December 19, 2014

Casual Friday: Internet Gems

Happy Friday, Everyone!

So today is the day where our posts are all casual-like,
And I thought it might be nice to have some Misfits share their favorite blog posts - whether it was one of their own, or something that inspired them, or something they felt deserved more recognition (in this same vein, DL Hammons is hosting the Deja Vu blogfest today, and you can check out the entries here).

In the spirit of the holidays, and because she apparently knows my weakness, Misfit Cait passed along this post in which she shares the recipe for triple death by chocolate brownies. I KNOW, RIGHT?

I've gone back this post by a few times. In it, Kimberley Derting shares rejections she received on the Body Finder before it got picked up by Harper Collins. It's always encouraging to know that an author whose work you enjoy faced the same doors slamming in her face as you have. A little reminder that no one is exempt.  

Having trouble outlining? Misfit Jenny passed along THIS POST from the Better Novel Project showing how deconstructing bestsellers can help you organize your own plotting. She also shared a post from her own blog with Ten Self-Editing Tips for Writers.

Need more insight on the writing and publishing process? Misfit Maggie recommends the Not For Robots blog by Laini Taylor.

Last but not least, when you're getting whiplash from the constant highs and lows of your publishing journey, and you've worked your butt off and have no idea if it's all worth it and feel like no one knows what you're going through, you NEED to check out this post from Misfit Dahlia titled It's Not Just You.

What are some of your favorite internet gems? Feel free to share!

December 18, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: Elizabeth Flynn

Happy Band Geek Thursday, Misfiteers! Today the lovely Elizabeth Flynn is joining us with something we could all use around the holidays - and, okay, year round - A FUN DANCE PARTY PLAYLIST. Thank you, Elizabeth! (And for taking this gorgeously festive picture, too!)
First of all, thanks to the lovely YA Misfits for having me! I love Band Geek Thursdays, and am so excited to be here.

One of the best things about Band Geek Thursdays is that each and every one reflects a success story – a writer who put themselves out there, landed an agent and then a publishing deal (yay!).

I love reading those posts (and those books!), but I know that there are a lot of writers following this blog who aren’t quite there yet – writers whose careers are still laced with a lot of rejection. And unfortunately, there are a LOT of varieties of writerly rejection.

You get a rejection on your query. You get a rejection on your full. You don’t finish NaNo. You finish NaNo, then realize 49,500 of those words will need to be rewritten. You give a kid a flu shot and they kick you in the shin.

No – wait. That last one’s my day.

Anyway. There’s a lot of rejection in writing, and sometimes the only thing that can help is a glass of scotch, a cheesy playlist, and a ten-minute dance party.

So whether you’re struggling through the query trenches, the submission process or the post-NaNo slump – I hope this playlist will help you keep your chin up.

And yes, one of the songs WILL be Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

No judgment.

xo Elizabeth

1. I Don’t Feel Like Dancin' – The Scissor Sisters
2. Just What I Need – Rufus King
3. Everything Is Alright – Motion City Soundtrack
4. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
5. Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
6. The Rock Show – Blink 182
7. Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida (feat. David Guetta)

Elizabeth Flynn is a YA writer, fourth year med student, Canadian and scotch enthusiast. She spends 90% of her time at the hospital and the other 90% reading, writing and waiting impatiently for new episodes of Top Gear to air. You can follow her on Twitter @FlynnElizabeth5 or at

December 12, 2014

Casual Friday: Writing Essentials

Happy Friday Misfiteers!

While I was getting ready for a trip over the summer I became super aware of what I actually use when I’m writing. In fact, I was so worried about packing an adequate amount of post-its, I almost forgot several very necessary things. Like sunscreen. 

(No sunscreen in Austin is a terrible, terrible plan.)

But it got me thinking. What kinds of things do I think of as my “writing essentials.” What do I use the most when I’m plotting, writing, or editing? And I came up with a list:

  • Colorful pens
  • Post-its
  • Gummy bears
  • Tea
  • Big windows (for post-it plotting)
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Timer for sprints
  • Spotify
  • Highlighters
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Scrivener
  • Red lipstick

Even when I move my writing from my office to the living room, I take armloads of things with me. It all ends up scattered across the couch, floor, and coffee table in a jumbled mess my husband likes to call “novel tornado.”

