Friday, March 30, 2007


I was so excited to read PROM DATES FROM HELL that I pre-ordered a copy months ago.

Although author Rosemary Clement-Moore and I have never met, she is my “Delacorte Prom Twin”. Our books were released from the same publisher on the same date, and we share the same editor. Not to mention the same event in our titles.

The book arrived right around my launch date, but for a time my head was in the clouds over my own book, so it took me until last week to crack open the first page. And what a winner, right from the start.

I’m not a book reviewer, but I know what I love--and this book fits that bill. The characters are so well-crafted that they jump off the page, the storyline is fresh and exciting. Instead of the fast read that I admit I am often prone to, I went slowly to make sure I didn’t miss any of her wry humor--and to make the book last and last.

There is some action at an indoor swimming pool, and as a former competitive swimmer, I applaud Rosemary for how she nailed the environment--the sounds, the sights, the smells, the textures--as well as playing up that hint of unknown and possible danger that I remember feeling when gazing into the indoor pool’s deep end...

Brava, Rosemary, for a wonderful read that will delight adults and teens alike!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring into YA Fresh!

Hey YA Fresh readers!

I just wanted to let everyone know that April and May are filled with lots of new YA novel releases. Let's hear it for Spring!

And that means, I have authors interested in sharing here at YA Fresh. (very cool!) I'm doing my best to do weekly interviews, however, with the list I have lined up there may be weeks where I may be sharing two author interviews to match them close to release dates, and maybe some weeks without an interview. Still lots of fresh fun, just sometimes double the guests! It's all pretty laid back around these cyber parts anyway, right? *wink*

So I hope you'll continue to tune in during Spring at YA Fresh! :) :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Realistic Story of a Girl

I made a trip to Borders a couple of weeks ago with the intent of picking up Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. (Read the YA Fresh interview with Sara here.) Unfortunately, they were sold out. I finally got the last copy at my local B. Dalton.

I just love the title and the cover. You have the feeling by looking at it that this story is going to be about a teen girl you could probably relate to. After reading it, my thoughts weren't wrong.

As a kid we experience all these new emotions, and we don't always make the right choices. Just like Deanna Lambert has been living with the past mistake and rumor mill of being caught (by her father) in the backseat with an older boy.

Sara takes the reader into the realistic life of the Lamberts--a father shadowed by disappointment in his children's actions and even his own struggles with his job. A mother who is the only optimistic one in the family, a brother who has become a father too soon, and how they all deal with life's detours.

In the midst of the family's ups and downs, Deanna is trying to find where she belongs, even with her closests friends, and to come to terms with the long ago past night. Story of a Girl is real, touching, and totally relatable to teens and adults. I'm looking forward to more from Sara Zarr!

Monday, March 26, 2007

What's Fresh with Pamela Lowell's Returnable Girl

A teen in foster care must choose between the woman who wants to adopt her or the mother who abandoned her amidst the cliques and bullying of middle school...

Hi Pamela, thanks for agreeing to chat with us! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale, Returnable Girl to Marshall Cavendish?
Pamela: My first sale was so exciting! I’d worked on Returnable Girl for about a year with a writing coach who helped make it a much stronger story. We weeded. I re-wrote. Weeded some more. Then I sent it out to only two or three publishers who I thought might be interested. (Compared to the 50 + publishers who read and or rejected my first novel. Call me a slow learner. It took 50 rejections for me to realize, hey, maybe that first novel sucked.)

Anyway, the editor’s husband at Marshall Cavendish was a psychiatrist, so she really liked the theme of the novel being about a troubled foster teen. They called in February to tell me the news. I think I screamed. And then, the best luck of all. I had read somewhere that the easiest and smartest time to get an agent is after you’ve made a sale to a publisher. I sent a query by email to a few agents, again a very small number. Susan Schulman read the query, and having adopted children herself was intrigued and asked to read everything I’d written so far. The next week she offered to represent me. She said, and I quote, “If it doesn't work out I will be disappointed.” She is the agent for the author of Holes, The English Patient, and a dozen more best-sellers, so needless to say I was thrilled. Basically having a real agent means I will never have to sit in the slush pile again. (The slush pile is where your novel goes at the publishing house if you’re an unknown, unrepresented author, sort of like getting sucked into a black hole or stepping in quicksand.)

Great story, Pamela! 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.

