and realistic. I felt connected to each of them as they grew and changed over the course of the book.

The thing that surprised me most about this novel was that I had figured out the who-dunnit long before the big reveal. That said, I cut my teeth on mysteries and I rarely get surprised by the end "Aha!" in most novels, so take this comment as you will.

Over all, I think it would have been a bit more satisfying to have fewer issues introduced in one novel. While Jill Hathaway hits nearly all the major issues teens face today, there isn't enough time in a single novel to really tackle them at a deeply relevant level.

The pace was great, the writing was clean and easy to read, and the premise intriguing. Slide was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed immensely for the break it provided me from reality.

I give Slide by Jill Hathaway a smidgen shy of four onion blooms.

*As an aside, I would have loved more info on sliding. Specifically, how/why does one come back from a slide?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spreading Literacy One Book at a Time with Lili

Did you know that Texas predicts the number of prison beds it will need in the future by the reading abilities of its third graders? Did you know that poverty and crime are directly related to reading ability? Did you know that over 80% of youth in trouble with the law have a learning disability--of which typically translates into a reading disability?

Did you know there are still illiterate adults residing in America today? And with them, their children who will never get homework help or hear a bed time story from their parents? Children who will likely end up functionally illiterate and impoverished simply because they are denied the pleasure of being read to as a child or because they literally cannot afford to make reading a priority in their homes?

If you could, would you do something about these frightening statistics and help change the course of someone's life?

One teen is.

I was lucky enough to stumble across a post by Lili. This amazing teen is doing her share to spread literacy and the love of reading throughout her community, one book at a time.

 *According to Lili's website, this beautiful banner is credited to Stephanie.

If you have new or gently used books for readers aged 0 months to 18-years-old you wouldn't mind parting with, please stop by Lili's Reflections now and see what you can do to help with her Books Change Lives charity.

Kudos to Lili and any teen who walks in her footsteps and tackles tough social issues with grace, passion and respect.


Alexandra Tys

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great (and creepy) Things In YA Lit

They say good things come in threes. Those same peeps say bad things do as well. And since Halloween is right around the corner, I give you three awesomely bad things shakin' up the YA lit world.





Watch it, order it and read it. You won't be disappointed! I promise. And if I'm wrong, may the gods of All Hallows Eve smite me with a rotten pumpkin.


Release date October 29, 2012
It's not all about zombies--though they're in here, too. Rather, this exciting collection of stories is all encompassing when it comes to the end of the world. Scenarios include the living dead, God's mistakes and our own human follies. Disastrous, yes, but also filled with hope for this life and beyond.
Lest you're waffling after seeing the incredibly disturbing cover, YA authors Mindy McGinnis, R.C. Lewis and Ryan Graudin penned short stories for The Fall. (Me, too, and a handful of other dedicated YA writers.)
There, as promised, I gave you three books to chew on and wish for. Now hop on Amazon and preorder Splintered and CREWEL, join the giveaway craze with SPLINTERED and settle in with THE FALL to prepare for the end of the world.
Alexandra Tys~ 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teen Tuesday: Perfection is Crazy

I've been editing my heart out on Whispering Minds for the past couple days, and I'm here to tell you that striving for perfection is totally, absolutely, fundamentally crah-zay-zee.

Fun as heck to try, but darn frustrating when you realize you fall short of it.

Back to the grindstone.