Monday, January 31, 2011

Launch Day Eve! 

Yay! So this past week you've learned a little bit more about the Gang and about the blog, but tomorrow's when the real fun begins! It'll be our first official month of posting and we couldn't be more excited! Submissions are already open for paranormal pitches and the deadline is this Thursday. We've got one submission already, so what are the rest of you waiting for? The calendar is jam packed! Make our first official week great! 

Anything you're excited for the most? Anything you're hoping to hear about/learn about? Pop some popcorn, order pizza, and let us know what you're thinking about The Treehouse Gang!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

All about Sharon (and Schnooki)

What first got you into writing? Was there anything that sparked your curiosity?

My dad used to read fables to me as a young child and I loved it. He also created a picture book for my sister and me about a red haired bunyip. As a teenager I wrote some poems and short stories. Then when I went to university I studied literature, plays and journalism. The first proper thing I wrote was a play that was a way to help me deal with a death of a friend. After that I just kept writing as ideas came knocking.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?

To be honest I don't really have a set favourite genre to write. My YA stories are Speculative Fiction, Urban Mythology, Steampunk/Dystopian, Utopian, Science Fiction and General Fiction. My short stories lean towards horror and supernatural.

What gives you your inspiration? Do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and focus before getting a great idea?

I am a day dreamer and a lateral thinker, so initial concepts just pop into my head. My main WIP, Dirty Rainbow, came to me when I was thinking about genetics and how I managed to end up with blue eyed boys when my eyes are hazel. That got me thinking about a whole bunch of other things, like the theory of adaption and then *bam* Dirty Rainbow was born.

What's the main reason you love reading/writing?

I love story telling. When I write I want to create something that keeps the reader guessing. At first I just wrote for a close friend, who I call my muse. I wanted to entertain her with my stories. I love reading and trying to work out the ending, which is why I'm drawn to paranormal, supernatural and speculative fiction. There is normally a twist at the end.

Do you plan out the plot and characters of your stories before writing? Or do you improvise and write as you go?

I usually know the basic ending and some of the plot, but that's  about it. The story and characters direct me as I go. Sometimes that means I have to go back and modify earlier parts of the story, but it's what works for me.

Do you ever want to travel to America?

I would love to visit my friends in America one day.

Can Laura come live with you in Australia?

LOL - no. I have a full house already.

What are some of the biggest difference you see between Americans and Aussies. Whether in the media, in literature, or just in general/culture wise. And can Marisa come stay with you too?

Literature wise we are dominated by the American market. An editor at an Australian arm of an international publishing firm told me that we are publishing less Australian books. I find that quite sad. It's also hard to get an agent in Australia because the market is so small. The Australia agents have to work so hard, and I really admire them. A lot of them aren't open for unsolicated submissions, especially in YA, which makes it even harder for me. But Aussies can still submit to a lot of overseas agents as well. I'd just love an agent who is passionate about my work, whether Australian, American or British.

Schnooki is unimpressed at the thought of
sharing her room with Marisa
Marisa I could ask my cats if you could sleep in their room. =P

Computer or paper?

Both. I write notes on paper, and sometimes parts of the actaul story. Then I flesh it out on the computer. I really want an iPad.

Favorite animal?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Q&A with Marisa

Hey everyone! I’m Marisa, your Friday poster, and I’m here to answer your questions!

What first got you into writing? Was there anything that sparked your curiosity?
If I’m being completely honest, I never expected to love to write like I do. I always loved to read. And I loved English class, especially when we did personal narratives and poems. When I was in 7th grade I had the most amazing English teacher, and over the course of the year we had to write and develop a conflict in our life. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done to start off with, but as the year went on it became fun. She called each draft a “loop” and there were eight of them. Each one would be different. One would be just prose, another would be dialogue. Then there was a character development chart, and at one point we had to write a poem too.

School ended, and that summer I was browsing through Sarah-land, Sarah Dessen’s fan site. In the blog section, people were posting chapters of books they were writing. I thought, Hey, I could do that. Before then, the thought of writing a book never occurred to me. Almost immediately the idea for Dancing Through Life came to me. I haven’t stopped writing since.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?
I really don’t have one. I write whatever comes to me. Sometimes it’s realistic, sometimes it’s way out there. As of right now I have the most experience with general fiction. I LOVE it. I love getting into the heads of normal teenagers and working through how they’ll overcome they’re problems. But then, my newest novel is a dystopia setting that’s action with a romance subplot. I have another dystopia/thriller idea that’s in rough outlines and a sci-fi one as well.

What gives you your inspiration? Do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and focus before getting a great idea?
For me, if I try to focus on writing, it’s either really poor or nothing gets done. The best ideas come to me at the most random times. Especially right before bed. You know, that time where you can’t fall asleep, so you’re just lying there, you and your thoughts. For this, I have a notebook that stays right beside my bed.