Some days I can be really productive with music playing and other days SimplyRain and the tiny cracking thunderstorms in my headphones are what work for me. I know that my fingers get cold even in the summer and that I’ll spend more time thinking about how cold they are than actually writing if I can’t find my gloves.

I’d lose my mind without gummy bears. They’re my number one sugar weakness. (Closely followed by sour straws.) And for some reason, every time I get blocked, red lipstick changes me into a super plot ninja that can suddenly power through any problem.

And who doesn’t want to be a plot ninja? Especially on those extra difficult days.

I feel it’s really important to understand your writing process whether it’s massive amounts of post-its, or ten thousand cups of coffee, or a lucky pen. A friend of mine spends a lot of time writing longhand in her collection of really cool notebooks. And some people can’t be productive unless they’re at a coffee shop or somewhere that’s not their house. Knowing what works is half the battle.

So what works for you? What’s in your writing arsenal? Are you a post-it person, or a coffee shop person? What makes you the most productive?

And if your answer is gummy bears, I already love you. *high five*

Megan G.

December 11, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: Liz Czukas' TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS Playlist

Today we have a super fun holiday themed play list for you from the lovely Liz Czukas, author of ASK AGAIN LATER. Be sure to check out the Spotify link at the bottom and enjoy the festivities! 


I’m so happy to be here for Band Geek Thursday! Thanks for having me, Misfits! Music is always part of my writing process, and it actually comes up pretty frequently in Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless.

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless
 is the story of six teens who all work in the same grocery store, and on Christmas Eve, they are accused of stealing $10,000 from the store. It’s a story about making friends in unexpected places and trusting yourself more than anything, but there’s plenty of hijinks, some kissing, and lots of holiday atmosphere!

There are going to be a few cringe-worthy songs on this list, because they play on the overhead speakers at the grocery store in the book, so brace yourself!

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano – in the book, Chloe (the narrator) says, “The trouble with ‘Feliz Navidad’ is that everyone hates it, but you can’t stop yourself from singing it.” I bet you’re singing it under your breath right now.

Last Christmas by Wham – This is one of those songs, you only seem to hear in stores, so it totally gives me that retail feeling. Long hours, and unhappy customers.

Here Comes Santa Claus by Gene Autry – Ugh. Is this anyone’s favorite Christmas song? It’s the first song to play over the P.A. in the morning when the characters start work.

All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey – Chloe used to hate this song, but she’s had a change of heart. Why? “Tyson finds it irresistible. It’s the song most likely to make him get into a full groove. ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ comes on, and he’s just a few degrees short of putting on a show at the end of lane six.”

Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer – This is pretty much Chloe’s entire inner monologue whenever she’s talking to her crush, Tyson.

Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill – This is definitely Sammi’s theme song!

The Anthem by Good Charlotte – If Gabe could have a song play every time he walked into a room, it could definitely be this one.

King of Anything by Sara Bareilles – This song puts me in mind of Zaina. She just wants to get through her day, and she’s had it with people’s ideas about her.

The Middle by Jimmy Eat World – If you’ve never seen the video for this song, you should check it out, because the guy in there could be Micah, the awkward genius from Top Ten Clues.

Now or Never by Kendrick Lamar feat. Mary J. Blige – This is hard-working nice guy Tyson’s song, because it fits so well with him working toward his dreams.

Lust for Life by Iggy Pop – There is a scene in the book that takes place after the store is closed that this song just works for. If you’ve ever run behind a grocery cart then leaped on for the ride, you’ll know the feeling of this song.

Raise Your Glass by Pink – I think this song defines the entire group of characters by the end of the story.


Liz Czukas is a freelance writer (on sometimes sad or boring topics), and also writes books for young adults (which are rarely sad and full of kissing). Before that, she was a nurse and she still kind of misses starting IVs.

She lives outside Milwaukee, WI with her husband, son and the world’s loudest cat. She types too loud (according to her husband), spends too much time on the Internet, and can’t get enough of disaster movies. There is *always* a song stuck in her head, and she once won a hula-hoop contest.

If you are interested in honing your stalking skills (from a distance, please) Liz welcomes you to practice on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or better yet, Twitter where she likes to hang out and talk about TV, writing, Harrison Ford, her kid, and all of the idiotic things she does to injure herself on a routine basis.

Liz is also the real person behind the New Adult novelist Ellie Cahill, who also writes books full of kissing (and more!). Ellie has remarkably similar interests to Liz.

December 8, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Writing Resolutions, 2015!

