Friday, 23 March 2012

Forget the Hero - I want the Best Friend!

True fact: Best friends are always more interesting (and no, this wasn't an excuse to show a funny HP photo that didn't even relate to the post topic). It seems to be that the author wants their main characters/love interests to be consumed with each other, only thinking of rudies with the other person, and in doing so, they LOST THEIR PERSONALITIES. Or, the main character has some serious plot to get through (fighting Voldie, ahem) so the author doesn't have as much time to let their MC's personality grow. Instead, the funny one, the brainy one, the pretty one, the quirky one - they're all best friends.

Picture this: A brooding, smouldering, posing hero - 17yrs old but writing poetry, playing kick-ass guitar, and saving the world becoause of some prophecy. He's mysterious, but his best friend - bit of a lad, likes throwing paper aeroplanes and smuggling in bacon sandwiches to his maths lesson, and borrows his sister's hair spray for a night out because next to smouldering, brooding hero he seems a bit inadequate - he is the realistic one. He's the type of boy that teen YA readers are more likely to meet, and the type of boy that would probably be a lot more fun as a date because he's not really tired after staying up to watch the heroine sleep...

The best thing about Best Friends - they're not perfect. And that means that they are instantly more interesting.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Lucky Seven Meme

Thanks to Robin Moran over at The Nook for tagging me in this meme :)

I'm so close to finishing the 3rd draft/major beta edit on this WIP, so I'm eating, sleeping and breathing The Brightest Fell at the moment. To put my 'lucky seven' into context, Luke is driving through the woods, passing the place where he and his friends were violently abducted. To put it simply, he's not that chilled out about it.

Here's the rules of the Lucky Seven Meme:

1) Go to page 77 of your current MS

2) Go to line 7

3) Copy down the next 7 lines as they're written--no cheating

4) Tag 7 other writers

5) Let them know

My seven lines aren't brilliant, they need work, but here they are:

Luke tried to breathe, tried to keep control.

He felt the prickle of sweat on his neck, and dug his nails into his palms, the pain bringing him back to reality. They were nearly there, the car weaving slightly as Hetty ignored the road, her eyes only on him. Just one more corner and they would be safe.

The cars in front stopped, engines cutting off into silence, and Luke’s heart started to pound. What was happening? The light at the end of the black tunnel of trees grew dimmer, and he felt the heavy air choking him, suffocating him.

And the seven people I'm tagging are:

Sara from Babbling Flow

Jaycee DeLorenzo

Michelle Krys

Eve at Functioning Insanity

Tia at Falling For Books

The peeps at Paper Hangover

Jaybird at Bird's Nest

Monday, 19 March 2012

Writing Kissing Scenes

Kissing scenes are like marmite. You either love 'em or hate 'em, writing wise. You've got to get this big, bubbling mass of emotions and lust and hope and nerves and put it down in a couple of paragraphs that make the reader go "ahhh" or "eurgh" (depending on the situation).

I'm no expert, but there are a few things I think are important to bear in mind when writing a kissing scene.

1) Have they kissed before? Is it their first kiss together, or the point of view character's first kiss ever? This has an impact on the emotions and reactions of the characters - if they've been going out for months, they might be more relaxed with each other, whereas if the guy is your POV girl's total crush and she's so nervous she's dying a little inside, then the dynamics will be all different.

2) Who starts the kiss? This shows you a lot about who has the most power, also mega important in kissing scenes. Oh, and I don't just mean physical power, I mean who's the dominant one. Also think about who ends the kiss - is your shy POV girl going to stop because she can't breathe, is so excited, or because they're both so hopeless he bites her tongue by accident? This actually happened to a friend of mine. Not nice.

3) External Factors. Where are they? If they're at a crowded rave-up party, then they might be getting it on on the dance floor, or they might find a quiet bedroom to...continue. If they're sitting on the roof, they might be freezing but have an epic view. Describe the sights, sounds, and smells, too: the bassline thumping through the house, the seagulls calling at the beach, the smell of barbequeues at the park...

5) Personality and mood. This is SO important. Are they shy, angry, lusty, scared, euphoric? Are they super confident, mega popular, snogging the hot jock? Are they trying to pretend that they're super confident, mega popular but actually totally hating the way the hot jock gropes them to show his mates what they're missing? Are they about to fight each other in a huge intergalactic war/football match?

And here's a little teaser of the kissing scene I wrote yesterday. It's a first draft, so it's certainly not perfect, but I like it. To set the scene, India and Luke are in the middle of some woodland after having broken into someone's property. They've been enemies and then casual friends, but are now seeing each other as something more...