What's the main reason you love reading/writing?
Reading is the ultimate distraction. It can take you away to another world, and put you in situations that would never happen in reality. I love the emotion reading pulls from me. I laugh with the characters, I cry with the characters, and I root for them. It gets to the point where I want them to be real people.

With writing, on the other hand, I’M in control. The fates of these characters are in my hands. I get to figure out their stories, figure out how I want them to end. I get to create my own world, and that’s just so amazing to me.

Do you plan out the plot and characters of your stories before writing? Or do you improvise and write as you go?
I never do full outlines. I just can’t. I always write as I go. The characters and plot develop on their own as I write. I get too distracted when I attempt to outline. And yes, there are flaws in the plot the first time through. But hey, that’s what editing’s for.

What do you like better, dancing or writing?
Wow, that’s a good question. And such a hard one! Dancing has been with me my whole life. I started when I was three, and I’ve been competing since 5th grade. Dance is a way for me to get out of my shell. I love impressing my instructors and pushing myself. Writing, on the other hand, is something that keeps me in my shell. I do it for myself, and love the self-satisfaction that comes with it. Writing hasn't been in my life as long as dance has, but it’s packed a huge punch. Both are pretty even when it comes to my love for them. I can't choose! I hate to not answer a question though, so as of now writing comes out a tiny bit ahead. And I’m only saying that because I had to answer the question! :)

What is your favorite type of dance that you do?
Another hard question! I love every type for different reasons. Hip Hop rocks. There's so much energy in it and it's a great workout. Jazz is the most versatile, you can do so many things with it! Ballet is just so pretty and graceful. For some reason, I’ve always especially loved tap. I love the preciseness of it, and the just the overall sound of the tap shoe in motion. It’s great.

Did the Wicked song really inspire the title for "Dancing Through Life?" Or was there more to it?
Well, actually, Dancing Through Life was the title of my book before I even knew Wicked. Well, I always knew major songs like Defying Gravity and Popular, but that was it. Crazy, huh? Then I became a huge Wicked fan, realized one of the songs was Dancing Through Life, and freaked out at the weirdness of it and the odds of that happening. BUT right now DTL is under construction, and with its new makeover a new title may be coming as well. :o

Computer or paper?
Computer all the way, for the same reasons as everybody else. It’s so much faster! I can get much more done at a much quicker pace, and my hands don’t come out hurting like they do with hand writing. One time, I got my computer taken away from me for a week (It wasn’t my fault! Blame my sister. :P) and over the course of that week I wrote TWENTY PAGES by hand. Gah! My hands hurt just remembering that incident.

Favorite Animal?
Pandas and koalas. I always thought they were just the cutest things ever! So adorable! :)

Well, there’s some true insight into me. Haha! See you guys around the Treehouse :D

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hey y'all, I'm Laura! I'm here today to ask y'all's questions!

What first got you into writing? Was there anything that sparked your curiosity?
I've always been a reader, as long as I can remember. And I'm an actor. I used to have these elaborate little movie ideas about spies and secret agents. In eight grade I bought this little green notebook, which I still have, torn and tattered, and wrote this murder scene one day, bored in science. It ended up being the prologue to not a spy book, but an assassin book. The Assassin, which is probably my best known work out there. 

What is your favorite genre to write and why? 

Mystery. Without a doubt. I just get so caught up in those things that always make you go "Woah! Didn't see that coming!" I love being able to unravel mysteries in my books. Mysteries are just intriguing and I love being able to write about a murder and having to have the reader solve it. 

What gives you your inspiration? Do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and focus before getting a great idea? 

I can grab inspiration from practically anything. It's almost pathetic in a way. I'll walk my dog and look at a weird rock and be like "what if someone was murdered on that rock?" Needless to say, stuff like that I often dismiss, but I get inspiration and thinking time on my walks with my dog, in the shower, on the bus, driving around town. You name it, I've probably been inspired while doing it.

What's the main reason you love reading/writing? 
I love getting swept away out of reality. I love being able to relate to characters, to feel their emotions, the heartbreak, the anger, the agony. 

Do you plan out the plot and characters of your stories before writing? Or do you improvise and write as you go?

I always just wrote, while doing mental outlining and plotting, and then I wrote Snatched, for NaNoWriMo, I outlined. And now, I don't want to write anything without outlining. So I guess a bit of both really. 

What’s your favorite cheese? 

ICK! I hate cheese! I'll eat it on pizza, and a couple other things, but that's it.

What are some things you love about living in Texas? Things you hate?

Texas is my home, I've lived in the same town my whole life. I love the landscape, and the heat in the summer. I hate the cold in the winter. I hate the steryotype people have of Texas. No, I do not ride a horse to school, no, it is not always 110 degrees, and yes. I do use the term "y'all." And "all y'all."

