Thursday, March 31, 2011

Block Party: Mean Peoples.

The mean people of the world can bring everybody down. K.M. Walton (who's debut novel CRACKED--about two boys, a bully and his victim, whose very different circumstances at home have led them to become roommates in the same psych ward-- will be released in Spring of 2012 by Simon Pulse!!!) has agreed to grace us with her presence and so a post about crafting the perfect meanie. She is represented by the epic Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown Ltd.

It’s hard to be around mean people. I'm not kidding when I say mean people suck. You know the kind: pot-stirrers, nasty thinkers, back-stabbers, hateful meanies, talk-behind-your-backers. And phony-baloneys are the worst of the mean people.

Well now that we’ve established that mean people suck let me tantalize you with this thought: The actions and characteristics of mean people make captivating characters. Don't they? We writers love drama and tension in our writing. Without the jerky characters we'd be left with Barney and rainbows.


While reading through the first draft of my first-ever-novel, complete with a really bad, bad guy, I thought – hey, why is this dude so bad? He can’t just be bad for badness sake. That would be so hollow of him. So un-interesting. The poor guy needed motivation and distinct character traits and some dang good reasons for his evilness. I went back to the drawing board and carefully crafted his personality. His quirks. Him. I gave the bad guy just as much attention as my main character. When I read the manuscript now he feels alive to me, and deep and rich with development, and not at all “Oh, he’s just a bad guy’ish.”

I mean, bad guys captivate. The dark characters draw you in. Imagine a world that cruelly hawked Star Wars without Darth, or Harry without Voldemort, or Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle) without her idiot parents, or Jack & Rose without Cal, or Austin without Dr. Evil...

I don't want to live in that world. No way.

I want my evil dude to be interesting and a little complicated. You know, like a real human being - even though he’s actually not a human being, but, whatever, you get my point.

But, REAL mean people still totally and completely suck rotten eggs.

~Kate Walton

K.M. Walton

CRACKED~Simon Pulse/Simon&Schuster~Spring 2012

TEACHING NUMERACY: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking (co-author) ~Corwin Press~April 2011


Twitter: KMWalton1

Thank you so very much Kate!! And to all our readers I advise you go follow her, her posts are always interesting and to be frank she rocks. So the only logical thing to do is go and read all her posts from here on out!! ~ Hayley

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Block Party: Why I Think Bloggers Are the New Booksellers

Technology has changed a lot of things, and the world of publishing is no exception. Holly, the author of A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT, has gotten very good very quickly at navigating this new world.

Right before I got my undergraduate degree, I remember a girl in one of my lit classes asking the prof, “How do you know what new stuff is good to read? Where do you start?”

What she was saying was that she’d been buried in her classroom reading so long—so inundated with thick classics—that she was completely out of the loop, as far as contemporary lit was concerned.

She got snickered at, though—because at that time, in my hometown of Springfield, MO, she had plenty of bookstores where she could browse and become reacquainted with contemporary writers.

Now, though? My hometown has no independent bookstores. Not one. Recently, my favorite used store closed. The Borders Express in the mall shut down around the holidays, and the larger Borders is in the process of shutting its doors, too.

The loss means the art of bookstore browsing is dying—and not just in my hometown. Walking aisles and pulling spines is no longer something you can do on lunch hours or Saturdays…it’s something, quite frankly, you do online.

And nothing—NOTHING has helped introduce readers to new authors quite like book bloggers. Instead of having a bookseller who can recommend titles, we now have bloggers.

Bloggers have been instrumental in connecting my books with the right readers. They’ve been incredible to me, shouting my praises from Twitter, using their own money to pass along copies of my books in tours.

I know exactly how much work bloggers have put into helping to promote my books—and I’m eternally, eternally grateful…


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Hey all! Hope you're having a wonderful day in sunny where-ever-ville. 

Part of a great Block Party is spreading the news about wonderfully awesome things and we have a great one for you! Tahereh Mafi is a 23-year-old author represented by Jodi Reamer of Writer's House. Her debut novel, SHATTER ME, is set to release November 15th of this year! We have the great pleasure of sharing a post she published on her blog (go here!) just a few days ago. 


so this is a story.

it's a story about all the things you've ever wanted and all the things you didn't know you even had it in you to want and you sit there. you watch the windows and you wait for the mail and you jump up, alert, ready for even the smallest bit of news, something to change, something different coming your way, something to tell you your time has come. maybe now maybe in just a moment maybe even tomorrow.

you wait for it.

