Tag Archives: Young Adult

The Joys and Pains of Query Letters

As you know by now I’ve written three YA novels, the first I’ve deemed ‘not ready’ and the other two of which I have been seeking representation for. I began the whole query process roughly a year ago. It came back with all rejections for months, and then in the summer I got a requested full. I finished writing my next book while I waited for news to come back.

Unfortunately, being a literary agent is a very busy and stressful job, and the agent fell behind on reading through submissions and news still hasn’t come. That’s okay, I understand. I was beyond excited to get that full request in the first place. It gave me hope and a push to keep trying. I could wait. But I decided to start sending out more letters in the meantime, this time for newest manuscript.

Again, let the rejections roll. Then I started hearing about pitch contests on Twitter (as you also know by previous posts) and I participated in three of them. I received 3 favorites, 2 favorites, and 6 favorites for each pitch party (which means the agent/editor requested a partial of my material). Out of those 11, so far I have received 4 rejections, 1 full request, 2 I’m still waiting to hear back on, and the rest I decided not to send to because it felt like the wrong fit for me. So I know. I know how hard it is to wait, what it’s like to be rejected, how it feels to get a request, and all the crazy what-ifs that run through your head, both good and bad. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re at this same, crazy stage.

Don’t let the rejections kill your spirit. I know it hurts. You just want someone out there to believe in your work. You know how when you check your email on your phone or device you can usually read the first couple of sentences before you even open the letter? I got to the point where if I saw the word “unfortunately” in those first couple lines I already knew what the rest of the email was: a pass. And yes it got increasingly harder to shrug it off the more I received, and yes I began questioning myself. Was I not ready? Am I not good enough after all? Should I just give up? No, no, and no. You MUST believe in yourself. You MUST keep trying. If you put in the work, believe in your writing, and create the best project you can then somewhere down the line your time will come.

Don’t compare yourself to other aspiring writers. Don’t hate them for their success. You might hear of another writer getting a request, an offer, or even a publishing deal. It will probably sting a little. You might wonder why them and not you? Maybe they haven’t been at it as long as you have. Maybe you think your writing is better. Seeing another writer’s dreams come true while yours are still unrealized can make you question your self-worth. Don’t do that. Be happy for that writer. You know how hard this is. We’re in this together. Their success does not in any way make you a failure.

I won’t tell you to have patience. I know that’s impossible. But don’t obsess. I know how nerve-racking it is to check your email and wonder if today might be the day there’s good news waiting in your inbox. I know how one week can feel like one month and one month can feel like half a year. But you can’t stop living in the meantime. You can’t stop writing. You can’t focus solely on what may or may not happen when you could be focusing on making things happen. Start a new manuscript. Become a critique partner or beta reader to give back to others. Write some short stories. Don’t stop creating.

The query process is full of ups and downs. It can raise you up or tear you down if you let it. It requires you to strike a balance between remaining realistic and holding onto hope. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there and put your dream in the hands of someone else. I know it’s equally exciting and crushing. But it’s necessary if this is the route you want to go with your work. And it is worth it. I’ve been doing this a year, and I’m not ready to give in yet.

I remain hopeful.

I believe.

What are your experiences with query letters and requests? How do you handle the ups and downs? Reply below!

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Should These Pitches be Ditched? Part 3

This is my third installment of this, and I’ve only just realized I obviously missed the mark the first two times around. If you remember I originally did these as part of a school assignment where we were creating pitches for our work. The class never really explained what pitches were or how to go about doing them. We were just instructed to pitch our books in 3-4 sentences. Well, I ended up focusing on the 3-4 sentences part and trying to squeeze as much a possible into that. The end result was that my pitches sounded more like jacket summaries and were much too long.

Then a contest via Twitter came to my attention. It was called #pitchmas and the idea was to do the same thing: pitch your novel. Only this time I had much less room to work with because of the character limit and the requirement of adding the genre and hashtag into the pitch as well. It forced me to really cut, tighten, and perfect my pitches so that they were clear, concise, and hooking. Finally, I understood pitches.