Computer or paper?

Both. I write on paper at school, and it gives me times to write scenes that I wouldn't want to write on the computer, but the computer is so much faster! So, I can't really choose, because writing on the computer is what gets me out there and noticed, but writing on paper is kind of therapeutic for me. 

Favorite Animal?

Elephant! And yes, Evie says that she loved them first, but here's the thing. She says she's loved them since she was two? I wasn't even born when she was two! So, I think that's a stupid excuse, I can't help being born after her!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Q&A with Evie
Hey, guys! I'm Evie (duh!), and I'm answering your questions! Yay! There was one question I had to omit for personal reasons, though. I'm sorrrry! :\ To you who asked it, check my short story section on my blog ("You'll Never Know," it's called). All right, on to questions!

What first got you into writing? Was there anything that sparked your curiosity?
I started writing during a time when a friend and I were reading a ton of supernatural series. The idea came at random while I was at her house, literally just came from nowhere, and I said, “Let’s write a book!” She said, “All right,” and we did. From then on, I was in love with writing.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?
I don’t have a favorite anymore. Initially, I loved supernatural and paranormal, but once I started writing dystopian and contemporary, I fell in love with those as well. For me, as long as I love the story, the genre doesn’t matter.

What gives you your inspiration? Do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and focus before getting a great idea?

Ideas just come, sometimes too quickly for me to keep up. The characters come and talk to me, as weird as that sounds, and if the story sticks in my head all day or longer, then I know it's one I want to keep going with. As for inspiration, though, there is none for me. I have absolutely no idea what keeps me going.

What's the main reason you love reading/writing?

It’s a chance to leave reality and jump into someone else’s story. Different worlds, different people, different situations that I’ll (most likely) never have to deal with. It’s a chance to escape, and there’s nothing better than that, in my opinion.

Do you plan out the plot and characters of your stories before writing? Or do you improvise and write as you go?

I’m definitely an outliner. I have “Chapter Cheat Sheets” for every book. Of course, though, my characters like to change things every once in a while, so if that happens, I just change the outline. But I could never just sit down and write. I need direction and to know if my plot points happen at the right times.

Do you like eggs?
Laura, NO! I do NOT like eggs! Blech! Nor anything else (food or drink) that stinks or smells weird.

What do you like to do when you write, do you have to multi-task, or have total silence?
Complete silence and either a bed or desk. I rock back and forth sometimes. Completely strange, I know, but I can’t help it. And I have to be focused and in the moment or I can’t do anything. It's never writer's block that slows me down. It's my mental state and environment.

How did you make this template?
I knew this question was coming. :) Well, it is hard for me to explain because I don’t even know how I did some of it. But I started it back in November. Everything was drawn by hand, then I uploaded scans onto the computer, and then colored them. I wanted it to be fun and something no one else could replicate. The Treehouse Gang is different so I wanted our design to be different too.

Tell us about the scariest Kansas Dorothy-like tornado you've been through, if any.
Haha! Didn’t expect this question. Love ya, Marisa! But the scariest one would have to be the one from 2002. It went down my street and destroyed so many houses. I remember my dad filmed the aftermath as soon as it was done. It took until just a couple years ago for all the damage to get fixed. One of my friends’ bedrooms was completely torn apart (she lived on the top floor of her house) and so many I went to school with had to borrow clothes and supplies for weeks. So sad. :( Luckily, not many were injured.

Computer or paper?
Computer. I can’t stand writing out stories because then I have to type them. That’s double the work and I’m way too lazy to do it. Haha! And I can type faster than I write. If I write fast, then my handwriting is terrible and I can't read it.

Favorite Animal?
Elephants! And Laura’s going to have the same answer, but I LOVED ‘EM FIRST! Collected them since I was two and have too many to count. Love elephants!

Yay! So that's me...kind of. :) Hope y'all have a good day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Q&A with Nella

Hey. dudes and dudettes, I'm here to answer your questions. Funny thing--I'm usually the one asking questions.

What first got you into writing? Was there anything that sparked your curiosity?
 Before becoming a writer, I wanted to be a mangaka. A mangaka is someone who draws and writes mangas(Japanese comic books). I drew a manga about a vampire and a vampire hunting in love. I did some research and realized I couldn’t ever be a mangaka. But I loved my vampire manga too much to let it go—so to save it, I “Americanized” and turned into a book. I gave up a dream, but gained another. A much better one.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?
My favorite genre is sci-fi by far. I love all kind of genres, but this one is my first love because you can do so many things with it. I feel there isn’t enough sci-fi in the YA market and I want o change that. How many stories do you know about teenage aliens or superheroes? I want to be the one writing those stories.

What gives you your inspiration? Do ideas just pop into your head, or do you sit down and focus before getting a great idea?
Best place to get ideas: The shower. I’m serious. All of my best ideas have come to my while I was showering. Sometimes they’ll just pop into my head—I daydream a lot. Other works of fiction will inspire me too, or just a great song works as well.