Pamela: I’m in my therapy office two days a week seeing teen girls and their families. People will always ask me if that’s depressing and I say, emphatically no, it is FUN. The girls are awesome, just like my readers. I’m the luckiest person alive because I truly love my job. The rest of the week I spend writing. Usually begin around 8 and work till 3, including weekends if I don’t have anything else planned. Sometimes, like anyone else, I do procrastinate and answer emails, or do interviews like today, or surf around the Internet, (bad, bad Pammie) but once I’m really into a project that rarely happens. Still, I find that here just aren’t enough hours in my life anymore…especially with Returnable Girl released a few short months ago…promoting it has really cut into my writing time. I’m hoping things will settle down with outside speaking engagements etc. so I can get back to writing soon, with my dog Harry (the best dog ever) curled up at my feet.

Please tell us about your novel, Returnable Girl and what we can expect from your characters.

Pamela: Returnable Girl, Marshall Cavendish, October 2006 is about a troubled teen in foster care Ronnie, who lies and steals things and has been kicked out of her past ten foster homes. She really has no other place to go when she lands with Alison a foster mom. A girl named Cat befriends her, but Cat has possibly a more messed up home life than Ronnie. Cat is made fun of by the kids at school, and begins to do things she shouldn’t in order to get guys to like her. So the first tier of choices Ronnie must make is whether to stay loyal to Cat or to go hang with the more popular girls at school. The other choice is to stay with her new foster mom Alison who wants to adopt her or “return” to the alcoholic mother who abandoned her. The action is fast-paced and culminates in a scene that will leave readers breathlessly turning the page. Girls say they like the story because it deals with the emotions that all teens have. But ultimately it is a love story. About friendship. And sticking by each other. And the difference just one person can make in the life of a foster teen.

Readers should note there is a contest to win a Tiffany necklace on my website page (just like the one Ronnie stole from Paige.)

Sounds like a wonderful read! I also want to say congrats for Returnable Girl being a VOYA winner and ALA Quick Pick for 2007! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Pamela: Yes. And it’s driving me crazy. I’ve already written the story once and it came out totally boring and predictable, so now I have to write it all over again. This wouldn’t be so bad except that a few people keep emailing me saying how they can’t wait for my next book, blah, blah, and when is it coming out, and will there be a sequel?

So I will answer: THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL.

But, it is about girls and overcoming obstacles and how to stick by your friends, and how to survive when the worst possible thing happens—a car accident that puts your older sister in a coma. Okay, maybe it won’t be so bad to write it all over again.

PS. I promise it won’t be depressing.

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

Pamela: If your novel isn’t getting published don’t be afraid to either 1) chuck it out a car window directly into speeding traffic or 2) get someone professional like a teacher or writing coach to help you figure out how to make it better. Don’t waste time (or years) trying to figure this out by yourself. Another set of eyes may be just what you need to make your dreams come true. Mine did. Okay, now time to get back to writing…

"I’m a middle aged woman, getting older by the minute, trying to write about things that might interest teens. And I love it. If that isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is." Visit Pamela's website,

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Booksigning

I’ve mentioned my booksigning several times here at YAFRESH, so I can’t NOT follow-up on it.

It was a truly awesome event. Complete with boys in tuxedos, girls in prom dresses, pink cookies, pink balloons, vintage prom dresses hanging from the ceiling--the guests got immediately into a party mood.

A big thank you to all who attended, especially Janie Emaus, who regularly reads and comments on YAFRESH, who drove a long way to be there, and then barely got to talk to me at all because I was so busy!

The big promo was that the first ten who wore a prom dress got the book free--and yes, we got ten takers, including two girls who came early to make sure they were first in line, and a mother-of-three who looked absolutely lovely.

I signed for three solid hours--about 100 books! But when it was over, my face hurt as much as my hand because I couldn’t stop smiling. See?

On a scale of 10, I’d have to rate my booksigning as an 11! And thanks to all who sent good wishes!

P.S. I couldn't wear the pink suede jacket because the day was simply too warm. Next time?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Got Your Spy Gear Ready?

My friend Ally Carter's novel, I'd Tell You I Love But Then I'd Have To Kill You, is coming out in paperback April 1st!!

And she's on the lookout for paperbacks hitting book stores, so if you loved the first book in the series and want to read the second novel, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, you might be able to win an ARC.

All you have to do? Here's what Ally says:

I hereby challenge all of you to be on LYKY paperback watch! And the first person to email me a picture of yourself holding a copy of the paperback will win an advanced reading copy of Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy.
Fun! Check out the full details here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's Fresh with Maryrose Wood's Why I Let My Hair Grow Out

Being sent to your room is one thing. But being sent to another country?

