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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Young Adult Novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 145
1. GoodReads Giveaway for Caught Between Two Curses

1655060_10202352586313888_1471055173_oEnter to win a print copy of my YA novel, Caught Between Two Curses, on Goodreads by clicking below.

Here’s what it’s about: Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either-it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs. Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time. Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life-and time is running out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Caught Between Two Curses by Margo L. Dill

Caught Between Two Curses

by Margo L. Dill

Giveaway ends April 21, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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2. Great Books I’ve Read Recently

reaperReaper: YA urban fantasy written by St. Louis area author, L.S. Murphy, is the story of sixteen year old Quincy Amarante who will become the fifth grim reaper. Quincy is concerned about one thing before Death enters into her life–being popular and going out with a gorgeous guy. But Death won’t leave her alone and neither does her childhood best friend, Ben–whom all readers will be swooning for by the end of the book. Here’s what I think: I really enjoyed this book from the beginning until the end–it’s one that I found myself anxious to read and getting in the way of the things that I should have been doing, such as work. I know Quin is self-centered at the beginning and mostly concerned with being popular. But I liked her–she had some endearing qualities and was pretty funny actually. I loved the love triangle, the grim reaper aspect, the main character learning about what is actually important in life, and the ending. WOW! no spoilers here, but I was not expecting that ending, and I love it! I would read another YA by LS Murphy in a heartbeat. :)

five famous miceFive Famous Mice Meet Winston Churchill: This is a picture book by Jean Davies Okimoto and illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell. It’s a sequel to Winston of Churchill. In this book, five mice go on a quest across Canada to let people know about climate change and how it affects everyone. Here’s what I think: The illustrations in this book are great, and the mice are cute. I like how determined the mice are to get noticed, and the ends they go to–to see the polar bears–to have their voices heard. I think this is better suited for K-2. My 3-year-old loved the mice but had a little trouble understanding why people weren’t listening to them and why they had to go to the polar bears. If I taught K-2, I would definitely use this in my classroom for Earth Day.

time and foreverTime and Forever: This is Susan B. James’s first romance novel,  and it is great. It’s a time travel romance, full of twists and turns. I wrote an entire review for it for The News-Gazette. You can find that here at this link.

 

 

 

excelsiorExcelsior:  This is a new YA book by George Sirois, who is published by the same publisher as me (Rocking Horse Publishing). In George’s book, high school senior Matthew Peters, Excelsior – savior of faraway planet Denab IV – is becoming an Internet sensation as the main character of a popular online comic strip. But before Matthew can enjoy his burgeoning success, a beautiful older woman arrives at his school and tells him that not only is she from the planet Denab IV, but that Excelsior’s lifeforce lives within him.  Here’s what I think: I love books that start in the real world and then go into the fantasy world–and Excelsior delivers on this promise. I also love that Matthew is an everyday hero who turns into the best hero ever! :) I did feel a little sorry for him that the comics he created were actually memories—but you’ll have to read the book to figure out how. I also like that the author did not steer away from modern technology in a fantasy book. Since he sets it in the real world in the beginning and teens are into technology, it was a must he include it and he did not disappoint. (Plus of course, new gadgets were created!) FINALLY, I liked that the adult in Matthew’s life also had to get involved and didn’t just disappear. I think there really are some teenagers who don’t mind an adult or two around every once in a while. . .I’m excited that the author is planning a series.

 

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3. Online Book Launch Party for My New Young Adult Novel

Join me at the Lit Ladies blog for my online book party with prizes. Details on the flyer below or on The Lit Ladies blog here: (http://www.thelitladies.com)

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4. Book Trailer, Interview, and Review of an Interesting Book

president hatI’m lucky enough to be on the web in three different places this week.

First, I reviewed a really interesting book, for adults but teens could read it too, titled, The President’s Hat. It was translated in English from French, and is a modern-day fable about a man who finds President Mitterand’s hat in the 1980s at a restaurant, and it brings him good luck and confidence. To read more about the plot and my thoughts on the book, go here: http://www.news-gazette.com/arts-entertainment/local/2014-03-23/top-notch-book-about-special-hat.html

Next, I revealed my book trailer for my new YA book, Caught Between Two Curses, on my critique group’s blog, The Lit Ladies. I feel so lucky because I WON THE BOOK TRAILER from Castlelane, Inc., and I would recommend them to anyone who needs help with marketing, covers, and more. Check out my awesome book trailer (it’s only one minute long) and more info about Castlelane here: http://www.thelitladies.com/winning-a-book-trailer-for-caught-between-two-curses-and-announcement/

And finally, I was interviewed by Hannah, a college student who is pursuing a degree in the publishing industry. She asked me about working for WOW! Women On Writing and other publishing related questions. Here’s what I had to say about working in publishing and where it might be going in the next five years: littlemissbookie.blogspot.com/2014/03/interview-with-margo-dill_7293.html

Until next time! :)

Happy Reading!

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5. The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu

empty

A gripping, emotional story of a young woman’s journey to belong and be free to pursue her dreams is what you’ll find in The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu.

A straight-A student on her way to becoming valedictorian, M.T. watches while her friends get their driver’s licenses and make college plans. As an undocumented immigrant, M.T. lives in constant fear of being found out, while coping with her domineering, paranoid father who believes her education is a waste of time. Not even her best friend, Chelsea, knows the truth.

Pressure mounts as the National Honor Society wants M.T. to plan their trip abroad and M.T. begins a relationship with Nate knowing she will never fit into his perfect, wealthy, all-American life. Can M.T. learn to trust herself and others to stake claim to the life she wants?

Drawing on her own experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant, Andreu creates a superbly told, thought-provoking story that tugs at every heart string. Readers will be captivated by this young woman’s plight of seeking dreams just outside of her grasp and diminished by her militant father whose only desire is to earn enough money to return to the country of his birth, ripping M.T. away from the only land she has ever called home.

While illegal immigration is a highly politicized topic, The Secret Side of Empty isn’t a story about undocumented immigrants. It’s the story of a girl growing up in America who has to hide a secret that can end life as she knows it. It’s the story of friendship and learning to trust others. It’s a story of family and how they shape us; how they can hold us back and often how they lift us up. While I definitely believe this novel will challenge beliefs about illegal immigration, in the end, readers will remember The Secret Side of Empty because of its believable and inspiring heroine.

Highly recommended!

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (March 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762451920
ISBN-13: 978-0762451920

I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


1 Comments on The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu, last added: 3/25/2014
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6. Coming Soon!: Moonflower by Angela Townsend

moonflower

Natasha remembers little from her Russian childhood, other than the lingering nightmares of her mother’s tragic death. So when someone close to her hands her a one-way ticket to Russia, along with the deed to her family farm, and then is brutally murdered, she has little confidence about what awaits her in that distant land.

With doubt and uncertainty, Natasha has no choice but to leave her life in America for an unknown future. Once overseas, the terrifying facts as to why she was really summoned home come to light.

Fact one: Monsters do exist.
Fact two: The only thing keeping those monsters out of the world is an ancient mural hidden below her family’s farm.
Fact three: The mural that keeps the evil out of the world is falling apart.
The final fact: It’s up to Natasha to restore it and save the world from a horror unlike anything seen before.

Luckily, Natasha isn’t alone in her mission. Three Russian Knights are tasked with protecting her from the demons as she restores the mural. And leading the Knights is the handsome and strong Anatoly, who seems to be everything Natasha could hope for in a man. Unfortunately, there is one huge problem. Her Knights are forbidden from having relationships with the artists they protect, and Anatoly is a hardcore rule follower. But rules cannot stop the way she feels.

When a horrifying demon breaches the barrier and pulls Anatoly inside the mural, Natasha can’t help but charge, once again, into the unknown—this time to save the man she secretly loves. Now on the demons’ turf, she risks her own life to free the very one who is supposed to be protecting her. Little does she realize that if she should fail, it could mean the destruction of the very last barrier shielding mankind. Will Anatoly refuse Natasha’s help? Or will he finally realize, when love is at stake, the rules will be broken.

COMING MARCH 31, 2014!

 

You can add Moonflower to your list on GoodReads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20924104-moonflower


0 Comments on Coming Soon!: Moonflower by Angela Townsend as of 3/20/2014 11:07:00 AM
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7. Today is Caught Between Two Curses Release Day

1655060_10202352586313888_1471055173_oHappy birthday to my new young adult, light paranormal, baseball, romance novel titled, Caught Between Two Curses. I AM EXCITED! YAY! YAY! YAY! YAY! YAY! Rocking Horse Publishing did an amazing job with the cover, and they have been super to work with. Thank you! I hope that you will order a copy from them today for a teen in your life or for yourself. You can do so here: http://www.rockinghorsepublishing.com/new-release.html.  OR if you live in St. Louis, come to the book launch party on Friday evening. Those details are right here: https://www.smore.com/v4a3

Some of you are over here because you read my post at the Lit Ladies and you are looking for the actors whom I think could play Julie, Gus, and Matt. So, I won’t keep you wondering any longer. . .

