The Year of Gratitude

2012 was a very good year for me.  It was sometimes a very bad year for me, too, but in the end, the balance sheet was decidedly in the black.  And with my debut now just about a year away, it seems like 2013 has the potential to be a very good year as well.

Because of that, and inspired by ThxThxThx, I’ve decided to focus my blog on gratitude this year. Sometimes it will be simple–bordering on idiotic–and sometimes it will be big–can you say cover art?

So, come with me if you will, and revel is all there is to be thankful for.

– Liz

My Own Personal Book Awards 2012

Last year was the first year I decided to post some of my favorite books in the form of awards, and I really enjoyed thinking back on everything I’d read over the year.  So, I’ve decided to do it again.

Just like last year, the books are in no particular order in the categories below.  I have a heck of a time deciding on a favorite in any category, since I choose each one for different reasons.  You can be sure that i would recommend any of them.

So, without further ado…

Favorite Reads of 2012

1. The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

This book is magical.  I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, and I couldn’t predict what would happen next page after page.  It’s rare to have no idea where a book is going, but love every second of it.  The characters are so rich, the world so complete and compelling, the mythology believable…I’ve never wanted to be a ghost more in my life.  This one passed the litmus test for wondrousness:  I forced my mom to read it as soon as I was done.

2.  Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

Great literature, this book is not, but rarely have I been so enamored of a world.  It was clear from page one that this book was meticulously researched and a true labor of love for Cline.  If you grew up in the 1980s, there will be so many shout-outs in this book you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.  I’m not sure if non-geeks will love this book as much as I did, but I’d love to get everyone to read it.  In fact, I made my mom and my husband start reading it before I was even done.

3.  Past Perfect
by Leila Sales

The cover of this book drives me nuts.  It tells you NOTHING about the story.  It certainly doesn’t do justice to how fantastic this book is.  It’s funny, and different, and quirky.  The characters are realistic and accessible, the romance is sweet and heart-pounding, the setting is unlike any other.  Historical re-enactment, people!  Trust me, if you love contemporary, you will love this book.

4.  The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

This book had me under its spell from page one.  I swear, it has magical properties.  The way Morgenstern weaves her breath-taking world around you, keeping you on your toes with jumps through time, and multiple POVs…I felt like I was being led through a Viennese Waltz by a skilled partner.  Beautiful, exciting, enchanting.

5.  Sacre Bleu
by Christopher Moore

To say that this book is about the color blue is madness, and yet it is.  Moore sheds his unique light on the Impressionists of Paris, intermingling their lives, and peppering the world with a supernatural mystery.  I listened to this one as an audiobook, which I would highly recommend.  The reader’s command of French added to the atmosphere of the book.  If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, Moulin Rouge, or The Night Circus, I’d give this one a try.

Five Books That Made Me Feel Like a Hack as a Writer in 2012

1.  The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

If I could write like Morgenstern, I’d charge you all admission just to read my blog.  The gorgeous language, the complexity of the construction, the imagination…I just…there are no words.  This book is straight-up beautiful.

2.  The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

If Gaiman doesn’t make you feel a little bit like a hack as a writer, you’re probably not reading very carefully.  He is a rare talent that I suspect will go down as one of the greats.  There will be college courses dedicated to his works down the road, mark my words.  The turns of phrase, the language, the genuine affection for the characters that is so evident in his words.  A sparkling gem of a book.

3.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

The pace of this book is quite slow, especially at first, but I still found myself curious about what Riggs was up to.  The way he balanced the modern with the historic was delightful, and the descriptions made me feel like I was there.  I feel like I can’t say too much about this book without giving it all away.  The secrets are worth the effort.

4.  Sacre Bleu
by Christopher Moore

Oh to be as effortlessly hilarious as Christopher Moore!  He brings so much life and fun to a historical setting.  I usually don’t read historicals because I like a more casual tone and humor–not drawing room comedy humor–but I always know Moore will deliver.

5.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

The first page of this book made my jaw drop.  Not because it was so shocking, but because the language and style was so tremendous.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I loved this book.  It took a turn in the middle I didn’t expect, and didn’t love, but it was so beautifully written I stayed with it.  Tremendous world-building, and amazing characters unlike any you’ve encountered.

Favorite Female Characters of 2012

1.  Mel from Team Human
by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

You guys, I’m so annoyed.  I had all this stuff written below all of the books on the rest of this list, and WordPress ate them.  I can’t even remember what all I said, and I’m too tired to go through and do it again.  Just know that they are all awesome books and if you want to know why I like them, just ask.  Color me frustrated!!!