Morgan's boyfriend dumped her on the last day of school-it seemed the only thing to do was to hack off her hair and dye the stubble orange. Unfortunately, Morgan's parents freaked and decided a change of scenery would do her good. So they're sending her off on a bike tour of Ireland.

But Morgan gets more than she bargained for on the Emerald Isle-including a strange journey into some crazy, once upon a time corner of the past. There, she meets fairies, weefolk, and a hunky warrior-dude named Fergus, and figures out that she's got some growing to do-and she doesn't just mean her hair.

Hello Maryrose, so cool of you to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Maryrose: My first book, SEX KITTENS AND HORN DAWGS FALL IN LOVE (2006) was sold to Delacorte on a proposal. I learned later that this was not the most typical way to get a first book published, but I'd been writing plays and screenplays and musicals for more than a decade before deciding to write a novel, so I had some street cred as a writer, as well as the moxie that comes from not realizing how long the odds were!

In brief, I was introduced to an agent by a fellow writer who knew my work for the theatre (these included projects with teen protagonists, so it was relevant in that sense also). I pitched the idea to the agent, who liked it and asked for a proposal. I wrote one, sent it to her, she gave me some comments on it, I revised, and within about six weeks she'd interested Delacorte. They too had questions, so I expanded the proposal a bit more and they bought it. I turned in a finished first draft of the book six months later. And then the real work started!

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.

Maryrose: I have two kids, so during the week I usually get them to school by 8:10 and then come home and putz about a little or go to the gym first and then come home. Either way, the dog gets walked, the coffee gets made, the cereal is consumed and I try to be at the desk by 9:30 or so. Then for the next few hours I'll sit and write, but I'll also do all kinds of things that look not one bit like writing - walk around, fold laundry while talking to myself, lie down and take a nap (naps are an essential writing tool). It all contributes. Last week I got a big plot thing solved while on the treadmill at the gym.

This is a typical first-draft kind of day. First drafts require a lot of noodling and wandering about. A revising day is much more organized, with me at the desk and piles of scribbled-on manuscript pages moving from the left side my desk to the right as I go through and make changes.

A big chunk of every day is spent dealing with emails about the business end of things, miscellaneous promotional stuff, posting to my blog or answering reader mail. I usually try to save some of those tasks for after dinner, if I can grab another hour at the computer while my kids do homework.

Often when I'm near the end of a book I'll try to schedule a few days to just blitz through and work like a nut for ten hours at a pop. When I'm trying to hold the whole book in my head and wrap everything up at the end I find it very helpful to have some intensely focused work time. These are not days when it would be wise to drop by unannounced. The crazed, ill-kempt, pajama-clad woman who answered the door would be unlikely to invite you in. She might bite, in fact.

LOL! I know the feeling, Maryrose! Please tell us about your latest novel, WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT and what we can expect from your characters.

Maryrose: WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT was just released in March '07 as paperback original from Berkley Jam. It's the story of Morgan, a 16 year old girl from Connecticut who chops off all her hair in a fit of heartbreak after her boyfriend dumps her on the last day of school (I swear, Britney Spears did not get the idea from me!). Anyway, Morgan's parents decide some distraction is in order, so they send her on a bike tour across Ireland.

Soon enough she's hating the bike tour, hating her tourmates, but secretly liking the adorable Colin, the cheerful Irish guy who drives the luggage van. Then a most unusual accident sends her flying head-over-handlebars into a magical, long-ago corner of the past, complete with faeries, enchantments, and a hunky warrior-dude named Fergus. He really knows how to treat a girl who's part goddess - and guess who that turns out to be?

All this slipping around in time gives Morgan a crash course in the world of Irish lore and the complexities of conducting a trans-millennial romance. She also learns a thing or two about faeries, merrows, leprechauns, things you can and cannot do in a long flowy princess dress, and the basic rules of hurling.

Wow, sounds really fantastic! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Maryrose: At the moment I'm having a ball writing the sequel to WHY I LET MY HAIR GROW OUT, which will be released in '08. Morgan comes back to Connecticut, believing that she's left the Faery Folk and her hunky pal Colin behind for good in Ireland. Wrong on both counts! My goal for this book is to continue Morgan's magical and romantic adventures while providing a definitive answer to the age-old question: Why are there no female leprechauns?

And my next book to be released is about a subject very near and dear to my heart - Broadway! It's called MY LIFE: THE MUSICAL, and it's about Emily and Philip, two theatre-obsessed teens who are also best friends. When rumors start to swirl that their favorite show might close, they go to all kinds hilarious lengths to see it one last time. Along they way they solve Broadway's biggest mystery and learn something profound about their friendship too. It's a real romp, and the best part was I got to make up a fictional Broadway musical for the kids to be obsessed with. It's a March '08 release from Delacorte.