4840900429_18ec70d2ea_n This would be Gus, played by Matt Lanter. (This photo is courtesy of GreginHollywood on Flickr.com.) If you check out Julie’s list I revealed on the Lit Ladies site today, you can see that this actor here fits many of the qualities of Gus. So, you can see why Julie is a bit torn between the two guys in her life, if this is what Gus looks like. :)

5865258116_c8fc1887fb_nJulie and Matt are on the cover of my book above, but if I had to choose actors, I would choose.. .Chord india eisleyOverstreet, who plays Sam on Glee.  He would be my first choice for Matt. (Photo is courtesy of vagueonthehow at flickr.com) And for Julie, I would love Ellen Page, but she’s probably a bit too old now, so we’ll have to go with. . .India Eisley who plays on the show, The Secret Life of The American Teenager.  (photo from abcfamily.com)

So, what do you think?

To read a short excerpt and a back cover book summary, check out the Lit Ladies post!

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8. Article on Revising Your Beginning to Get it Perfect

revi-moThis morning, I am so honored to be on Meg Miller’s website, talking about revising the beginnings of novels and picture books. My “thesis statement” (WHAT? BLOG POSTS HAVE THESIS STATEMENTS?) is that “Yes, your beginning really is that important.” Hopefully, I convince you if you are a writer to pay attention to your beginning, and I offer tips to help you. We all know revision is a beast. But it’s crucial.

I revised the beginning of Caught Between Two Curses more times than I can count, but then I finally got a publishing contract. And if you’ve been in a closet, it will be out on March 18 from Rocking Horse Publishing. You can preorder here: http://www.rockinghorsepublishing.com/new-release.html 

Plus, take some time to check out Meg’s site and the other useful revision tips she has posted. This winter, Meg sponsored a ReviMO, and she gave away prizes. I was lucky enough to participate as Editor 911 and give away a free critique. So, really, check her out!

Here’s the link: http://megmillerwrites.blogspot.com/2014/03/margo-dill-guest-post-petite-revimo.html

 

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9. Book Launch Party for St. Louis Folks

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10. Chasing Prophecy by James Moser with Giveaway

Title: Chasing Prophecy

Author: James Moser

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

Ebook available at: Kindle | Smashwords  




Book Description:

Mo is a shy teen who is just trying to survive high school. He has secretly fallen in love with a girl named Prophecy who lives with a group that some call a commune and others call a cult. When she disappears, Mo must find the courage to face the monster that her family has become. Chasing Prophecy is a contemporary coming of age story that is heartwarming, suspenseful, and beautifully written. This book chronicles the adolescence of one boy who must transform himself to save the girl of his dreams.

Kirkus Reviews:

“A stellar read for teens and adults, full of hilarious growing pains, tenderness and a few surprises. Moser’s debut is an unflinching young-adult novel that sees a group of friends tested by bigotry and the illegal machinations of a religious cult. The author serves up an irresistibly wisecracking narrator in Mo Kirkland. Every page ripples with a controlled cleverness. There’s also a rawness to this tale similar to that which many teens face in the real world. Moser can wax rhapsodic about young love, but he shows that he knows how to raise the tension in the second half of the novel.”


Excerpt:

Max leaned over and whispered, “They don’t have any gear.”I looked at their packs. He was right. No rolled-up tents, sleeping bags or cookware dangled from any of the straps or hooks. Just bulging backpacks. Their empty sports-drink bottles were the only clue that they’d known they were about to hike straight up a mountain.

I remember thinking how weird it was that they carried so much weight uphill and none of that weight was soap, clean clothes, or sleeping bags.

Max peeked inside one of their packs. He undid the top pull-cord and pulled out a giant freezer-bag of red crystals. I undid the top drawstring of one of the other backpacks. More bags of the same stuff. I held one up. A bright flash startled us, made us step back. After blinking away the spots, I saw Clean with one arm extended, centering us in another picture he was taking on his phone.

“What’s this?” I asked, holding up a bag of what looked like raspberry Sno-Kone.

“Drugs,” Max said softly.

“It is not ‘drugs,’” said Clean. “It is the salvation of our family. It is the sword we will use to fight off Big Brother, to beat him back from our land, to cut off his hand as it reaches for what is ours. Now put those bags of salvation back, please. I’m sending word of our salvation to my father.” He held the Blackberry closer to his face and I knew he was forwarding the picture to Able back at the ranch.

Big buckets of reality crashed down on me head. Huge bags of drugs brought in from Canada. Hiked over the border in the dense woodsy areas where the Mount Baker National Forest drops to the Canadian Border.

These guys are criminals, I thought.

Clean waved at our tents, sleeping bags, and the rest of the food. He said, “You guys should just chill for a day, catch your breath, eat, drink, and sleep. No fires. We’re way off the trail and we’re nowhere near the spot where people hang-glide, base-jump or wall-climb. I put all the dehydrated food pouches in the blue backpack—soups and chili and fruit. A whole bottle of water purifying tablets. It’s not tons but it’ll keep you fueled til you’re back home. Thanks to you, the hard work is done.”

“Thanks, bruh,” said the leader of the other team. The three of them were leaning into the rock and leaning into each other. They must have done that on the way up, at night, to stay warm.

Clean motioned us to the other end of the rock. He said, “We leave in half an hour. Drink all the water you can, then fill up one small water bottle each. Remember to add an iodine tablet. No one can get sick on the way down. And,” he said, pausing to reach into his pack. “We wear these on the way down.” He pulled out green and tan camouflage floppy hats and t-shirts that matched the backpacks our visitors had carried.

“What about . . .” I started to say.

Max took a deep breath, dropped his chin and stared at the ground. He understood before I did that the Vision-Quest was over. We’d come to exactly this spot because this was the mission Able and Clean had planned for us all along.

Clean said, “We’re carrying it back down to the trailhead. We’re taking no food. We ate less than 24 hours ago and will be able to eat again before we go to sleep, after we get home. We have water. It’s downhill for us so we should make the car before dark. I have a small thing of sunscreen. Other than that, all we need is some guts.”

Max’s face was angry. I was just plain numb. There was nothing else to say.

Half an hour later, Clean hugged his three companions goodbye. We stayed on the southern end of the ledge, teetering under the heavy packs, just nodding politely to the other crew. We started down and did not talk. The backpacks carried the same weight but since I’m smaller than Clean and Max, I struggled more. I panted and stumbled a few times. We reached the tree-line in a couple hours.

Max and I kept trading WTF looks.

I thought, What is Kazzy doing right now? Does she have backpack of drugs, too? Did she know about this? Of course she didn’t know. The day before she looked so lost and confused. As lost and confused as anyone in the dining hall. If she had drugs on her back, she was as surprised as we were.

God, I wanted to hold her and I wanted her to hold me back. I’ve never wanted to hold someone so much. I thought of the squeeze she’d given me as she left the school bus.

The school bus. Right. They’d chosen a special ed. school bus to bring us in and out because it would hide in plain sight. No cop would pull us over for a small reason.

Max suddenly said, “Shit.” He kicked a tree, nearly fell from being off-balance under the heavy pack, steadied himself, unstrapped, and dropped his pack on the ground. He looked at me, then at Clean. “This is illegal. It’s not what you said we’d be doing.”

Clean moved quickly toward Max. I dropped my pack to the ground and took a long step toward them–to break up the fight before it got started. Clean’s eyes darted to mine. He put his finger to his lips.

Max put up his fists but Clean was already past him.

Clean took two long steps down the path, to the bend in the next switchback. He looked back at us—eyes on fire. He pointed sharply at us and then up into the woods.

We pulled on our packs and labored up the rocky hillside, grabbing at pine trees and brush. Glancing to our right, I saw Clean doing the same. We reached a spot thirty feet off the trail, level and dense with ferns. From the trail we heard a rustling and the unmistakable clip-clopping of horseshoes. We dropped down in the ferns, shimmied out of our backpacks and kneeled down in the dense mossy soil.

A forest ranger on horseback came into view. As he brought the horse to a stop, it sniffed at the air, looked our way and froze. I knew it had smelled us. We turned to Clean. He put one finger to his lips and stared daggers at us.

The ranger wore an olive green, short-sleeved shirt and cargo shorts. He had a walkie talkie clipped to his belt and a satellite phone in his hand. The saddle held a canteen, knapsack, and a long leather sleeve with a shotgun handle sticking out. As he turned around, I saw a handgun holstered at his side. The guy looked straight ahead, spoke into his satellite phone, dismounted, whispered softly to the horse, and stroked its mane.

I looked back at Clean and what I saw told me that the Bethlehem family had changed forever. The fingers of one hand were spread toward us, commanding we remain still and silent. His other hand held a gun. The lines on his face were calm. He was not afraid.

The ranger turned his back to us, lowered his hands, undid his belt buckle, moved his legs apart, looked to the sky, began to whistle. Clean gently clicked off the safety. The horse heard it, darting its eyes in our direction, snuffled, pawed at the ground restlessly. The man turned back to the horse, whispered, went back to whistling.

After the ranger and horse were safely out of earshot, we stepped over to Clean.

Max said, “What are you doing with a GUN???”

I added, “Yeah, and what were you gonna do if he saw us?”

Clean looked calmly at me, snapped the safety back on, and returned the gun to the waist-band against his lower back. He clicked on his walkie talkie, adjusted the volume and channel, and said, “Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Anyone out there chillin’? Over.”

A long pause, and then the crackling response, “Chillin’ like Bob Dylan. Thought you guys were gone. Over.”

Clean said, “We just ran into Steve’s Big Brother. You remember Rick, right? Over.”

