Monday, May 31, 2010

Character Worksheet Templates

How many of you use character worksheets when you’re starting a new story? Do you find them useful? Do you reference them often, or do you fill them out and then never look at them again?

I use a basic template for my characters, and I do find them useful. The level of depth is different for main and minor characters, but I find that I reference them more than once while I’m writing my stories. In case you’re curious, here’s my templates:

Main Characters
Physical Description:
Personality Description:
Type of Neighborhood/Description of Home:  
Father’s Name:
Father’s Background and Occupation:
Mother’s Name:
Mother’s Background and Occupation:
Position in Family (oldest, youngest, etc):
Family Relationships:
Influential Person or Event:
Grade in School:
Attitude Toward School:
Favorite School Subject:
Least Favorite School Subject:
Favorite Sports:
Favorite Foods:
Dress Style:
Attitude Toward Religion:
Relationship with Boys:
Relationship with Girls:
Leader or Follower:
Strongest Positive Personality Trait:
Strongest Negative Personality Trait:
Consideration for Others:
How Other People See Him/Her:
Opinion of Self:
Other Traits:
Minor Characters
Physical Description:
Education Level and Grades:
Personality Description:
Dominant Characteristics/Traits:
Physical Tag (a mannerism or nervous habit):
Voice and Vocal Tag (voice pitch, frequently used word or phrase):
How Other People See Him/Her:
Opinion of Self:
Other Traits:

FYI: If you like these templates and want to use them, you can download a copy here.

All these details are good to know, especially if you have to set the story aside for whatever reason and you don’t pick it back up for several months or years. With these worksheets in place, you won’t need to reinvent all these details.

That said, I don’t think it’s enough. It’s like reading someone’s resume, actually. You’d never hire someone just by reading a resume, would you? Nope. You’d bring him in to interview first, so you can put a personality with the information on the page. And then you can decide whether or not to hire him.

The same thing is true in writing. I don’t think you can just start writing a character’s story with only facts in a worksheet to go by. You need to get to know him first, and there are many ways to do this.

I actually used to get to know my characters while writing the first draft, but it often presented too many surprises. I had to go back often to revise or rewrite before the first draft was even finished, because it was clear the characters needed to go in that direction. That drove me crazy.

Now, I do journaling from my main character’s perspective. I have her ‘tell’ me her story in her own words, as though she’s writing in her diary. This allows her personality to shine through, as well as her voice, mannerisms, quirks, and beliefs. It’s incredibly helpful.

For minor characters, I don’t do this kind of journaling. However, I can often glean information about them from my main character’s ramblings, because she often shares her opinion on various people and their actions. So, instead, I will focus more on the worksheet for them, and make a few additional notes here and there. It’s come in handy many times, because it’s often hard to keep track of who has what color hair or eyes, or what that person’s sibling is named.

So, while I find them useful, I also believe that they are nowhere near enough. Much more is needed in order to bring your characters to life. This is how I do it. What’s your method?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren.

I got one book for review this week:
Nathanial Fludd, Beastologist Book 2: The Basilisk's Lair by R.L. LaFevers
Release Date: June 7, 2010
Nate Fludd, Beastologist, is back in the camel saddle in hot pursuit of a missing, deadly Basilisk--the King of Serpents. As if saving an entire Dhughani village from the Basilisk's poisonous gaze isn't difficult enough, Nate and Aunt Phil must begin to piece together the mystery of his parents' disappearance and protect the lone copy of the Fludd Book of Beasts from a sinister man who always seem to be one step ahead of them. Pack your goggles, rue, and an extra pair of gloves and join Nate on another unbelievable adventure--there's no rest for the world's youngest beastologist-in-training!

What books did you bring home this week?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winner of the May book giveaway!

It's time once again to announce the winner of this month's book giveaway!  I'm going to do only one winner from now on, because it's easier on me.

So, the winner of this month's book haul is...


Congrats!  I'll get those books in the mail to you as soon as I possibly can.  :)

Stop by next saturday because I've got more books to give away!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas

Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?

I thought this story was a very effective portrayal about how it feels to be stalked, to have your life taken away one inch at a time.

Olivia was raised Catholic, and she draws comfort from her religion. She believes in its system - her father left when she was young, and the priests of her parish stepped in as father-figure. She has been brought up to believe that the priest is the symbol of God as human, and those in his parish are happy to do as he tells them because God speaks through him. As a result, she trusts priests, respects them, and even loves them (at least on some level).

