Friday, December 29, 2006

YA Fresh News!

Introducing a new member to YA Fresh: Debut Author, Tina Ferraro! Woo-hoo!!

Yes, Tina and I are critique partners. She also blogs over at Books, Boys & Buzz on Tuesdays and has graciously accepted to blog here on Fridays. (But we won't give her hard time if she blogs on another day. ;D)

She is the author of the novel, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, Delacorte Press, March 2007 as well as How To Hook A Hottie, Delacorte, Spring 2008. She's talented, friendly, an all around great gal, and I'm happy to have her join YA Fresh!

YA Fresh will still have interviews with great YA authors, talk movies, books, and all that's fun, only with additional fresh voice. Tina willl kick off the New Year here with an introductory post. So stay-tuned and give Tina a big hello!

Thanks for joining with me, Tina. It's going to be a great year in 2007!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Graffiti Girl Sharefest

I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had a great holiday! Okay, this is a total sharefest post on Graffiti Girl. Right before the holiday I received my book blurb from my editor and my illustration ads I had designed by Urban Envy. I am so jazzed!

Graffiti Girl
She's ready to make her mark.

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she’s heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

And stay tuned for some YA Fresh news!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's time to wish YA Fresh readers Happy Holidays!

Thanks so much for visiting these past few months and I hope you continue to do so! Be safe and enjoy your time with your families! :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

What's Fresh with Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl

In the three years since her father caught her in the back seat of a car with an older boy, sixteen-year-old Deanna’s life at home and school has been a nightmare, but while dreaming of escaping with her brother and his family, she discovers the power of forgiveness.

Hello Sara, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Sara: I've been writing my whole life, but never got past the first few pages of a story until about ten years ago when I decided to sit down and write a whole novel. I'd never had any formal schooling in creative writing, so it was a sort of "learn by doing" process. Of course, I love books and reading so I had at least a clue as to how a book should read! I finished that novel, got an agent, wrote another novel which I hid in a drawer, wrote another novel, lost my agent, then wrote what would become STORY OF A GIRL. I got a new agent, and we made the sale to Little, Brown in May 2005. And STORY OF A GIRL is just coming out now! I thought the day would never come, honestly.

The process of writing and finding an agent all happened pretty much through persistence, trial and error, and more persistence. I didn't have an "in" or get any referral that paid off...just cold queries and lots and lots of patience!

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Sara: I wish I had a typical schedule. I've been writing full-time for almost a year now, and I'm still figuring out what works. "Writing full-time" doesn't mean I write 40 hours a week, it just means I don't have another means of income at the moment. My ideal day looks like this: get up and have my shower, breakfast, coffee and e-mail done all by 9:30 or so. Write from 10 until lunch. After lunch, hopefully have another hour or so of productivity on the work in progress. After that, my mental capacities are quickly diminishing, so I take care of random items of business stuff with my agent or publicist, post to my blog, backup my work, and call it a day.

Please tell us about STORY OF A GIRL and what we can expect from your characters.

Sara: STORY OF A GIRL is my debut novel. It's a young adult title from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and it's available now in some places (January 10 everywhere else). The story finds sixteen-year-old Deanna Lambert at the start of the summer before her junior year, but it's not a summer kind of story with sun and adventure and romance. It's more like a summer nightmare as she's stuck in foggy Pacifica, working at a strip mall and forced to deal with someone and something from her past she'd rather forget. It's about family and friendship and forgiveness.

Sounds wonderful, Sara. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Sara: I'm working on a second book for Little, Brown, tentatively titled SWEETHEARTS. It's about childhood sweethearts who are reunited in high school. Drama ensues. It should be out mid-2008.

Thanks again for sharing with us, Sara. I wish you the best with your debut! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Sara: Start with concrete details. Make sure the reader knows where your characters are in the time/space continuum, for example. Disembodied voices on an empty stage are great for experimental theater. Not so much for novels.

Sara Zarr is from San Francisco, but now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Find out more and read her blog at

Monday, December 18, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Top Ten Uses For an Unworn Prom Dress

In case you don't know, my cool friend Tina Ferraro's debut novel, Top Ten Uses For an Unworn Prom Dress, is coming March, 2007 to a book store near you.

I mean, just look at the cover? Totally cute, right? Of course, I read this fab book and here's my quote...

"Tina Ferraro spins a story filled with laughter and tears as we follow the lengths one teen will go to keep her life from falling apart. Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress is any girl's guide to best friends, hot guys, and one fabulous prom dress." Kelly Parra, author of Graffiti Girl.

