Monday, July 30, 2007

Just the Facts, Ma'am

I am really excited about the cool visitors we have met through YA Fresh. I’m so honored t have you guys chat with us!

And because life in general is busy, busy, busy for me and Tina, I thought I’d list some FAQ’s for anyone who would like to be a guest on YA Fresh or just wants to know, “Who the heck are these peeps??”

So here we go…

What IS YA Fresh??

YA Fresh is a blog co-authored by Young Adult authors, Kelly Parra and Tina Ferraro. We like to talk about all that’s fresh with YA (& totally tween) novels, the authors who write them, and all the fresh teen topics we come across or pop into our heads. :) :) It’s a fun and friendly place!

How cool do you have to be, to be featured on YA Fresh?

For Interviews:

Hey, all authors who write for kids are cool! In order to be a guest here on YA Fresh, you just have to have written a YA novel or tween novel that is published through a traditional publisher. Here’s how I look at it, if a YA reader can walk into a book store (and not have to order on-line from a small publisher) and buy your book, then we’d love to do an interview with you. Just email me (Kelly) with “YA Fresh” in the subject line to the following email address (Kelly Parra at earthlink dot net), and I’ll send the interview questions: See? Really easy! And if you'd like to give away a book during your interview you are welcome to do so!

For Reviews:

Yikes! The requests for reviews became too overwhelming! So at the moment, we are not doing review requests and will chat up cool books as we can manage. But interviews are totally welcome!

For Randomly Pop Culture Topics:

Recently, I've been receiving emails regarding Teen fashion or video games, etc. Please don't contact me with these topics. We are a book site, and chat up pop culture items on a whim, but are focus is about Fresh Reading! Thanks a million! :) 

Can we exchange links?

Does a frog, “ribbit”? Yes! If you have a YA related blog--for example, you gush about YA books on your blog, or you are a YA author, bookseller, or librarian who also gushes about YA books--let’s express our linkage and exchange links. You know the drill, email me with “YA Link Exchange” in the subject line to the following: Kelly Parra at earthlink dot net.

I think that covers the most frequently asked questions …let me know if you have any others. And thanks again for visiting YA Fresh!

Friday, July 27, 2007

YA Book Trailer Fun

Book trailers--or book commercials as I like to call them--are popping up with some of the fresh novels by our YA author friends! So cool! I thought I'd spotlight some I've come across. I hope you enjoy them, too!

It's Not About The Accent

Leaving Paradise

Boys that Bite and Stake That

And check out Bev Katz Rosenbaum's Book trailer for her latest release, Beyond Cool, here!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Was My Face Red!

When I was a teenager, YM magazine had this column called, “Was My Face Red!” where they posted embarrassing moments sent in by their readers.

I don’t know if YM still has that column, but I certainly know what happened to me the other day would qualify. Allow me to further embarrass myself by recounting it here?

I had decided to go shopping for a new outfit since soon I am off to New York to meet with my fabulous editor and the wonderful staff at Random House.

A lovely saleswoman helped me, and eventually sold me on slate blue top and slacks, topped with a light jacket, and adorned with a matching belt and bracelet, and slender necklace. Excited, I went to the dressing room to change back into my shorts and shirt, and brought the items to the register.

She rang me up. As I handed her my credit card, she said casually, “So, you decided not to go with the necklace?” I stared at her blankly, my brain reeling. Huh? No! I totally wanted the necklace. Then I realized I couldn’t remember taking it off. I touched my neck. OMG, there it was, hanging under my shirt! I gasped and pulled it out.

She arched an accusing brow at me. Which set my mouth running in self-defense... But the more I rambled, the more guilty of attempted shoplifting I sounded! Because while, yeah, I was signing my name to a pretty hefty bill, and this necklace was rather inexpensive, I was well aware that I fit the profile of the “excitement” shoplifter. Who is often a grown women whose life has lost its meaning, who shoplifts for the thrill, rather than the need.

Now, mind you, as a newly published author, my life is anything BUT dull. And I am way too honest and guilt-ridden to steal. But she didn’t know that! So I finally shut up, paid for the necklace, too, and left with as much dignity as I could muster. UGH!

So how about you? Have an embarrassing moment to share? Come on, misery loves company! Make me feel better!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monster Librarian is Looking for Reviewers!

Hey there, Folks, just wanted to bring your attention to a cool review site called The Monster Librarian! The Monster Librarian is a source for readers of horror fiction and yes, ML has a YA Review Section for teens...

ML reviews teen novels for fiction involving the Supernatural, Werewolves, Vampires, Human Monsters, Romance, Adventure, and even Horror Graphic Novels.

Here is why ML was created:
1) To support Public, Academic, and School Librarians in developing their library horror fiction collection and assist in readers advisory.