Hello Misfiteers!

It's that time of year: lists, best of collections, and resolutions for the new year! Because let's be honest, 2015 will be upon us scarily soon. (Seriously, does anyone remember what even happened to most of October? Surely that was just weeks ago?)

For me, the last couple of weeks have gone by in a flurry of revisions and more revisions, and I love edits. LOVE them. But to feel most productive, I'm craving words too. After all, it's sometimes hard to keep track of progress when all you're doing is polishing words to a shine.

So I have a writing resolution!

Thanks to wonderful writing friends Cat Hellisen and Suzanne Young, I came across this: And while I'm a little intimidated, I want to give it a try. Here goes:

Starting 2015, I'll be tracking the words I write on a daily basis. (At the very least for my own personal use.) I'm honestly not sure how long I'll be able to keep up, but I'm hungry for those words. And I want to challenge myself to keep creating more.

What about you, Misfiteers? Do you have a writing resolution for 2015?

December 5, 2014

Casual Friday: Three Great December Reads to Cap Off 2014

The end of the year can be such a hard month for authors, with end-of-the-year lists coming out all over the place and all that jazz. But one of those most frustrating things is seeing those lists coming out before all the year's books have even been released. To that end, I wanted to give shoutouts three great December YAs I was lucky enough to read in advance, and highly recommend you pick up ASAP!

FOR REAL by Alison Cherry (Dec. 9)

No parents. No limits. No clue what they're in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister's shadow. While Miranda's life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it's Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They'll outshine Miranda's fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life... or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what's for real?

My mini-review: That was the first time I've stayed up way too late to finish a book in a whiiiile. But it was really fun, with a great, well-executed premise; entertaining, layered characters; solid character development; and a great sisterly relationship that made me wish mine were there to hug. Really well paced, though to be honest I would've happily read another hundred pages.


 Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

My Mini-review:  Such a cute book. I'm a big fan of Liz Czukas' writing for when I wanna read something fun with humor, heart, and personality. (Which is pretty much always.) It was also a cool surprise to me to see a diabetic main character, which I haven't since the days of Stacey McGill. And there's a nice diverse cast, which brings me to something I feel like might be a Liz Czukas signature I love - letting characters say ignorant things in a way that feels realistic and inspires a conversation... like the way a lot of learning about other races and cultures actually does happen in real life. The comp "Empire Records meets Breakfast Club" kept coming back to me as I was reading, and it does indeed totally have that vibe.

LOVE AND OTHER THEORIES by Alexis Bass (Dec. 31)

 If you want more, you have to give less.

That’s the secret to dating in high school. By giving as little as they expect to get in return, seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her three best friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free. And it’s all thanks to a few simple rules: don’t commit, don’t be needy, and don’t give away your heart.

So when smoking-hot Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln High, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At least that’s what Aubrey tells herself. But Nathan’s new-boy charm, his kindness, and his disarming honesty throw Aubrey off her game and put her in danger of breaking the most important rule of all: Don’t fall in love.

My Mini-review: This was actually a surprisingly brutal read for me, super uncomfortable-making in the way only Corey Ann Haydu's books have really gotten to me until now. Bass just so well nails the feeling of watching yourself lose someone you really care about and being powerless to stop it, and my heart hurt for so much of this spot-on accurate book. It makes matters so much worse that as the reader (especially as an adult) you know Aubrey isn't powerless, but...teenagers gonna teen, and in context, it totally works, and totally hurts.

December 4, 2014

Band Geek Thursday: Amy K. Nicols' NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE Playlist

Today we have Amy Nichols with us for Band Geek Thursday with he playlist for her debut Now That You're Here. Thanks for being here, Amy!

I am so excited to be on Band Geek Thursday! Not only am I bona fide band geek (marching band rules!), but music played a huge part in writing my debut novel, Now That You’re Here

Now That You’re Here is the story of Danny, a boy who finds himself in a parallel universe where his friends are nowhere and his parents are dead. The only person he recognizes is Eevee, but in this world she’s not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. This Eevee, though—a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom—may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension . . . a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

The novel is told in alternating chapters from both Danny’s and Eevee’s POVs, and music helped me lock into their characters as well as the emotions of the story. Here are the songs I listened to while writing. 

The Beginning of the End - Nine Inch Nails: This song captured the feeling of Danny’s world and the situation he’s in just before he jumps. Plus the song just rocks.

