Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest - Week 5

For the fifth and final week of the I Love Dark YA Blogfest I am supposed to discuss the books that I am most looking forward to reading. While I have an entire list FULL of books I cannot wait to read, most of them, thankfully, have already been published. But there is one book I'm in particular whose release I am anxiously awaiting . . .

The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy 
by Nikki Loftin

I met Nikki Loftin last may when she was one of the guest speakers at the Houston Writer's Conference. There she discussed the long road she faced on her journey to publication, and the many discarded plots, drafts and edits she struggled through along the way. However, on August 21, 2012, her debut novel – The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy – hits the shelves, where I know it will captivate audiences everywhere. Pitched as Coraline meets Hansel and Gretel, this amazing story centers around a young girl whose seemingly delightful new school hides frightening secrets. 

I can't wait to read it!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Blog Awards!

Okay, so once again I’ve been very bad when it comes to blog awards. First, I received an award and then got so busy with the agent edits for my manuscript that I forget to write a post about it. And to make matters worse, I received an award I somehow overlooked. This just goes to show what editing will do to an already deteriorating brain. I’ve officially become a Writer-Zombie.

For those who aren’t aware of this condition:
Writer-Zombie (n.) –
A writer who has died from excessive editing, but, in order to finish their manuscript on deadline, has come back to life as a reanimated corpse. The cognizant part of their brains are dead, but their gross motor skills continue to function (aka. their brains are in a mindless state but their hands keep typing). Do Not Feed the writer-zombies.

Anyways, here is my BELATED blog award post.

Annalisa Crawford at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep has given me The Versatile Blog Award! The rules state that I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself and then award fifteen other bloggers. So here goes:

1. I’m a soccer fanatic. I support the Houston Dynamo and Manchester City F.C., and currently play on five soccer teams. It used to be seven, but I’m trying to cut back.
2. I’m phobic about blood (aka. Hemophobia), but I love vampire and zombie movies. Which basically means I can only watch about half the movie and have to cover my eyes for the rest.
3. I’m both a nerd and a jock. Or is it jockess for girls? Do girls have to add an –ess? Screw that, jockess sounds dumb. I’m going with jock. I’m a nerd-jock. Nock? Jerd? Whatever.
4. I love nonsense writing, but the English major in me constantly tried to make sense of it. If there’s hidden meaning in The Walrus and the Carpenter, I’ll find it.
5. I own multiple copies of Persuasion (Jane Austen), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (C. S. Lewis), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), and The Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They’re all different and yes, I need them all.
6. I love research. The best part of starting a new story is researching it. I’m in the research phase of my new, dystopian novel and have a list of thirty-seven books to read first. I’m looking forward to it.
7. I always name at least one character in every story after one of my literary heroes.

And here are the blogs I think deserve this award . . .

4. Christa

The next award I received was the Lovely Blog Award from Kris Atkins at In Other Words. I’m very excited to receive this award, though it took me a month to realize someone had given it to me. Sigh. Anyways, I’m supposed to award fifteen more people who I think deserve this blog, and they are:

And last but not least, Annalisa Crawford ALSO gave me the Liebster Blog award! This is my second Liebster Award, and I’m soooo excited that two different blogging friends thought I deserved it! Here’s a link to my other Liebster Blog Award post. So, here are the five blogs with less than 200 followers I think deserve this award as well . . .

Whew. I think that’s everyone. And thank you once again to Kris Atkins and Annalisa Crawford for their wonderful support and recognition! If you haven’t already checked out their blogs, you really should! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest - Week 4

This week for the I Love Dark YA Blogfest I’m supposed to discuss how a YA book made an impact on my life. To begin, I’d like to first introduce the two Dark YA books (or in this case, series) that have significantly influenced my life:


The first is the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Anyone who knows me can tell you that the Harry Potter books are, without a doubt, my favorite series of all time. The truth is, I hate saying things like that on my blog because half the people who read this will say, “Of course it is. It’s everybody’s favorite.” Which is true. Millions of readers around the world love these books, and lined up at midnight time after time just to get their hands on a copy of the newest release. But to me the Harry Potter books are more than just a fun story about witches and wizards at a magical school. To me they’re the books that helped me realize that I didn’t want to be a photographer, or a marine biologist, or a ballerina (all former childhood ambitions). Apart from the sheer joy and pleasure they brought to my life, it was reading the Harry Potter books that made me realize that I wanted to be a writer. For real. They helped me realize that the stories I kept stashed away and never really thought about were more than just the scribbles of a bored teenager. In a lifetime of moments leading up to my realization that I not only wanted to be a writer, but already was – reading Harry Potter was the BIG one.

The second is The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Unlike Harry Potter, which I started reading between the publication of the third and fourth book, I began reading The Hunger Games a few months after the final books was already released, and therefore got to skip the long, LONG wait for its conclusion. I read all three books in the space of one weekend, and cried almost from beginning to end. The moment I finished the final page I knew that these books were important. They had affected me in a way that, up until that moment, only Harry Potter ever had.