India reached out, twisted his hands apart, stepped in closer. She would push the misery away. On her tiptoes she bounced up, planting her lips on his cheek. His skin was cold, unexpectedly so, and Luke hadn’t expected the kiss either, twisting to face her, and her lips were on his. Warm and soft, compared to his cheek, a lingering, fumbled moment, long enough to enjoy it and they sprang apart, both blushing furiously. All India could think was that Jem was wrong, he wasn’t a superior kisser, and now he was blushing, he looked warmer, two bright spots of colour in his pale face, his fingers tangled with hers strong and alive.

She blinked, uncertain. ‘Uh...well…God.’

‘That was…’ Luke searched her eyes.

‘Unexpected.’ India backed away slightly, tried to regain her composure. ‘I suppose I tried to go for your cheek and I -,’

‘Missed? I…it was…I l-liked it.’

‘Me too, I –,’

He cut her off with a kiss. This was different, more urgent, as if India’s kiss was the only thing that could save him from drowning. She slid her arms around his neck and pressed against him, feeling reckless and out of control. Luke tasted of sugar and peppermint and lust, his lips hungry against her own, and he deepened the kiss. His hand was on her breast and she reached for his belt buckle, revelling in this wild, churning feeling that she couldn’t hold back. Luke moaned into her mouth, sliding his hand down and up under her t-shirt until he found her bra clasp. His touch was hot against her cold back, pulling her closer to him.

What do you think about writing kissing scenes? Do you hate 'em or love 'em? And do you have any tips for writing them well?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Fit Lit Boy Friday: Jonathan Meredith (ask your mothers)

Just to qualify, "fit" is Brit slang for hot, sexy, babeliscious, handsome, etc. Just in case anyone thought I was complimenting these characters on their health ;)

As Jonathan Meredith isn't probably that well known to the American audience, or anyone under forty (except for me because I used to buy a lot of my books from car boot sales and church fetes), let me sum him up.

Vital Stats:
Age: Seventeen
Looks: Black curly hair, dark eyes, tall and slim.
Height: Around 6ft
Likes: Horse racing, show jumping, rock climbing, sailing and writing bad poetry
Dislikes: Cramped spaces (he has severe claustrophobia)
Personality: Polite, quiet with people he doesn't know and his overbearing mother, but has a dry sense of humour and a quick wit with people he likes.
Where can you find him: The Essex countryside, in The Team, Prove Yourself A Hero, A Midsummer Night's Death, The Last Ditch/Free Rein, by K.M. Peyton.
Your type if you like: Sam Roth, Mr Darcy, Mr Tilney, Dan in the first Gossip Girl book.

Jonathan was my first YA lit boy crush. Never mind that the only images of him I can find are the illustrations from The Team (see above for my favourite). He's troubled, good looking, funny, and he's dashing on a horse. Basically, Mr Darcy, 1970s style.

Has anyone read any of K.M. Peyton's books? What do you all think of Jonathan? And who was your first book boy crush?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Grand & Humble by Brent Hartinger

I saw this on For The Love Of Contemporary yesterday (love love love this website, check it out), and immediately added it to my TBR list. Boys' POVs, secrets, an "intense psychological journey" - it sound so me.

Here's what Goodreads had to say:

Harlan's a popular kid and Manny's a geek.

But something strange is happening to both of them. Harlan is slowly losing his grip because he's plagued by panic attacks he can't control. And Manny has started having nerve-racking nightmares that leave him exhausted and terrified.

In this complex and original novel, popular author Brent Hartinger takes us on an intense psychological journey as Harlan and Manny struggle with a fear they can't name. It's a journey that eventually leads downtown, where a secret lies at the intersection of Grand and Humble.

Doesn't it sound awesome?

And on a totally different note, me and my sister went out into the foggy woodland with a camera and and 2 hours on our hands, and between us (mainly me) made a book cover for The Brightest Fell.

It would only become the cover if I didn't get traditionally published, but I totally love it and I'll be posting it on this blog this afternoon...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Cover Lust Tuesay: Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill

First of all, I love any book covers with grass/a field/the countryside on the front. Living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, anyone would think I'd be fed up of endless grass, but I'm a country girl at heart, and the cheery cut-and-stick homemade-ness of Meant To Be, plus London's houses of Parliament in the background and the sweet, sun-kissed couple make this cover officially awesome.