And because Tina doesn't have a personal blog and I'm so excited for her, I just had to share her first print ad in American Cheerleader. Click the pic for a larger copy to read or check out the latest issue for yourself! :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tanya Lee Stone Bookplate!

YA Author Tanya Lee Stone announces a signed bookplate and bookmark holiday promotion for her YA novel A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl.

Tanya's debut YA novel has been called "brave and beautiful" by Megan McCafferty, "Sure to be the new Forever" by Cynthia Leitich Smith, and "irresistible" by Libba Bray. School Library Journal gave it a starred review and said the book "will be passed from girl to girl to girl." Contact Tanya at with your name, snail mail address, and any personalization.

Sounds like good stuff!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Yes, I must talk movies again.

And in the spotlight today is She's The Man.

Amanda Bynes is hilarious. (I love her on "What I Like About You".) Amanda plays Viola, who loves to play soccer. When her team gets cut at her high school and not allowed to play on the guys team, her twin brother also takes off for a couple of weeks to play with his band. Viola takes his place--disguising herself as a guy--in order to prove a girl can play soccer with the guys too.

The plot is surrounded with a bunch of teen wannabe hook-ups as she falls for her cutie roommate Duke.

Totally funny LOL moments and fun to watch. Definitely check this teen flick out. :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Yes, it's a fresh new look for YA Fresh!

I really liked the old template, but this one is very refreshing and inviting. All the cool free temp sites are like 200 links from the most popular on a google search--ugh--it took forever to find another that I could stare at everyday. haha!

Here are a few other cool and unique free template sites, you might want to check out...

Pink Design

I really loved the unique temps at Pink Design. Very pretty!

Laughing Lion Design

Not many here, but very clean. Also I had to tweak some of the coding for the links to work correctly. As you can tell I really liked the design.

Pannasmontata Templates

Cool temps here, too! Lots to choose from.

Isnaini Templates
Really great selection here. Some of it is hard to follow since the coding is in a foreign language, but still easy to use.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006

Take Ten...

Hey guys,

Come check out a new bi-monthly column with my critique partner, Tina Ferraro (Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress 3/07) and myself titled, Take Ten with Tina and Kelly. You want to know the dish behind the books or even something weird about us? haha! Read the column, or maybe you'd like us to answer a question about writing--just email me and we'll do our best to answer in the next column.

Here's a little excerpt from our first installment...

Tell of a moment from your books that jumps to your mind, and why. Answer for both Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress and Graffiti Girl.

Tina: From my book, it was in the first chapter, when Rascal--the guy who left Nicolette with the unworn prom dress--is chatting her up. My intention was for Nic to feel nervous and coy around the uber-popular senior. But she surprised me and dished it back to him as good as he gave it. I remember my heart suddenly pounding hard during the sparring, knowing these characters had come "alive".

In Graffiti Girl, my mind goes to Angel sitting in art class, waiting to present her work. After just seeing her super-confident, at times defiant behavior in the hallway, suddenly I got a glimpse inside her insecurities as she silently admits how desperately she wants to score well in this competition, and ultimately find her place in the art world. I see in her what I know is in myself, the showing one set of emotions while hiding another. And I knew this was a girl I wanted to follow, support and root for.

Kelly: A scene that pops out at me from Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress is when Nic is meeting with her father after a lengthy separation. I admired her courage, since she was doing this in order to help her mom, even though Nic wanted to be anywhere but there! It was so emotional for her, she..s near tears when she leaves. My heart went out to her and Jared, who doesn..t really understand, but nonetheless tries to sweetly console her.

For Graffiti Girl, I think the moment that stays in my head most is when Angel performs her first graffiti tag in order to join Miguel..s crew. The scenario is sprung on her so quickly, and at the time she is balancing on a fine line between the beauty of art and the darker side of graffiti. With Miguel pushing her one way, she finally gives in to her secret desire to become a graffiti writer.

The other questions for this month involve: the stupidest thing we've ever done, big dreams, and how the idea for the books came about. Thanks!

Friday, December 01, 2006

What's Fresh with Mari Mancusi's Stake That!

All I want is to be a vampire. But nooo-I have to be Rayne MacDonald, Vampire Slayer...

Sisters. They'll swipe your clothes, your boyfriends, your destiny. But it wasn't exactly my twin Sunny's fault. Magnus, vampire hottie and coven leader, mistook her for me last month and bit her instead. Now they're doing the inter-species dating thing.