A longer, crackling pause.

“Copy that. Long time since we’ve seen Rick. He by himself? Over”

“Affirmative. Over.”

And the longest, crackling pause yet.

“How long til Rick arrives for dinner? Over.”

“He’s probably not coming to your house, but if he does go that way, it’ll be at least an hour. No more than two. Over.”

“Copy that. If you seen him again, tell him sorry we missed him and we’ll catch him next time. We’re running late and we’ll be gone in ten minutes. Over.”

“Sounds like a plan. Sorry about the fast turnaround. I know you guys are tired from the trip. From the long drive all the way from California, I mean. Over.”

“Copy that. Catch you guys next time. Over and out.”

“Copy that. Over and out.”

Clean switched off his walkie talkie and clipped it onto his belt.

“Look at me,” he said. “Everyone take a drink of water and pee if you have to. We are not stopping for a few hours, until we get to the parking lot. I will walk on point. That means I’ll be by myself about fifty feet ahead. There will be NO talking, so I can hear what’s ahead. You watch where you’re walking and you watch me. I put my hand up, that means stop. I point, and that means you have five seconds to go wherever I’m pointing.

“We run into someone and can’t hide in time, you just do exactly what I do. We’ll say hello all friendly-like, but you keep your heads down and you do not slow down no matter what. I will go first. I’ll pause, I’ll make some small talk for ten seconds while you pass me, and then I’ll bring up the rear after the two of you are down the trail a bit. I will catch up on my own so don’t look back. We don’t look back and we don’t stop no matter what.”

We nodded.

“Say it so I know you understand,” he said.

“Don’t look back,” Max said.

“Don’t stop, no matter what,” I said.

About the Author:
James Moser has always loved stories in all forms. He is in his fourteenth year of working with high school students. The author’s goal was to write a book that would inspire even his most reluctant readers. Young adults have always inspired him. As such, he wanted to show teenagers transforming themselves to overcome obstacles, which is what he watches them do, every day.

Moser has a B.A. in English and a Master’s degree in Secondary English Education. He lives in Seattle with his beautiful wife and eight year old son. When he’s not reading and writing, or thinking about reading and writing, he’s watching way too much television while snacking on frozen treats from Trader Joe’s. Man, those things are good.

Where to find James Moser:


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Twitter

Goodreads

Enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash.


4 Comments on Chasing Prophecy by James Moser with Giveaway, last added: 3/6/2014
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11. New Release from Clean Teen Publishing: The Awakener by Amanda Strong

awakener
A simple touch will change their lives forever.

Seeing Micah for the first time in years, fifteen year old Eden wants nothing more than to run and hide, but instead in a moment of sheer embarrassment, she throws her arms around his neck; unaware she just changed her childhood friend forever.

With eyes’ opened to the realm of angels and demons, Micah discovers he has become the Seer, called to save the world from an impending fire. Shy and awkward, Eden stumbles through high school clueless her guardian angel shadows her every move, keeping her safe while she unknowingly “awakens” others to their spiritual gifts. Micah will need those Eden touched to complete his mission which began long ago in the ancient City of Enoch and its secret underground temple.

With angels and demons fighting around them, both Eden and Micah must find their own personal courage and faith in order to know what to do for the battle that awaits them, one they must triumph or risk losing everyone they love.

Excerpt:

She bit the inside of her cheek, the instinct to duck behind the two girls intense.  Spine tingling with adrenaline, she pushed her glasses up.  Down the corridor, sandwiched between two girls and a guy, was her childhood best friend, Micah.   Though no longer a lanky boy, she still recognized his light blue eyes.  The mop of black hair he had as a kid was now short, little longer than a buzz.  Eden was drawn to his smile, even if it was meant for the blonde girl at his side.  A good foot shorter than him, the girl craned her neck up as she wrapped an arm around his waist.

Got to be his girlfriend, she decided.   A stocky jock-type boy with chestnut brown hair and a tan girl with jet-black hair stood next to them.  The jock slugged Micah’s shoulder as his bellowing laugh made its way down the hall to Eden.

Then the scene was gone as jeans and myriad of different colored t-shirts blocked her view.  She sucked in a deep breath, her lungs burning from holding it too long. Sweat was beading at the top of her forehead as she prayed she could pass Micah’s entourage unnoticed.  If I can’t see him he can’t see me either right?  She hoped.

The stair case loomed nearer.  I’m going to make it, she thought wishing the kids in front of her would move faster.

“No way dude. Coach always gives you the ball Micah,” a male voice boomed.

Eden glanced over.  Micah’s group was directly left of her now.

He hasn’t noticed me, just keep moving, she told herself.

Face ducked down, she lifted her leg up only to have her foot land sideways and to the left.  Her weight uneven, she feared toppling over, but a pressure on her left side held her up.  Confused, she again attempted to move away, only this time, her body made a ninety degree turn, bringing her a foot away from the blonde girl.

Horrified, Eden’s legs stepped one in front of the other, heading straight towards Micah.  Within seconds she stood dead center, stopping his small group of friends short.  Sky blue eyes swam in front of her vision before she was lunging forward, throwing her arms around his neck, hugging him.

Funny the things you notice in a moment of sheer humiliation, she thought, as time dropped into neutral, prolonging her torture.

There was a hiss-like sound from the short blonde.  Yep, definitely his girlfriend.

A male was chuckling.  Not Micah. Must be the jock.

Arms wrapped around her hugging her back.  Oh my gosh!

She shifted her weight back, trying to detangle herself from Micah’s arms.   Pulling her face away from his neck, the memory of his scent automatically tucked away in her mind, she met Micah’s raised brow line, wide eyes, and even wider grin.

“Eden?  Is that you?” he asked, as they separated further.

Aware his hands still held her forearms she was forced to remain and maintain eye contact. She nodded, terrified to speak.strong

“Wow! How the heck are you?  It’s been forever!” Though his face appeared delighted, she couldn’t help but notice how un-delighted his girlfriend was, as her amber eyes glared up at her.

PURCHASE AT AMAZON!

Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. Because of The Awakener’s success as a non-published book, she was asked to talk on 1400 KSTAR about her story.

In September 2013 Amanda Strong signed with Clean Teen Publishing for publication of The Awakener, which is scheduled to release in late October of this year. The Awakener is the first book in an all-new young adult paranormal romance series called: The Watchers of Men.

When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.

Like Amanda on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoramandaestrong

Follow Amanda on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aewstrong

Add The Awakener to Goodreads


1 Comments on New Release from Clean Teen Publishing: The Awakener by Amanda Strong, last added: 10/26/2013
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12. Agent at Dijkstra Looking to Build List

literary-agent-roz-fosterAbout Roz: Roz Foster is an associate agent, rights assistant, and talent scout for the Dijkstra Agency. She has a B.A. in English Literature from UC San Diego, studied philosophy for a year at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and earned her M.A. in English, with an emphasis in composition & rhetoric and creative writing, from Portland State University. At PSU, she taught writing in exchange for tuition. She’s been learning French since 2009. Roz spent over five years as a qualitative researcher in high-tech consumer products marketing. In 2008, she co-founded a web design company for which she provided non-profit organizations with audience-focused market research, project planning, and digital design. She joined SDLA in 2013.

She is seeking: Roz is interested in literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction, literary sci-fi, and literary YA. She loves novels that make her feel like the author is tuned into a rising revolution — cultural, political, literary, or whatnot — that’s about to burst on the scene. She looks for a resonant, lively voice; rich, irresistible language; complex characters with compelling development arcs; and a mastery of dramatic structure. Roz is also interested in non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, design, business, cultural anthropology/social science, politics, psychology and memoir. Here, she looks for driven, narrative storytelling and sharp concepts that have the potential to transcend their primary audience.

Please note that Roz is specifically not interested in: sports, cookbooks, screenplays, poetry, romance, and children’s middle-grade/picture books.

How to contact: E-query roz [at] dijkstraagency.com. “We read all query letters. However, because of the high volume of unsolicited submissions we receive, we are only able to respond to those queries in which we are interested. If you have not heard back from us six weeks after sending your letter, you may assume that we have passed.” Please send a query letter, a 1-page synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), and the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript. Please send all items in the body of the email, not as an attachment.

Talk Tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, need to know, opportunity Tagged: Contact Information, Dijkstra Agent, Literary sci-fi, Looking to build list, Roz Foster, Young Adult Novels

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13. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You: Feminism and the YA Romance

sermonby Rachel Lieberman

I write YA, and I often ask myself, “Does my writing promote good messages to teen girls?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Stories that preach = BIG FAT NO. Making your story a mouthpiece for your beliefs is never a good idea.

This is not your job.

BUT that doesn’t mean that you’re never allowed to wonder who’s going to read your stories, and what those readers will get out of their experiences.

For my graduate lecture, I took a look at how feminist and post-feminist literary theory can help us look at YA literature and decide for ourselves what messages we want to send. Feminism is, at its core, the belief in equal rights for all genders, but of course there are many definitions and variations among those definitions. The question of choice (who gets to choose, and what they should choose) is sometimes a point of contention among critics.

20120104060816!Twilight_book_coverI think that one of the reasons so many critics find fault with Twilight and novels like it is because Bella’s choices may be her own, but they are consistently at odds with the choices we want our girls to make. When we show characters who consistently choose dangerous, controlling partners, our fear is that young adult readers will also choose dangerous, controlling partners.

