Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Shut Out

Kody Keplinger strikes again! Remember her debut novel, The Duff? If you enjoyed that, and you love witty, fun, while serious reads, check out her new book, Shut Out.

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.
First Line: "There is nothing more humiliating than being topless in the backseat of your boyfriend's car when someone decides to throw an egg at the windshield."

Lissa's very frank, often insightful and hilarious at the same time, continues steady through the entire book.

Brownie Points: Keplinger has quite the talent when it comes to writing and discussing often taboo subjects such as sex. That and she has really sexy libraries (library scenes, library boys... ahhhh libraries).

Recommendation: I highly suggest both of Keplinger's books for teens, boys if you can get them to read it, especially if they're feeling the pressure to have sex, are having sex, thinking about having sex... or, you know, what a good book to read.

Would I represent it? With a voice like that and an ability to put new spins on old topics? Heck yes!

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Call for Book Suggestions

As you know, I don't read or represent Middle Grade or younger YA. However, more than once I'm asked to recommend books to younger kids to read (I'd like to read some younger books as well, to round out my education).

So I'm asking you, dear reader, to help me compile a list of books, new and old. In particular, I have in mind my 10 year old boy cousin, an advanced reader, having a hard time finding things to read.

Let's build this list! Leave your recommendation in the comments, and I'll update this very post with our new list, which all of us can revisit as needed. Indicate the genre, whether you think it's best for boys, girls, or both, and the age group.

Updated 8/22/11

The List: Most I have not read, but all of these come highly recommended by my readers. Please feel free to comment on which you love the best, and I'll add a * for those that get multiple recommendations, a ** means it got very high recs.

This list will be a work in progress, meaning I will be cleaning it up, adding genres and ages, titles and authors when I have time. Please continue to suggest books and vote for your favorites!

Also, a great blog post by Literary Rambles, recommended by one of my commenters: YA Books in Libraries (click here).

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • RL Stine's Goosebumps or Nightmare Room series
  • Anything by Rick Riordan*
  • The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini*
  • The Alchemyst: The secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexi (YA or upper MG, parental discretion advised)*
  • The Dark is Rising*
  • Number the Stars
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (fantasy, not YA or MG)*
  • Eragon
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Fablehaven
  • Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta
  • Mamba Point by Kurtis Scaletta
  • Deltora Quest
  • The Seventh Tower series
  • Charlie Bone series
  • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (I highly recommend as well)*
  • The Circle of Magic series (I remember reading these--loved them!)
  • Tyger, Tyger and the rest of the Goblin Wars trilogy by Kerstin Hamelton (Irish mythology)
  • Gary Paulsen's The Hatchet series
  • Anything by Brandon Mull
  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer**
  • The Healing Wars Trilogy by Janice Hardy
  • Percy Jackson books
  • Pendragon books
  • Harry Potter*
  • Black and Blue Magic, by Zylpha Keatley Snyder (and anything else by Snyder)
  • The White Mountains trilogy by John Christopher
  • Brian Jacques Redwall Series - Upper MG for Boys*
  • Lloyd Alexander The Black Cauldron series - MG for Boys
  • The Chicken Doesn't Skate - MG Boys
  • Who Put That Hair On My Tooth Brush - MG Boys and Girls
  • The Golden Compass Trilogy
  • Ender's Game
  • Georgia Byng (sp?)'s MOLLY MOON books
  • Zazu Corder's LIONBOY series
  • Cordelia Funke's DRAGONRIDER
  • Louis Sacher's Sideways School books
  • Terry Pratchett's DISCWORLD books (Start with the Tiffany Aching books, then move onto the books about the City Guards (with Sam Vines), then give him the witches)
  • Edward Eager's books
  • Roald Dahl
  • Narnia series
  • Brandon Sanderson, young-YA series Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, epic fantasy series Mistborn, The Way of Kings, stand alone Elantris
  • The Genius Files by Dan Gutman
  • Jake Maddox, sports themed books
  • Barbara Park, Junie B. Jones
  • Mary Pope Osborne, Magic Treehouse
  • The Queen's Thief series, adventure
  • N.E.R.D.S.  by Michael Buckley, spy adventure
  • The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore, upper MG spy adventures
  • The Gallagher Girl series Ally Carter, spy adventures for girls
  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman*
  • Shonen manga
  • The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner*
  • The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, younger to upper YA*
  • Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry*
  • The Warriors series by Erin Hunter*
  • Anything by Louis Sachar
  • Peter Pan books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
  • Kiki and the Shadow City, detective/adventure, MG
  • Harriet the Spy, for girls
  • The 39 Clues
  • The Ranger's Apprentice series
  • Chris D'Lacey's The Last Dragon chronicles starting with The Fire Within
  • Escape at Night - a civil war adventure by Laurie Myers
  • Murder Afloat by Jane Leslie Conly about a boy in 1880's Baltimore who's shanghaied and forced to work on an oyster schooner
  • Dark Life by Kat Falls about people who colonize the ocean floor after global warming forces everyone under - it's kind of a western underwater.
  • Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, spy adventure 
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke about young pickpockets in 18th century Venice 
  • Inkheart series - Cornelia Funke, boys and girls
  • Savvy - Ingrid Law, girls
  • Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree - Lauren Tarshis, girls
  • Small Persons With Wings - Ellen Booraem, girls
  • Shug - Jenny Han, girls
  • Coraline - Neil Gaiman, boys and girls
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin - Josh Berk, boys
  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - Michelle Paver, boys and girls
  • The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, MG dystopian for boys

Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Reads: A Certain Slant of Light

Haunting and beautiful. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. It's marketed as a YA, and it does have some YA themes--but the main character, Helen, was a woman when she died and has seen many years since, so the balance between YA themes (in some ways she is very much a child) and her adult spirit (she had a husband and family in her human life) are very intriguing. And also, isn't the cover equal parts terrifying and beautiful?

In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen--terrified, but intrigued--is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess. 
First Line: "Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you're dead."


Beefs: Not so much a beef, it was done very well, but more of a word to the wise. On page four, we begin a bit of back story, all of Helen's previous hauntings. This passage is done well; it's necessary, short, to the point, but doesn't lose the "sensual prose" (got that off a review from Amazon, has a nice ring doesn't it?) that the whole book is written in.

Brownie Points: I was thoroughly captivated through the entire thing. Really, I couldn't put it down. I got made when I was interrupted (it's been happening more rarely to me lately when reading). A combination of her beautiful writing and the naive yet intelligent characters was quite unputdownable. At times while reading I got angry, or scared for them, or an overwhelming eeriness concerning the subject matter, and I just felt so happy, so at peace at the last page with a perma-grin on my face for hours. Ahhhh, love a book like that.

Recommendation: Even if you're not entirely into ghost stories, or if you're looking for an unconventional ghost story, I suggest you try this one out. It's not going to be for everyone, but if you're the right sort of person this is aimed at, I know you'll fall in love.

Would I represent it? Sadly, probably not. It's too literary for my list and tastes, but then again, you never really know until something like it crosses through the slush pile.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Authornomics and more!!!

The Andrea Hurst and Associates blog will be continuing its Authornomics series. Every Monday, read a new interview from editors, agents, authors, and other publishing know-how professionals. Get insight, advice, and every so often you might just be able to win a prize.
See the agency blog here. See the schedule for upcoming Authornomics interviews here.

If you're local to the NW, you won't want to miss classes, presentations, and retreat opportunities presented by Andrea Hurst and Associates, Whidbey Island Writer's Association, and other fantastic opportunities. They're always updated on the agency website here, and you can also see upcoming events on the blog sidebar here.

See what else Andrea Hurst and Associates can help you with here; craft, marketing, consults.

And don't forget to read about the agents at the agency here. And, yes! we're on Twitter too! Follow Gordon Warnock and Andrea Hurst. Follow me too! Get me to 1000 followers and there might be something in it for you...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coming this Fall


No Buddy Left Behind: Bringing U.S. Troops' Dogs and Cats Safely Home from the Combat Zone
Authors: Terri Crisp with Cynthia.Hurn
Publisher: Lyon's Press
Release date: October 4, 2011
Amazon Link Here
The love of a dog or cat helps heal soldiers’ emotional trauma. One very special woman and program brings them back together after the war.
No Buddy Left Behind is an animal book with a difference. It is not only about rescued dogs and cats, but also about U.S. soldiers trying to survive the horrors of war and readjust to life back home. It unveils the life-altering relationships American troops serving in the Middle East share with the stray dogs and cats they rescue from the brutalities of war. Overcoming monumental obstacles, Terri Crisp makes it her mission to save these wartime “buddies,” get them out of danger, and bring them home to the soldiers who love them.So, how does someone get animals out of a country at war when normal resources are lacking and every step of a plan to transport animals could get you arrested, kidnapped, or blown apart? As Crisp soon learns, each rescue mission from first to last is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience, and no animal is truly safe until its paws touch American soil. Terri and her team have saved the lives of 223 dogs and forty-two cats befriended by military personnel since February 2008and No Buddy Left Behind finally tells this story.