2) To help current readers of horror fiction find another good book to read

3) To encourage fans of horror to expand their interests beyond movies and television, and introduce excellent horror fiction.

4) To help teachers and librarians use horror to reach reluctant readers.

5) To help promote small and independent press horror genre publishers in libraries.
The review site has an awesome listing of books and reviews, and they are looking for some help reviewing teen fiction releases. So if you are interested check out this page for details and contact info.

Thanks and happy reading!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What's Fresh with Alex Richards's Back Talk

Goodbye small town hell . . . hello Big Apple!

Sixteen-year-old Gemma Winters couldn’t be more ecstatic—and terrified—about scoring a summer internship at one of the hippest daytime TV talk shows, Back Talk with Kate Morgan. To top it off, she’s staying in a palatial brownstone in Manhattan with celebutante Dana Cox (a virtual E! True Hollywood Story in the making) and world-weary millionheiress America Vanderbilt. Gemma’s corn-fed naiveté melts away as she gets a taste of designer clothes, underage clubbing . . . and a cute Jonathan Rhys Meyers look-a-like.

The glamour fades by nine a.m. when Gemma becomes slave labor for harried producers. Not even her borrowed Manolo Blahniks can shield her from an office romance turned ugly and backstabbing fellow interns. When someone is unfairly fired and a show is at risk, Gemma goes out of her way to prove this small-town girl is more than just a “photocopy bitch.”

Hi Alex! Thanks for joining us for a chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Alex: I have always wanted to be a writer, but I don't have much formal training. Both my parents, my sister, and my uncle are writers, so I guess you could say it's in the blood! I've been "starting" novels since I was about 10, but it wasn't until I turned 25 that I finally finished one. Woo hoo! I showed Back Talk to agents at the Lowenstein Yost agency and they were very interested in the book, but wanted major rewrites (I changed the ages of my characters, and overall made the book edgier). So, after several revisions and shopping Back Talk around for about 6 months (a grueling, angsty 6 months, let me tell you!), my agent sold the book to Flux (a subsidiary of Llewelyn). Flux is a new and fairly small imprint, so publicity has been a challenge, but my editor and agent both worked really hard to get Back Talk in tip-top shape. Their advice and expertise were invaluable.

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.

Alex: Oh man, I have a very disheveled approach to writing. I try not to set too many constraints or I get writer's block. I usually ease onto the computer with a little emailing, then start editing a previous chapter to get the motor running, and then just try to dive into a new chapter. But some days I just have to avoid it entirely and go to the movies, or the park or something. I sound like a slacker, don't I?! Seriously though, I'm a motivated person but distractions are rife when you're writing a novel.

haha! Sounds like my process, too! Please tell us about your novel, Back Talk, and what we can expect from your characters.

Alex: Back Talk (Flux, July) is a fun, sassy book about a girl with a summer internship at a daytime talk show. I used to be in "the biz" and decided I had way too many funny stories and behind-the-scenes scoop to pass up this opportunity. That was a big advantage in selling the book, but I really love the heroine, Gemma. She is a real fish-out-of-water, with a lot of naivete and neuroses, but she's lovable, and it's fun to watch her character bloom throughout the course of the book. Not to mention her two celebutante friends. They add a major spark to the novel, always keeping things interesting, causing trouble, and adding a "devil's advocate" element to the book.

Can't wait to read it, Alex. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Alex: Yes, I do have another project in the works, but it's taken me forever to finish--I just got married, and whoa momma, was that distracting!! The new book is tentatively titled Little Rock. It's another fish-out-of-water story, but this time in the reverse. The main character is a cool, spunky 16 year old who is forced to move from NYC to Little Rock when her mother gets a new job. My heroine is a blast to write. And the story is pretty fun too, if you're into rock, gossip, cute boys, and loads of snarkiness!

Congrats on your marriage and good luck with your writing career, Alex! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Alex: Hmmm... How 'bout you give me a writing tip instead! Hehe. Okay, here's one: Don't let writer's block get you down. As I mentioned earlier, starting out editing a previous chapter (or even just paragraph) really helps ease me back into the scene and the characters. I am also anti-outline. Eventually I'll sketch something out, but at first I need to allow myself to be as creative and free as possible. I let the characters tell me what they want the story to be about. Wow, that sounds cheesy. But it's true!!

Alex Richards has always been a writer, but this is her first published novel. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and moved to New York to pursue short-lived careers in photography, film, and television production. She lives in Manhattan and makes amateur horror films for fun. Please visit her at

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Actually, my birthday was last week, but I know I mentioned that I was spending it signing books with 400-some other authors at the Romance Writer’s of America Literacy Signing in Dallas. And believe me, it ended up being more fun than an adult should be allowed!