I don’t think this is an invalid concern, but my intention isn’t to debate or argue it. That’s for another time, another post. My intention is to say, that if you’re a YA writer and this is something you are thinking about, there are ways to develop a good feminist story without making it preachy or propaganda. I’ll share some methods that I found useful and talked about in my lecture.

1. What does your main character want? If it’s just a relationship, consider that in real life, a desire for a relationship is usually a symptom of a deeper desire for something else, like security or acknowledgment. Consider what other forces might be at work, and you’ll avoid creating shallow characters whose problems can be solved by a significant other.

2. Make sure your character stays active. Find places in the story that force her to act, that take away her safety net and test her. This is true of practically any story, but in YA romances, it’s especially important. She doesn’t need to be a hero, but she shouldn’t rely on her love interest too much.

3. Pay attention to your character’s love interest. Speaking of the love interest, don’t forget to pay attention to him! Or her. What does he want? Does he act in a way that harms the main character, and if so, are there negative consequences? If your character has to choose between two love interests (very common these days), is the choice made too easy (by having one character turn out to be a jerk)?

4. Romance novel vs. novel with romantic elements. A romance novel is a little different than a novel with romantic elements. A romance novel’s plot is dependent on the relationship between two characters, so if you want to write a story with feminist undertones, you might choose the other path.

5. Why do your characters get together? Think about the reasons your characters are together. Is it because they find each other so attractive? Or do they share a deep, mutual connection? The more you develop the relationship, and the reasons for it, the more likely you are to connect with readers.

6. The moral of the story. All of these factors combined puts you in a better position to control the final factor: the moral of the story. Once you’ve finished a draft, it might be a good idea to take a look around. What’s happened to the characters? Who’s alive? What have they had to sacrifice? Your character’s rewards and punishments reveal a lot about your story’s message. Is it the message you want?

There are, of course, many more factors than these six that you will need to pay attention to in order to write a great novel. But this is a place to start if your aim is to write a story with romantic elements that will both appeal to teen readers and give them characters and situations they can look up to.

Rachel LiebermanRachel Lieberman works in higher education and writes YA. Her short fiction has appeared in Opium, Awkward, Emprise Review, and others. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Tampa.

Visit Rachel’s blog: A Reputation in Digital Form: The Writerly Musings of Rachel Lieberman

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @LiebermanRachel

This blog post was brought to you as part of the March Dystropian Madness Blog Series.

March Dystropia Madness


11 Comments on You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You: Feminism and the YA Romance, last added: 3/25/2013
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14. You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You: Feminism and the YA Romance

sermonby Rachel Lieberman

I write YA, and I often ask myself, “Does my writing promote good messages to teen girls?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Stories that preach = BIG FAT NO. Making your story a mouthpiece for your beliefs is never a good idea.

This is not your job.

BUT that doesn’t mean that you’re never allowed to wonder who’s going to read your stories, and what those readers will get out of their experiences.

For my graduate lecture, I took a look at how feminist and post-feminist literary theory can help us look at YA literature and decide for ourselves what messages we want to send. Feminism is, at its core, the belief in equal rights for all genders, but of course there are many definitions and variations among those definitions. The question of choice (who gets to choose, and what they should choose) is sometimes a point of contention among critics.

20120104060816!Twilight_book_coverI think that one of the reasons so many critics find fault with Twilight and novels like it is because Bella’s choices may be her own, but they are consistently at odds with the choices we want our girls to make. When we show characters who consistently choose dangerous, controlling partners, our fear is that young adult readers will also choose dangerous, controlling partners.

I don’t think this is an invalid concern, but my intention isn’t to debate or argue it. That’s for another time, another post. My intention is to say, that if you’re a YA writer and this is something you are thinking about, there are ways to develop a good feminist story without making it preachy or propaganda. I’ll share some methods that I found useful and talked about in my lecture.

1. What does your main character want? If it’s just a relationship, consider that in real life, a desire for a relationship is usually a symptom of a deeper desire for something else, like security or acknowledgment. Consider what other forces might be at work, and you’ll avoid creating shallow characters whose problems can be solved by a significant other.

2. Make sure your character stays active. Find places in the story that force her to act, that take away her safety net and test her. This is true of practically any story, but in YA romances, it’s especially important. She doesn’t need to be a hero, but she shouldn’t rely on her love interest too much.

3. Pay attention to your character’s love interest. Speaking of the love interest, don’t forget to pay attention to him! Or her. What does he want? Does he act in a way that harms the main character, and if so, are there negative consequences? If your character has to choose between two love interests (very common these days), is the choice made too easy (by having one character turn out to be a jerk)?

4. Romance novel vs. novel with romantic elements. A romance novel is a little different than a novel with romantic elements. A romance novel’s plot is dependent on the relationship between two characters, so if you want to write a story with feminist undertones, you might choose the other path.

5. Why do your characters get together? Think about the reasons your characters are together. Is it because they find each other so attractive? Or do they share a deep, mutual connection? The more you develop the relationship, and the reasons for it, the more likely you are to connect with readers.

6. The moral of the story. All of these factors combined puts you in a better position to control the final factor: the moral of the story. Once you’ve finished a draft, it might be a good idea to take a look around. What’s happened to the characters? Who’s alive? What have they had to sacrifice? Your character’s rewards and punishments reveal a lot about your story’s message. Is it the message you want?

There are, of course, many more factors than these six that you will need to pay attention to in order to write a great novel. But this is a place to start if your aim is to write a story with romantic elements that will both appeal to teen readers and give them characters and situations they can look up to.

Rachel LiebermanRachel Lieberman works in higher education and writes YA. Her short fiction has appeared in Opium, Awkward, Emprise Review, and others. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Tampa.

Visit Rachel’s blog: A Reputation in Digital Form: The Writerly Musings of Rachel Lieberman

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @LiebermanRachel

This blog post was brought to you as part of the March Dystropian Madness Blog Series.

March Dystropia Madness


0 Comments on You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You: Feminism and the YA Romance as of 3/22/2013 7:36:00 AM
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15. Exclusive interview with Kirby Larson, author of HATTIE EVER AFTER -- and a giveaway!

Hattie Ever After, a sequel to the Newbery-honor winning Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, pubs tomorrow, and I'm thrilled to be hosting Kirby for an exclusive interview. Don't forget the giveaway at the end of the post.

 Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson (Delacorte Press, February 12, 2013, for ages 10 and up)




Synopsis (from the publisher):  After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a big-city reporter. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself. But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. 

Why I liked it: This novel is bursting with historical flavor, so if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll definitely want to read this. I learned a lot about the time period. And even if you're not into historical fiction, read it for Hattie herself. She's wonderful --  a strong female character full of life and sass and gumption.You'll find yourself cheering her on as if she's a real person. 

You could read this without reading Hattie Big Sky, but it definitely helps to be familiar with the first book. And although it's considered YA and it's all about careers and marriage, there is absolutely nothing too mature about the book. I suspect it's the kind of novel I would have cherished when I was 11 or 12. 




Kirby Larson from her website


Hi Kirby!  Welcome to My Brain on Books! In your author note you state that when you wrote Hattie Big Sky, you had no intention of continuing her story. I'm so glad you changed your mind. Can you tell us about the seeds that grew into Hattie Ever After and how much influence your reader fans had on the decision?

I am a firstborn and am very much into following the rules and keeping other people happy. So, even though I thought I had completed Hattie's story, when I kept hearing from readers, I felt compelled to pay attention. And, honestly, who wouldn't like spending a little more time with such a spunky and stubborn orphan? But I knew that if I were to take on a sequel, I couldn't simply do another version of the homestead story. I would need to find something completely different. I was sure Hattie was going to go on a road trip, but she had other ideas. After fighting with her for some time, I finally got the picture: she wanted to be a writer. I certainly knew about that dream! Once that fell into place, so many other things did, too. I think when we completely give ourselves over to a book -- a terrifying experience!-- we will be given what we need to tell the story. At least, that is how it seems to happen for me. 



I love it when a character takes over! Please tell us a little about your journey to publication. Was Hattie Big Sky the first novel you ever wrote? How long did it take you to find an agent?  And how much time passed before you signed your first publishing contract?

[chuckling] First novel? Um, HBS was perhaps my fifth. But, it was my first effort at historical fiction. My first published book, a chapter book, came out in 1994; then I had four more books published, including two ghost written series books. Beginning in 1997, I contracted submission pox -- everything I submitted for the next seven years was rejected. I was ready to pitch it all in and go to work as a Starbucks' barista. Or maybe a Walmart greeter. Then, through a sad and wonderful set of circumstances, I was led to my great-grandmother's story of homesteading in eastern Montana as a young woman and spent four years researching and writing Hattie Big Sky. When the manuscript was ready to submit, I sent it to half a dozen editors--one of whom called me ten days after receiving it to say she wanted to publish it. Though I had had agents (two) earlier in my career, HBS was unsolicited/agentless. After the book won the Newbery Honor, I was introduced to Jennifer Holm's agent, Jill Grinberg, and the rest, as they say, was history. 

That's quite a journey. How amazing that Hattie Big Sky was agentless!  You used to teach writing classes. What advice can you give us on revising a rough draft?