Both of these series were so different from anything I’d ever read before. [Spoilers ahead.] When Rowling killed off Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it was the first time I had seen death of that nature in a book intended for children. I was too used to books like The Chronicles of Narnia where a magic potion brings the dead back to life, and the safety in knowing that authors almost never kill off children in their stories. Sure, the parents sometimes died – to which I say Disney, you are NOT forgiven for the tragic, early deaths of the mother in Bambi, The Land Before Time, and The Fox and the Hound. But NEVER the children. That would be too upsetting for their adolescent audience – right?

But Rowling changed that with Harry Potter. She didn’t shelter her young readers. She killed off seventeen-year-old Cedric in a heart-breaking illustration of ‘collateral damage’. She ripped apart the Weasley Twins with Fred’s death and even killed underage Colin Creevey in Voldermort’s siege against Hogwarts. And through these deaths proved that children are not too young to understand the costly and senseless consequences of war.

I couldn’t admire Rowling’s faith in children, and what they can understand and be trusted with, more. Or Suzanne Collins, who takes it one step further. Collins’s trilogy depicts many of the same images – war, death and the tragic murder of young kids. And she does it all without even a hint of the light-hearted moments J. K. Rowling employs to break up the darkness. Collins seeps her books in gloom and sorrow. And all too often, hopelessness. She puts enormous faith her readers’ ability to handle the bleak tone and desolate landscape of her dystopian world. And it’s that faith that Rowling and Collins exhibit that has impacted my own writing.

I’ve just begun work on a new story – something I originally intended to write for adults due to its heavy content. Though I write almost exclusively Middle Grade and Young Adult material, I didn’t trust that children could handle what I had to say. But I was wrong. J. K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins helped me understand that, and opened my eyes to the broad and accepting nature of young adult literature.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Noughties Blogfest

In his new blogfest, Dave over at Dave Wrote This challenged bloggers to come up with a list of their favorite things from The Noughties (2000 – 2009). Since I can’t resist a good blogfest, I did a little research (because it turns out I’m really bad at remembering when things came out) and came up with my list. Check it out:

My Favorite Books, Movies and TV Series from the Noughties:

Titan AE
Emperor’s New Groove  – "Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. I'll turn him into a flea, a harmless, little flea, and then I'll put that flea in a box, and then I'll put that box inside of another box, and then I'll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives . . . I'll smash it with a hammer! It's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! Or, to save on postage, I'll just poison him with this."

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Film
Ocean’s 11  – The first in my list of "heist" related films. And one of the first times I realized how awesome it is when the "bad guys" are really the good guys.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 

Firefly (tv series) – Joss Whedon's ultimate masterpiece . . .
The Bourne Identity
28 Days Later
Equilibrium – One of the best dystopian films I've ever seen. It reminds me a lot og Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (one of my favorite books). 
Resident Evil 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl  – I love ANYTHING with pirates in it. And adventure. And zombies. 
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling – My favorite book in the Harry Potter series . . .

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Perfect Score  – Yes, another heist movie. This would later play a role in my own writing as I delved into the world of high school and larceny. 
Spiderman 2 – My favorite film in the Spiderman series. 
Scooby Doo 2 

Serenity – Though I still feel cheated that I never got to see a second season of Whedon's Firefly (damn you, Fox Network), the movie at least helped fill the void. 
Bones (tv series) 
The Island 
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 

Casino Royal – All I can say is, Daniel Craig, I was wrong to doubt you. I've seen just about every Bond movie ever made, and this one managed to blow them all out of the water. 
Stranger Than Fiction – One of the best, and most underrated movies I've ever seen
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling – It still breaks my heart every time I remember that the series is over. Forever. 
The Big Bang Theory (tv series) – This speaks to the nerd in me . . . 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I never thought I'd find anything I love as much as Harry Potter. I was wrong. This comes as close as anything ever will. 
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog – Joss Whedon proves himself, yet again. And may I ask, is there anything better than a singing Evil Overlord? 
The Incredible Hulk – Redeeming the Hulk film franchise.

The Hangover
Zombieland – I friggin' love zombies.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest - Week 2

This week for the I Love Dark YA Blogfest I had to write a flash fiction piece of 500 words or less based on this picture:

Thankfully, I had more time to work on my post this week now that my edits are, for the time being, finished, and the second draft of my manuscript in my agents hands. I had some real fun with this one. Check it out . . .

Fairy Scary Tales - Who Knew?
By S. L. Hennessy 

I hate running. Always did. I used to fake all sorts of medical conditions to get out of track during gym class. I’m sort of wishing I’d practiced a bit more, now that I’m running from the hellish monster intent on using me as the human sacrifice for some sort of dark, ominous spell. Unfortunately, hindsight isn’t as constructive as foresight. And so here I am, my white sacrificial dress irreparably torn, my dainty slippers – which are completely inappropriate when fleeing for one’s life – scuffed and destroyed, wondering where it all went wrong.