Because of this, I found her compliance with Father Mark completely understandable. On top of her regular feelings about priests, she's star-struck because he's her literary idol. Plus, she's content with her life and has no reason to question or rebel. It takes some time before she starts to question his behavior, which is also understandable because humans often choose not to see things that will corrupt the things we love. When she does begin to question, I think her reactions and feelings are spot on.

I also completely understand her need for help in the end. It's her way of drawing strength so she can deal with everything. In cases like these, it's nearly impossible to handle effectively on your own. It also takes a great deal of courage to go to friends and loved ones with a situation like hers, so I thought she came out of the story much stronger.

All that said, there was a large part of this story that just did not work for me, and that was Father Mark. I've been the victim of a manipulator, and Father Mark wasn't the creative and creepy bad guy that he was made out to be. Manipulators use guilt to get what they want (as well as other things), and he didn't. He could have been far, far more creative in trying to get what he wanted. Also, there was a large piece missing from the end, which was really necessary to the story. And very necessary for Olivia.

As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.

We never find out how Olivia confronts Father Mark. Does she do it through her mother? Her school's principal? Publicly? And how does he react? Horrified? Guilty? Feigning innocence? Does he attempt to apologize, or does he try to manipulate his way out of the situation? Has he done this before (to other girls), or did his good intentions get way out of hand? These are all incredibly important details, because they directly affect Olivia and how she will begin to heal. Without them, I can't connect to Olivia because I don't know what she's feeling. I kind of feel cheated because I spent the entire story connected to Olivia, and then that was taken away.

Still, I enjoyed this book. It grabbed me and held me, right up until the end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Brainstorming Up A Storm

Last week, I talked a little bit about how much brainstorming I do early on in my writing process. A few of you have asked about that, so I thought I’d share my brainstorming process in detail.

I do multiple sessions of brainstorming. The first is when I get the initial idea for a story. I use a technique called Clustering. Basically, you start with one thing, then you branch off that thing with the first thing that pops into your mind. Here’s an example:

As you can see, there’s a lot here, and I kind of got carried away. :) But that’s easy to do with this technique. It’s one of the ways that I can sit down and go nuts with the story’s possibilities. Then, when I’ve exhausted all avenues (even the silly/improbable/ridiculous ones), I start arranging them, keeping the ones that fit into the story arc and discarding the rest.

My brainstorming tables used to look like the one above, but not anymore. Now, it’s a huge mess of scribbles in a journal, so it’s doubtful that anyone except me would understand any of the connections. :) But the connections are there, and I eventually rewrite everything in the proper order.

I do this kind of brainstorming with various story elements, like plot, subplots, and character development. I will also do journaling from the perspective of my main character, which helps me to better understand him/her – thus, helping me make appropriate plot choices along the way.

This process allows me the creative freedom to explore without limits. When I’m done, I can turn it into an outline, which will keep me pointed in the right direction as I write my story. It’s never perfect, though, so when I get stuck, I’ll come back to this brainstorming process to get back on track. It’s gotten me out of many sticky situations. :)

Do you brainstorm? If so, how do you do it? If not, why?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

The premise of this story doesn’t sound much different from other fey stories already on the shelves, so this wasn’t a book I intended to pick up. But I kept hearing about it from several people, so I decided to give it a try.

The beginning is pretty much the same story you’d find in any other fey story. But I kept going because of the title – it promised something different and unexpected. And it delivered. I'm looking forward to the next book for this reason alone, because only a highly creative mind could come up with this kind of twist. :)

Without that element, though, there wasn't anything that set this story apart from others like it. The characters could have been more unique and developed. And some of the plot elements felt a bit contrived.

I didn't really buy the romance aspect because there was little to no buildup. Meghan’s an attraction to Ash went from zero to 100 in like 2.5 seconds. :) But what really bothered me was that she never questioned those feelings, or wondered why the two connected so quickly. She’d seen enough strange things in the Nevernever to be wary, so I didn’t believe that she’d overlook the strangeness of her and Ash.

Her relationship with Puck was much more believable because they’ve had years together as friends, and they clearly know each other well. The subtleties of their friendship is very well done, and it wasn’t hard to figure out why Puck kept disobeying orders for Meghan.

I was glad that Meghan didn't get completely caught up in the romance, though. I’m really tired of stories where the girl’s sun rises and sets with how her love interest sees her, and she never went there. I was also glad that she was never swayed from her goal. The choices she was presented with were interesting, and the sacrifices she made felt realistic. The writing could have been sharper (too much telling instead of showing for my taste) but it's still a story I enjoyed.