First, celebrate the fact that you have completed a first draft. Most people never make it that far! Have you adequately celebrated? Really? Was there chocolate involved? Okay. Now you can move on. I'd say the first thing to do is find a trusted reader. Mine is my picture book co-author, Mary Nethery, who has earned several jewels in her heavenly crown for nudging me to actually include a plot in my novels. Respond to the concerns of that trusted reader (e.g. in my case, add a plot). Then, scout the manuscript for narrative chunks: such chunks probably indicate telling, rather than scene-building. Convert those sections to scenes and you're most of the way there! Don't forget to take a look at motivation: yes, you need John and Jenny to have a spat in Chapter Four. But why are they having that spat? And does the spat grow organically out of the preceding action? Finally, read EVERY SINGLE WORD aloud. That will save you from all kinds of clunkers and faux pas.


Ah, yes, I did celebrate with chocolate when I finished my first draft, thank you! And thank you for the rest of this great advice too. Do you listen to music while you write? Do you have a theme song that best fits Hattie Ever After

Good lord, no. I have to have it very quiet while I write. Theme song? I think Etta James' version of At Last fits almost any situation!
 
Other than music, what's your writing process like? Are you an early morning writer or an evening writer? Do you write in your PJ's? Drink gallons of coffee? Do you chain yourself to a writing desk or take your laptop and spread out on the couch?

I'm an all-day writer because this is my job. In fact, both my husband and I office at home, so are a trifle workaholic. We have resolved for 2013 to quit work earlier a couple of times a week and have some non-writing or acounting kind of fun. Two nights ago we went to the Seattle Opera. The week before that, it was a date to see Silver Linings Playbook. Next week, it's a tour of the newly relocated Seattle Museum of History and Industry. 

As the result of an unfortunate event that occurred when our son was in elementary band, I do not write in my PJs (long story). I get up around 6:30 or 7 and have a cup of coffee and do the NY Times crossword puzzle (on Mondays, I feel like the smartest person in the world!). Then I walk Winston the Wonder Dog and we come back and have breakfast (he eats a bit of kibble with a home-cooked patty of turkey and veggies; I often eat a poached egg and toast). Then we are in my office by no later than 9. I write all day (breaking for lunch and that very important afternoon constitutional for Winston). I now use a Mac mini hooked up to a big monitor so I am pretty much chained to my office. But I do have an iPad so sometimes go to my local coffee shop to play around. I especially like to print out my manuscripts and take those to a coffee shop to work on revisions.

You're so good at writing historical fiction (the Hattie novels, The Friendship Doll and even a Dear America book!). Will your next book also be that genre? Or will you go back to nonfiction picture books like Nubs or The Two Bobbies?  Which is your favorite to write: picture books or novels?

[Thank you for that lovely compliment; I do work very hard on my historical fiction.] Mary and I are dying to find a third narrative non-fiction book together, along the lines of Two Bobbies and Nubs. So I am hoping a book like that is in the not-too-distant future. As for my individual work: I am totally and passionately in love with historical fiction. My next three books will be in that genre, for sure. After that -- who knows? As far as which is my favorite genre: such a thing doesn't exist. It's the story, not the genre, that counts.
 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. And congratulations on tomorrow's release of Hattie Ever After!

Thank you so much for taking the time to come up with such thoughtful questions! I really appreciate your support and encouragement of my work.

 *   *   *   *   *

Readers, to celebrate Kirby Larson's book launch tomorrow, I'm giving away my ARC of Hattie Ever After, along with a paperback of Hattie Big Sky (in case you haven't read it). To enter, simply be a follower and leave a comment on this post. This giveaway is open internationally and will end at 10 pm EST on Saturday February 23, 2013. Winner to be announced on Monday, February 25. Good luck!

31 Comments on Exclusive interview with Kirby Larson, author of HATTIE EVER AFTER -- and a giveaway!, last added: 2/25/2013
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16. What I've Read So Far -- And a January challenge

Drum roll, please! Here is a list of all the books I've read in 2012 (divided up by months and not counting picture books. And please note that most of these were arcs, unless otherwise noted):


January
1. Cinder - Marissa Meyer
2. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
3. A Diamond in the Dust - Kathryn Fitzmaurice
4. Chomp - Carl Hiaasen
5. Because of Winn Dixie - Kate DiCamillo
6. Looking for Alaska - John Green
7. Gil Marsh - A.C.E. Bauer
8. Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick
9. Jake & Lily - Jerry Spinelli




February
10. What the Dog Said - Randi Reisfield
11. So Close to You - Rachel Carter
12. Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
13. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
14. Curveball: How I Lost My Grip - Jordan Sonnenblick






March
15. Breath of Eyre - Eve Marie Mont
16. critique partner's MG novel
17. Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator - Josh Berk
18. Embrace - Jessica Shirvington
19. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
20. Kaspar the Titanic Cat - Michael Morpurgo
21. Small Damages - Beth Kephart
22. The Year of the Book - Andrea Chang
23. Remarkable - Lizzie K. Foley



April
24. The Wicked and the Just - J. Anderson Coats
25. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker
26. Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupi
27. Starters - Lissa Price
28. The False Prince - Jennifer Nielson
29. Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson
30. My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick


May
31. Devine Intervention - Martha Brockenbrough
32. The Patron Saint of Beans (now called If You Find Me) - Emily Murdoch
33. Keeping the Castle - Patrice Kindl
34. Don't Turn Around - Michelle Gagnon
35. Gilt - Katherine Longshore
36. Lucid - Adrienne Stolz and Ron Bass
37. The Mapmaker & the Ghost - Sarvenaz Tash
38. A World Away - Nancy Grossman
39. Keeping Safe the Stars - Sheila O'Connor
40. Gold Medal Summer - Donna Freitas
41. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy - Nikki Loftin
42. This is Not a Drill - Beck McDowell
43. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson


June
44. Jump Into the Sky - Shelley Pearsall
45. Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
46. What Came From the Stars - Gary D. Schmidt
47. Forge - Laurie Halse Anderson
48. Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers
49. Son - Lois Lowry
50. Ungifted - Gordon Korman
51. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
52. Capture the Flag - Kate Messner
53. Edge of Nowhere - Elizabeth George



July
54. Nerve - Jeanne Ryan
55. Burning Blue - Paul Griffin
56. The Great Unexpected - Sharon Creech
57. Malcolm at Midnight - W. H. Beck
58. Ten - Gretchen McNeil
59. Lindsey Lost - Suzanne Phillips
60. The Diviners - Libba Bray
61. Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker



August
62. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
63. critique partner's YA novel
64. Third Grade Angels - Jerry Spinelli
65. Beholding Bee - Kimberly Newton Fusco
66. Space Station Seventh Grade - Jerry Spinelli
67. The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
68. Every Day - David Levithan


September
69. Empty - K.M. Walton
70. If I Lie - Corrine Jackson
71. True Colors - Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
72. Popular - Alissa Grosso (paperback I purchased at PAYA)
73. Pretty Crooked -- Elisa Ludwig (hardcover I purchased at PAYA)
74. Dying to Know You - Aidan Chambers
75. Seven Tales of Trinket -- Shelley Moore Thomas (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
76. Glass Heart -- Amy Garvey
77. Unspoken -- Sarah Rees Brennan
78. Liar & Spy -- Rebecca Stead



October
79. The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons - Barbara Mariconda
80. Lovely, Dark and Deep -- Amy McNamara (hardcover from S&S)
81. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
82. A Dog Called Homeless -- Sarah Lean
83. Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities -- Mike Jung (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
84. Touching the Surface - Kim Sabatini (hardcover from S&S)
85. Ask the Passengers - A.S. King
86. The Secret Underground - Natalie Bahm (paperback purchased to help Baby Jayden)
87. The Brides of Rollrock Island


November
88. Double Vision - F.T. Bradley
89. The Tide-Changers -- Sandy Green (paperback purchased from Amazon)
90. Through to You - Emily Hainsworth
91. The Flight - C.F. Runyan (old paperback I've read before)
92. Circle of Secrets - Kimberley Griffiths Little (hardcover won from Deb Marshall)
93. A Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
94. A Thunderous Whisper - Christina Diaz Gonzalez (hardcover won from Medeia Sharif)
95. Recipe for Trouble - Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk (paperback won from Jennifer Rumberger)
96. Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli

December
97. Hattie Ever After - Kirby Larson
98. When We Wake - Karen Healy
99. Dead End in Norvelt - Jack Gantos
100. A String in the Harp - Nancy Bond (paperback lent by a friend)
101. Storm in the Barn - Matt Phelan

So I've read more than 100 books and December isn't over yet. If you have questions about any of these books, feel free to ask!  Which one's my favorite?  Oh gosh, I couldn't possibly pick ONE favorite. For YA, I'd have to say The Fault in Our Stars, but Small Damages and Devine Intervention both hold a special place in my heart. For MG, I love Wonder, but also What Came From the Stars, and Malcolm at Midnight. Of course, I also loved The One and Only Ivan (but I read it last year!). One of those books had better win a Newbery.