What's the main reason you love reading/writing?
I love reading because I’m transported to another world. I can forget about myself and focus on other’s people’s lives. Care for them, laugh at them, cry for them.
I love writing—because it’s just so liberating. I don’t know how to explain it honestly. Let me quote Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, “I didn’t love reading, as one doesn’t love breathing.”

Do you plan out the plot and characters of your stories before writing? Or do you improvise and write as you go?
For certain stories, I plan and for others I improvise. I really love planning and it really helps you in the long run.
Did you come up with the original idea for the Sommies?
No, actually, I didn’t. I remember one night, I was feeling lonely and there was this thread calling insomniacs, so I clicked. It was a lot of fun—And then Kara, a sommie from that thread, she created nightly threads. It was amazing. She’s the original Sommie Queen.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?
Guilty pleasures? Disney movies and cartoons.

Tumblr of blogger? What do you like better and why?
I hope my fellow Treehouse Gang members don’t hold this against me, but I love Tumblr better. I like Tumblr better because, believe it or not, I’m awful at blogging. Tumblr posts are shorter and you see more pretty pictures.

Computer or paper?
Computer for three reasons—I’m a tree hugger, I have horrible handwriting, and I’m too lazy to retype stuff.

Favorite Animal?
Tigers—I find them to be cute yet strong at the same time.
Foxes—They’re wise, and if you look out for them, they’ll teach you the meaning of friendship.

That's it for now! You'll see me around, that's for sure.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ask the Gang!

We know you're all dying to meet the gang, right? Some of you know us, or at least one of us, while some of you probably don't have a clue. We're readers and writers, and that's probably all you know, save what's on our bios, are we right? 

Well, here's your chance to get to know us! Post below with any and all questions you have, from our favorite colors to our favorite books to something completely off topic. Whatever you want, you can ask. Ask Sharon what her favorite hobby is. Or ask Nella what music she listens to. Or Laura what habits she has when she writes. Does Evie like eggs? Does Marisa hate eggs? Anything and everything!

Starting January 26th-January 30th, we'll answer your questions, each of us with our own Q&A's (see the calendar). And on the 31st, launch day eve!, we'll answer any group/overall questions you've asked. Depending on the number of questions, we may not be able to answer them all, or we'll combine some, but the more questions asked, the better! We want you involved, after all. :) 

Ask away! We want the page a mile long with questions!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What do you want to see on the blog?

While this blog is for fun, we also want you to get the most out of it as possible. We want to hear from you on what you want to see us talk about. Check the calendar to see what we're going to be up to these next weeks. Is there a specific book you want one of us to get our hands on? A specific topic you'd like us to discuss? Post below and let us know what you want to see! Everything is taken into consideration and we want to make this blog the best it can be. But we need your help to do that! So, get to commentin'! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to The Treehouse Gang!
A site for YA readers and writers of all ages!

Four Americans and an Aussie of all different ages and experience are coming to tell you about anything and everything YA! And best of all, The Treehouse Gang is an interactive blog. We want YOU to get involved!

Here’s how it works. Every month we’ll have a different genre theme. Within the month there will be a different category of discussion for each week. Though the genre will change every month, the set up for each week will stay the same.

Week 1: Pitches
Week 2: Short Stories
Week 3: First Chapters
Week 4: Excerpts

We want YOU to submit your work to us, according to the month’s genre and the week's theme. For example, our launch month of February is paranormal, so you'll want to submit your paranormal novel’s pitch, that corresponds with the first week of February. You don’t write paranormal? Don’t sweat it! Each month we’ll have a new genre, so we’ll be sure to get to your genre eventually!

You can start to submit your theme specific work that Sunday and no later than Thursday. Please check the sidebar for submission format. Send your piece to YATreehouseGang (at) aol (dot) com. As a rule, your submitted piece can be no longer than 2,500 words. If it’s over the word limit, get in touch with a gang member. There are exceptions! We will pick a submitted piece at random and feature it in the blog on Saturday. If you don’t write that month’s genre, you can still get involved by commenting your critique on the featured piece. We will pick the best critiques and feature them on The Gang’s Review Sunday, along with our critiques.

Along with the submission reviews, there will be features such as Pitch Sessions, Tip and Tricks, and Book Reviews. Those of us who have writing experience in the genre will share, and there will even be monthly giveaways.

Mostly, we want this blog to be for YOU. So look around the site. Check out the Meet the Gang page, where you can read brief bios on all the members. There’s going to be a lot going on on this site, so be sure to check the calendar for information on the day-to-day posts. Have questions? Click here.

We’re all so excited for this site and want it to be great, but it can’t be without your involvement!
So stay tuned, as there is much more to come!