2.  Chelsea from Past Perfect by Leila Sales

3.  Hannah from 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

4.  Shelby from Purity by Jackson Pearce

5.  Emerson from Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Favorite Male Characters of 2012

1.  Joey from Rotters by Daniel Krauss

2.  Oliver from The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

3.  Biff from Lamb by Christopher Moore

4.  Marco from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

5.  Josh from The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Best Love Stories of 2012

1.  Samantha and Jase from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

2.  Min and Ed from Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

3.  Celia and Marco from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

4.  Chelsea and Dan from Past Perfect by Leila Sales

5.  Cinder and Prince Kai from Cinder by Marissa Meyer

RENEGADE is almost here!!

If there is one thing I have not done enough of lately on this blog, it’s remind you all that my amazing critique partner/BFF Jessica Souders is about to open the floodgates on her debut novel here in the US. That’s right, it’s only 5 days until RENEGADE hits stores. Five. FIVE, people.

I mean, I’ve only been excited about this book since I read the first page a couple years ago…so, you know, no big deal.

Except that it’s actually a huge honking deal!!

Here are the deets on the book:

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control.

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb… and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

You can also read the first chapter at her publisher’s website, Tor.com.

Places to Pre-Order:

IndieBound
Barnes And Noble
Book Depository
Books-A-Million
Powell’s
Amazon

More about Jessica Souders:

Second of all, here are all the ways you can find out more about Jessie/stalk her/join her street team/go to her launch party/generally be a hipster and tell everyone you knew about her way back when.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Street Team
Launch Party
Blog

And if that’s not enough, here are a bunch of amazing reviews that came out recently that will totally convince you that this book should be number one on your To Be Read pile and probably you should go ahead and pre-order a dozen copies to give to everyone at Christmas because they’ll probably be pissed at you if you hold out.  Just saying.

Read-a-Holic
Claire Reads
Mundie Moms
My Library in the Making
XPresso Reads
YA Sisterhood
Ivy Book Bindings
A Reader of Fictions
The Book Life

Convinced yet?  I sure hope so!  I couldn’t be more excited or proud of Jessica.  We’ve been friends since way before either of us could even get an agent to look our way, and now she’s about to knock your socks off, people.  Get on this train, trust me.

– Liz

On the Eve of NaNo

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo.  I actually never have.  I’ve written 50K in a month–more than in fact–but I just never seem to be in the right place to get it done in November.  Mostly, because I seem to write a lot in October so I’m all spent by the time NaNo rolls around.

But I’m really excited for my friends who are wading into the waters of 50,000 words in 30 days.  It breaks down to 1,667 words a day, which is doable, no doubt.  But it’s really easy to miss the mark, or have something come up, and not meet your goal.  So, I want to remind all of you NaNo-ers not to beat yourselves up when the words won’t quite come, or your kid starts throwing up at dinner, or a kidney stone wallops you in the back and won’t let up for three days…not that I’d know anything about that lately.

And because I am not as wise or well-spoken as Ze Frank, I figured I might as well share his video with you here.  It’s about having a case of the Supposedtobes.  Don’t be afraid of them.  The little man in the shop will bring you something new tomorrow.  Curious?  Watch.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2mGEthYWjQ]

Those who are about to NaNo…we salute you.  Bon courage!

– Liz

Teen Read Week

This year’s theme is: Read for the Fun of It!

Woo hoo!  It’s YASLA’s annual Teen Read Week!  Personally, I like to think every week should be Teen Read Week, but I’m not in charge (yet) so for now, we’ll celebrate in an orderly fashion.

There are events happening on-line and in-person if you are so inclined to be a part of it.  You can check it out here:  http://teenreadweek.ning.com/events

Also, here is a handy Top Ten list for 2012, from the American Library Association.  I am here to tell you that 7 out of 10 of these books are wonderful, and the other 3 are probably just as wonderful, it’s just that I haven’t read them all yet.

However, I don’t think a Top Ten is nearly enough to encompass all the great books that have come out this year, so I’m looking for your suggestions, too!

For me, I’d have to include:

  1. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
  2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  3. Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalastier
  4. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
  5. A whole bunch of awesome books I haven’t read until this year but came out in previous years.

YA is my passion and I read it by the bucketful, so if you’re looking for a suggestion, just ask!  And please, please–share your recommendations in the comments.  I’m always looking for something wonderful. 🙂

– Liz

 

BIG HUGE FANTABULOUS NEWS!!

I have been sitting on this news for a little while now, but I swear it hasn’t diminished in the slightest while I’ve waited for the okay to share it…

MY BOOK SOLD TO HARPER TEEN!!!!