I just finished reading a galley of the sequel, Iron Daughter, and I’ll probably post a review on Goodreads soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The League of Extraordinary Writers

There's a new blog in town, called The League of Extraordinary Writers, and it's run by four dystopian authors:
Beth Revis
Julia Karr
Angie Smibert
Jeff Hirsch

These authors are lovers of dystopian novels, and will be exploring everything dystopian.  Whether it's books, movies, TV, authors.  You name it, they'll talk about it.  :)

They're also giving away some awesome books and swag, so go check it out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do Your Characters Take Over?

Fellow blogger Sherrie Petersen recently did a fantastic post about characters.  She talked about how characters can become so real that they take over your story and go in directions that don’t jive with your plans. It’s an awesome post and you should go read it. Like, now.

Anyway, that got me thinking. I’ve had this happen to me, but it’s never gotten to the point where my characters have undermined my original story plan. It came close a few times in my early novels (the ones that are now in drawers). When they started going off track, I took a step back to see if this was what the story really needed. If it was, then I’d readjust my plan. If it wasn’t, then I’d adjust my characters to get them back on track.

Recently, though, it doesn’t really happen to me anymore. I hadn’t noticed this until I read Sherrie's post, and I wanted to figure out what changed. I think part of it is my writing process, and the rest has to do with me...

My writing process:
First Draft: a hand-written, god-awful mess that no one would be able to decipher except me. This ultimately gets turned into an outline, because that's about all it's good for.
Second Draft: a translation of the outline into story form. Basically, it’s the raw material, or lump of clay, that will be molded into a full-fledged story in subsequent drafts.
Third thru Zillionth Drafts: adding in layers of characterization, subplots, subtext, etc. Just like with a sculpture, it’s the details that make a story so convincing.

In my first draft, I do a lot of brainstorming. I mean, a lot. This is where I give my characters free reign and let them go wherever they want, however they want to get there. I can afford it at this point because I haven’t committed to anything yet (as in, I haven’t written 100 pages that I might end up deleting). So I let my characters go nuts until they've collapsed on the ground, twitching from overstimulated indulgence.  :)  While they recover, I lay out all the places they went, keep the best and toss the rest, and then I start laying out the story’s timeline. This eventually turns into the outline. It’s a lot of work. Okay, it’s an INSANE amount of work. But, when I’m done, I feel confident that I’ve got the best path possible for my characters. So if they try to go off course later on, I can put them back on track without the slightest blink. :)

But, as I said earlier, this is only part of it. The rest of it is me as a writer, and how I see my stories. I draw many parallels between my stories and my kids. They are both creations that came from me, and I am responsible for them. For my kids, I’m responsible for guiding them toward becoming decent human beings that contribute to society. That means they don’t get to do all the things they want, because not all of it is good for them. I see my stories the same way. The characters may want to go off toward X, but I know they need to go to Y because that’s what’s good for the story. It’s not easy (neither is parenting, btw), but I always find a way to muddle through and find a good balance that will keep the characters true to themselves, as well as to the story.

Nathan Bransford also did a great post on this subject a few months ago, which is definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.

Anyway, that’s how I balance characters with story. How do you balance yours?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.
Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.
Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.
As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

This story is definitely quieter than some of the other YA available. Normally, I'm not a fan of quieter books because they are hard to pull off, and not many can do it well. But this story pulled me in right away.

The voice is soft and subtle, yet the writing is sharp and the characters are pretty clear. I really liked Neily. His voice and actions matched his character, as did his confusion and pain over losing Carly. I actually wish the entire story had been told from his perspective, because I didn't like Audrey. I thought her voice was too similar to Neily's (sometimes I didn't know who was speaking in an exchange of dialog), and her voice was too soft for her actions and personality.

At times, the dialog was sharp and fantastic. At others, though, it sounded too old for teens (some phrases would never be used by a teen, no matter how mature he/she was).

I thought the mystery started off very well. I love stories that feed me just a little bit of info at a time because I like to try to solve the mystery along with the characters. That said, I thought that Neily jumped too far too quick when he realized who the killer was. I had already suspected that person, but I still thought Neily was too sure, especially given the circumstance. As a result, what followed was a bit of a letdown. Though I do like how the story ends.

Still, this is a great story that I definitely recommend.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Post: Shelli Johannes-Wells from Market My Words

I asked Shelli from the fabulous blog, Market My Words, if she'd do a guest blog here today.  She has done so many wonderful posts about marketing your work, regardless of whether you're pre or post-published.  I was curious if her marketing background helped her get to where she is today: a few novels under her belt, and also represented by the awesome Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group.  Thankfully, she agreed to do a guest post on the subject.  So let's see what she has to say!

