friday5 for May 31, 2013

1. Let's catch up--how have you been? Sorry for the lack of a Friday5 last week. Things have been busy. The early part of summer is a crazy busy time when you work in publishing with conference prep (BEA, a conference I'd love to attend one day, is happening right now!) and lots of exciting stuff happening in-house. We're on summer hours now, which means I get Friday afternoons off (so yay to that!), BUT I plan to use that time to work on my current WIP (which is me finally finishing the back-half of my NaNo project) and do summery things like taking my daughter to the park and gardening and beating the crowd en route to the cottage and you know, summery stuff like that. While the blog isn't going to be on hiatus for the summer, posts will possibly be even more inconsistent than usual. I am hoping to start throwing in more non-Friday5 posts soon as well. I have a few topics for The Writer's Arsenal that I'd love to discuss (cause, whoops, neglect and all that) so those will hopefully happen it the coming weeks too!

2. Before we get to pop culture news, and since I mentioned that my Friday afternoons have kickstarted me lavishing more attention on my WIP, I wanted to share a snippet because--full disclosure--there is some stuff in this book that I find myself giggling at when I'm skimming through it, which yeah, whatever, you're probably not supposed to find your own writing funny, but some of the characters in this one are just so much fun to write. For your reading pleasure, here's a sample:
First I hit up the hardware store. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but when people go about nefarious deeds in movies, they tend to always hit up the hardware store. I’d already thrown some rope, duct tape, a hatchet and a butane lighter into my basket when I dropped the damn thing at the sight of Monica folded over the paint service counter, clutching a coffee, her blonde hair braided down her back as she rested her head in her arms.
She startled at the sound, whirling around to face me as I scrambled to gather everything I’d dropped and duck behind a rack of carpet samples.
“Luce?” She tilted her head forward, her sunglasses falling down the bridge of her nose. “Lucy!”
“Oh hey!” I said, as though I’d only just noticed her. “What, uh, what are you doing here?”
“Dad’s making Stephen and I help him paint the back fence. He got us up at the crack of dawn.” She took a long swig of her coffee. “Stephen’s just arguing with this Cook’s Hardware lifer about whether or not Dad pre-paid for the paint.” She nodded toward the end of the service counter where sure enough, Stephen was looking through an order binder with a thirty-something-year-old guy wearing a yellow Cook’s Hardware apron.
“What about you?” Monica asked. She glanced into my basket, her expression nonplused as she returned her gaze to me. “What’s with the serial killer supplies?”
“Uh…” I stalled, absolutely nothing coming to mind. “Umm…” A total complete blank. “They’re for a friend?”
Monica gasped. “You liar! Lucy Girard, why are you lying to me?”
“Because it’s a surprise? For…you?”

3. This kinda blew my mind. So brilliant. The marketing team behind The Hunger Games franchise continues to impress. If I'm ever lucky enough for there to be a film based on one of my books, it's entirely possible I'll be all "HUNGER GAMES MARKETING TEAM ASSEMBLE!" How cool would that be?!

4. Arrested Development is officially back, y'all! (I think that was the first time I've ever said y'all. It felt wrong. I apologize.) Because of life obligations, I did not marathon the whole thing in one sitting and I think that's kind of good because I've enjoyed digesting it in smaller marathonettes (when you only watch 3-4 episodes in a sitting instead of an entire season like a crazy person). I get the impression from the interwebs that people who tackled the thing as a whole were left unable to appreciate it as much as they might have if they'd spread it out a bit more. There is a lot going on in these episodes and I've personally been very pleased with the quality. I'm ready for more! Is it too early to say bring on season five?

5. Day job represent! Today I'm featuring a new release by one of Harlequin Teen's own--Katie McGarry. Dare You To is the highly anticipated follow up to 2012's Pushing the Limits.
Rainy kisses, amiright?

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....
(Summary from
If you're looking for a swoon-worthy (and I mean swoooooon-worthy) summer beach read, look no further. Katie's books are some of the very best contemporary YA romances I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The plot is tight, the characters are fantastic and if you're into YA romance at all, you will not be able to put this one down.

Happy weekend!

friday5 for May 17, 2013

Summer Movie Preview Edition! It's the beginning of the long weekend here in Canada, which basically means summer has arrived! And also means that the summer blockbuster season is upon us! There are plenty of movies to be excited in the coming months (and I don't know about you, but I'm ready for Catching Fire now--alas, it's a fall film), but here are a few that I'm particularly excited about:

(Oh and I'm skipping some of the awesome flicks that are already out, like The Great Gatsby and Iron Man 3 and the new Star Trek cause, well, they're already out and this is a PREVIEW EDITION!)