Oh my God, I can’t even believe I’m putting that in writing.  Seriously.  I’m dying over here.  Someone pass the smelling salts…

*Is revived* You probably want details.

So, the book is called ASK AGAIN LATER, and it’s a contemporary YA romantic comedy.  You can read the description on my Current Projects Page.

It’ll be out in Winter of 2014, which seems crazy far away, but is actually going to come up so fast I can hardly believe it.

My super awesome editor is Erica Sussman (who is also the editor for some names you might know, like…Kiersten White, Kiera Cass, and Aprilynne Pike.  You know, just some other writers.)

And I owe a million thank you’s to my agent, Laura Bradford, who has perservered through a number of projects before we got Erica’s attention with this one.  Laura, you are ze best!

I can’t think of any better way to celebrate than with a dance party!  Let’s do this!

funny gifsfunny gifs
funny gifsfunny gifsfunny gifs
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Woo!  Yeah!  Get down!!

– Liz

Standing on Others’ Shoulders

Reading Chuck Wendig’s last post, On Cultivating Instinct as an Inkslinging, Storyspinning, Penmonkey Type, I found myself shouting (at least in my head, because while I am weird, I haven’t quite reached the shouting at myself in an empty house phase–most of the time), “Yes!  That!  Exactly!”

And while I would love to copy and paste his post here in its entirety, that would be very non-Internet cool of me, so I’m going to instead insist that you visit his blog.  Warning:  Chuck is not for those with delicate sensibilities.  If you are an active member of an anti-profanity organization, you might want to take a pass (although this is actually one of his least profane missives ever).

In the meantime, I also want you to have a look at this video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYlCVwxoL_g]

That, in case you are unfamiliar, is zefrank.  He’s an online performance artist and one of the original vloggers worth watching.  After a break from his one-year cult hit show, The Show (I know, right?  Who saw that coming?), he’s back with a new show, which is pretty freaking awesome.  This was the first video for the new thing, and if it doesn’t make you want to stand up on a chair and cry out, “O Captain, my Captain!” then A: you probably haven’t seen Dead Poets Society and that’s a situation you need to rectify as quickly as possible, and B: you probably need to watch it again.

So there you have it, me standing on the shoulders of wise men to send you some inspiration for the day.

Let’s do this thing–whatever this thing might be.

– Liz

The Triumph of Good Over Evil

Today is 9/11.  Despite not being personally affected by the day, I can still barely bring myself to look at photographs or read other people’s stories of where they were, and how it was.  When I see the television specials appear on my TV menu every September, I skip past so quickly, I practically leave skid marks.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much, or why it still has the power to make my soul ache 11 years later, but it does, and I can’t deny.

This year, for the first time, I decided to combat these awful feelings by restoring my faith in the general goodness of the world.  Because I do believe in that.  I believe that we have been slowly acclimated into thinking that people are evil and the world is going to hell by the news.  And it’s not that I’m foolish, or a conspiracy theorist–I know people do bad things.  People are capable of the most tremendous evil.  But in general, I earnestly believe that the world is good.  That people are kind, and want to care for each other.  Even those they disagree with.

And as good, kind, caring people, we are capable of acts of the most sublime beauty, and generosity, and joy, and kindness.  We don’t get to hear enough about it.  There is not enough wonderment brought to our eyes and ears every day.

While my ultimate goal would be a 24 hour news channel called the Wonderment Network that would report on nothing but the sublime, the beautiful, and the uplifting all day and night, that is a bit lofty for a single day’s work.

Instead, today, I am asking people to share their own stories of kindness.  Whether it’s a random act of kindness you performed (and yes, it’s okay to toot your own horn in this case) or if you were the recipient, please share it in the comments.

Let’s uplift the world a bit on this tragic day.  

With hope,

Liz

Ground Control to Major Tom

I’m in the middle of moving my website and blog from its former home to Word Press, so bear with me as I make the shift.

It could get ugly around here.

I think we need a bigger boat.

W is for Wheaton’s Law

Well, okay, it’s probably more formally referred to as Wil Wheaton’s First Rule of the Internet, but it counts for W either way, so…deal with it.

If you don’t know who Wil Wheaton is, you have got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.  Surely you remember this:

Or this:

Wil is not just a self-proclaimed nerd, he actually is one.  But the best kind.  I’d highly recommend following him on Twitter.

Wil’s First Rule of the Internet applies not only to life on-line, but to life in general.  And it’s not just writer-specific, it’s good for everyone.

And so now, I bestow on you, some true words to live by.  Wil Wheaton’s First Rule of the Internet:

Don’t be a dick.

‘Nuff said.