The reward for the contest was that agents/editors/publishes watched the feed and would favorite the pitches they liked. This equaled a request for more material. At the end of the day-long contest I received three favorites aka three requests to see my work. I was shocked. Coming from someone who didn’t understand pitches and who had really just begun writing them, I was surprised mine got any interest. Now there were other writers who got many more. I heard of 14 from one and 20 from another. It was a great opportunity to not only write pitches but read other writers’ pitches as well. And I always learn from reading and seeing other examples. I also retweeted a lot of pitches I would actually really love to read the corresponding full books on. I hope they get published one day as well.

If this sounds really fun or helpful and you’re upset you missed out, don’t worry. Another pitch contest is being held on Jan 8th called #PitMad. Check out the info here. Work on your pitches and head over to Twitter on that day and see what happens! You have nothing to lose and only experience and good things to gain.

Here are some of my tightened up pitches.

Book 3 Pitches

*There are a lot of things Ezra Winchester didn’t see coming: his mother’s death, becoming a millionaire, and getting kidnapped. Now he sees things clearer: he’ll either fight for his freedom or die a hostage.

*Being a hostage was not part of Ezra’s plan for junior year. Now escaping with his life is the only thing that matters.

*Ezra is kidnapped for his money. His friends are taken because they’re witnesses. Together they’ll fight for their freedom or die captives.

Book 2 Pitches

*What if the bad boy is actually a gentleman and the good girl has a dark side? Can opposites attract if no one is who they say they are?

*Maddie knows how to take orders, not make choices. Cameron can take a beating, not give trust. Love will change them both.

*Maddie Carlisle and Cameron Dawson shouldn’t be together. She’s the lapdog for her popular clique, and he’s the defiant transfer student overflowing with secrets and bruises. When she trades ‘forbidden’ for ‘freewill’ opposition erupts everywhere.

And the Pitch I wrote in Part 2 for my current WIP I now realize could have been completely cut to just the first sentence:

*When eighteen-year-old Oliver Reid’s girlfriend dies and mysteriously appears as a ghost, he embraces the haunting, disregards the impossible, and sets out on mission to put the love of his life back together again.

What a difference!

For this post I’ll offer to help hone and critique anyone’s pitches. If you want to participate in #PitMad but need an extra set of eyes before next Wednesday, post your pitches in the comments, and I’ll give you feedback. I’d be happy to get a conversation going here!

Or if you see any issues or possible improvement for my pitches above, feel free to post that as well!

Happy pitching!

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Jigsaw Post

I have so many things to talk about today I feel like I should make three separate posts.

First of all, I want to recognize and pay my respects to author Ned Vizzini who passed away. I kept seeing the news last night on Twitter and through Facebook where he was kind enough to accept my friend request years ago, that he had passed. I was completely shocked as he was so young and talented. He’s made wonderful books and contributed to television and film as well. It’s so sad to lose someone you admired or who helped and impacted so many people with his work. Here’s a link to some of his books if you feel driven to check them out. Ned, I hope you are at peace. Thank you for your books, and I am truly sorry to know you’re gone.

Secondly, and on a lighter note there is another contest going on today through Twitter. The hashtag is #pitchmas and it is a pitch party for you to promote your manuscripts. Agents and editors watch the feed, and if they favorite your pitch that means they’re requesting to see more material. Here’s the link to the blog that created this wonderful party. Check out the details and guidelines and then head over to Twitter with your best pitches. Good luck!

Lastly, this is my final week of class for the English course that originally influenced the creation of this blog. As a summary of all we’ve done and learned about ourselves over the last 8 weeks, our final assignment is to describe who we think we are as writers and post it to an external audience. That’s you guys. So who am I as a writer?

I’m a dreamer.

Just like musicians imagine rocking out on stage or an actor sees his name in lights, I imagine my books sitting on the shelves of bookstores. I think about what it would be like to get fan mail from teenagers whose lives were somehow impacted by my books. I even think about what it would feel like to get hate mail. Maybe a teen writes to tell me I got it all wrong or a parent takes issue with my topics and content.