Looking forward to your novels, Maryrose. Thank you again for sharing with us. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Maryrose: Writing is not just about thinking of lovely words. It's about envisioning warm-blooded, complex people who have extraordinary experiences and are often transformed by them. Spend more time digging compassionately into yourself and others to enlarge your understanding of human beings and the world, and less time rewriting the same poetic description of the gloomy weather a hundred times. You can always add weather later.

Maryrose Wood grew up on Long Island and moved to New York City at age 17. She's lived in one borough or another ever since. She dropped out of NYU to be in a Broadway musical, and spent ten lean but action-packed years performing, directing, and doing comedy improv before the writing light bulb went off over her head. But it was still another ten years of writing plays, musicals and screenplays before she tried her hand at teen fiction.

Her first novel, SEX KITTENS AND HORN DAWGS FALL IN LOVE, was hailed as “an uproariously funny debut” (Booklist), “irresistible” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), and “an effervescent delight” (Common Sense Media). Please visit her at

Monday, March 19, 2007

Do you like to Meme it up?

Then I got a fresh new website for!

Brought to you by young adult authors, Jennifer Lynne Barnes and Robyn Schneider.

Meme-Girls is "a website/blog where you can find all sorts of memes and quizzes, many of which debuted here, on the Meme Girls blog."

How cool is that?

Not only can you play, but if you have a cool meme, they want you to share.

So of course, I must participate in one of the fun original memes...

1. If I were a food, I would be...Pop Rocks. Just seemed like it would be cool to be Pop Rocks. haha.

2. If I were a book, I would be...This Lullaby, because it's one of my all time favorite YAs.

3. If I were a TV character, I would be...Lorelai from Gilmore Girls, because she's funny and doesn't like to be serious and half the time I'm like that.

4. If I were a flavor of ice cream, I would be...World Class Chocolate. Yum!

5. If I were a word, I would be...Smiles, because it's a word that's a "mile" long...

6. If I were a number, I would be...19 because that's my birthday day of the month. :)

7. If I were an animal, I would be...a turtle. I know, not officially an animal, but turtles just rock.

8. If I were one of the seven dwarves, I would be...Happy. :)

9. If I were one of the seven deadly sins, I would be...Gluttony, because I have the biggest sweet tooth!

10. If I were a Hollywood starlet, I would be...Sandra Bullock. Love, love Sandra Bullock.

11. If I were a drink, I would be...a chocolate milkshake. haha!

Check out Meme-Girls for lots of fresh Meme fun!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Christmas in March?

I’ve had such a terrific week with the release of my book, TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS, that I’ve been telling people it feels like Christmas in March.

And that’s the phrase that came into my head this morning as I re-read the contest entries published here in the Comments section. And so, in the spirit of “the holidays”, I thought why not go with gift-giving, and declare all four Comments entrants as “winners”?

So...Erin, Kiki, Holly and Lisa...if you would kindly e-mail your mailing address to me at, I will send you an autographed copy next week. And thank you all for entering, and posting those to-die-for prom dresses, as well as the stories.

Ho, Ho, Ho, and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I know I will because my booksigning (I posted the picture of the dress in the window, remember?) is tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2007


While Kelly and I are hearing of sightings of my book all over the country, she and I can personally attest that TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS hit the shelves in at least two stores in California!

What struck me about the following two pictures--aside from an attack of giggles that this is all really happening--is that it shows both sides of Kelly's and my partnership. The fun and the work.

I'm guessing from our previous posts (and the activities in the pictures) you can figure out who is who here. Nope, no contest or giveaways on this one. But keep posting those prom dresses and sending me entry e-mails! We're loving this prom dress contest!

And we'll be back tomorrow morning with the winner!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Kelly and I thought it would be fun to have a contest and give away a signed copy of TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS. Here’s all you have to do:

Go to the Comments Section (below) and log in--or--send a private e-mail to me at, and tell us your idea of a perfect prom dress.

Here’s our TOP TEN hints to help you:

1--If you’ve got a way with words, WOW us with description.
2--If you’ve got a picture, give us a link.
3--Pictures from your prom or of your dress are of course welcome!
4--Including cute guys in pictures is much appreciated, but not a consideration in the actual judging process. :)
5--Pick something you love. Kelly and I dress differently, so your best bet of wowing us both is with something really special.
6--Remember that formal dress lengths can vary, so short is as good as long.