you open the doors and look outside and walk up and down the driveway. you check your watch and peek into the neighbor's yard and wonder why they never open their blinds anymore. you sit on the sidewalk. you smile at the strangers who stroll past, leashes laced into fingers clenched, concentrated on keeping the dogs at bay. don't step out of line, little quadruped. don't bark too loudly and don't jump too high and make sure, they tell you, they say make sure you sign on the dotted line and don't forget to file your taxes on time. wear your shiniest shoes just to stand in lines and fidget just enough, smile just a little, nod at nothing in particular and shove your hands in your pockets and pretend you're unable to make eye contact with anything but that spot, that little mark on the wall 50 feet from where you're standing. pretend you're just a number.

tap your left foot. shift your weight. tug at your collar and bite your bottom lip and take a deep breath. look around a little. check your wrist for the time you've lost and beg a stranger for a cigarette.

flip the channels on your television and watch the colors flicker and fade. pay your bills and play with the kids, touch the aging walls, run your hands through your hair and ignore whatever it is in your throat that you just can't seem to swallow. close the windows in your home and open the windows on your desk, forget all about outer space and lose yourself in cyberspace and click away the moments, the conversations you're not interested in having.

open that word document and stare at it.

wait for the moment. stare at the cursor blinking back at you and study it, try to ignore the bleats of your heart as you check your phone for no missed calls, no new messages, no news worth staining your screen. try to stop your fingers from running a marathon down your thigh.

tell the moment to jump off a cliff.

stack the dishes in the sink and shove the papers off your desk and cut the cord on your internet connection. lose the pleats in your pants. pick up your fingers and put them to work. catch the clock on the wall and put it in your pocket. chain it to your wrist. don't let it go.

don't wait for someone else's moment. write the book ripping a hole in your chest and seize the hours slipping through your fingers because it's now, the moment is now, it's right now it's always been right in front of you.

don't apologize for having a story to tell.

apologize for not telling it.


Thanks Tahereh for letting us post it! Go here to visit her in her own domain. (You won't regret it!)

So, what did you think? Inspired? Fired up? 
What story do you have to tell? And better yet, are you telling it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Titles Reign do Block Parties

Hey all! So titles, they will drive you crazy, drive you wild, make your hair fall out, and give you the urge to slit throats. <---just me?
How embarrassing. *blushing like a firetruck*
Titles are super-substantially-importantifical (yes, I did just make up that word, it's 1 am. Give me a break) because they are the first thing the reader is exposed to, aside from the cover in some cases, of a book. A book called, "Dusk" is most likely going to be different than something called, "Willy and the Witch's Brew." It gives a general idea of your story.

How to come up with a title: No Clue
This is what I do: _________<---big period of time where I wait for it to "come to me"

What I suggest: Find titles that you like and try to figure out why. Symbolism? Simplicity? Superficiality? (just kinda kidding on that last one. I really just wanted 3 "S" I said, it's late.) Then, mess around with some words, think about what you want the reader to get make a big mess of what your brain is thinking on a whiteboard, chalkboard, wall, or other shiny surface, like a mirror. Play scrabble (but with words) just have fun. You'll be suprised what comes Girl of Words, Boys of Betrayal or even Children of Reptiles. (At least one of those is a future book of mine. Guess which in the comments)

Part 2 of this post is a super awesome and amazing event the Ink Slingers are hosting all week long next week. It's going to be totally fun and really awesome. What is it?
We're inviting all of our friends and that means you! YES YOU! Bring your friends, your family, your fellow writers! It's fun for all! 
The best part is we've lined up some fantastical guest bloggers. Check some them out!

SUNDAYMy guest is Lisa (aka The Blonde Blogette) - She's a pop-culture/reality TV kinda guru. ~B. Robison

MONDAYMy guest is YA writer Ghenet, of Her blog is a must-read for me, and I'm so glad she'll be regaling us with her insights about time management in writing. As someone who continued to write during a period where she was working full-time, planning her wedding AND receiving an MFA, she's an inspiration to us all! ~Emery

TUESDAYSurprise guest blogger!

WEDNESDAYMy guest is YA and MG writer Holly of In addition to being the author of the fantastic books A Blue So Dark andPlaying Hurt Holly was the first author whose blog tour Ella and I participated in. Her insights about using blogs to promote newly published books were a real eye opener for me. ~Aaron

THURSDAY: Surprise guest blogger!

FRIDAY: Surprise guest blogger!

So, what about it? Are you going to be at the cyber world's largest BLOCK PARTY!? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Love Smells....BAD

I love a good classic romance like pretty much everyone else.