It's out this November (a few days before my birthday, so I know what I want my sister to buy for me) and here's the Goodreads summary:

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

What do you think of this cover? Is it Lust-Worthy? And do you prefer photograph covers like this, rather than random, blandly beautiful models wearing pretty dresses and sulking?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Memory Monday - The Opposite of Chocolate by Julie Bertagna

The Opposite of Chocolate is apparently one of the most stolen books in UK school libraries, and I can see why. As well as its edgy-at-the-time (pub. 2003) subject matter of teen pregnancy and arson, it is a really good book. The battered old copy in my local library has not been stolen yet, but it's been read so many times it's on its third return slip (the bit in the front where the dates go).

Here's the Goodreads summary:

A second novel for Young Picador from Whitbread-shortlist star! It's a long, hot summer - and a climactic one. For 14-year-old Sapphire it brings the awesome, terrifying realisation that she is pregnant - a discovery that catapults her into the eye of a storm as her body, her future, her life, become a battleground for everyone's needs but her own. Meanwhile, out in the humid urban night, a mysterious firebug is running wild, working out his own anger and confusion with dramatic consequences. Somehow, from this cauldron of emotion and fear, Sapphire must find a way to take control of her life - and make the most agonising and lonely of choices.

TOoC won loads of awards here in the UK, and many praised the atmosphere of the novel: the long, hot, sweaty summer full of fires and endless evenings. I first read this as a 14-yr-old, the same age as the protagonist, Sapphire, and the thought of being in her place made me squirm with horror (I was quite a sheltered child).

So has anyone heard of it? It's well worth giving this one a read - I imagine you can pick up a copy on amazon for less than $2/£2, seeing as it's been out a while.

And what where the books that were wildly popular in your school libraries when you were a pupil? Or the ones that you read but dared not take out in case the librarians looked at you funny or other kids found out?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in Young Adult Fiction

After that long and rambling title, you've probably guessed the theme of this week's Sunday Seven. YA fiction is my absolute favourite, but there are a few things that I wish I could change. So let's make it simple.

THE GOOD (a.k.a. what I'd like to see more of):

1) Strong Female Characters

By strong, I don't mean kick-ass ninjas (although they're cool too) but girls who don't need saving. Girls who don't lie back and let their boyfriend disable their brakes/talk to them condescendingly/save them so they can be eternally greatful. So many kick-ass ninja heroines will fight their way through a whole book, only to be saved by Mr Right at the end. Let your FMC fight to save herself alongside Mr Right (and then they can kiss and make babies and do whatever the heck else they want). Girls that give as good as they get - and this does not mean sarky-just-because - and inspire readers to do the same, they are strong female characters.
Isabel Culpeper from the Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater
Parker Fadley from Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Lauren Adams from the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore

2) Awesome, powerful voice
Laurie Halse Anderson and Hannah Moskowitz, I'm looking at you. The absolute best sort of writing, the sort that makes you feel like you are looking right into the narrator's brain. You can feel the raw, agonizing hurt they're going through, or the desperate love they feel for someone, or the way they are breaking inside but trying not to admit it to themselves, so that as they convince themselves they're fine, the reader knows they're not. And this goes for the comedy too - when the voice makes you laugh out loud, you know you've got a winner.
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Break by Hannah Moskowitz
Babe In Boyland by Jody Gehrman
Target by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson
Ordinary People by Judith Guest

3) Realistic Teen Relationships
I'm not just talking about wit-woo sexy romance here, people. That's included too, but I mean the broad spectrum. How they react with their families, friends, enemies, crushes, lovers, teachers, everyone. Not all teens are angsting at their parents for making them - sometimes families actually get on. Not all relationships are desperate, wild passion or screaming arguments - sometimes the sweetest romances of all are the realistic, slow-build ones, where sort-of-liking becomes like-liking becomes sort-of-love becomes love. Not all best friends are annoying (okay, I'm guilty, I'm guilty, but nobody's perfect), or totally-sister-from-another-mister types.
Jonah and Jesse in Break by Hannah Moskowitz
The Hollis family in Fly By Night, The Team, and The Pennington Trilogy by K.M. Peyton
Nick and Shuggie/Allie in Crossing The Line by Gillian Phillip
Ruth and Pat in The Pennington Trilogy by K.M. Peyton

THE BAD (a.k.a. what I'd like to see less of):

4) Cliched Baddies
The blonde cheerleader. The jealous sister/brother. The love rival. Need I go on? Sometimes the best 'baddies' are the people who have shades of grey - they're not bad just-because, they've got reasons and they hurt too.
Notable Exceptions (because I'm not harsh):
The Wolves of Mercy Falls series
Eve Edwards' The Other Countess
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