What writing means to me

I’ve said this before, but I need writing. I just don’t feel right when I’m not creating. It depresses me not to have a project going in my head or forming on the screen. I depend on writing to make me feel worthy some days.

What I write

I write YA or Young Adult. I’m not saying I can’t or won’t write anything else, but YA is my absolute love. When I go to bookstores I don’t even look at the other sections, and I can spend hours simply browsing the three rows of YA titles. I buy YA books faster than I read them because I can’t leave a book behind in a store if I think I might want to read it somewhere down the line. YA excites me. I love creating teen characters and hard situations or paths of discovery. If someone told me I couldn’t write YA anymore, I wouldn’t be the same writer. I probably wouldn’t have that same sense of worth and excitement because YA is such a big part of who I am as a writer. It’d be like telling someone they could only watch a certain genre of movie the rest of their life or never listen to their favorite band again. Those movies would never be what they really wanted, and they’d long for each band to be as good as their favorite. YA and I just go together.

So my goals from here are to keep writing. To keep trying to get published. I entered the world of querying this year and have participated in contests like #pitchwars and #pitchmas to try and get my work noticed. I want an agent. I want to go the traditional route. I want my books on shelves. I want to read love and hate mail, friend readers on social media, meet them at book signings. I want it all. Writing has been a journey and struggle, and the great thing about it is it’s never over. You keep growing and learning the more you do it. You have ups and downs; there’s just no way around that. It takes commitment, patience, hard work, hope, and undying love to be able to pursue this crazy dream. And I never want to give it up.

Thank you for reading. Who are YOU as a writer? Have you ever been saddened by the passing of an author you admired? Post below, and I hope to see all your pitches over on Twitter!

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Thank you! Yes, you!

I just wanted to write a quick thank you post to all of you and let you know I’m appreciative. I know this blog is still small, and 50 followers may not seem like much, but it is to me. It is way more than I thought I’d have when I started this thing back in October. I figured I’d be posting for only a handful of people, and that my followers would most likely just be my mom and husband or something.  So thank you for following me, reading what I have to say, liking, commenting, and reblogging. It’s really such an awesome thing. I know you don’t have to take the time to read my posts or follow up with comments so thanks for giving me your time. I will always comment back. I’ve also enjoyed following many of you in return and discovering some wonderful posts and people to connect with.

I started this blog because I knew my school English course was going to be on New Media & Publishing and building a writer’s platform, but I also really wanted to start meeting people in this crazy writing world. I live in a small town where you either become a nurse or a coal miner so saying you want to be an author isn’t exactly looked highly upon. It’s often followed up with comments telling me I should become a teacher so I have a real job to fall back on.

It’s been wonderful sharing my excitement for writing and reading with other aspiring writers and passionate readers. I know I’m still finding my way; my posting could be more consistent, and I could do a better job networking with all of you. But honestly this new media stuff is new to me, and I’m still learning it. I hope that in between going to school and writing new projects that I will start doing a better job with this blog and actually using my Twitter more. Eventually I might make one of those nifty “author” Facebook pages too.

Again, thank you for sticking with me. I’ll take this chance to ask you guys if there are any certain things you would like me to post about in the future. Did I touch on a subject you wanted more information on? Do you want to know anything more personal? Should I post more original work? What would you like to see on this blog? What advice do you have for me? Reply in the comments if you have a suggestion. I will gladly carry out your requests and link back to you in the corresponding post. Thanks for your support and feedback these last couple of months!

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Writing in 2013: A Look Back

This has been an exciting year for me with writing. At the beginning of the year I finished my second novel, a YA contemporary about a girl’s personal struggle with hating herself for being a follower instead of her own leader and how a new transfer student helps her change that. After I finished it I started researching literary agencies, how to query, what a synopsis should look like, and I began sending out letters seeking representation. Replies came back with plenty of rejections and one full manuscript request.