7--While transparent fabrics work for award shows, we’ve got to keep it high school clean (or covered) here.
8--Accessories are a bonus, but only the dress will be judged.
9--Enter as many times as you like, as long as each time, it is a different dress.
10--We really want YOU to win, so do enter!

The contest starts the moment this post appears and goes to midnight on Thursday, March 15th. We'll announce the winner Friday morning Pacific Standard Time, on or before 9:00 am.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's Fresh with Tina Ferraro's Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress

Sophomore year, Nicolette Antonovich was dumped two days before prom by the hottest guy at school. As a result, she became the proud owner of one unworn, perfectly magical pink vintage dress. But Nic is determined to put that night behind her for good. She's a junior now— older, wiser, and completely overwhelmed by a new set of problems: (1) The bank's ready to foreclose on her childhood home. (2) Her father's too busy with his "replacement" daughter to care. (3) Her best friend's brother is an eternal thorn in her side. (4) Her best friend isn't exactly the rose attached to that thorn. (5) Rumors are flying around school that could get her kicked off the volleyball team, which would (6) ruin all chances of a college scholarship. (7) She still likes the boy who dumped her in the first place. (8) And what in the world do you do with an unworn prom dress, anyway? Strangely, it's getting to the bottom of this last dilemma that just might hold the answer to all Nic's problems.

Hello Tina! Thanks so much for agreeing to chat. But then, since you're my critique partner, you had no choice. *wink* Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale, Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress, to Delacorte Press?

Tina: Although I had sold about 75 short stories, I got serious about writing full-length fiction when youngest went to kindergarten. I joined the RWA in 1999, networked, and tried my hand at several genres inside romance writing. I finally found my niche with Young Adult writing in 2004. At the end of that year, I was lucky enough to sign with agent Nadia Cornier, and she sold my book, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress to Krista Marino at Delacorte Press in 2005!

Great, Tina! 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.

Tina: My life isn't glamorous, but I love it. I'm up early since two of my three kids start school at 7:00. I usually check e-mails and websites while they're getting ready, and am powered up to write when they leave. I will then write on-and-off until mid-afternoon, around errands and kid pick-ups. Usually I'm creatively exhausted in the evening, and the most I'll do is re-read pages I've written, or critique or judge for others.

Please tell us about your debut novel Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress--which is releasing TODAY (woo-hoo!!)--and what we can expect from your characters.

Tina: Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, Delacorte Press, will be in stores on March 13. Nicolette Antonovich is a high school junior and brave survivor of every girl's teen nightmare--being dumped by your date. Even though it happened last spring, she can't fully get over the fact that the most popular guy in school ditched her when his equally flawless girlfriend popped back into town. To help her cope, her mom has ordered her to compile a list of 10 alternative things she can do with a prom dress. Through school stresses, boy dilemmas, and parental problems, her prom dress gives her something beautiful to hold on to.

And I can add that Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress is just as great as it sounds! So what's up next for you, Tina? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Tina: My next book, How to Hook a Hottie, is scheduled to be released in Spring of '08 by Delacorte Press. The heroine, Kate DelVecchio, is determined to become a millionaire before she's 20, and sets forth making money by hooking up people in her high school with their secret crushes. The fact that she doesn't exactly know what she's doing is only a minor deterrent, as is the fact she's suddenly looking at her best buddy, Jason Dalrymple, through totally different eyes...

Another winner indeed! Thanks again, Tina, you know I wish you the best with your novels! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Tina: Sure! Although I am a believer in "writing what you know," some of my best work has been writing what I didn't know. I have never worn a prom dress, nor did I have an obsession with them (until recently). I had no idea how to "hook a hottie" until my character announced her intention to find out. So while you'll probably never see me set a book in ancient China, or do a close-up on a character landing a Black Hawk, I recommend stepping outside your comfort zone a bit and seeing where your imagination can take you.

Tina Ferraro spent much of her high school days people-watching, which didn't do much for her grades, but later proved one of her better mistakes. A long-time resident of southern California, she lives with her husband and their three kids. She loves to travel, and can ask where the bathroom is in many languages. Visit her website

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress Week at YA Fresh!!

That's right YA fans, this week it's all about Tina Ferraro's debut novel, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, hitting shelves Tuesday, March 13th at a book store near you! You're not going to want to miss this fresh fun.

Stay tuned for a one-on-one interview with Tina and me, an absolutely cool contest, and of course, some prom dress gossip!