The Suburbs - Arcade Fire: The laid-back feeling of this song felt like Eevee’s world, especially in the bike scene. I love how the song is kind of happy-go-lucky, but the words hint at something not being quite right.

Starlight - Muse: I love this song. It became Danny’s theme song. He’s the traveler, far from home. 

Satellite - Guster: Danny’s and Eevee’s relationship is a slow-build, rather than insta-love. This song feels like their relationship. It isn’t desperate, it’s comfortable. It has a feeling of permanence and solidity despite challenges and changing circumstances.

We Used to Wait - Arcade Fire: As with most stories, things don’t stay rainbows and kittens for long. Danny realizes not only does he not necessarily want to leave this parallel world—and Eevee—but he also realizes he may not have a choice. The ticking clock feel of this song was perfect for the increasing trouble Danny finds himself in. 

Panic Switch - Silversun Pickups: Back when I got the initial idea for Now That You’re Here, this song was my go-to for getting into the writing groove. The working title of Now That You’re Here was Panic Switch. Awesome song. 

Under the Milky Way - The Church: There’s a night scene where Danny and Eevee sit outside and look at the stars. This is the song for that scene. 

One Headlight - The Wallflowers: There’s a point where Danny and Eevee decide they’re going to do what they can to keep Danny from jumping back to his world. There’s a strange mix of hope and desperation in this song that matched up with their struggle. 

Work - Jars of Clay: Universe-jumping is hard on the body, as Danny finds out. This song, with its pounding beat and painful lyrics, captured both his physical and emotional struggle. Such a great song. 

Bleeding - Sixpence None the Richer: Like “Work”, this song captures the emotional and physical journey both Danny and Eevee go through over the course of the book. And again, star references. I listened to this at the point Eevee thinks all is lost.

Stay - Rihanna: I remember the first time I heard Stay on the radio. My mouth fell open, and I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like she’d written Danny and Eevee’s story. If Now That You’re Here has a theme song, this is it. 

Amy K. Nichols lives on the edge of the Phoenix desert with her husband and children. In the evenings, she enjoys sitting outside, counting bats and naming stars. Sometimes she names the bats. Now That You’re Here is her first novel. The sequel, While You Were Gone, will be published by Knopf in the summer of 2015. Visit her online at

December 1, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Family in YA

Good morning, Misfiteers!

Since it's the start of the holiday season, I thought we'd talk about family. So tell me: did your grandma bring her special orange-and-cool whip salad to Thanksgiving this year?

No, wait. That's not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about family in YA books. That's right.

My book, THE CONSPIRACY OF US, explores a lot of family issues. Avery deals with wanting a family she doesn't have, just how far she'd go to be part of her family, what family really means.

I've also read some great family books lately, like I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, which is a lovely, moving portrait of a sibling relationship.

So my question to you today is: What are some of your favorite depictions of family in YA? Why?

November 26, 2014

Writing Club Wednesday: Best TV Shows to Jump-Start Your Writing

Greetings Misfiteers!

I hope your week is going well! It's cold and snowy, but at least it's a short week around these parts!

I was trying to think of a subject that had to do with writing that hasn't been done to death. It's hard to think of something. So I went with what I know. I watch TV more than I read. I KNOW. Cardinal sin of a writer, but I do read a lot too, it's just easier sometimes to turn on a TV and zone out, ya know? So I compiled a list of TV shows that I believe could jump-start your writing categorized by genre.

So, here we go!

Political Mystery/Thriller

House Of Cards - This show is ruthless, cunning, and addictive. Perfect for political thriller lovers. You will be shocked at what these characters are capable of.

Blacklist - This show ducks and weaves through its plot and is all-around awesome. There are secrets buried deep and I can't wait to uncover every one. Also, James Spader is perfection as Red.

Murder Mystery

Criminal Minds - I've been watching this show for years and it's my favorite. Nothing is cooler than criminal profilers IMO. Also, this show goes there. Just when you think they've covered everything in your nightmares, they go that extra mile. AND I love them for it.

Pretty Little Liars - Who doesn't want to be part of the drama of these girls? And there's mystery and deceit around every corner. Also, they're just fun to watch.

How To Get Away With Murder - One of the best new shows on TV. If you think you know whodunit? There's always a twist... I love, love this show.


Supernatural - I just started watching this show but I have to tell you it's addictive and awesome. Dean and Sam have loads of chemistry and who doesn't want to watch two hot guys fight demons and ghosts?