During the summer I began writing my third novel, a YA thriller centered around a kidnapping and the ensuing struggle for survival, to keep me busy while I waited on news from the queries. I finished it in only a few months and have just recently begun crafting and sending query letters for it. I’ve learned a lot this year about the writing industry, and I believe my work and I have both grown and improved. More than ever, I know this is something I need to keep pursuing.

Yesterday I answered questions about books I read this year for a blog link-up/e-book giveaway that this blog is running. Today, I promised to answer the writing questions. So here we are!

Check out yesterday’s post if you want to know what sort of books I read recently or if you need some new recommendations.

How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!)

I’ve written two this year. I wrote my second novel in the first half of the year which is 105,000 words. I wrote my third novel in a couple months later in the year, and it is stands at 60,000.

Which was your favourite to write?

My second was a totally different route from my first book, and I really like how one small idea came together and grew into what the book became. I had no idea where I was taking the story initially. All I knew was I wanted to write about two teenagers who lived across the street from each other and were from totally different worlds.  Seeing where it ended up from that idea feels really rewarding. The characters just took over and told their stories.

Which was the hardest to write?

I’d say 2 was also the hardest. I planned Book 3 out more whereas Book 2 took a lot of discovery which was really frustrating and overwhelming some days. Writing a female perspective was tougher for me as well because I usually do male narrators. Some days I just didn’t want to tackle the task. Book 3 flowed easier when actually writing.

Tell us about you favourite Male Character you wrote this year!

Book 2 introduced my MC’s love interest, Cameron Dawson, a mysterious bad boy next door that completely shakes up everything for my female MC. He’s damaged, but doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s brutally honest and strictly secretive at the same time. He’s romantic and sensitive but violent and hardened. I liked his layers. I like writing rebels and damaged heroes.

And how about your favourite Female Character?

My MC in Book 2, Maddie Carlisle. She went through a complete transformation. At points you can hate her and her actions as much as she hates herself, but you feel sorry for her too because of the hard situations she’s in. You root for her then want to smack her when she doesn’t step up. She’s very dependent on others, and by the end it’s interesting to see if that’s still the same case. She has plenty of adversaries, but really she’s her own worst enemy.

Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?

In Book 3 my MC’s best friend Tyler Hammons starts out as a flirty, pompous tough guy, and we’ll just say he gets a new perspective. Also in that novel a guy named Jasper Riley is a character who juggles a lot of different roles and affects the main character in ways he didn’t expect. His sidekick status isn’t that he’s funny or laughable, but shown in the importance of how he changes others and furthers the development of the story.

Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?

I’m not going to ruin the romantic subplots! But I will say all characters were meant to be together.

Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Epic quote(s) you wrote?

(Note: From Book 3. This quote ties into the title and has a lot of meaning for the events in the plot.)

“Ezra, on the road of life you have two choices.  You either stare in the rearview and look at where you’ve been until you crash and burn, or you look out through the windshield and focus on where you’re headed.”

Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

Book  2: journey.

Book 3: most.

Show us your favourite funny scene!

(Note: This is from Book 2 when the new guy, Cameron, first comes to Maddie’s school. I always hated when teachers would make you introduce yourself and then ask the class to say hi back so maybe this was my way of finally saying what I wish I could have back then.)

             Mrs. Nelson, our homeroom monitor, stands up with her attendance book and a happy smile on her face.  Before she starts calling off all our names or passing out fliers though, she walks over to Cameron’s side of the room and addresses the class.

            “Everyone,” she says, “we have a new student joining us today.  All the way from sunny California!” she says with added pep.  “Let’s do our best to make him feel welcome here at North Hill.”  She turns to Cameron with her smile spreading from ear to ear and gestures a hand at him.  “Do you want to tell us a little about yourself, son?”

            He finally looks up and tilts his head at her.

            “Are you actually giving me the option or just presenting me with a really nice command?” he asks back without missing a beat.

