Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Back on 2011

At the beginning of the year (oh, shiny New Year!) I wrote a post about my goals for 2011. Now it's time to be held accountable.

My first goal was to finish the 2011 Debut Author Challenge. GOOOOOAAAAAL! I read and reviewed 12 debut YA novels.

I actually read a total of 322 books this year, the vast majority of which were picture books. But there were three non-debut novels and two adult non-fiction books as well.

My second goal was to finish my WIP. This goal wasn't met, but I am up to Draft #7. It's taken me awhile, but I've finally realized that I started in the wrong place. So I've chucked the first forty pages. I know what the problem is and how to fix it. I've just got to do it.

Which means my third goal to query agents didn't happen. But I've continued to add to my list of researched agents.

I also had some mini-goals. One was to start a YA critique group. That didn't happen either. My regular crit group, which is YA and MG, is in flux right now. I'd like to keep that one going before I try to set up another one. And one of the MG writers is now working on YA, and maybe I don't need a separate group anymore.

Another mini-goal was to start on the next project, which was contingent on finishing my current WIP. So that's still on a back burner.

The last mini-goal was to keep up with social media. I've continued to use (and love) Twitter and I've gotten much more consistent about blogging. (I'm planning on some changes for next year; more details in the next post). That one I'm saying goal met.

I try to remind myself that just because certain goals weren't met doesn't mean the year was an epic fail. It just means that I'm further along the road in my journey. A big thing for me is that I'm learning how to slow down and enjoy the view.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

I happen to be sitting in a bar in Maui right now. I can see the waves heading lazily to shore and soft breezes drift through the open lanai windows. It seems as un-Christmaslike as possible.

But I want to wish all of you a very merry Christmas. And my gift to you is a cute cat video.

How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas:

Mele Kalikimaka!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy Book Review

Title: How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy
Author: Crystal Allen
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
ISBN-10: 0061992720

288 pp.

Reading copy via local library

I started reading Lamar's Bad Prank during the summer but got distracted by, you know, life. But I'm glad I picked up Lamar's story again because it's a flat-out great read.

Lamar is a 13-year-old bowling fanatic living in a working class neighborhood in Indiana. His older brother Xavier is a basketball phenom and in his basketball crazy town, Lamar doesn't get any respect for being the King of Striker's, the local bowling alley. But Bubba Sanders, Lamar's bowling hero, is coming to Striker's on the Fourth of July and Lamar is planning on having the best summer ever.

Of course it all goes horribly wrong. Lamar's history with pulling pranks hinders his wooing of a local girl. Lamar begins hanging out with Billy Jenks, a decidedly bad influence who soon has Lamar hustling bowling games. And that leaves Lamar's best friend, Sergio, high and dry.

Lamar's home life isn't so great, either. Since his mom died, he and Xavier are always at odds and their working-two-jobs dad doesn't realize how out of control it can get until it's too late. Because by then, Lamar pulls the biggest prank EVER to get back at Xavier. A prank so big the whole town ends up hating on Lamar.

Crystal Allen's writing is both hilarious and touching. Her characters zing, especially Lamar, whose voice is dead-on perfect. The ending wraps up nicely, without being forced or sentimental. 

Lamar's Bad Prank would make a great recommendation to anyone looking for a boy's book, a humor book, or a sports book.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Taking the 2012 Debut Author Challenge

As promised, here's my list of books that I'm picking for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.

This list is not binding. As the year progresses, I will switch out titles based on availability and mood. 

My completely unscientific criteria for picking a title is simple:
  • Early buzz
  • Availability from Netgalley
  • Intriguing title
  • I met the author at the SCBWI conference this summer
January: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Early buzz! Available from Netgalley!)

February: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (Available from Netgalley!)

March: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (I met the author at the SCBWI conference this summer! Available from Netgalley!)

April: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont (Intriguing title! Available from Netgalley!)

After April, I don't know yet what's available from Netgalley, so I'm going with title alone.

May: What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen (sounds like it might be a ghost story)

June: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (sounds like YA contemp)

July: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (possibly a dystopia)

August: The Wheel by Lisa Stasse (I'm thinking maybe a fantasy)

September: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (could be YA contemp)

October: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (oooh, I hope it's a time travel book)

November: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (yet another YA contemp?)

December: Pivot Point by Kasie West (bet it's ballerinas ... or dystopia. I personally would love to see a post-apocalypse Nutcracker)

Here's to a new year with new books!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Debut Author Challenge - November Update

Wow, the year's almost over and the 2011 Debut Author Challenge will soon be completed. It's been a great year of reading and next week I'll share my completely unscientific choices for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. (Of course I'm doing it again. I'm hooked.)

Last month I read and reviewed The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. In other reading news, I also managed to finish Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell and I'm almost done reading Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery. I'll admit it ... I never read Anne of Green Gables before, although I adore the miniseries starring Megan Follows. The book is just as charming as I thought it'd be.

Bonus Video: Anne of Green Gables trailer

What classic novel haven't you read (yet)? What debut book did you read this year that you think will become a classic? (I'm putting my money on Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.)


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