A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love
Author: Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, Foreword by Deepak Chopra
Publisher: New World Library
Release Date: September 17, 2011
Amazon Link Here 
Bernie Siegel first wrote about miracles when he was a practicing surgeon and founded Exceptional Cancer Patients, a groundbreaking synthesis of group, individual, dream, and art therapy that provided patients with a “carefrontation.” Compiled during his more than thirty years of practice, speaking, and teaching, the stories in these pages are riveting, warm, and belief expanding. Their subjects include a girl whose baby brother helped her overcome anorexia, a woman whose cancer helped her heal by teaching her to stand up for herself, and a family that was saved from a burning house by bats. Without diminishing the reality of pain and hardship, the stories show real people turning crisis into blessing by responding to adversity in ways that empower and heal. They demonstrate what we are capable of and show us that we can achieve miracles as we confront life’s difficulties.


How to Party with a Killer Vampire: A Party Planning Mystery
Author: Penny Warner
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Amazon Link Here
Amazon Link for First Book in the Series Here
Party planner Presley Parker's new gig is the star-studded wrap party for a horror film. The location is a graveyard-conveniently, because the night of the bash, a tabloid journalist is murdered.

Under Attack: Under World Detection Agency Chronicles Book 2
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Amazon Link Here
Amazon Link for First Book in Series Here 
Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco's demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn't about to trust Alex's all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie's past, and malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Reads: Pleasure Unbound

Isn't that title scandelous? Haha, Pleasure Unbound, a Demonica Novel, by Larissa Ione, gave a great take on Demons. Guess what? They're actually evil! Well, many of them.

In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .

She's a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .
First Line: "Had Eidolon been anywhere but the hospital, he would have killed the guy pleading for his life before him."

Great first line, great first scene. Eidolon, a demon, is a doctor working in a demon hospital. I love Eidolon because he has values and morals, even when those close to him do not.

Brownie Points: I mentioned the demons above, didn't I? I'll repeat it. There are many types of demons that exist in the world, the main characters don't even know everything about every one; some are straight evil, some are somewhat evil, some try not to be evil, etc. Which the other main character, Tayla, must come to terms with. Black and white do not exist, only a world of grays.

Recommendation: I always come back to JR Ward, don't I? Like Ward, Ione creates a rich underground world. Like Ward, Ione screws her characters up and challenges them to put themselves back together (via sex, of course). If you're looking for a steamy novel, go no further.

Would I represent it? I've mentioned before that I like more Paranormal than Romance in novels I represent... however, if it's constructed like this one, I'll definitely be looking favorably on it.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Blog Features

Have you noticed? I've updated a few things on my blog to (hopefully) make navigation (pun) easier for you.

  • About me: includes specifics on how to query me and what I'm looking for. Also included are genres that I'm not looking for (since "all" in YA doesn't actually mean "everything").
  • Wednesday Reads: A listing of all the books I've reviewed, broken down by Adult vs Young Adult (any New Adult will be under YA) and includes the genre. 
Sidebar -->
  • Now includes a listing of my clients' blogs. Go check them out! (they're amazing)
  • My most popular blog posts from the past month. Check it out in case you've missed any highlights.
  • Follow by email: now you have the option to receive blog updates by email!
Please, if you have any ideas on how to make my blog more comprehensive, or if there are any features that are not already included, please leave suggestions in the comment section of this post.

Happy writing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

New YA Blog--YA Confidential

Check out a brand new blog! Targeted to YA writers to give you an insight into the minds and lifestyles of real teens. YA Confidential. From writer (and client) Cambria Dillon, she says: "Our goal is going to uncover more about what it’s really like to be a teen." And what is it going to entail? "We’re going to have teen roundtable posts where we approach our teen spies with a general topic and see what they think about it. We’re going to have our teen spies tell us what books they’re loving and why, what books/movies/tv shows get it right and why, what makes them happy/sad/stressed/anxious/etc and WHY."

So check out the brand new blog, YA Confidential, here. To learn more about it, remember to check out Cambria's blog, here.

Did I mention they're kicking it off with prizes? Want to know what one of the prizes is?! Critique with me? You're right! Keep your eye on YA Confidential updates for more info.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Word Count

I don't believe I've ever had a post yet about word count. Mostly because I assumed writers (those participating online) knew all of that information already. You can find it anywhere.

I just Googled it. BookEnds has a great post here. Colleen Lindsay has laid it out in handy bullet points here. Even Wikipedia puts its two cents in here, by way of a chart to show the word counts for novels, short stories, and novellas.