For the next few weeks I'll be taking a blogging break to spend time with my family and to work on my third novel. In January,  I hope to be querying my second novel, but I'm also joining Katia Raina's 31-Minute a Day Challenge.  If you've never checked out Katia's blog, you should hop right over there. She's a lovely young writer I met at the New Jersey SCBWI conference last year, and her first novel is coming from namelos in 2013! Join the challenge! All it takes is a commitment to work on your project (whatever it is) for 31 minutes a day, every day, throughout the month of January. And there's a prize for a random winner at the end! Sign up on Katia's blog.
 
See you in a few weeks. Enjoy your holidays!

24 Comments on What I've Read So Far -- And a January challenge, last added: 12/23/2012
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17. Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives

Kaolin, the author of Talking About Race (publisher: Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc.), contacted me about her book, and I thought it sounded so interesting that I told her to send it to me. And I’m so glad she did. This post is going to be a little different than my normal posts about books you can use with students (you could probably use this with teens and college-age students)–I am going to share the book with you and tell you how to use it, but I will show you examples straight from the pages of the book. I also want to share with you a little of the author’s story. So, here we go. . .

Kaolin was born Patricia Anne Graham, and she legally changed her name to Kaolin with no surname in 1991. She has had many jobs in her life: a waitress, a singer, a writer, and a teacher. She’s worked in adolescent programs with teens with disabilities and in politics. She has also worked on a tree farm. In 1994, she designed and taught a course titled, “Let’s Talk About Race: Confronting Racism Through Education,” which after many years became this book I’m talking about today.

The book is divided into seven chapters with a “writing interval” at the beginning. It is written for “white people working to achieve racial equality in their lives, and to readers of color who would like insight into psychological and social experiences white people encounter.” Personally, I find this perspective fascinating–as a white woman, I never thought it appropriate or even necessary to address the concerns and topics that Kaolin discusses in her book. But after reading it, I see that it is, and I saw myself and my feelings in the pages of her book–especially when I was younger. I can see youth groups, book clubs, college classes, and more reading and studying this book. It will start conversations that need to be had. I hope that I can discuss these issues with my stepson soon and with my daughter when she is older. And as the cover states, it does not just have to be white people–it can be all races working together.

As Kaolin states in her introduction about why she wrote it: “Because learning how to talk about racism is hard. Most of us ‘react’ to it first. . . The lack of thought that has gone into many white people’s position about racism is amazing to me. . . Talking About Race meets that need.”

She begins with recognizing racism with lists that describe what a racist believes and with a section that even addresses, “How do you know you whether or not you are a racist?” The next chapter is titled “Resisting Racism,” which can actually bring up many uncomfortable feelings–especially when children/teens are faced with racism from parents or other loved ones, and they don’t know how to confront these beliefs or even act around the person. Kaolin gives some ideas for figuring this out. She continues this theme in the “Defenses and Insecurities” chapter.

The book goes on through real-life examples and encouraging prose, as well as pages of thinking questions with room to write answers, to face racism head on and understand how it can affect people in a family and in a community. Kaolin forces people to also look at themselves and how behaviors can either promote or stop racism. It’s not a book intended for people to feel bad about themselves or members of their family. It’s a book written to get people talking and thinking and hopefully changing hurtful behaviors.

I highly recommend using Talking About Race with teens and college-age students. I think it is perfect for a home school group, a church youth group, a community group like Boys and Girls Club, and more. It’s well-done!

Here are a few of the questions from it that get adults and children USING the book:

  • If you woke up this morning and there had been no racism in your life, how would your life have been different?
  • Have you ever feared someone because of his or her color? Have you been fearful of anyone because of your color?
  • With respect to your own color, would you say you were born lucky?
  • Do you think white people have no problems?
  • In order to correct a racist situation, I would need. . .

Check it out on Amazon or at Kaolin’s website if you don’t believe me! :)

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18. REPLAY nominated for a Cybils Award!

Today I received the happy news that REPLAY has been nominated for a 2012 Cybils Award

2 Comments on REPLAY nominated for a Cybils Award!, last added: 11/12/2012
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19. Class of 2K12 -- INNOCENT DARKNESS by Suzanne Lazear


Meet Suzanne Lazear, author of INNOCENT DARKNESS!

INNOCENT DARKNESS:  Book 1, The Aether Chronicles (Flux, August 8, 2012, for ages 12 and up)
Wish. Love. Desire. Live.
In a Steampunk version of Victorian Los Angeles sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. Her wish sends her tumbling into the Otherworld.  A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.
Suzanne Lazear writes Steampunk stories for adults and teens.  Her Young Adult Steampunk dark fairytale INNOCENT DARKNESS, book 1 of The Aether Chronicles, will be released from Flux on August 8, 2012. She always plays with swords, is never described as normal, and has been known to run with bustles. Suzanne lives in Southern California with her daughter, the hubby, a hermit crab, and two chickens, where she’s currently attempting to make a raygun to match her ballgown. Visit her blog at http://www.suzannewrites.blogspot.comand her website http://www.suzannelazear.com

Class of 2K12 

Hi Suzanne, and welcome to My Brain on Books!
Do you outline before you write? If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft? What change surprised you the most?

Well, INNOCENT DARKNESS didn’t start out Steampunk.  I steampunked it on the fly from a contemporary outline.  My main characters—Noli, V, and Kevighn--stayed the same but new characters like Charlotte appeared. The basic story stayed the same, but adding in the Steampunk elements forced me to change a lot of things, and I had to create an entire alternate world as I went along (which required research and strange google searches).  From this process a lot of details I didn’t know about emerged, like Noli’s love of botany, Kevighn’s sister, and certain details about V and his past…I personally enjoy learning things about my characters as I write.  Not all stories are like this for me.  Sometimes I outline, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I just jot down ideas.  It all depends on the story, world, and characters. 

Do you revise one novel while writing another? Or do you feel you need to write and revise one novel and get it as polished as possible before moving on to your shiny new idea?

I like to have several projects in different stages going on at once. It makes me feel more productive.  I work on the one that’s most pressing (or if not on deadline, with the characters speaking the loudest), but if I get burned out or need a break, I can switch to another project for a day or two and feel like I’m still being productive.  Also, I have something to do while a project is off being read by betas.  It’s that whole multi-tasking thing.  I like multi-tasking.  And lists.


Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while writing? And where do you write? Briefly describe your writing space.

Because I have a full time job and a family I write whenever and wherever I can. I do a lot of writing on my laptop on the couch. I write during lunch at work, I’ve been known to bring my laptop to birthday parties and family functions when on deadline, I’ve even contemplated trying to use Dragon to write while driving since I spend so much time commuting—but I’m not that brave and given my writing style, I’m not sure that would work for me. 

Do you listen to music while writing or at least while thinking about and planning a book? What song or album had the most influence on this novel?

I really like to listen to music when I write and often make complicated playlists of “mood music” for each project.  For some reason I never made a special list of music to listen to just for the writing of this book – though I do have a soundtrack for it.  I wrote a bulk of INNOCENT DARKNESS during NaNoWriMo 2009 – 66k in three weeks—while working a dayjob so that may have had something to do with it.  Yeah, I nearly died.  I did write large chunks of ID while listening to Emilie Autumn on continuous repeat—especially “Across the Sky,” which I consider to be the book’s theme song, as well as “Shallot” and “Opheliac”.  I adore her work, she’s a “Victorian industrial” artist and since I’m writing Steampunk, the vibes meshed really well.  I also listened to a playlist of sappy love songs I’d compiled for drafting another project—especially when writing the kissing parts.


Wow!  That sounds daunting.  I love that your book has a theme song.  Tell us what darling you had to kill that you really really wish you could have kept and what was the most fun to write.
More kissing!!!  Just kidding.  I actually had to cut an entire scene with Kevighn, my anti-hero, that I really liked.  It introduces a new character towards the end, so it does work better to save it for book two, but I really liked the relationship between Kevighn and that character.  It added a more little background and depth to my naughty huntsman. My favorite scenes involve Noli—Noli and her flying car, Noli and her friend Charlotte, Noli and V…  Though I do have to say, Kevighn, being the bad boy, was really fun to write.  Probably even more fun to write than V, who’s such a sweet, honorable guy.  Inventing all the steampunk gadgets was a ton of fun as I tried to meld the Victorian feel with modern technology to get things like hoverboard and flying cars, yet make them as natural to Noli as a car is to us. 
Thank you so much for having me on today!

Thanks for being here, Suzanne! And congrats on the book!

3 Comments on Class of 2K12 -- INNOCENT DARKNESS by Suzanne Lazear, last added: 9/8/2012
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20. Class of 2K12 -- Corrine Jackson, author of IF I LIE and TOUCHED -- and a Giveaway!



Wow! Today's Class of 2K12 interview is with a debut author who has not one but TWO young adult novels launching this year.  Meet Corrine Jackson, author of:





IF I LIE, (August 28, Simon Pulse)

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise…



Corrine's also the author of:




TOUCHED (coming November 27 from K-Teen) Seventeen-year-old Remy O’Malley heals people with touch, but her power comes at a steep cost. Every illness or injury she cures becomes her own. The pain she can handle, but she worries a day will come when she won’t recover from healing some terrible disease. Then she meets eighteen-year-old Asher Blackwell. Scarred and dangerous, he knows more about her abilities than she does, and she can’t resist wanting to know everything about him.