5) Absent Parents
Someone once said that it was very dangerous being a mum in YA fiction (or words to that effect) and they were right. Everywhere, there are dead parents and missing parents and parents having a breakdown and parents running away to become coctail waitresses or to marry some random glamour girl and I seem to have forgotten commas - maybe the absent parents have stolen them? Anyway, I know there are a lot of absent parents in real life. It's a terrible thing when a parent dies, or leaves the family home. But in YA fiction, it seems to be the norm. Whether it's an excuse for the MC to wangst, or so they can sneak out and make out in the garden with their boyfriend while alkie daddy sits inside in a drunken stupor, it's a bit of a plot device.
When it's done well:
Babe In Boyland by Jody Gehrman
Jumper by Steven Gould
The Wrong Boy by Anna-Louise Weatherley

THE UGLY (What I wish would just disappear):

6) Girls Who Complain About Being Perfect/have flaws that aren't really flaws
She's not a Mary Sue, the author insists. She has a figure like a boy, her hair's too messy, her lips are too wide, and she has too many freckles! Get real. Most girls would kill to look like that. I know I would. The author dares not write a - God forbid - plain character (and you can forget about a YA heroine being *gasp* unpleasant-looking) so opts for a hottie with issues about her looks, that she angsts about constantly. Perhaps an evil jock told her she was ugly, once, and she's never forgotten it - that'll do. And now, what next? She needs flaws. Let's make her clumsy. Or perhaps a bad singer - but she totally knows it and doesn't sing, so that's okay. Sorted...the ultimate flawed, ugly character - except she's actually a Mary Sue in hiding, and that is flipping annoying.
Bella from Twilight. Yes, I got it in there in the end!

7) The abusive, 'romantic' relationship
Yes, I know this has been complained about A LOT. And things are changing, so it's all good. But they're still out there. And they're making a lot of impressionable 13-yr-olds think that this is a good thing. That it's good your boyfriend watches you sleep. Talks to you like dirt. Cuts you off from your friends...because he wuvs you!

Before you all have a go at me for being a feminist - I think this is harsh on boys too. Look what they've got to live up to. They can't be a normal, carefree guy who plays football in the park with his mates and then turns up for a date with mud still in his hair, or who writes a scribbled love note in his girlfriend's history textbook because he can't say those words out loud. Instead the girls expect total devotion, beautiful dresses in the right size delivered to their door, romantic meals feeding each other in swish restaurants.
I'm not even going to go there - I'm sure everyone knows of examples, one in particular...

So there you have it - my Sunday Seven. What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you read my examples?
And most importantly, have you got any Good, Bad or Ugly YA traits that you would like to share?

Friday, 9 March 2012

WIP The Movie Blogfest - The Brightest Fell


My main male character. Luke, along with Noah and Rachel, was one of three popular 16-yr-olds who were abducted on their way to a party. Luke escaped, and together with India (below) he plans to track down Rachel before it's too late.

Personality: Before the abduction, Luke was an outgoing joker who always knew what to say (especially to girls). Now, he's losing his mind and only India can save him...

INDIA JEFFRIES (Jacqueline Jossa)

My female main character. Dyslexic India is as tough as it gets - she doesn't show weakness, and defends her position as the leader of the 'special' kids with everything she's got. In a moment of weakness, she agrees to help ex-friend Luke find the girl she's never liked, and it changes her life.
RACHEL TRENT (Kaya Scodelario)

Rachel is very much a man's woman. She doesn't get on well with other girls, preferring to hang out with her two best friends Luke and Noah, and terrorising the social outcasts of Wakeleigh Community College. Five months ago, she was abducted along with Luke and Noah, and is the only one still missing. But is she still alive?


Every school has a Noah. Wealthy, hot, and a charmer, Noah was the king of Wakeleigh school - until his body was found five months after he and his friends were kidnapped. He and Luke were like brothers, and Luke takes Noah's death very, very badly. But does he know more about how Noah died than he's letting on?

ROSS DARENT (Jack McMullen)

Ross is a nasty piece of work. Always trying to get into the popular gang, and in unrequited love with the unnatainable Rachel, now that there's a vacancy for most popular kid in school, Ross plan to take it...

HETTY GARDENER (Clair Skinner)

Luke's mum. The massive change in her son and financial circumstances means that life is very different for this 'lady of leisure', and she starts to crumble...

KITTY DIXON (Ruby Bentall)

India's best friend, Kitty is actually ginger (actress Ruby Bentall would have to dye her hair). She's annoying, giggly, and the total opposite of India. Strangely, they get on pretty well.

The soundtrack of The Brightest Fell (and it fits Luke's state of mind perfectly) would have to be You Me at Six's RESCUE ME - have a listen, it's awesome. The lyrics sum up Luke's state of mind perfectly - for example:

I know, I'm finding it hard to breathe

And I've been drowning in my own sleep

I feel a hate crashing over me

So rescue me...