Ron and Hermionie = Perfection. 
Harry + Ginny = (there are no words)
Emma + Knightly = LOVE!
Noah + Allie = Breath taking (The Notebook)
Benjamin + Andie = Lovely (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days)
Elizabeth + Will Turner = H.O.T.
Elizabeth + Mr. Darcy = Classic

They can MAKE the story for me. That said....there are so many books/movies/etc out there with the happy couple ending that sometimes I want the love to be more complex. I want the challenge to be more that getting up the guts to ask that girl/guy out or get over the fact that your parents expect you to marry someone you'll never love. I'm not trying to say those aren't great, because they are. I find myself wanting...more. On those days I dig out the historical fiction books. Namely, anything to do with Elizabeth I of England, aka The Virgin Queen.

Elizabeth's love story is filled with rumors and accusations. That alone makes it fascinating. What I like most about her is she gave up love, among a lot of other things, for the chance to rule her people. I won't go into her history, because I know for some that's boring, but trust me when I say, she's more than the classic love story.

I adore love stories where one of the lovers has to make the ultimate choice: love or the greater good. I rejoice with them when they choose love, but I respect them when they choose the greater good. I think most of us would choose love, but people like Elizabeth couldn't be as carefree as we are. She had a country to lead, nothing she did could be done carelessly or selfishly, not even love. I find that really tragic. Which may be part of my fascination with her. I can't imagine going through the same thing.

If you are interested in Elizabeth's story I could name a million and one books to read, but I think it'd be more useful for you to check out what your local bookstore or library has. You'll be amazed the amount of historical fiction available. (One of the best things, is that these people lived. Sure, the writer may have fudged a little, but it's still fascinating.)

If want the quick version, I have yet to see an Elizabethan movie based on her life that doesn't give an overview of her love life. So go pick up a couple at your local rental. It seems they come up with a new one every couple years.  I just saw ELIZABETH, the Golden Age. It was amazing and held true to most of the history I know.

So what about you? What couples make your heart flutter? Let me know in the comments!

One last note: Don't forget to go congradulate Demitria Lunetta!!! She just got an offer on her manuscript, In the After. Go here to check her out, trust me, you'll be happy you did.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Hopeless Romantic Takes The Stage!!

So this week it is favorite fictional couples.

I am warning you now. I am probably one of the biggest hopeless romantics in the world. I'm that girl in the movie theater who freaks out at the littlest motions and actions on the screen and you roll your eyes and think "Jeeze could she just shut the F up?" I apologize now if you have ever been in a theater with me, and I have been that girl. Recently I have been able to control myself more, however the bruises on the arms of my friends from where I grab hold and squeeze or whack to emphasize that something was important.

I take everything and when I say everything I mean EVERYTHING over analyze it, break it down and somehow manage to warp whatever it was into some deeper meaning about the characters suppressed sexual feelings...I sound crazy right? Yes, I do I know and hat is okay because I came to terms with it long ago.

BTW I am usually right. Just sayin'.

Alright. Lets get going then shall we?

First up, my first true ship, one I did not realized existed until I understood what a ship was. (For those of you who do not speak 'Fandom', and ship is shortened from relationship it means that you want a pair to be together.)

So first up...Ron and Hermione.

Now I will not lie, when I first read the first book I wanted it to be Harry and Hermione. Now please bear in mind I had a best friend who I maybe had a crush on, and well I placed my group of friends into characters shoes. What kid doesn't? Anywho so when I saw the second movie there was this moment, right at the end where Ron goes to hug Hermione then hesitates. And BAM! That was the moment. I just got it. Now there is a beauty to the dynamic of these two, they are always at each others throats, bating each other and forming a friendship that lasts through traumatic events and death. I have had a bond like that before in my lifetime, and she is still my best friend to this day, I would do anything for her. Their bond is one of those that is built on a complete understanding of the other person the good, the bad, and the annoying.

Now though I will not discuss them, Harry and Ginny, hello they rock. Enough said.

Second up, Will and Lyra, from His Dark Materials. Okay I am a sucker for tortured souls (yes I am a Romeo and Juliet fan, thank you very much), so when these two kids, who had become best friends, and sacrificed parts of themselves for each other, had to say goodbye, a permanent unchangeable goodbye. I cried. I cried long and hard and well was just sad. Their stories had crossed universes to unite two children who had basically no one else and they became the world to each other. And then by choice for the greater good, let the other go. If that is not love I do not know what is.