Did I manage to go to my senior prom? Yes. Did I have a magical pink dress? Sorry, no. It was black, long, but lots of fun. :) So I'm kicking off the week with the ...
Top Ten Tips on What Not to do on Prom Night

1) Don't stay clear of the dance floor. Who cares if you're not ready for "Dancing with the Stars". If your with your friends, it's all about fun. Dance with a partner or with a group. When the music starts bumping, shake those hips!

2) Don't bring the spiked heels. It's no fun when the feet start a-achin' while strolling with your date. Believe me, comfort will be the magic word by the middle of the night. *sigh* Trust me, I know!

3) Don't wait too long for your Prom photo. Take your prom pics first, so you can have your fun without worrying about the hair taking a limp dive. :) It happens!

4) Please, no See-food! Keep those lips closed when munching out. Your date will surely appreciate it. haha!

5) BTW, don't forget the mints! There's nothing as gross as reminding your date of what you had for dinner--one hour later. Yikes!

6) Don't forget the cam! This is one of those nights with your friends you'll want to remember. Take the great shots you want to cherish!

7) Don't let it be all about you. When you're chatting with your date, ask questions about his or her interests, and share yours. No one likes a one-sided conversation!

8) Don't forget the after-prom party clothes. Plan ahead, and take a change of clothes that's totally you and totally comfy.

9) No fibbing to the parentals. Come on, yeah, you want to have fun, but also want to stay safe and be upfront with the parents so everyone has a good night.

10) Don't get hissy with your frenemies! Booooring. Leave your tiffs for another time. This is a night of fun, not a night for flying fists.

Share your "not to do" Prom tips, if you got 'em!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What's Fresh with Allison van Diepen's Street Pharm

If a brother wanna get ahead, he gotta use every minute to better himself. Everything I did made me better - tougher, stronger, richer, smarter - or I didn't do it.

Take high school. A waste of time. Nobody there taught me what I needed to survive on the streets...

Ty Johnson knows survival. Since inheriting his pop's business at sixteen, Ty's developed smarts, skills, and mad discipline. The supply game's in his blood. And life is pretty sweet when you're on top.

But one slip - or one serious competitor - and life turns ugly fast. Suddenly, Ty's got to rethink his whole strategy. And for the #1 dealer on the streets, strategy is not just about staying ahead. It's about survival.

Hey Allison, thanks for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale STREET PHARM to Simon Pulse?

Allison: From the time I was 12, I knew I was going to be a writer, and I wrote my first (unpublished) novel when I was 14. As a teen, I stayed up so late writing that I would doze in class the next day. I also sold little romance stories to my friends featuring their favorite celebrities – but I quit doing that when I realized I was being hideously underpaid.

I went to college and studied History because I was into writing historical romance at the time. After college, I decided that I needed a career besides writing to pay my bills, so I went to teacher’s college. My first teaching job was in Brooklyn. (They were short of teachers so they interviewed a bunch of us in Toronto, got us visas and put us in Hard to Staff schools.) Once I started teaching there, I knew instantly that I wanted to write for teens. I wrote a YA book and found an agent a year later. The first book didn’t sell, but my next one did. STREET PHARM was published by Simon Pulse in July of 2006.

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.

Allison: Since I’m teaching full-time, my main writing time is on weekends, with a few hours here and there throughout the week. Saturday I sleep in, then go to the computer, drink some coffee, mess around on the internet, and get down to writing. I write all day, finish by around 6 or 7pm, then go out somewhere, because by that time I have serious cabin fever. Sundays I have a similar routine, with a break to go out for brunch.

Please tell us about your novel STREET PHARM and what we can expect from your characters.

Allison: STREET PHARM is the story of Ty Johnson, a teen drug dealer who thinks he’s got it all under control... until a competitor tries to take over his territory. Things get ugly, and he’s got to make some tough decisions about what he’s willing to do, and what he’s willing to lose, to stay in the game.

I created Ty Johnson because I’ve seen so many of my students choose the path to crime and chaos. I wanted to explore the true cost of this type of life and what hope, if any, remains.

STREET PHARM was also named an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers. Congrats! What's up next, Allison? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Allison: My next novel, SNITCH, is coming out in November (2007). It’s about a girl in Brooklyn who falls in love with a gang member and ends up joining. It’s dark and gritty, but also vibrant and romantic.

When I was in Brooklyn, a lot of my students were gang members. I asked them why anyone would join a gang, and they gave me an earful.

The whole concept of “snitch” came about because I witnessed an incident involving some teens from another school and I reported them. These teens then followed me to the subway station, surrounded me, and started throwing garbage at me and cursing me out. The subway platform was crowded, but no one did anything.