            Mrs. Nelson looks like someone knocked the wind out of her.  Her smile slowly turns into a frown and her brows furrow.  She stands meekly, confused that the new guy doesn’t want to stand up and share in her excitement.  When she doesn’t respond he says, “Okay then, I’ll share.”

            He stands up and faces the majority of the class. They stare back, sizing him up and ogling over his busted up face, trying to figure him out for themselves.  He isn’t speaking very long before they get
it.  Loud and clear.

            “My name is Cameron Dawson,” he begins.  “And I don’t care.”  Everyone stiffens as one.  “I don’t care if you don’t like me.  Chances are I won’t like you.  I don’t care if I hurt your feelings.  I don’t care if you want to talk about me because of it.  I don’t care about this piss poor town or your stupid school.  I don’t care if I pass or fail or even graduate.  I don’t care about your problems or how you want me to be.  And I don’t care, Mrs. Nelson, if you or any other teacher wants to punish me for not caring.  So I guess that covers my introduction.  You can spare me from all of yours’ because, you guessed it, I don’t care who you are.”

            He sits back down casually to a shocked silence.  Everyone is glancing around the room at each other between staring back at him. Mrs. Nelson is the worst of us all.  She’s frozen in place with her brows raised high and her mouth hanging open.  The silence drags on until someone finally shouts, “Freak!” from the back of the room.  Cameron just nods, like he was expecting it.

             And still doesn’t care.

Show us a snippet of dialogue you’re proud of.

(Note: From Book 2. Cameron is switching from his persona of not caring to pretending to have feelings for Maddie’s queen bee Jen in order to be accepted into their circle. He sits with Maddie during Jen’s dance practice and acts like he loves watching even though he can’t stand Jen.)

            “You know you’re pretty good at faking,” I say.

            “Yeah, well, it’s easy enough to act how I’m expected. It’s just more fun not to.”

            We watch them grind and shake and flaunt their bodies for a few minutes.

            “You know I’m like those girls you said you don’t want. I dress the same way Jenny does and let all sorts of guys stare me up and down, only letting them dream of ever being with me. I’m just like Jen.”

            Cameron breaks his gaze on the girls.  He stares into my face, suddenly serious.

            “You’re nothing like, Jen. You just don’t realize it yet.”

Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!

I had two characters whose names both began with J in Book 3: Jasper one of the kidnapped teens and Jimmy one of the abductors.  I mixed them up in an important scene because I was typing so fast. Not good.

What has writing taught you about yourself this year?

I really started believing in myself a lot more this year. I started taking writing more seriously than just a hobby I’d do here and there. I committed to it more. I’ve learned about rejections and taking risks when you put yourself out there. I’ve felt defeated, but learned to keep going forward. It’s a process based on hope and fear, love and hate, uncertainty and confidence. It’s a strange thing.

Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?

Read. Best advice is always read. Whatever type book you want to write, read as many as you can. Just as you learn from doing, you learn writing by reading.

Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?

Book 2 has been under consideration at an agency since the summer. Querying 3 is a definite next step. I also plan to edit Book 1 and make it presentable to query at some point.

Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!

I have so many ideas. One involves a guy with an eidetic memory who is thrown into a murder mystery. Another involves a comedic paranormal tale about a ghost, a necromancer, a reaper, and a psychic in which the MC’s girlfriend dies and comes back as a ghost, and the other characters are enlisted to bring her back to life again. I’d also like to do this modern Greek-myth fantasy, and I really want to write a book about gamers and videogames.

That’s it! Thanks for reading! Post any comments or questions below, and be sure to visit the original blog to enter the giveaway or answer these questions yourself!

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My 2013 Reading List: A Look Back

Okay so this post is related to this lovely blog. They’re awesome and have posted different questions (1 set relating to reading and 1 set relating to writing) as a way to look back on the books you read or wrote in 2013. It’s also part of a giveaway where the winner will pick from 4 e-books (The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, OR Unbreathable, OR Steel Lily OR Click to Subscribe) so go check that page out and enter to win! Today I’m going to answer the reading-related questions. I’ll post links to the books’ Amazon pages so you can find their descriptions and purchase them if you’re so inclined. 🙂 Here we go!