Class of 2K12 website
Corrine's website
Follow her on Twitter

Corrine Jackson (from her website)


Q. Do you outline before you write?  If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft?  What change surprised you the most?
A.  I’m an outliner. Usually, the characters come to me and I keep a file with notes that I collect. They’re everything from scene ideas to character traits to bits of dialogue. I write a bit to get a sense of the character’s voice. Once that’s in place, I go back and outline the whole book. My outline is flexible, though. I never feel locked in. If a scene takes me somewhere new, no big deal. I just revise the outline. I’ve been surprised at times by a new character popping up (George in IF I LIE) or an emotional scene I didn’t plan on (in TOUCHED). George was definitely my biggest change. My entire book morphed once he appeared. I love those moments.
Q.  Those are cool moments! How long did it take to go from the idea for the book to the draft your editor accepted?  Was it months or years?  Did you go through endless revisions, beta readers, etc, before starting the submission process?  Did you ever want to pull out your hair?
A. Depends on the book. With TOUCHED, I wrote it in 3 ½ months. I went through draft after draft in revisions and lots of beta readers. Once I got an agent, we went through one more revision. That’s the one my editor bought. With IF I LIE, I wrote it over a year, sent it to a few beta readers, did one round of revision, made a few changes at my agent’s suggestion, and that was it. Since I spent more time writing it, I edited it along the way, so my first draft was pretty clean. I also showed pieces to readers as I was working on it.
To be honest, I don’t like editing as much as I do writing. I’d rather do a slower, cleaner first draft, but that’s not always realistic with deadlines. I’m adapting, but I do want to pull my hair out at times.
Q.  I hear you! Do you listen to music while writing or at least while thinking about and planning a book?  What song or album had the most influence on this novel?
A. I always listen to music. I create playlists for each book. In the book FROM WHERE YOU DREAM, Robert Olen Butler suggests that listening to the same music for a book each time you write, drops you back into that creative space faster. I agree. As soon as I put the music on and read a snip of what I wrote the day before, I’m off and running on new words. When writing TOUCHED, I listened to a lot of Tyrone Wells, Taylor Swift, Tim Easton, Ben Harper, and others. Lots of soulful love songs or longing for love songs. I shifted gears a bit on IF I LIE. That book takes sad to a new level. I listened to a lot of Glen Hansard, The Swell Season, and The Frames. Glen Hansard has this voice that rips at your guts and it fit what was happening to my characters.

Thanks for joining us today, Corrine! Your books are amazing.  Congratulations!
 *   *   *
Readers, I have one hardcover copy of IF I LIE to give away!  Sorry, this giveaway is only open to residents of the US or Canada.  Must be 13 or older to enter.  The rules are simple:  You must be a follower and you must comment on this post!  You have until Saturday September 8 at 11 pm EDT to enter.  One extra chance to win if you Tweet about this giveaway.  Another extra chance for mentioning on facebook OR on your own blog.  Please note your extra entries in the comments. Thanks!

18 Comments on Class of 2K12 -- Corrine Jackson, author of IF I LIE and TOUCHED -- and a Giveaway!, last added: 9/19/2012
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21. Dark Water by Chynna Laird (YA Author Interview and Giveaway)

Today, I welcome my colleague and fellow WOW! team member, Chynna Laird, with her YA paranormal-suspense novel, Dark Water. Chynna has written a creepy, suspenseful book that also touches on some serious issues contemporary children/teens are dealing with such as a parent at war, PTSD, and death of a loved one. Chynna also has a copy to giveaway, so leave a comment for your chance to win! It’s YA, remember–and I know how many of us adults also love YA!

Margo: Welcome, Chynna, to Read These Books and Use Them. I am so thrilled to host you today and your first YA book, Dark Water. Can you tell us a little about your book?

Chynna: Thanks for having me here, Margo. Yes! Dark Water is a young adult suspense/paranormal. It’s about a sixteen-year old girl trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. The deeper she digs, the bigger the mystery seems to get. Here’s the book cover synopsis:

“Some answers are found far beneath the surface…”

Sixteen-year-old Freesia Worth has a mystery to solve—the disappearance of her mother at their family lake house. Her traumatized sister Sage hasn’t said a word ever since that day.

After almost a year, Detective Barry Cuaco has found nothing but frustrating dead ends. Soon he’ll have to let the case go. But Freesia isn’t making it easy for him. She needs answers. Now.

With the help of her secret crush, Rick, and a mysterious Goth girl named Mizu, Freesia learns about an ancient Native legend and a man known as the Watcher of the Lake.

Will Freesia finally uncover the truth? Or will the lake keep its secrets far beneath the dark water?

Margo: Spooky! I hope that Freesia can uncover the truth. (Winks) I read on your website that this was your NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month in November] project in 2011. Tell us a little about the process of Dark Water going from a NaNoWriMo project to a published book.

Chynna: Just before NaNoWriMo, I had this really creepy dream about an old Native man and a ghost he was trying to help. When I got up, I googled Native water legends, and my story came to me. I was so excited about this project, I actually finished it before NaNo was over! After that, I spent a couple of weeks editing and polishing it, then sent it to a publisher I knew who handles several books in the suspense/paranormal genre (Imajin Books). And then Dark Water was born!

Margo:How cool is that! Just goes to show you why we should listen to our dreams! If you had to compare your book to others on the market right now, where would it fit? How is it similar and different from these?

Chynna: I’d have to say that Dark Water is very similar to the works of Chris Grabenstein, Sharon Sala, and Charlotte Blackwell. They all have a wonderful talent of weaving creepiness and fun into their storylines. Dark Water

is a bit different in that I also mix in the issues I think that need to be talked about more. Of course, authors have to be very careful when doing this because younger readers do NOT like being preached to. When you write about these issues, you need to make sure that it is at their level and non-preachy. So I hope that I accomplished that. I think I did…

Margo: Great, then let me ask: What are some themes you are exploring in this book?

Chynna: There are several issues I touch on in Dark Water. First, the main character, Freesia, is part of a military family. Her father was killed in a mission in Afghanistan. Another theme I touch on is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Freesia’s younger sister, Sage, lives with it, and I give a sense of what it’s like to live with a sibling who has this disorder. I also touch on mental health issues, specifically Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Before she disappeared, Freesia’s mother was a clinical psychologist who worked with children and families coping with this very difficult disorder. Finally, I touch on how young people deal with the very painful situation of parental loss.

I love to educate and stimulate conversation about these issues by weaving the information within a good story. That’s the best way to digest it, I think.

Margo: I couldn’t agree with you more! That’s the entire reason for my blog. :) How could teachers or parents use Dark Water? Are there certain discussion points that would naturally occur after reading it?

Chynna: I think there would be several discussion points after reading it. Young people may have questions, for example, about what SPD or PTSD is. Teachers can open the discussion to researching and learning about these disorders, how it affects individuals, and what they can do to help raise awareness. Caregivers can use the book to teach tolerance as well as to connect with their children by encouraging questions or concerns. That’s the first step to understanding. =)

Margo: So true! Are you working on any more YA books? I know you’ve written a variety of books—a memoir, a parenting book, a children’s book, and more.

Chynna: Yes I am, actually. I am working on one project that is a YA contemporary (tentatively called Just Shut Up and Drive), a potential action/immortal series as well as a special surprise. ;D

Margo: That sounds great! Maybe one of these days I’ll find a publisher for my YA, and then we can be YA authors together! :) Anything else you’d like to add about writing for YA and your book, Dark Water?

Chynna: The only thing I’d like to add is that anyone wanting to write in this genre, or already is, should just do it. Research the genre, talk to young people reading these books, and put out the best you can do.

Margo: Chynna, thank you for your time and encouraging words.

Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment by Sunday September 2 for your chance to win!

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22. Compelling YA Reads -- for Random Acts of Publicity


Yes, I'm participating in Random Acts of Publicity, created by Darcy Pattison.  It's a public event on facebook and you can sign up here.  For this Random Act, I'm offering teasers about four new YA novels:


Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf, 9780307931887) -- With this beautiful and highly-imaginative novel about A, a being who wakes up in a different body every morning, David Levithan teaches us what it means to be human, and what it means to truly love someone. A has managed to drift through his many lives, never getting involved -- until the day he occupies the body of Justin, boyfriend to Rhiannon.  A knows he must see Rhiannon again, even if it means risking being caught by a preacher who warns of the devil taking over bodies.



What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (Harpercollins, 9780062114877, Coming Sept 18!)  --  In an alternate society where two souls exist inside every body, Eva and Addie started out like everyone else. Eva is the recessive one, the one who should have faded away by the time they were seven or eight.  In their strict society, it's mandatory that one soul become dominant.  But at fifteen, Eva's still there inside of Addie, weak and helpless, yet able to talk to Addie telepathically. Will Eva fade away for good or can she learn how to control their shared body again, despite the dangers?  An intriguing storyline and gorgeous writing. I read this in one sitting. 



Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips (Viking, 9780670784608, coming Sept 13) -- Lindsey's an Olympic hopeful, a star runner and the town's Golden Girl.  When her body is found in the woods, her brother Micah may have been the last person to see her.  But he can't remember what happened.  Did he witness the murder?  Or commit it?  There are at least four other possible suspects. A thriller so intense you'll be tearing through the pages to find out what happens.