Wesley and Buttercup, The Princess Bride, I had to have watched this movie a billion times when I was little, there was a time where I could quote it word for word. And when I read the book, I was just completely blown away, the writing was amazing captivating, and the couple who I thought were just soul mates became so much more. I saw their relationship and understood, it was more than just a pretty story it was a love tale for the ages.

Julie and Luke from Don't Die, My Love, I read this when I was just twelve in Florida, sitting out by the pool, I had just suffered a big loss and this book caught me. Yes the title is a tell for the ending. Do not judge me I was going through a phase. The point is it was just a story about how two people even in the face of death stuck by each other and did everything they could to help the other, to make life easier for the other, despite the fact that both were dying on the inside (physically and figuratively). Safe to say they won my heart and took my breath away. Also really pissed off my family because I ended up crying in my sleep after finishing so...

Now I am just going to list, because I can. Listing is fun, and then I also have to go to bed soon so...

Shane and Claire, Morganville Vampires.
Remy and Dexter, This Lullaby.
Zoe and Chard, Aimee.
Fiona and Reed, The Safe-Keepers Secret.
Annika and Steve, Just One Wish.
Morgead and Jez, Night World; Huntress.
Brittany and Alex, Perfect Chemistry.
Landon and Jamie, A Walk to Remember.
Noah and Allie, The Notebook.
Aislinn and Seth, Wicked Lovely.
Jordan and Courtney, Two-way Street.
Jessica and Jonathan, The Midnighters.
Simon and Zoe, The Silver Kiss.
Ian and Cassie, Wild Roses.
Vivian and Gabriel, Blood and Chocolate.

Uh yes, bedtime now, and I need to go to sleep, school tomorrow, unfortunately.

I will see you next week yeah? And look I posted on time too, whoo whoo!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Loves Odd Couples

When it comes to fictional couples I’m a sucker for a good odd couple, but not of the stereotypical uptight/ loose variety. I prefer something like…

Hannah, Norman, and Mike from the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series: I love how dynamic this relationship is. Hannah is a modern woman who owns and runs her own business and has two boyfriends, neither of whom she sleeps with. Mike is a buff detective who chooses to get his sex from other sources and thinks it’s cute when Hannah “plays detective.” Norman is a balding dentist who is by Hannah’s side though all of her crime solving escapades and built their dream home in hopes that she’d marry him and they could live there together. If there weren’t three of them they would make the perfect couple.

Agnes and Shane from Agnes and the Hitman: A cook and a hitman should be the ultimate odd couple, but they really aren’t. Shane is a government hitman who spent his childhood in military schools after his parents died, and Agnes is a food columnist with abandonment issues and a penchant for hitting men with frying pans.

Emily Pollifax and Jack Farrell from the Mrs. Pollifax Series: Since Mrs. Pollifax is about 20 years Farrell’s senior theirs isn’t a romantic relationship, but when it comes to these two spies when one of them gets into trouble the other isn’t far behind. Alternating between endearment and frustration they never cease to surprise each other.

John Crichton and Aeryn Sun from Farscape: They clashed from the moment they met, and even when they were getting along they drove each other crazy. They wanted to be together, but neither on of them wanted to be the one to admit it. They’d rather let the flip of a coin decide the fate of their relationship than actually admit that they want to be together.

Do you like unusual odd couples? Let me know in the comments.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

February's Down and Dirty Book

If getting down and dirty is something you're looking to do Mud Works is definitely the book for you. Even though it was written for adults the recipes are designed to be able to be made and used with kids. However, since there’s just something about digging your hands into slimy, squishy, gooy blobs that never gets old it's a book adults can enjoy as well.

One night I was having friends over for dinner but hadn't had a chance to make dessert, so I whipped up a batch of edible peanut butter play-dough, which is one part peanut butter and one part dried milk. When I first put the bowl down on the coffee table everyone just stared at it, but everyone ended up having a blast making and eating dessert sculptures.

However, I prefer the recipes that can be used in model making because I can incorporate them into my writing processes. I like making models of my character and settings, and the recopies make it easy for me to whip up a model when I’m having problems visualizing something. Also each recipe comes with a little blurb about what it works best for, so I can easily find the perfect recipe for my intended purpose.

There’s also something to be said about the recipes I make for my students. After making “goo,” which is about three parts corn starch and one part water, I spent the better part of the day finding excuses to play with it. I had almost as much fun with it as my students did, and it was a great way for them to practice their spelling words. The Jell-O plastic, which is 1 packet of gelatin and 3 tablespoons of water, was also a fun one as it progressively changed from liquid to squishy solid to hard solid. The kids loved the way it felt when it was squishy and turning it into stained glass art using permanent markers once it was solid.