Not only did I get to meet scores of readers and authors, but my friends at the Buzz Girls blog ( presented me a pink birthday boa, which I alternately wore and used to decorate my little station.

AND, I got to sit next to the fun and mega-talented Caridad Ferrer! When we both realized that our publishers had not sent our books (wah!), we decided to declare ourselves “sold out”, because come on, our books are just that popular and in demand, huh?

Here’s a picture of me with Caridad (and her two Rita flags):

A few nights later, one of Caridad’s flags converted into a Rita statue. Her book, ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE, a rave-getting Young Adult novel, won for Best Contemporary Single Title! During her elegant speech, fans and YA’ers alike stomped and hooted (and even teared up with happiness for her). It was a great moment.

But back to birthdays, I’d love to hear if any of you has spent one in an unusual or fabulous way? Or if are making plans to do something special this year?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tell An Author You Care!

Word in Cyber City is that today, July 16th is "Tell An Author You Care Day".

Picked this up from Teen Book Reviewer, Jocelyn, who got it from Readergirlz, who heard it about from Children's Writer, Emily Beeson's blog. :) :)

Here are some things you can do to participate...

1. Write a letter or email to a favorite author. I think JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer receive plenty of fan letters. Think of an author you love that may need a little boost.

2. Write a positive review on Amazon and, if you want to, link to it in your blog.

3. Buy a book by a favorite author and give it to someone who will enjoy it.

4. Profile an author in your blog. I'm not talking just another review. Tell us a little about the author and mention at least one of his/her books that you love.

I think we celebrate this day a lot on YA Fresh by sharing the love of YA books and authors. Hope you participate, too!

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Must-See Movie

If you haven't seen the Walt Disney movie, Holes, you are seriously missing out.

And let me tell you why...

Holes has adventure...
Family Curses...
Hidden Treasure...
And family events that have happened centuries in the past and come full circle with three families.

Stanley Yelnats's family has a run of bad luck that stemmed from a family curse that began centuries ago. He ends up getting caught for stealing a pair of expensive shoes--which he actually found. He is given 18 months at Camp Green Lake, where his life changes with newfound hardships and friendships. And you guessed it, during his time he's supposed to dig holes.

The characters are unique and memorable and the bad guys, funny and mean. The story is weaved with the past and how curses and vendettas come to a head. Holes is an awesome, must-see family movie!

I have yet to read Holes by Louis Sachar, but the novel has been added to my "Must Read" list!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What's Fresh with Tanya Lee Stone's A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl

Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy--a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself. How do girls handle themselves? How much can a boy get away with? And in the end, who comes out on top? A bad boy may always be a bad boy. But this bad boy is about to meet three girls who won't back down.

Hi Tanya, thanks for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Tanya: I was an editor for 13 years before trying my hand at writing. We moved away from a publishing hub and since I had been developing titles as a Managing Editor for years, I asked my publisher if he would let me try writing one of the books I had just developed as part of a series. I had always written for myself, I was an English major in college, and I found that I loved it more than anything. A bit of an odd way to get my foot in the door, but it made sense! That very first book, 10 years ago, was Celebrity Activists, and it featured celebs who had a deep, authentic connection to a particular cause. It was really a collection of interview/essays. But I was off and running.

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.

Tanya: I'm a Mom, so my typical day begins with making breakfasts and lunches and getting the kids on their way. At about 8 am, I am free to begin writing, which I generally do until lunchtime. Then I take a break, eat, chat on the phone, answer email, for about an hour. I have until 2 ish to get some more work done before it's time for that Mom hat to go back on my head.

Please tell us about your latest novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, and what we can expect from your characters.

Tanya: A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl is just now out in paperback after a great year in hardcover (Random House/Wendy Lamb). A couple of notable differences between versions--this sexy new cover and a Bonus Reading Guide in the back to jumpstart some good book discussions. The characters are brave and honest and you can expect them to fall and get back up again!

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

Tanya: I'm finishing up the next novel. And I'm working on a great book about the women who began astronaut testing in 1961, did as well and better than the men, but were still kept out of the space program. It's another story of female strength. That book is called Almost Astronuats. There will be two more books about before it that also feature strong women--a picture about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who started the movement for women to get the right to vote. That's called Elizabeth Leads the Way. And a Young Adult biography of Ella Fitzgerald, who had an amazing story of triumphing over great obstacles.

Thank you again for sharing, Tanya! I wish you the best with your writing career. Let's close with what you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Tanya: I hope girls will be more aware of the red flags to look out for when it comes to guys, and trust their own instincts over what anyone else tries to persuade them to think or do. I also hope it opens the door to better communication about what's going on in their relationships, and that they will understand that everyone feels this way at one moment or another. They are not alone.