If I Lie by Corrine Jackson (Simon Pulse, 9781442454132) *  -- Quinn is trying to survive her senior year in high school, shunned by everyone and tormented by the mean girl, because they all think Quinn cheated on her boyfriend, the town hero. But the truth isn't always what it seems.  In this well-crafted novel, Corrine Jackson paints a stunning portrait of a girl forced to keep a secret for a boy who's now MIA in Afghanistan.  

* See my interview with author Corrine Jackson in this post  -- and there's still time to enter the giveaway, but hurry!




6 Comments on Compelling YA Reads -- for Random Acts of Publicity, last added: 9/8/2012
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23. YA Friday - POPULAR by Alissa Grosso and PRETTY CROOKED by Elisa Ludwig

I was lucky enough to meet these two authors at this year's PAYA festival.  What's PAYA?  Bringing YA to PA is all about raising money for Pennsylvania libraries.  It was started by an ambitious high school student in 2008. There were over 30 authors at this year's festival, some of whom had already signed books for me at the bookstore (like A.S. King, Ellen Jensen Abbott, K.M. Walton, and Beth Kephart!).


Alissa Grosso is the author of POPULAR (and the more recent FEROCITY SUMMER, which I need to read next!).

Elisa Ludwig is the author of PRETTY CROOKED and the sequel PRETTY SLY (Coming March 2013 from Katherine Tegen Books/Harpercollins).


 

Alissa Grosso (from her website)



Elisa Ludwig (from her website)










Elisa Ludwig website (Check out her cool book trailer on the main page!)




I'd met Alissa and Elisa once or twice before, but never got a book signed by either, so this was my opportunity. And I'm thrilled that I did. Both books are about high school cliques, but take vastly different approaches.



Popular by Alissa Grosso (Flux, 2011)  

Alissa Grosso manages to pull off an amazing feat: juggling five different points of view from the five high school girls who form a tight clique at Fidelity High.  Hamilton Best is the queen of the clique, and her followers, Olivia, Nordica, Shelly, and Zelda, are squabbling among themselves and fighting to bring her down. Her boyfriend, Alex, seems moody and distant. Or maybe just confused.

But -- hold everything! -- this isn't just another Gossip Girls or Clique novel. The truth is not always what it seems in this fascinating psychological story. I read this in one day. And I was stunned.





Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig (Katherine Tegen Books/Harper, 2012)

Willa Fox's artist mom has finally sold some paintings and they can settle into a real house for once, with the opportunity for Willa to attend a prestigious private school in Arizona. She quickly makes friends with some of the Glitterati of Valley Prep and finds herself swept up in shopping sprees and parties (and attracted to a hot guy).  But when the popular girls prove to be the power behind a mean-spirited website that bullies scholarship students, Willa decides to even the playing field by turning into a modern day version of Robin Hood.  Steal from the rich and go shopping for the poor girls:  what could be so wrong with that?  This is a fun, fast-paced read that isn't afraid to delve into some social issues of class and race differences. 


What recent YA books have stolen your heart?

12 Comments on YA Friday - POPULAR by Alissa Grosso and PRETTY CROOKED by Elisa Ludwig, last added: 9/29/2012
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24. YA Friday: GLASS HEART by Amy Garvey


Glass Heart by Amy Garvey (Sept 2012, HarperTeen)

Source: review copy from the publisher

Synopsis: Wren is enjoying using her powers to hover a few inches above the floor of the pedestrian tunnel under the train station when two teens notice her. Bay and Fiona are into magic in a big way, and Wren agrees to hang out with them before realizing Bay's powers might be evil. Until now, only her boyfriend Gabriel and her own family knew she could use magic. Even her best friends Jess and Darcia don't know. Over the course of one December, Wren's relationship with Gabriel is complicated by her secret friendship with Bay and Fiona and by Gabriel's insistence that she stop using her powers. Why can't he realize her powers are part of who she is?  

Why I liked it:  Amy Garvey makes magic utterly believable. It's easy to imagine that Wren would get a rush from using her powers, and for the most part she uses them in beautiful ways, like creating a gentle snowfall. I love all the characters in this book, but especially Wren, who touches me in a way few characters in YA do.  She's so real, you begin to feel if you put the book down and walked to the nearest coffee shop, you might run into her.

This is a sequel to Cold Kiss, so if you haven't read that, you definitely need to read it first.  (And here's an excellent write-up of both books by Donna Gambale from the First Novels Club.)

What powers would you wish for?

4 Comments on YA Friday: GLASS HEART by Amy Garvey, last added: 9/28/2012
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25. Class of 2K12 - An Interview with Kimberly Sabatini, author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE -- plus a GIVEAWAY!

Today, I'm honored that for my final Class of 2K12 interview,* I'm talking with Kim Sabatini, a delightful debut author I've actually met in person (at the SCBWI Eastern PA Poconos retreats)!  First, let me tell you about her book:



Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini (Simon Pulse, October 30, 2012, for ages 14 and up)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right. Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed. As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

My take: I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of this book, and I can tell you all, it's a ravishing and unique look at the afterlife. The lives of four characters are woven together in an intricate dance after death.  As the story unfolds, layer by layer, we grow to love Elliot and her friends and realize the truth of E.M. Forster's famous phrase: "Only connect."  Touching the Surface is all about connecting with other lives, and making choices. Even the most minor decision can affect the other people in your life. This is one of those stories you can't stop thinking about long after you've finished the last page. And isn't that cover gorgeous? I'll be giving away my review copy; details at the end of the interview.
Kim's Pinterest site

Welcome to my blog, Kim! I'm almost as excited as you are that Touching the Surface makes its official debut in four days!  (And it's already been selling out in bookstores!)

Did the idea for your book spring from your own childhood or from some other source?  And did you start with a character or with an image or phrase or setting?

The idea for my book came mostly from the fact that my father had died recently.  I think I chose to write a story that took place in the afterlife so that I could explore my own feelings about my where my dad had gone and why he had to leave.  It also came from hearing the story of a local girl who had done something “unforgivable.”  I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I realized that if I’m so hard on myself about small things, I didn’t know how someone could survive making a life-altering mistake.  It made me want to write something that would make her feel better—and make me feel better too.

Do you outline before you write?  If so, does it end up changing before you finish the first draft?  What change surprised you the most?

I’m a pantser.  A definite fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of a girl when it comes to a written outline, but that doesn’t mean I don’t plan ahead.  I’m a mullet girl at heart.  I mull over my story, characters and plot in my head for long periods of time before I write it down.  Perhaps you could even call it a mental kind of an outline, because when I sit down to write I have very strong ideas about where I’m headed.  But having said that, I’m really open to going where the story leads me.  This is when it’s advantageous to be a mental outliner—it’s very easy to make corrections to the master plan.  I just head in the new direction and start mulling all over again.  I swish my imagination all around until the new ideas are real to me. 

Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate while writing?  And where do you write?  Briefly describe your writing space.

HOT CHOCOLATE!!!!  Don’t forget the whipped cream.  I have a cute little desk area with a nice window view that I’ve put together with a couple of folding tables.  But recently I’ve developed some achy spots from running and dancing and I find that sitting at my desk too long makes my legs hurt.  So…I’ve kind of moved my office onto my bed.  In essence, I’ve become my cat.  We get up in the morning, make the bed, do the mom thing, exercise and/or run errands then curl up in a nest on the bed for the afternoon.  Of course the cat gets to sleep on a pillow like a princess and I’m working like a crazy person, but I have hot chocolate with whipped cream—so I’m not complaining.


You were the first author I knew to go on Pinterest, when you posted on your blog about your Touching The Surface board. Can you talk about why you're so enthusiastic about Pinterest? How has it helped your writing? 

I have always been a visual person. As a writer, I very clearly need to see my characters and setting in order to be able to create a believable story. Pinterest is a quick, easy and portable way to visually support my writing. I've always manually built a bulletin board on the wall at home, but now I can write anywhere and access it from any place. I also think it's cool to be able to share an extra layer with readers. Some people don't want to have their own imagery spoiled, which I completely understand, but like myself, many are fascinated with what the author was thinking about when they were writing. I love checking out these kinds of author boards.

What can we expect from you next? What are you writing now?

Right now I'm revising my second novel, THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY. I'm really excited about it and I'm hoping that after the launch of TOUCHING THE SURFACE I'll have a little more time to polish it up. I've also decided to do NaNoWriMo for the first time this November. I know this sounds insane considering it kicks off two days after my book launch, but I feel like I've got book three, CHASING ADAPTATION, knocking on my brain right now. If you see me in a puddle on the side of the road in early December, you'll know that my head exploded. LOL!

Ha ha! Good luck with NaNo! And thanks for joining us today, Kimberly!  

Readers, I'm giving away my hardcover copy of Touching the Surface, AND some cool swag from Kim herself! One lucky person gets to win all this, plus the book (and yes, that is an origami crane!):
 

To enter, you must be a follower and you must comment on this post. International entries welcome!  Extra entries for tweeting, mentioning on facebook or your own blog. Please let me know. This giveaway ends at 10:00 pm EST on Wednesday, November 7, 2012.  Winner to be chosen by random.org. Good luck!

*Special thanks to Caroline Starr Rose, for asking me to participate in the Class of 2K12 interviews/guest posts.  It was an honor.

22 Comments on Class of 2K12 - An Interview with Kimberly Sabatini, author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE -- plus a GIVEAWAY!, last added: 11/8/2012
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