But back to me. Turns out that for every generation, there's a Vampire Slayer-and this time around, it just happens to be yours truly. My first mission: infiltrate a seedy vamp bar downtown and expose its vampire owner for purposely spreading a blood disease he created himself. A task almost harder than passing trig.

After going it alone once, I realize I need help. So Magnus sends his hot homey Jareth to go undercover with me. And let me just say I wouldn't mind going under the covers with him. Maybe fate doesn't bite after all...

Hello, Mari, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you came to sell your first novel, A CONNECTICUT FASHIONISTA IN KING AUTHOR'S COURT to Dorchester?

Mari: I always wanted to be a writer, even when I was a little kid. My mother was very encouraging and would type the stories I dictated her. (I'd draw the pictures, too!) When I got older I realized I could entertain my friends in class by writing stories about them and the rocks stars who (amazingly enough) loved them. (Either that or snarky stories about various teachers.)

But it wasn't till I was in my mid twenties that I realized if I wanted to get published I'd have to finish a book. So I sat down and wrote a completely unpublishable novel and sent it out to agents. (Shockingly enough I had no luck scoring one!) Then I joined RWA and got a critique group and really learned the craft of writing and rewriting. In summer 2003 I wrote A CONNECTICUT FASHIONISTA IN KING AUTHOR'S COURT - a time travel chick lit tale about a 21st century fashion editor that relives the Arthurian legend. I sold the book to Dorchester in 2004. My editor, after buying the manuscript, decided that I had a "young voice" and asked that I write up a couple of teen book ideas. I'd never written a teen novel before, but figured what the heck. So I wrote up a few ideas and ended up selling four teen books to two different publishers in November. I realized I'd found my calling.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Mari: I work a full time job as a tv news producer for the Boston NBC station. So I have to squeeze writing in when I can. I wake up early and write for an hour before work and then sometimes (if I'm under deadline) I come home from work, brew a pot of coffee and continue writing then. It can be hard to balance the two jobs, but I like them both so I manage.

I usually write from home, though I've been known to go to a coffee house to edit. If I can, I love writing on the train - especially the one from Boston to New York City. It allows me a solid four hours of writing time without internet access and I'm stuck in my seat with nothing else to do! Also they serve food and drinks. If it wasn't so expensive I'd go back and forth every weekend, just to get some non-distracted writing time.

Please tell us about STAKE THAT! and what we can expect from your characters.

Mari: STAKE THAT! is book two in the Boys that Bite vampire series. It's narrated in blog format by Rayne, Sunny's sister. (Sunny was the main character in the first book.) Rayne's not having a good week. First, through a case of mistaken identity Sunny, not Rayne, gets transformed into a vampire, sending Rayne to the back of the waiting list. And to make matters worse, now Rayne is told that she's destined to become the next vampire slayer, even though she wants nothing more in life than to become a vampire herself. Now she must team up with Jareth, a hot vampire general, to infiltrate a blood bar and stop the evil owner Maverick from poisoning the entire vampire race.

It's published by Berkley JAM and is a December release.

Sounds like a fresh read! What's up next, Mari? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Mari: Lots of stuff coming up in the next year both in my teen and adult writing worlds. In February, the sequel to CT Fashionista A HOBOKEN HIPSTER IN SHERWOOD FOREST will be out. It's a time travel to Robin Hood days. In August, I'm one of the launch books for Dorchester's new SHOMI line - speculative fiction romances. My book is sort of a post apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland called MOONGAZER. Really excited about that! And in October book 3 of the Boys that Bite series, GIRLS THAT GROWL, will be released.

A wonderful busy time for you, Mari. Thanks so much for taking the time with me. I wish you the best with your writing career! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Mari: Work hard and don't give up. The only secret to publication is perseverence. Make lots of writer friends and don't be jealous of other peoples' successes. In the writing biz there's always going to be someone who's more and less successful than you. Just put blinders on and plug away. It's worth it.

When not exposing scams and righting wrongs, Emmy award-winning television news producer Marianne Mancusi writes paranormal romantic comedies and a vampire series and other books for the YA market. She is a graduate of Boston University's College of Communications and has worked for TV stations in Orlando, San Diego and Boston. In her spare time she enjoys shopping, bar hopping, snowboarding, and her favorite guilty pleasure--videogames. She lives in Boston's historic North End. Check out her website,