What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)

I can’t. You’ve asked the impossible.

Which books did you reread this year?

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith and Bottled Up by Jaye Murray.

Favourite cover(s) this year!

The Marbury Lens might be my favorite cover of all time.

marbury     passenger

Its sequel Passenger is just as good and when you put them on the shelf together, oh my god, even the books’ spines are awesome.

Lockdown, but actually all the books in this series have great covers, and I still need to read them all.

lockdown

Scowler, another one on my to-read list, but look at that cover. How could you not want to read it?

scowler

Worst cover(s)?

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones (movie tie-in version). This pisses me off to no end. It’s a complete rip off of The 10th Kingdom, a genius fantasy TV miniseries and novel from 2000.

mortal instruments          The 10th Kingdom

Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?

The freaking Marbury Lens by Andrew freaking Smith. Every single time.

Best standalone you read?

Runner by Carl Deuker

Biggest book(s) you’ve read this year?

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes.

Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?

I hate calling books out. But Feedback, the sequel to Variant , really disappointed me with its ending. It could have been so much better. But it was still a great book. Until that point.

Favourite leading-female character?

Did I read a book with a leading-female character?

Favourite leading-male character?

Sam in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride.

Best romance(s)?

There’s this romance that gets flipped on its head in the book Variant by Robison Wells. I can’t even talk about it without giving away the twist.

What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish.)

I’m not going to say. A lot of times I start books and get 20-70 pages in and then stop because my mood changes and I want to read something else. But I usually go back to them. For example, I’ve been trying to finish one book since Xmas 2011. It’s going to happen.  I’m close.

What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?

I read No Country for Old Men and The Great Gatsby for school. I liked both.

Which author did you read the most from?

Last year it would have been Andrew Smith. But this year it was Michael Harmon. I read Skate, The Chamber of Five, and The Last Exit to Normal, and I’m currently reading Under the Bridge. Also, Brutal is waiting for me on my shelf.

Top 5 books you’d recommend from all the books you’ve read this year?

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser. The topic this book covers really hits a nerve with me.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz. A beautifully sad and sweet novel. It’s one of the books that has made me cry.

You by Charles Benoit. I loved the approach to this book, and the ending I did not see coming.

The Chamber of Five by Michael Harmon. I just love this author. He has a gift for voice. This novel has a way of making you feel uncomfortable because it’s so believable, and you don’t want to think the things within could happen.

Stick by Andrew Smith. Smith could write instructional manuals for furniture assembly, and I would buy them. But this book is much more honest and beautiful than those evil, rage-inducing things.

 How many books did you read this year all up?

Come on. I like reading not counting.

What’s a book you’re hugely excited for coming out in 2014?!

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Yes. Please. Give it to me now.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I love her books, and I’m thrilled to have a new one to get my hands on.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I’ve been waiting for this sequel! I’m so excited! The first one was such a pleasant surprise. I didn’t want it to end. I was ecstatic when it was left open for continuation. This will be a release day buy for sure.

That’s it! Have you read any of these titles too? Are you going to read any of them now? What does your 2013 reading list look like? Post below!

Be sure to visit the original blog to enter the giveaway and answer these questions yourself!

And stop by tomorrow for answers to the writing related questions!

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The Books I am Thankful For

In honor of Thanksgiving today’s post will be dedicated to the books I am thankful for. Where would I be without them? It makes me sad to think of how things would be if these books never existed.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, I’m counting it as one book like Tolkien intended. (Though if you’re forcing me to choose a favorite part it would be The Two Towers. But The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite movie counterpart. Actually it’s my favorite movie of all time.) Anyway, this book changed everything for me. It opened my eyes and allowed me to embrace my geekiness. It also birthed an arguably unhealthy obsession with all things LOTR that I’m sure my family was hoping would have gone away by now. Sorry, family, it hasn’t.