So there we have it. My cast of characters, and my soundtrack. They're all British, relatively unknown, but are perfect for the roles, give or take a few accents and hair colours.

What do you think? Any favourite characters so far? And who do you think is the hottest?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Teenage Heartthrob Blogfest

I've only just found this blogfest, hosted by Sarah Ahiers,, and
So, seven teenage posterboys/crushes. I'm still a teenager so my heartthrobs are recent - none have got wrinkly, saggy, or gained a middle aged spread yet! You'll have to click on the links to see them, because blogger hates me, and pictures make the format go funny.

1) Luke Pasqualino
You might have seen him in...
Skins UK
The Borgias
My favourite, and I have a signed photo! Look at those smouldering eyes...

2) Douglas Booth
You might have seen him in...
Great Expectations (best. Pip. ever)
About The Boy
Modelling for Burberry

3) Kevin Bacon
Old now, but HOT in Footloose.

4) Aaron Johnson
You might have seen him in...
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
Nowhere Boy
Except for his questionable taste in women, this boy is perfect.

5) Matt Smith
a.k.a. Dr Who! Matt is no model but there's something about him... plus, I LOVE men in braces.

6) One Direction's Zayn
Smouldering eyes again - I don't know why everyone prefers Harry Styles.

7) Michael Shoeffling
16 Candles. Swoon.

So that is it, ladies and gentlemen. In doing this blogfest I have discovered my type - lanky, smouldery-eyed guys with floppy hair. I didn't even know I had a type...
What's your type - who makes your heart beat faster? And don't forget it's not too late to sign up!

Memory Monday - Face by Benjamin Zephaniah

The first time I heard about Face was when Benjamin Zephaniah visited my school. The author himself was crazy, witty, and pretty funny, so I decided I wanted to read ALL of his books. They only had one in the library, but I was very glad it was this one, because Face is such a good book.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Martin is a good-looking, self-assured boy who accepts a ride home from a drunken acquaintance and ends up in a horrible accident--badly burned, his face completely disfigured. Life as it was before is over...he loses his girlfriend and his friends, and finds that people are making judgements about him and how he feels without even knowing. As Martin struggles through the reconstruction of his face, he is also working hard to reconstruct his life. His character, however, remains intact. There are startling truths in this story, written with clarity and insight, which make it utterly believable and impossible to read without heartfelt empathy. Parents, librarians, teachers and mostly children will be absorbed by the story.
(Face was published 2002)

Don't let that summary make you think that this book is a boring, moral-filled story about NOT GETTING INTO STOLEN CARS, PEOPLE (although that's probably not a good idea). Face is a true coming of age story about the boy everyone knows - clever, witty, sporty, and popular - and about how much of that is superficial.

To my US blog readers - This is a British book, but it's on too, so don't let that put you off.

And best of all, this is a BOY'S YA - a rarity, it seems.

Has anyone read Face? And who thinks there needs to be more boy's POV books in young adult fiction?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Fit Lit Boy Friday - Sam Roth

photo credit

Shiver (by Maggie Stiefvater) was the first paranormal romance I ever read. Mainly because I have a massive hatred for the angsty vampire "I find you so attractive I'm going to be cold, cruel and patronising to you so that you love me more," type. I'm not going to say it's converted me, because it hasn't. But it has proved that not all paranormal love interests are jerks.

Sam Roth: book lover, amazing guitar player, and werewolf = hot. See above fan art of him. I think his appeal is that he's not a controlling misogynist, but sweet, sensitive, and he loves Grace so deeply that it even makes a cynical, [liberal] feminist like me smile.

So thank you Sam, for making me a hypocrite. I won't hate you for it. And if it actually happens, I will be first in line for the movie.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Cracked by K.M. Walton

Yes, it's Thursday, but I'm working a day behind, and I really wanted to feature this book today.
First of all, here's the summary, courtesy of Goodreads:

Sometimes there's no easy way out.

Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn't stop Bull's grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there's no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….

Doesn't Cracked sound awesome? I love books that deal with mental
illness, and the added bully-victim relationship sounds like it's going to be really interesting to read.

Plus, I'm interested to see how K.M. Walton handles the character
of Bull - The protagonist of the book I'm currently editing is a
bully (or an ex-bully) and I've tried to write him as a sympathetic
character, while still deeply flawed.

Anyway, Cracked came out this January, so it's technically not Waiting On, but I have yet to read it, so I've cheated and featured it.

What do you think of Cracked? Is this on anyone else's To Be Read