I am curious about how your knowledge of marketing has helped you on your road to publication.
I think my marketing background makes me more sensitive to the business side of publishing. In the end it is a business and books have to sell. I find it quite easy to pitch books and actually have to come up with my pitch before I can start writing the book. I think this helps me stick to a core story. I also think my marketing helped me to create great queries that got the attention of agents/editors. But at the end of the day – no matter how good your idea sounds - the writing has to be there. Going forward, my marketing background will definitely help me promote books once I am published.

I also think my background gave me a topic to focus my blog on. A way I could help other writers – no matter what stage of writing they were in. I like to give back. I kinda feel like I don’t deserve anything unless I give back first. So I was happy to find this niche that people responded to in a positive way.

Did it help in any way as you were learning the craft of writing?
My marketing didn’t help me learn the craft of writing. It helped me pitch my ideas and hone in on marketable ideas. But not to actually improve my writing. It does give me a good sense of what is marketable and what isn’t. But craft is craft. I know that no matter how good the writing or how original the idea – if the book can’t or doesn’t sell books, it doesn’t matter.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you think would have helped you more early on?
I would have learned more about the publishing business earlier. Joined scbwi earlier. Subscribed to Publishers Marketplace earlier. I kinda jumped in with writing and querying before I really understood how it all works. So I think I wasted some time in the beginning.

How do new writers start building a platform?
There is no right way. I think writing is #1. But when you’re not writing, think about what kind of author you want to be and how you want to present yourself. Don’t be afraid to test the waters whether it be with blogs, twitter, FB or something else. But don’t do it all! And never put marketing in front of your writing. Just be sure to think about it as an important part of the publication journey.

Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, Shelli!! 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren.

I got two books for review this week:
The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan
Lena has lived her whole life near the beach – walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves – the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.
As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.
But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.
Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman – with a silvery tail.
Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.
And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …
Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
What books did you bring home this week?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

In The Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, are on their own. They set out to find what’s left of their family, carrying between them ten dollars, a backpack full of dirty clothes, a notebook, and a stack of letters from their brother, who is serving a tour in Vietnam. And soon into their journey, they have a ride. With a man and a beautiful girl who may be in love with Jonah. Or Simon. Or both of them.
The man is crazy. The girl is desperate. This violent ride is only just beginning. And it will leave the brothers taking cover from hard truths about loyalty, love, and survival that crash into their lives.
One more thing: The brothers have a gun. They’re going to need it.

I love Andrew Smith’s blog. It’s poignant, fun, and thought-provoking all in one. My kind of blog. :) I searched out his books as a result, and wasn’t disappointed.

In The Path of Falling Objects is sharp and gripping, and I read it nearly in one sitting. The two main characters are very realistic, and such brothers. I have two boys who are close in age (granted, they are 4 and 6, not 14 and 16), but they behave in very similar ways that Jonah and Simon behave. They’re close, but can fight something fierce. So I identified with Jonah and Simon right away.

Actually, all the characters are vivid and fully-developed. It’s clear Lilly is in it for survival, and that Mitch is in it for Lilly. The farther the story goes, the more psychotic Mitch becomes. He is a truly scary character that could give sensitive readers nightmares (because he’s just that real).  Mitch's mental instability introduces a high level of violence not often seen in YA.  Some reviewers have called it gratuitous, but I disagree.  I thought it fit well with the story.  But if you don't like violent stories, then you should probably read something else.  :)

My absolute favorite part of this book, though, was the multiple viewpoints. First, let me say that I normally don’t like multiple viewpoints because most stories don’t need it. But the way Smith handled this is so unique and intriguing that the writer geek in me got all excited. Even though there are multiple viewpoints, the alternating viewpoints are still being told by Jonah. And that’s just way cool. If I’m not making sense here, then go read the book and you’ll understand... 

The title is perfect for the story, too.  The term 'falling objects' applies both in the physical and emotional sense, in most of the characters.  There is lots of depth to the story, and I'm sure I'll uncover more great stuff on the next read.  The only thing that was sparse was physical descriptions of the characters.  But, really, Smith showed them to me so well through their actions that I didn't mind.

I checked this book out from the library, but will be buying a copy to add to my personal collection. Smith’s next book, The Marbury Lens, is coming out this November (I think), and I’m itching for a copy.

Andrew, if we’re ever in the same city at the same time, I’ll be hounding you to sign my copies of your books. :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Experience and Talent

I’ve been hemming and hawing over this topic for about a year now. I almost didn’t blog about it because I’m guessing it’s going to offend a few writers. So let me just say now that offending is not my intention. I’m just making some observations. Anyway...