Geeky-fan-obsession moments include: Owning three LOTR movie replicas of the iconic rings (Aragorn’s, Galadriel’s, and the One Ring), two Tolkien inspired tattoos (J.R.R. Tolkien’s logo and the Elvish script on the One Ring), a memory full of useless trivia and every movie quote (I used to make LOTR quizzes online, and I can still recite the film scripts), and a full-blown tantrum in 8th grade because LOTR was the required reading for an academic competition, and I almost didn’t get to compete (Don’t worry I got to go in the end, and I went to state that year too. Oh yeah).

Bottom line: The Lord of the Rings is very special to me and probably always will be. If it is to you too, then I consider us best friends already.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Duh. Most LOTR fans love Harry Potter too. Stop making us choose though! Harry Potter united so many people in a lot of ways. I’d never counted down days to a book release before or had the need to buy a book on a release day. It was glamorous and wonderful. I miss that. I loved that I stayed up until 4 a.m. just to keep reading, that the characters meant so much to me that I laughed out loud at them or cried for them, that I would force myself not to read too fast so that I wouldn’t be done with it too quickly and have to meet that gaping hole of loss that came when the book was over.

Just like LOTR I will always be a fan of this series. And just like LOTR I have an HP tattoo too. (If tattoo doesn’t say fan for life I don’t know what does). I look up to J.K. Rowling so much because her writing was brilliant. Her planning, pacing, characters, settings, plots… everything was absolute genius. I love to reread them because they still hold their magic, and they give me inspiration to be a better writer.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

I’m cheating a little bit because I haven’t actually read this book yet. It’s on my enormous to-read list. But without this book and Palahniuk’s mind, we wouldn’t have the movie masterpiece. It’s in my top five favorite movies right behind The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s a book I can’t wait to read, not because I already know how the story goes, but because I know it’s going to be a piece of literary genius. If the movie is that good, the book must be fantastic. After all, the book versions are always better than the movies, right? (No, but that’s another topic).

Any Book by Andrew Smith. Ever.

Okay, I know. I’ve gone on about him before. But that’s what fans do. We don’t shut up. On my previous post, The Books that Changed my Life, I talked about how Smith’s novel The Marbury Lens completely rocked my world and ruined my ability to read or write for at least two solid weeks. Longest book hangover ever. He’s that good. And any book I’ve read from him is always a winner. The great thing about him too is that he writes like a madman. He’s got books lined-up for the next few years. I feel like he’s always going to have something to publish, thus I’m always going to have something to read by him. And that’s awesome.

Harry Potter may be over, but now I have Smith’s books to get excited for. Other titles of his include Passenger (a sequel to The Marbury Lens), In the Path of Falling Objects, Winger, Ghost Medicine (his first novel), Stick, and Grasshopper Jungle (an upcoming release I can’t wait for). And that’s not even all of them. He’s an author that I don’t care what the plot is, what the book cover looks like, how long or short the novel is, or how it’s written. I’m sold. I’m reading it. I trust him as a writer. End of discussion.

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

I talked about this book before too. But it gets mentioning again because 1.) It’s my favorite book of all time, and 2.) It’s the reason I got into YA in the first place. Without this book I wouldn’t be the YA fanatic I am today.

I could go on. I could mention the books my mom taught me how to read with, Nancy Drew for being my first “big girl” books, numerous YA titles that blew me away, other awesome books that inspired awesome movies, and even childhood favorite books. Who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss?

But I’ll end this here before I geek out too long, and instead I’ll just say thanks. Thank you to books. Thank you for teaching me how read, to appreciate written words, to fall into other worlds and realize what imagination really meant, to learn from stories and become a better writer because of it, for opening new doors and possibilities, and for always being there when I need you. I can’t wait to discover more novels to add to my list and find more reasons to be thankful for books.

What books are you thankful for and why? How did they change your life? Post below! And Happy Thanksgiving!

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