I guess I might have made a few mistakes here and there. Looking back, exploring the woods on my own, despite explicit instructions to the contrary . . . might not have been my best plan. Even if my evil stepmother was making my life miserable. It seemed harmless enough at the time. In the daylight. With birds chirping and all that other feel-good atmospheric crap designed to make unsuspecting, angst-ridden teenagers feel completely at ease amongst the dense trees. Guess I should have paid more attention to the meticulous design of it all. And where I was going. Woops.

Upon retrospective, when thick, black mist comes creeping through the branches and silences those sweet, put-you-at ease little birdies – well, maybe that was the time to kick in high gear and get the hell out of there. Live and learn.

It occurs to me now, as I’m being hunted by some indescribably dark creature, that my copy of The Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales might have been more of a field guide than a set of silly stories my dad used to read me at bed time. I usually associate them with princesses and other such nonsense, but the depictions of wolves, cannibalistic witches and way more gore than little kids should be exposed to at young ages are starting to come back to me.

Fairy tales are real. And they’re dangerous. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dark YA Blogfest

It’s officially November, which means that it’s time for the I Love Dark YA Blogfest:

1. Put the I LOVE DARK YA badge on your sidebar or at the top of each of the posts you do for the fest. Make sure you link it back to the YAtopia linky sign-up.
2. Visit blogs of your hosts and other participants if you can. Interact. Make some friends. It’ll be more fun!
3. Your blog post needs to be up on Wednesday. You can post early if you want, but people will be hopping on Wednesdays.

November 2nd: Blog about your favorite dark YA book(s).

November 9th: Write a 500-word or less flash fiction piece inspired by this picture—

November 16th: Music and Movie Fun—Take a dark YA book and build a soundtrack for it or cast characters for a movie version.

November 23rd: #YASAVES—Blog about how a dark YA book made an impact in your life.

November 30th: Waiting on Wednesday—What dark YA book are you most looking forward to?

So, here it is . . .

For the answer to week one's discussion, my favorite dark YA book (or in this case series) is The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. Inspired by one of my all-time favorite books – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – it depicts a darker, more sinister version of Wonderland, recovering from a civil war between the White and Black imagination. I won’t reveal too much of the plot for fear of spoiling it, but needless to say it is an amazing YA retelling of a classic childhood tale. If you have't read it, check it out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Remembrance for Lost Souls

October 31st, the day many know as Halloween, is the first night in a three-day celebration honoring the dearly departed. Many people know that Halloween draws its name from the original All Hallows Even (or All Hallows Eve); however, its true origin lies much further back in the Celtic holiday Samhain. Marking the final night of the Celtic calendar, it represents the last night of the harvest and the transition from the light half of the year to the darker half. The Celtic people believed that on this night, a time in which plants began to wither and die and animals were slaughtered to provide food for the coming winter, the veil the separates the living from the dead became thin, allowing those who have passed on to walk among us. Oftentimes people would gather together in the village for a feast, building a great bonfire and celebrating as one. It was customary to leave milk or food out for the returned spirits to appease them, as there was a threat of being abducted by fairies or dark spirits during that evening. People sometimes even dressed up to avoid notice, starting a tradition that we still practice today.

Samhain celebrations began on October 31st and lasted all the way through the following day. This coincides with All Saints Day, celebrated on November 1st, the second day honoring the dead. For Catholics it is a holy day of the Church honoring all saints, known and unknown, who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas, ‘hallows’ meaning to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or venerate. While All Saints Day focuses on the dead that have reached Heaven, the following day, known as All Souls Day, shifts our focus to Purgatory. It is a day to pray for the holy souls in Purgatory undergoing purification of their sins before entering heaven. Either praying for saints or sinners, these first nights in November are set aside to remind us of those who have passed and honor our dead.

Last but not least, November 2nd is known in the Hispanic culture as the Day or the Dead, or El Dia de los Muertos. Despite its focus on those we’ve lost, it’s considered a day of celebration. It is a time for reminiscing about happy memories of those who are no longer with us, and encouraging visits from their departed souls. Alters or shrines are sometimes built, and houses are filled with candles and mountains of food and offerings for the dead. The day is often celebrated with bright colors and sugary treats in the shape of skulls, merrily concluding the three-day celebration of the dead.

This remembrance of the dead is an interesting mixture of the pagan, spiritual, and the religious, an amalgamation which blends different beliefs from across the globe. Whether acting as a reminder to lead a more spiritual life or a way to honor those we’ve lost, October 31st through November 2nd is a special time in which the chasm between the living and the dead fissures and cracks, allowing departed spirits, at least for a short time, to walk among us.