1. THE BLING RING. Cause Sophia Coppola can do no wrong in my books. I've talked about my love of The Virgin Suicides before. I've been waiting for another Soph-Cop (yeah, I just made that up, but feel free to use it) film for a while and it's finally here. And it looks great! Plus Hermione! You also can't go wrong with Emma W.

2. THIS IS THE END. Cause it looks hilarious. And how can it not be? If you see one silly/stupid/but still awesome and hilarious comedy this summer, THIS IS THE END is a safe bet for a fun time.

3. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. Cause the original Monsters film is still one of the best Pixar has put out and this one is sure to be a winner too.

4. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Cause Whedon is our God. And if that's not reason enough, it's Wes and Fred together again!

Those are just my absolute top picks--which summer blockbusters are you most excited to see?

5. I thought about using all five slots for my summer movie preview, but I just couldn't skip over a very exciting YA book that was published this week. School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins, the first book spun off from her fantastic Hex Hall series.

Like Hex Hall with a fresh twist
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as theNew York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance! 
(Summary from  (I can't see to get rid of the wonky white highlighting on this.. so whatevs)
As fans of the Hex Hall series know, Izzy was introduced in the third and final volume in that trilogy and now we get to see her story. Rachel is one of my absolute favourite YA authors. Her manuscript for what later became Hex Hall was one of the first YA manuscripts that I completely fell for when I read it as a submission at my day job. She ended up being published by another house, but I've been a big fan ever since. She's hilarious, writes swoonworthy makeout scenes, but doesn't shy away from tightly-plotted dramatic action either. She hit the NYT Children's list with her second book for a reason. These books are fantastic and I'm so excited to keep reading!

Happy weekend!

friday5 for May 10, 2013

1. As I touched on last week, I love a highly anticipated cover reveal. It's almost as exciting as a book's release date. Okay, not quite, but it's pretty damn exciting. Without further ado:

What do you think? Personally, I love it. I can't wait to see all three books together on my shelf!

2. In less happy YA book news, two YA-series-to-small-screen adaptations have been canned this week, neither making it into the fall schedule after their pilots were shot. The much buzzed about pilot for Lauren Oliver's Delirium was passed on by Fox, while the second go-round at Keirra Cass's The Selection apparently still wasn't what the CW was looking for. In looking at the popular and successful The Vampire Diaries and PLL, I can't help but feel like the length of a YA book series is a huge factor in determining whether or not its adaptation is better suited to the small screen vs. the big screen. Why were Delirium and The Selection slotted for TV instead of the movie theater in the first place? Don't they seem like big picture stories to be told? Obviously whomever optioned the rights made that call, but it begs the question--do stand alone titles or duology/trilogy series have any place on TV? Does a YA book series have to be on on-going lengthy series (like PLL) to make for good weekly programming?

3. Kickstarter. It's in the news a lot these days. I've blogged before about the phenomenal Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign that seemingly started a trend. Well, now Zach Braff (super <3 him from his Scrubs days) is using Kickstarter to fund his next indie film project (the non-connected follow-up to Garden State). There are people who, for whatever reason, think it's okay for Rob Thomas to use Kickstarter, but not Zach (cause he's... copying? Which... doesn't make any sense? Or maybe... I don't understand this double standard?) and then there are people who have a problem with "Hollywood types" using Kickstarter at all. Personally, I don't have a problem with it (and in fact, have contributed to both campaigns). Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. And as Zach has explained, he's contributing his own money to the project already, but this was an opportunity for him to make a great film instead of a lesser version of his vision. And yeah, if you aren't on board with his vision and don't care to help him make his film, don't contribute. That's kinda how this whole thing works. But why should the fact that he's a celebrity prevent him from using a publicly available service to raise money for an art project he feels passionate about? Zach talks about the whole situation here and I support him 100%.

4. Sigh. Community. The season four season (series?) finale just aired and I feel like if I'd blinked I'd have missed this entire season. Way too short. Yes, it had some growing pains as it adjusted under the helm of new show runners, but it was still one of the highlights of my TV week. As I write this, the final decision on whether or not the show will have a season five is looming. Fingers are firmly crossed! As different as the fourth season felt, I still love my Greendale Seven and I'm not ready to say goodbye.

5.Lots of great books hitting the shelves this week! At a time when publishing seems to be in constant flux, I love to see that great books are still managing to make it through the ever-changing system. This week I'm feeling rather enticed by The End Games by T. Michael Martin:

It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.
(Summary from
Okay, first of all, I am feeling tremendous amounts of love for this cover. It has many of the elements I love in a strong, eye-catching cover. Gorgeous design elements, a vibrant colour-scheme and and a mix of character and tone that puts you in the story before you even read the back cover! It's perfect. As for the story itself, I may be on a zombie kick these days, but it's not just zombies, it's fresh, interesting twists on zombies and I'm loving the set up for this one. The brothers aspect is intriguing and endearing. I love a good male protagonist too. It's a nice break from the female voices that dominate YA (especially when I primarily write in a female YA voice. It's good to change things up and get a feel for something different.) And then there's The Game. Not exactly a new concept, but the way it's being used here sounds twisty and dire. I like it :)

Happy weekend!

music: a vacation for your ears

"Ah yes," said the bunny. "That's totally my jam."