I’ve written a few times before about writing what you know, as well as writing what you don’t know. Now I want to take that one step further and talk about how that ties in with experience.

When I was in college, I had an amazing creative writing professor. In fact, if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be writing today because he pushed me hard to keep writing (he knew my major was math, not English), and he pushed me to be the best writer I could possibly be.

While I was taking his classes, he said two things that I didn’t understand at the time. I also completely disagreed with him.
He said: “There is no such thing as a prodigy writer.”
Basically, he explained that when you see a movie with a ten year old kid who can write award-winning poetry or novels, that’s not possible. The reason is that writing comes from experience, as well as the understanding of that experience. If you’re ten years old, there’s a limited amount of things you’ve experienced. Even if you’ve seen a lot in those ten years, there’s still a limited ability to understand those experiences because you have a limited amount of things to compare it to. So, that ten year old writer may well be a prodigy, but that won’t be apparent until he’s closer to thirty years old.

I sort of understood what he was saying, but I didn’t completely agree.

Then, he said this: “Give yourself ten years, and then you’ll be a great writer.”
This one hurt a bit, partly because it was directed at me (it wasn’t a general statement about people). I was eighteen when he told me this, and I thought I was a pretty good writer already. Sure, there was still plenty to learn, but I didn’t see how ten years was going to magically turn me into a great writer. Plus, when you’re eighteen, ten years is a long time and I didn’t want to wait that long. :)

Now that those ten years have come and gone, I’m beginning to understand what he was saying. And I have to admit that he was right. Does that mean all young writers can’t write well? Absolutely not. But it does mean that a young writer can’t write a many-layered, timeless classic. And I’ve finally found the perfect example to illustrate this.

Earlier this year, I read the book Break by Hannah Moskowitz. She wrote it when she was sixteen (I think), and WOW can this girl write! Her teen characters are so vivid and real, and their motivations and choices exactly fit a teen’s mind. If she wrote a book that contained nothing but teens, I have no doubt that it would be amazing.

But the world doesn’t contain only teens. It has adults, too, and that’s where Moskowitz’s work is flawed. When I was a teenager, I remember not understanding my parents’ motivations for most things. They were the gatekeepers of what I could and couldn’t do, and their reasons for not letting me do certain things didn’t make sense. That’s how the adults are in Break. Their actions don’t make sense, and those actions are not things that responsible adults would do. But that’s how teenagers see adults. Since Moskowitz was a teenager when she wrote the story, that’s how she wrote her adults.

That doesn’t make her a bad writer, though. Moskowitz is obviously observant and insightful, and is only limited by her own experience. She’s about as close to a prodigy as you can get. :) It's only a matter of time before her adult characters are leaping off the page. I look forward to her future books, and I have no doubt that they will win some awards. To quote my professor, ‘in about ten years.’ :)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren.

I got four books for review this week:

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.
When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
Olivia Peters is over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and muchadored local priest Mark D. Brendan, offers to become her personal writing mentor. But when Father Mark’s enthusiasm for Olivia’s prose develops into something more, Olivia’s emotions quickly shift from wonder to confusion to despair. Exactly what game is Father Mark playing, and how on earth can she get out of it?

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty--rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar--pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare--or die trying to fight it.

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.
Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries' coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani's death.
Ani isn't one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin's plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

What books did you bring home this week?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Book Giveaway!!

I've got yet more books to give away this month:

White Cat by Holly Black
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone and her mother faithfully deliver their quota of three infants every month. But when Gaia’s mother is brutally taken away by the very people she serves, Gaia must question whether the Enclave deserves such loyalty.

The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas
Griffin Penshine is always making wishes. But when a sinister old woman tricks her into accepting a box of eleven shiny Indian Head pennies from 1897, Griffin soon learns these are no ordinary pennies, but stolen wishes.
This box of labeled pennies comes with a horrible curse: People in possession of the stolen coins are Wish Stealers, who will never have their wishes granted.... In fact, the opposite of what they've wished for will happen. Griffin must find a way to return these stolen wishes and undo the curse if her own wishes are to come true.
But how can Griffin return wishes to strangers who might not even be alive? Her journey leads her to ancient alchemists, Macbeth's witches, and a chance to help people in ways she never imagined, but the temptation of the Wish Stealers' dark and compelling power is growing stronger. Can Griffin reverse the curse in time to save herself and the people she loves?

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Fill out the form below, then check back here on May 29 to see if you've won.  Good luck!