Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Best Books for Young Adults

Young or young at heart, if you love YA fiction, look here for titles nominated for Best Books for Young Adults 2009.

The list comprises a diverse selection of styles and genres, ranging from non-fiction to the fantastical, all encomposing the teen experience on some level. It's a great reading list, one that I'll select from because I find YA voices to be daring and fresh.

My only complaint is that Louis A. Meyer didn't make the list with My Bonnie Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, In Love and War, 2008. The Jacky Faber series (aka Bloody Jack Adventures) is, hands down, my favorite YA series, and I absolutely refuse to give up hope on an epic, swashbuckling movie series to rival that wizard boy. The problem is movies involving sea faring scenes are costly. Plus, Hollywood doesn't think a female can carry the lead. Huh? What? The world needs independant, smart, gutsy heroines as role models and Jacky Faber is just that girl.

Besides the hurtful omission of my favorite series and the fact that I haven't read every book on the list, some of my favorites are:

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
When Evie’s father returns from the war, she expects life to return to normal but a mysterious trip to Florida, secrets, deceptions, and a first forbidden love complicates things.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Katniss has been providing for her family since her father died, but is she strong enough to win the Hunger Games, a deadly competition that can have only one winner?

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
After being cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before being reborn as a human, former pirate Emer Morrisey returns to Jamaica to reclaim treasure buried centuries before.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Jenna Fox wakes from a year-long coma. As her memory begins to return, she has more questions than answers about who she was, and who she is now.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Lucy, 17, discovers the women of her family have been cursed with madness unless they complete three impossible tasks. All have failed. Will Zach's help and her resolve save her?

Red Sage Secrets: Untamed Pleasures, Volume 27

Nicole North, the author of Devil in a Kilt, is the instructor for the online course, Take Your Writing to the Next Level, that I'm enrolled in now.

Here's a video she made for the book, Untamed Pleasures, out in July.


Authors Make It Look So Easy

I struggled all afternoon on a 250 word piece for a class, rearranging sentences, exchanging words, reading aloud, deleting, starting over. First, not enough words, then too many. When this happens, it's best to click save and do something else, like, say, step in front of bus. Well, that's what I felt like doing, but I actually picked up my book and read, finding this wonderful gem--simple, honest, funny, raw and I love it. Forget all that lyrical prose. This is priceless and why I love reading YA fiction. It's not 250 words-only because I didn't feel like typing the whole thing- but I can't help but wonder, how long did it take?

That's the thing with drug addicts. They steal wheelchairs and hearing aids and walkers and canes and seeing-eye dogs, and I'm sure if Junior needed a fix that he would reach right into every one of those trailer-park old people and grab their pacemakers. Sam didn't understand this, so he just looked at me and repeated the question.

"I mean, who would steal a wheelchair?"

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

It's turning out to be a very odd read, but when so many novels are the same blendarized puree, odd is great. Yes, I wrote blendarized. I'm weird that way.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Win ARC of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

If you loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, be sure to check out Allysa's blog, The Shady Glade,, for your chance to win the ARC for Catching Fire due to be released in book stores September 1st.

I bought the first book, The Hunger Games, after its ratings on Amazon caught my eye. Once I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down--the words every author and editor wants to hear. My world fell away, and I was completely engrossed in the dystopian world Suzanne Collins skillfully created.

Catniss Everdeen is a strong, courageous heroine, a well rounded character that is immediately sympathetic. The author did a superb job of developing the characters and plot, dropping me-heart racing- dead center into her shoes. It's surprising. It's exciting. It's horrifying. And yes, in the midst of all that, it's even romantic.

Catniss Everdeen is one kick-a$$ chick. Plus, I love her name-in spite of what Stephen King says about it!

Don't forget! Check out your chance to win an ARC of Catching Fire!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Interview with Richelle Mead

Can't wait for the next book in the Vampire Academy series so I'm getting my fix wherever I can.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sign Up to Win! Happy Anniversary, Red Sage!

To celebrate its Fifteenth Anniversary in June, Red Sage is throwing a party! Every party needs presents, and here’s a gift that could win you the July Secrets anthology and Calista Fox’s new novel, Object of Desire!

Do you love to read romance?  Enter for your chance to win Red Sage's July Secrets anthology and Calista Fox’s new novel, Object of Desire!  Send an email with the subject line “Ransom Note” to Inside this email,  include a link back to this kidnapped logo for our chance to win!