Music is a powerful thing. It can affect our mood in an instant, a feat that very few external influencers can manage so effectively. We all have our favourite tunes to listen to when we're relaxing, feeling down, or are ready to celebrate. Aiming to pump yourself up? Just crank the volume a little on a favourite tune. The excitement that washes through you isn't your imagination, it's a reaction your body is having to the music. It's science!

Emotions aside, music can also transport us to other times and places. Fond memories (or sometimes bad memories) come flooding back at the sound of a familiar song. I like to load my iPod up with a varied mix of tunes on a regular basis--old favourites for sure, but I like to try new artists and genres out from time to time too. Earlier this week, when I was out walking during my lunch hour, I loaded up Carla Bruni's Quelqu'un m'a dit and felt instantly transported. Listening to the lyrics (which I only understood bits and pieces of, having only first year University French under my belt) made me feel like I was in a different place altogether. The world around me seemed different. I felt a little like a tourist. Right here in my own familiar work neighbourhood! It was almost... magical. 

A lot of writers listen to specific music when they're writing so that they can be in the right mindset for their story. It's not uncommon for authors to pair playlists with their novels. While there are definitely songs that remind me of certain characters of mine, or situations that play out in my novels, I personally can't listen to to the type of music I usually enjoy when I'm writing (classic rock/modern rock/punk/ska/alternative). The lyrics get in my head and I can't concentrate, but I do like to listen to specific music when I'm getting ready to write (like when I'm reviewing my outline or some such administrative task). So while I don't usually write to music, it is often a part of my process. And yeah, sometimes I can find a good bit of film score to write to (lyric-free!) because it fits the tone of a scene I'm writing perfectly and I think in those cases, it really can help to keep my mind where it needs to be as the words make their way onto the page.

Is music a part of your writing process?

friday5 for May 3, 2013

1. It's May! This is exciting for several reasons. We finally have some spring weather (which is quickly sliding into summer weather, which, yeah, seems a little hasty, but I'll take it since it was snowing a few weeks ago). It's also season finale time (and series finale time in some cases). There are some shows that I'm just not ready to see go (Like Community. Maybe. I'm not sure if there's been official official word yet) and there are others that I've watched over the years and am ready for their big send-off (like The Office, which I enjoy, but it really is time). Which season/series finales are you most looking forward to? Nothing that I've seen air so far has shocked me. I'm waiting for that finale that everyone is talking about it... which one will it be?!

2. Okay, so I'm still processing this news. I need Hot Caleb in my life, PLLers. That's a fact. If this means he'll be on both shows, then I'm on board, but if it means a permanent move to a spin-off that might then be cancelled (and I don't even want to think about what this means for Haleb), then I'm concerned. I need more info before I can fully digest... Oh, Hot Caleb. Please don't leave my screen!

3. This is a short, but sweet bit of news to add to your calendar: Allegiant Cover Reveal. May 9th. You know you don't want to miss it.

4. Teaser teaser trailer time! (Yes, that's a teaser twice removed.) Ender's Game. Lots to be excited about here, even for such a short sneak peak. I think I need to re-read the book before this comes out! 

5. This week I'm taking a look at The Program by Suzanne Young. This book seems like a big departure from some of the lighter fare that Suzanne launched her career with, but there's a lot of buzz surrounding it and Suzanne is a talented author so I think it's one to check out:

I wonder if the yellow jumpsuits are optional... it's so not my colour.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
(Summary from
This may come off sounding really shallow, but sometimes I'm too mentally exhausted to handle "issue books". I'm certain I'm not alone in feeling that way. Cancer, suicide, depression, family death, heavy sadness--they're important topics, but an issue book has to be really good to draw me in and keep me reading. Books like Thirteen Reasons Why, If I Stay, The Virgin Suicides, The Fault in Our Stars, etc. There are definitely issue books where the story and the message is well written enough that you can actually kind of embrace the sadness of it all and enjoy. Issue books can  also go horribly wrong. But let's not talk about those. Suzanne Young definitely has the writing skill to handle a book centered around the topics of suicide and depression. And I like the fact that it's an issue-driven book with a dystopian element--that's very intriguing. Most issue books are contemporary. I could very well end up not enjoying it, depending on how the issues are handled, but the dystopian element will likely help with that, and like I said, there's buzz around it, which makes me confident it's doing something right.

Happy weekend!