Vampire Diaries - It's kind of become my go-to when it comes to paranormal drama. I love this show. The writers know what they're doing and the pacing is brilliant.

Teen Wolf - I don't think enough people give this show the credit it deserves. It's imaginative and genuinely scary. The acting is great and if anyone has a chance at beating Sam and Dean with chemistry it's Scott and Stiles.


Once Upon a Time - This show ebbs and flows with me, but I've recently gotten back into it. Why? SPOILER ALERT: Hook and Emma. Mad chemistry and who doesn't like a bad boy trying to be good?

Game of Thrones - One of the best shows I've ever seen. Death and corruption at its best. A can't miss show if you love fantasy.

Sleepy Hollow - I put this under fantasy because I wasn't sure where else to. But this show is mystery, fantasy and magic all in one. Watching Ichabod learn the ways of today is amusing and entertaining, while the mystery of the evil in the woods keeps me tuning in!


American Horror Story - I mean, is there any other show that displays the nightmares in our head quite the way that show does? I don't think so. The clown scene from this season... yeah, one of the scariest things I've seen on TV.

Penny Dreadful - Another show on hiatus that I'm seriously in need of. This show brings the horror with a twist. It's premiere season had me wanting more every episode. Now if it could just come back...


The 100 - Plop a group of teens on a planet where they believed all was lost and have them fend for themselves? Um, okay. Trust me, this one is a fun ride.

Orphan Black - This show, you guys. What a trip. It's an enigma wrapped in a mystery, but I love unwrapping its secrets. This will make anyone want to write the next sci-fi thriller.

Teen Contemporary

Awkward - one of the best shows where teens are just teens doing teen things. I love the every day situations in this show. #TeamMatty

Finding Carter - On hiatus right now, but easily one of the best teen dramas I've seen this year. I fell in love with these characters and I'm ready for more!

Switched at Birth - Diversity and drama wrapped up into an awesome show. I wanted to learn sign language after watching this show. It's all topped off by good acting. Must see!


Big Bang Theory - This show hasn't soured in all the years it's been on. Somehow I still want to hang with these characters every week. Inventive writing and great acting.

The Mindy Project - Mindy is one of the funniest, shallowest characters I root for. You can't help but love her and her weirdness. I would pretty much watch anything with Mindy Kaling.

New Girl - Like OUAT, this show ebbs and flows for me. But the characters remain true. Also, I love Nick Miller--always an underdog. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - This show is so fun. Andy Samberg has never been better and these characters will grow on you. 


Jane The Virgin - If you haven't checked this one out yet, you're missing out. It doesn't take itself too seriously and Gina Rodriguez is my new favorite. Her acting is incredible. I feel everything she portrays. This show is on my can't miss list.

Orange is the New Black - Jail drama is the best kind. But the backstories on these characters will hit you right in the heart. It just proves that even good people can do bad things if given the right circumstances. 

Honestly I could go on and on and I know I missed some good ones. But if you're not in the mood to read (it happens!) then try one of these shows to kick-start that story you've been wanting to write. Ideas abound!

Okay, so which ones did I miss?

Have a great week and to those of us in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving!

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November 24, 2014

Monday Pep Rally: Prep and Landing

Since we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters - and it's fun to keep the conversation flowing - we've taken the Pep Rally to twitter! Every Monday, we host a twitter chat and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag
Hey guys! Misfit Alana here. I'm really excited to be blogging for the pep rally today because this is equal parts blog post and equal parts confessional for me.
I want to talk about the prep for landing a good line, or chapter or even a whole first draft. As writers we can sometimes get carried away with the right chair, the perfect playlist or that Zen blend of caffeine and quiet (I know I do) before we start the writing day. But while some of these are great, we probably don't need to have blue socks on, a hoodie just out of the dryer and every inspiring photo from Pinterest taped around our screens to get to work. We just need to *sigh* get to work.
So for today's pep rally I want to know what is one thing you absolutely have to have (or do) before you start the writing day, and what is one thing that would probably be healthier or more productive to get rid of?
My one absolute requirement before I write are my headphones. I have trouble concentrating without them. But the one thing I am committing to get rid of starting now is all the time wasted on waiting for the muse. I need to go on without her!
Head to the comments or use the hashtag on twitter to tell me what writing habit you have to keep and which one you can ditch. I'll even get out the pom poms to cheer you on!

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