The next day I told my students what had happened, and to my complete shock, they all said it was my fault because I was a snitch. They said I was lucky I hadn’t been thrown onto the subway tracks! I realized that if I’d been a student instead of a teacher, I’d have been in real trouble that day. So I started wondering what it would be like for a teen who lived in fear… and the story SNITCH was born.

Wow, Allison how frightening. I'm glad everything came out okay. I can tell SNITCH will be an intense read. Thanks so much for sharing. I wish you the best with your writing career! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Allison: Think of every moment you spend writing as time well spent. Don’t ever consider all of those hours to be wasted because a certain project doesn’t sell, or your story hits a dead end, or you have to rewrite it. True writers persist. Writing books is like marathon training – it takes regular practice and there are ups and downs along the way.

Allison van Diepen began her teaching career in Brooklyn and now teaches at an alternative high school in Ottawa, Canada. Her first novel, STREET PHARM, has been named an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Visit her website,

Read the YA Fresh review!

Friday, March 09, 2007

ya books

This is Kelly Parra reporting on the recent Cyber City YA Buzz...

Straight from the Galleycat: Teens Buying Books More Than Ever
Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Celia Goodnow checks in on one of the happier publishing trends, where teens are buying books in numbers not seen in decades. "Kids are buying books in quantities we've never seen before," said Booklist magazine critic Michael Cart, a leading authority on young adult literature. "And publishers are courting young adults in ways we haven't seen since the 1940s." Credit a bulging teen population, a surge of global talent and perhaps a bit of Harry Potter afterglow as the preteen Muggles of yesteryear carry an ingrained reading habit into later adolescence.

Fantasy and graphic novels are especially hot, Goodnow discovers, and adventure, romance, humor and gritty coming-of-age tales remain perennial favorites. In addition, racy series such as GOSSIP GIRL -- often likened to a teen "Sex and the City" -- have created a buzz. More notably, though, there's a new strain of sophistication and literary heft as publishers cater to the older end of the spectrum with books that straddle teen and adult markets. Teens' increased disposable income is a big factor, too, leading to more sales, more choice and better quality. In other words, for those who might overlook YA fiction because it's ostensibly written for kids, you'd be doing a serious disservice - there's lots of good stuff out there, just waiting to be found.

It's all there, YA fic fans!

Fantasy, graphic novels, adventure, romance, humor, gritty coming-of-age, racy, literary, books that are for teens and adults.

It's not news the YA Fiction industry is growing. Teens are reading more and more. Authors are reaching out to young readers with the Internet. The days of authors being aloof or some mysterious person behind the words like I remember growing up, are history. (Yes!) And best of all readers are sharing what they love best. This is a great thing, and not because I write YA fic. I love reading YA. I love that teens are digging in. And I'm just thrilled the word is being spread more and more! :) :)

Also a quick tidbit from Shelf Awareness:
Effective last month, Orange Avenue and its new teen imprint, Zest Books, are being distributed by Independent Publishers Group. The company was previously distributed by Publishers Group West.

In a statement, Hallie Warshaw, publisher of Orange Avenue, which has headquarters in San Francisco, Calif., said, "We think there is a strong market out there for fun, gifty, humorous, nonfiction teen books that are highly visual and address topics that are important to this age group. Our books--which are smart, well written and hip--offer something new and different."

Spring titles include Decoding Mom and Where's My Stuff? The Ultimate Teen Organizing Guide. Fall titles include 97 Things to Do Before You Finish High School and Uncool--A Girl's Guide to Misfitting In.

Yes, YA non-fic is on the rise too! :) Soooo very Fresh!

Until next time...keep reading and spreading the YA Buzz. :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm Having Too Much Fun!

Okay...six days until my book comes out, and I’m having more fun than a grown-up should be allowed. So why not share?

First off, the display is up in the window of the bookstore where I’m holding my March 17 book signing. Take a peak:

Isn’t that dress in the window to die for? (And the black bags beside it aren't trash. They're my shopping bags...and I couldn't get our crop function to work...)

Next, the day my books arrived, my cat (named Rascal after the guy who dumps Nicolette before the prom), decided to investigate.

We captioned this, “Finally, I can find out what she wrote about me”.

Finally, here’s a super-fun quiz called “What is Your Perfect Prom Dress?” you can take from Random House Teens:

Please report back to us what that perfect prom dress for you would be!

Monday, March 05, 2007

A New YA blog in the City...

There's another cool blog in Cyber City, and it's called Teen Fiction Cafe.

Eleven YA authors have banded together to chat about Teen focus and books!