Every time one of my readers sends a ransom note with a link, we'll both be entered to win! Each Ransom Note is worth two entries in the drawing -- one for the person who sends the Ransom Note, and one for the linked blog or website. 

Want more chances to win? Kidnap this logo yourself, and post on your blog or website!

The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win! But get your entries in by June 30. We'll be drawing the winners on July 1!

So What Is Flash Fiction?

In my most recent quarterly writing magazine, Writer's Ask, I read an essay on writing flash fiction, but it didn't explain what flash fiction was exactly, so the essay made zero sense to me.  Just type a bunch of words after an image flashes in your brain, burning your retina.  I do that all the time and I call it junk, so the paper was circular-filed.  The world doesn't need any of the trash I try to pass off as writing.  I'm responsible.  I'm being literary green.  And I do so solemnly swear, never, ever to twitter.  I will continue to blarney blog the ol' fashioned way because it's fun, and the only thing that can stop me is if the ants make off with my computer. But please, excuse me, for I digress.

Today-while I should be doing a buzillion other things besides wasting time on the internet, like killing the ant invasion in my kitchen or going to the post office- I found an amazing piece of flash fiction written by Amanda Downum that actually encouraged me to research what this flash fiction business is all about, and dig the quarterly out of the paper bin.   

Please read and enjoy Amanda Downum's  flash below.  Don't worry, you have time.  Flash is fast, ranging from 300-1000 words, hence the name.  (I was definitely overthinking the idea!)  If you have time, mosey on over to her website at  In August, look for her first novel, The Drowning City.

To find out more about flash fiction, visit

Shadow of the Valley by Amanda Downum

Into the shadow of the valley of an underpass I track my prey. His stink trails through the rank city night--sweat and waste, subtle-sweet decay. And beneath the meat, Heaven.

I grip my sword hilt, palm slippery. Sweat crawls beneath my jacket; my stomach roils.

Grass and broken glass crunch beneath my boots. He shrugs aside his cocoon of dirty cardboard, rises on jerky marionette limbs. Doesn't attack, doesn't speak, just watches me. Face too young for those sad eyes, hollow and worn, hospital bracelet loose around one knobby wrist. He raises a hand in greeting.

Easier if he scourged me with curses and righteous wrath.

His eyes shine brighter, mask slipping. He knows me, knows what I do. My threats and entreaties die unspoken, no match for that calm strength.

"I'm sorry." I draw my sword, a needle-shard of ice and darkness.

He steps forward and spreads his arms.

Ofanim. The Wheels. The Many-eyed Ones.

He sheds his mortal guise like grimy clothes. A rush of heat and wild kaleidoscope flames, radiant sunrise against sin-black night. The underpass blazes like a cathedral.

So beautiful, my brother. His symphony swells inside me, light and motion and glorious purpose.

I have purpose too. The sword weighs in my hand.

For all his brilliant fury, he is at peace. The love and sadness in his eyes outshine his fire.

Half-blind with tears, I strike and miss, strike again. He catches my wrist, pulls me close. No anger in him, only love. Gently he holds me, stronger than my fragile flesh. Tenderly he wipes away my tears, that I may see him. Inexorably he meets my eyes.

He shows me paradise, the glory he left to be a soldier in this war. Glory he carries still. He offers it to me. If I lay down my sword, lay down my bloody purpose, my master's vendetta. Set aside my burdens and follow him.


My sword falls from numb fingers. The ofan enfolds me in his dizzying electric embrace. We rise together, weightless, the heart of an atom amid incandescent wheels.

I love him.

I hold his gaze, drink down the wonders he offers. My hand slips inside my jacket.

His song resonates in my bones. It will shatter me. Peace, an end to suffering, respite from this war. I give him what he promises.

My dagger slides between his ribs, into his borrowed heart. Ensorcelled steel binds angelic aether to rough clay, transubstantiates him till he is as mortal as I. I twist the blade; his blood bathes my hands.

We sink to the broken, bitter earth. Glass bites my knees as I cradle him. My tears splash his face. His eyes, brimming with love, slowly dim.

I hold him close until he's gone, an empty shell in my arms. My flesh unscathed--he's wounded me like no other. The night reeks of carrion and bitter tears.

We have fallen so far. I have farther still to go.

© 2007 Amanda Downum.

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