Tanya Lee Stone is the author of more than 80 books for young readers. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl is her first Young Adult novel. She has a degree in English from Oberlin College and a Master in Education degree from Southern CT State University. In addition to her books, publication credits include VOYA and the New York Times.

She loves chocolate-covered pretzels and Wild Berry Skittles. She hates the word tasty.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Play It Again...and Again...

I'm back from Hawaii, and after having mentioned here how I'd brought Kelly's GRAFFITI GIRL along with me for a re-read, thought I'd post a picture of "us" on Waikiki Beach.

To those of you planning your own summer vacations, I wish you a safe and happy trip. And if your travels happen to include the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Dallas this week, please stop by my table at the Literacy Signing and say hello!

Friday, July 06, 2007

What's Fresh with Stephanie Hale's Revenge of The Homecoming Queen

All that matters is what's long as there's a tiara on the outside.

The flawless Aspen Brooks was born to be Homecoming Queen. Naturally she's dating the most popular guy in school, and she's blessed with stunning good looks, excellent style, and mega brains. She's got the crown in the bag.

So why is the tiara being placed on the skanky head of cheerleader Angel Ives? The confusion only grows after ultra-dork Rand Bachrach is crowned king. To Aspen's shock and horror, Angel actually accuses her of being behind this. Whatevs!

But then something goes terribly, terribly wrong. Strange things start happening—even stranger than Angel beating Aspen. Now someone's leaving her threatening messages and slashing her tires. She's sure it's that beyotch Angel doing these things. And if Angel wants war, by Dooney & Bourke she'll get one.

Hello, Stephanie! Thanks for agreeing to chat with YA Fresh. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold your debut novel, Revenge of the Homecoming Queen?

Stephanie: I started writing about four years ago. I've always loved to read but never could think of an idea for a book that I thought was original. I think there was something about having my first son that really kickstarted the ideas or maybe it was just that I was only working part-time and had more time to think about writing. Revenge of the Homecoming Queen which is being published by Berkley Jam was the third book I wrote. My first book was adult chick lit and the second was YA, actually probably more middle grade now that I think about it. I had gotten positive rejections in the past but once I started querying with Revenge it was different. Everybody was biting. After making some suggested revisions, I landed my dream agent, Jenny Bent. Once Jenny started submitting it only took about five days to sell!

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.

Stephanie: I don't really have a typical day. My first job is a stay at home mom of two toddlers so my writing time is anytime they are napping or after they go to bed. It requires some discipline somedays when I'd much rather be flipping through my TIVO list at ten o'clock at night! :)

Please tell us about Revenge of the Homecoming Queen and what we can expect from your characters.

Stephanie: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen from Berkley Jam is being released July 3. My main character Aspen Brooks is very high maintainence. People will probably either love her or hate her. She's smart, sassy, beautiful, and she knows it. But her perfect little life is about to get a wake up call!

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

Stephanie: My sequel, Twisted Sisters, will be released April 1st. Aspen goes off to college and gets herself mixed up with some odd sorority sisters!

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

Stephanie: If you REALLY want to be a writer, don't give up!

Stephanie Hale lives in Illinois with a house full of males (even the dog), which causes her to buy things that are pink even if she doesn't need them. Her favorite food is pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese. She hates coffee and can't live without Coke. If you want to know anything else about her, please visit,

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Play It Again!

I’m in Hawaii this week, and I brought along all my essentials: my family, my summer clothing, my laptop, and some great books to read. Including GRAFFITI GIRL by our own Kelly Parra, which is one of those books that just gets better with each read, allows me to dig deeper into the storyline and the characters.

Do any of you have a favorite book that never fails to disappoint, no matter how many times you read it? Or, does anyone have a book they’re dying to read for the first time and saving it for an upcoming trip?

Please share! I may be on vacation, but another thing I can never get enough of is our fun YA FRESH chatter!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Latina YA!

Yep, I've started a new blog. As if I didn't already have my hands full, right? :) :) The thing is, as an author of a Latina YA, I was a little discouraged to not be able to find a place on the web that featured books with Latina teen characters. Not only that, but I'd heard from a teen reader how thrilled she was to finally have found a book that was written with her culture and with characters similar to herself. I knew there were other books out there, but I didn't know more than a handful of titles, either. Wouldn't it be totally easy if I could just click to one place and get all the info I wanted?

There was only one solution--for me!--I could come up with this place myself. So I've launched the blog, LATINA YA: An on-line resource for Latina Young Adult Fiction.

This blog is a work-in-progress, and hopefully will grow as I build on. I would like it to be an easy to find resource for readers, librarians, teachers, and book clubs. I've added novels and author bios, and will hopefully be able to add any market information or guest blogs from authors in the future. Please visit and check it out!

Thanks! :)