Even though it’s a book that’s designed to be experienced as opposed to just read I’d still recommend Mud Works to anyone who’s a kid at heart, regardless of whether or not you have kids.


Friday, March 4, 2011

My Confession

1. I could not think of a better title for this post than the one above...sad, I know.

2. Today, I found a little green man on my car in the parking lot. (He is plastic.) I think St. Patrick's Day is coming early this year.

3. I went to an awesome hockey game and now am dying to add something hockey related to some book I eventually write.

4. I really want to be on spring break right now so I don't have to worry about homework or class. Thank heavens it starts at 11a.m. today!!!

5. I have a reoccuring thing in a couple of my dreams. That thing may or...may not be a carrot vending machine.

That is all. What confessions do you need to voice? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It has been too long since my last confessional.

The last time I did this post, was well way to long ago.

Here goes.

1. I have not been writing regularly.

2. I have been letting my senioritis take complete control of my life.

3. I'm job hunting because my current job is making me miserable.

4. I have been being a horrible blog poster. HORRIBLE. I have no idea why my Critique group is even still talking to me.

5. I hate school.

6. I haven't read a book for fun in over two months.

7. I haven't had a full week of school since before Christmas break, thank you Snow Days and my
"personal" days.

8. I miss Florida where I would have been last week if my vacation had not been taken away. I am saying this now, if my spring break is so much as looked at by the school board I make no guarantees about what I may do. I will revolt. I will put up a fight. I will not miss my vacation. NOT happening.

9. I am sick of picking up yearbook slack. Our editors are editors for a f***ing reason. And they're getting graded on this. They need to be pulling their own weight and not "altering" the superlatives.

10.Prom is two months away and I'm already thinking a lot about it, and about how I'm dateless. What does that say about me?

11. I haven't been doing my homework.

12. I really need to clean my room.

13. I cannot wait for my, eighty dollars worth of girl scout cookies to come in. Don't judge me! I buy enough to last a year, and this year I have to accommodate for an eventual college roommate! There is logic behind it!

So that should cover it for the February Confessional. Please do not think less of mind is not in its right place at the moment.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lazy February

It’s been a slow month for my personal life, so my confessions this month are pretty mundane.

1. The only reason I invite my brother and his wife over for diner every week is so I can spend three hours playing with my nephew.

2. Even though I’m single (and proud of it) I had the most amazing Valentine’s Day because I had forty pintsized Valentines who thought my multicolored Jell-O cookies were the coolest thing ever.

3. I learned the hard way that when square-dancing with partners below 4 feet tall it’s a good idea to wear kneepads because you’re going to end up dancing on your knees.

4. After taking individually decorated chocolate cupcakes to a staff potluck I was stopped in the hallway by another teacher who wanted to know if I was the one who’d made the decadent cupcakes. I had all of 20 seconds to be pleased and flatted before my students, who’d been lined up against the wall listening, indignantly wanted to know why I hadn’t made them cupcakes.

5. After four amazing months of 10:00 A.M. sunrises and 4:00 P.M. sunsets Alaska is finally gaining daylight, and it sucks. I’d forgotten how much of a pain it is having to cover up my skin every time I step out of the house.

Looking back on my month I have the sudden urge to take up hang gliding in March just so I’ll have more interesting things to confess in April.

- Aaron

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It Has Been One Month Since My Last Confession...

1. Lately, I've become addicted to eating fruit. Seriously, I've been eating 1-3 pieces of fruit everyday, usually apples or oranges. Weird, I know, but so good!

2. I <3 Rolling in the Deep by Adele! And what's most shocking to me besides her killer voice...she's only 23!

3. I can't wait to see Red Riding Hood and Beastly! 2011 seems to be the year for retold fairytales! :)

4. Lately, whenever I run across a blog saying that someone has snagged a book deal or it's the day of their book release, I get a little teary-eyed. Why? I'm not sure, I think, even though it's something I want just as bad as any other writer working toward publication and I may feel a pang of jealousy, it also feels great to see that if they can do it, I can too. It feels amazing to know that this dream, however elusive it may seem at times, really is possible if you have passion and you work hard enough. And, most importantly, when you refuse to give up!

And, on that note, I want to give a HUGE congrats to Lisa and Laura Roecker, whose debut novel The Liar Society releases TODAY! YAY! I'm so happy for you both, girls, you deserve it! Now, go out and get yourself a copy! :)