When reading queries, agents do discriminate based on word length. Even if your query is pretty good, if you're pitching anything over 120k, I'm going to reject it. Only in fantasy or some sci-fi will I look at anything over 100k. On the other side of the coin, I will also reject (most) anything under 60k (including YA--I've mentioned in a previous post here that I prefer longer books; just don't get too long).

If you are a debut author, stick to the guidelines. When you're famous you can do whatever you want.

Based on genres I represent and what I'm looking for, I give you the bullet-pointed list of word counts:
  • YA contemporary: 60k-90k
  • YA fantasy/para/sci-fi: 70K-100k
  • Adult para/UF/sci-fi/fantasy: 70k-100k
Pretty basic right? (I didn't list every genre because you can probably get the hint from this list). Due to world building, I expect fantasy-esk genres to be on the upper side (closer to 100k--but not over!). Many people will say that for adult or YA fantasy/sci-fi that up to 120k is okay (and I just said above I might look at it), but aim lower if possible.

Before you query or pitch, get your word count to a desirable length. Never say in a query or pitch that "I know it's a bit long/short, but I am open to suggestions on how to lengthen/shorten." This your job as the writer--deliver the best product possible. More than once I was being pitched a novel and when asked the word length the writer would reply with the word count while wincing. If you wince when you tell people your word length, you know it's not appropriate. Instead, say that it's not ready to submit and you're aiming for x. Then don't submit until it's edited, polished, as perfect as you, your critique partners, editors, friends, writing guides can make it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Reads: The Scent of Shadows

Love the title. The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson. Adult Urban Fantasy.

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.
By rights, she should be dead.
Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset – a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow – seeking answers to whom or what she really is … and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.
But the nightmare is just beginning – for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful Shadows want her for their own…
First Line: "He didn't look dangerous, not at first glance. Still, a girl can never be too careful on a blind date, and that's why I'd insisted Mr. Sand meet me in a popular steadhouse nestled in a casino dead center on the Las Vegas Strip."

I gave you the first two sentences. Here's why: First sentence is good, but it's the second that locks everything in place. Plus, I love that she's on a blind date. Not something you'd expect of a bad ass chick in an Urban Fantasy. Also, this is a great beginning; without much telling you're established, just the first two sentences, in most of the Who, What, Where, When, Why.

Brownie Points: This was a long book, and a lot of major plot points happen, but you never feel overwhelmed by what's going on. The characters help a lot with that. Joanna is a very relatable character. And the paranormal stuff is just enough of a twist. Unfortunately, I can't say much more about any specifics because it would completely give everything away.

Recommendation: Looking for something a bit different but with great human emotions and a bunch of crappy things thrown at the main character? Haha, thought so.

Would I represent it? Yes. Here's a nice balance between Dark UF and not so dark (Kim Harrison and Charlaine Harris both give blurbs on the cover), while remaining pretty dark. Stuff that happens: dark. Some of the characters and humor: light. Great balance. Loved it!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Webinar with Andrea Hurst--Sign Up Now!

Register Now!
Writer’s Digest Webinar
The Plot Thickens: An agent's tips on story structures that sell
September 8, 2011
If you are serious about getting published or wondering why your manuscript is not getting the attention you desire, let instructor and literary agent Andrea Hurst show you how to structure a plot that will keep an agent turning the page. 
Learn what agents and editors look for in a marketable novel or memoir.  Once an agent determines an author has mastered the craft of writing, the next thing they look for is an intriguing plot. At the agency we often find that even the best writers may not be able to sustain a memorable plot.  Andrea presents techniques that will help build your story, solve plot issues, and create a strong beginning, middle, and end. Get noticed, get read, and up your chances of getting sold.
Length: 90 minutes
Price: $89.00
Sign up at:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bad Ass Chicks in Leather

One of the reasons I love Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy is the excessive use of leather. I do have to wonder though, are leather pants and leather bustiers really all that comfortable to run and fight in? But I guess that's why our imaginations are so tantalized by the imagery.

Points go to, of course, JR Ward for putting her vampire, demon-fighting good guys in leather pants and shit kickers. Oh those boys...

But I have to love Hannah Jayne's main character in her Underworld Detection Agency series because she does not wear leather, though her vampire roommate certainly does.

Personally, I'd go with camo/canvas pants, but hey, if I were in a novel I'd run around in four inch boots as well.

What other aspects of ParaRom and UF do you love that you'd be hard pressed to find in other genres?

Happy reading!