Authors include:

º Lauren Baratz-Logsted
º Jennifer Lynn Barnes
º Liza Conrad (Erica Orloff)
º Simone Elkeles
º Linda Gerber
º Marley Gibson
º Sara Hantz
º Mari Mancusi
º Alyson Noel
º Kelly Parra
º Bev Katz Rosenbaum
º Wendy Toliver

Yes, and me too! I'll be posting once a month, and the we'll have about 3 posts a week. So come on by and say, "Hi". It's going to be a great read with lots of fresh voices!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

How It's Fresh...

How It's Done (Flux) by Christine Kole MacLean is a novel that involves a rocky friendship, a strict family relationship, an intense first love, and how one girl handles it all.

Eighteen-year-old Grace is raised in a religious home with her mother and domineering father. She feels trapped by rules, unable to have fun with her classmates, and her future is already planned out because, really, it's all that has ever been expected of her.

Then she meets someone who questions her beliefs and her future, who is interested in only her. Grace falls for an older man. Not an older boy, but a college professor. And the reader is pulled along as Grace makes abrupt decisions only to escape from one confining circumstance to another.

This story kept me turning the pages while wondering what could possibly happen next. I would definitely recommend this novel for mature YA readers due to the adult world Grace enters so quickly.

Check out How It's Done and discover how great, and certainly just how it's fresh!

Friday, March 02, 2007

What's Fresh with Niki Burnham's Do-Over

Girl meets prince, Girl loses prince. Girl gets prince back -- right?

Well, that's what Valerie Winslow is hoping. She's back in Schwerinborg after spending time with her mom (and mom's girlfriend, Gabrielle) in the good ol' U.S. of A., and she's hoping the sparks will fly between her and Georg. At first it looks like everything is fabulous, but a ski trip to the Alps brings out Val's not-so-nice side, and what should have been a romantic weekend turns into a very bumpy ride.

Hi Niki, it's so great to chat with you! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Niki: My path to writing for teens wasn't exactly linear! I used to be a lawyer, and I started writing articles for bridal magazines on topics such as "How to Negotiate Your Wedding Contracts." Eventually, I quit practicing law and worked exclusively as a freelancer for magazines. While freelancing, I worked on a romance novel, and eventually sold to Silhouette Romance. I wrote six books for Silhouette Romance, and now write YA books for Simon & Schuster. (I'm much happier than when I was practicing law, though the stress level hasn't changed!)

So glad you made that career change! 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.

Niki: I'm not as good as I should be about writing during particular hours. However, I set daily and weekly page goals. Sometimes I finish those pages by noon, other days it's not until two a.m. But I do work hard to make deadlines and haven't missed one yet (picture me furiously knocking wood here...)

Please tell us about your latest novel, Do-Over (Simon Pulse, Sept. 2006), and what we can expect from your characters.

Niki: Do-Over is the third in a series (following Royally Jacked and Spin Control) about a high school sophomore named Valerie Winslow. Val's parents are in the midst of a divorce, and in Do-Over, Val must deal with the idea of seeing her father--with whom she's very tight--dating a new woman. Val's boyfriend, Georg, doesn't understand why this is a big deal, and it leads to some strife between them.

The story also involves strudel, skiing, and a German disc jockey named Helmut. As you've probably guessed, it's a romantic comedy!

I really enjoyed Royally Jacked and Spin Control, so I definitely have to pick up Do-Over! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Niki: I have two projects coming out in the next few months. The first is a romantic short story called "Night Swimming" that will appear in an anthology from Scholastic called Fireworks. The other authors (all with great stories!) are Erin Haft, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle. Fireworks comes out in April.

Then, in May, I have a story coming out called Goddess Games. I'm really excited about it. It tells the story of three girls--one a struggling born-again Christian, one an elite athlete and Army brat, and one the daughter of an Academy Award-winning actress--who are forced to live together when they take summer jobs at a resort in the Colorado mountains. They all learn how to deal with each other, as well as how to deal with the guys in their lives. Goddess Games will be released in May 2007. The cover is up on my website and on It's gorgeous!

I have to agree about the cover, Niki. It's stunning! Thanks so much for chatting and I wish you the best with your future novels. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Niki: Read! I learned a lot about writing just from reading broadly. I still spend more time reading than I do writing. It's the best way to learn what works, what doesn't, and why. Spending time in bookstores and libraries also helps you keep up with what's going on in the market.

Niki Burnham is the RITA award-winning author of several books for teenagers, including Royally Jacked, a Teen People pick. She lives in Massachusetts. Her online home and bulletin board can be found at