Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Waking up in the future never was cooler...

It you haven't read Bev Katz Rosenbaum's I Was A Teenage Popsicle, you're missing out on fun characters, a cool world ten years into the future, and a fresh voice!

Sixteen-year-old Floe Ryan and her parents had caught a rare disease and in order to save their lives they were frozen--well, "vitrified"--until a cure could be discovered. Except Floe is awakened and cured along with her teen crush, Taz--without her parents.

Floe has to move in with her now-older-than-her younger sister who has issues, and learn to adjust to a newly developed world, with creative inventions such as all-in-ones, Skedpets, and hoverblades.

Sure, she can handle it until her parents are thawed, even if she has to attend a school where Taz won't be. Only one problem...the center where her parents are still frozen might close and she will be stuck without them!

Check out this fresh YA debut and find out the lengths one teenager will go to get her old life back with her where it belongs--in the future!

Monday, January 29, 2007

What's Fresh with Simone Elkeles's How To Ruin a Summer Vacation

Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home.

Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.

Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone…

Goodbye pride--hello Israel.

Hello Simone, thanks for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, to Flux?

Simone: I don’t really have a writing background. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations (although I did finish my minor in English at Purdue University before transferring universities). I sold a manufacturing company to be a stay-at-home mom. While raising my kids, I loved to read. One day I wanted to try my hand at writing because I loved reading so much and thought “I can do this”. I’ve been writing ever since, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. How to Ruin a Summer Vacation was the third book I wrote. I’d been writing for five years and I was lucky that agent Nadia Cornier from Firebrand Literary Agency loved my work. After I signed with her, a month later I got an offer from Flux and sold the book and two months after that they bought two more books of mine. I do feel very lucky, I know many authors who try to sell their books and it doesn’t happen. I’m so thankful to my agent and publisher for helping me realize my dream! (It also helps that I never gave up.)

Great, Simone! 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.

Simone: Routine? Typical? Nothing in my life is routine or typical. Considering I’m the biggest procrastinator I know, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. Seriously, the Internet has helped me waste more time than I ever thought possible. My first book (which will probably never be published), I wrote from 10pm-1am every night. Don’t ask me how I did it, I was a new mom and knew I had a 1am feeding to be up for. I seriously couldn’t keep that schedule now.

If I’m under a contractual deadline, I write all the time. I ignore my friends, the phone, the laundry, my kids and husband. I’ll write a page and let myself check my email after each page is done. Call it an obsession. Now that I’m not under deadline, I write when I can. I write during the day when my kids are in school. If you write one page a day (12 point Times New Roman, double spaced), you’ll have an entire book done in one year. Right now, with publicity and my book tours scheduled, I’m trying to write at least two pages a day. But if I’m under deadline it’s at least 5 pages a day or more. Of course if a friend asks me to lunch, I’ll drop everything…especially if it’s sushi.

Please tell us about your latest novels and what we can expect from your characters.

Simone: Well, I have one book in the stores (How to Ruin a Summer vacation), one coming out in April (Leaving Paradise) and the sequel to How to Ruin a Summer Vacation called How to Ruin my Teenage Life.

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is a hilarious coming-of-age novel about a girl who has to go to Israel with her estranged father for the summer. She thinks she’s going to have the worst summer of her life and ends up having an adventure like she’d never imagined! (expect to laugh and cry because you never know what ridiculous shenanigans Amy is going to get herself into.)

Leaving Paradise is a complete 180 degree turnaround from How to Ruin… It’s about a boy who is being released from a juvenile detention center after being incarcerated for the past year for a hit-and-run drunk driving accident. He’s coming home – to the town called Paradise – and has to face the kids at school (he’s a senior in high school), his parents, and the girl he went to jail for hitting. It’s told in his point of view as well as the girl who got hit by the car in alternating chapters. (Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong’s lives have both been altered by the accident, and they both need to heal. What they don’t know is that in order to do that they need to trust each other once again.)

How to Ruin my Teenage Life is the sequel to How to Ruin a Summer Vacation. It’s the continuing story of Amy Nelson and her hilarious adventures back home in Chicago. She won’t disappoint readers looking for a spunky, snarky heroine.

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

Simone: I’m working on a proposal that is a four book series about four high school football players. They’re going to be funny and emotional, like most of my books. And told solely from the male point of view. I know I’m a girl, but I like writing from the male point of view. And they’re going to be edgy, so watch out.

Thank you again for sharing with us, Simone! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Simone: Seriously, it’s the ones who don’t give up who get published. I know it’s hard to finish a book, but just do it. Sometimes each word will take you five minutes (or ten in my case) to come out of you. I promise if you don’t stop writing, and write through those achingly slow times, you’ll be triumphant. Because behind the slow times are the fast ones, where you’ll blink and you’ve written five pages. Stick with it and never give up on your dreams!

Simone was a teen in the 80’s and still overuses words like grody and totally, but resists the urge to wear blue eye shadow or say “Gag me with a spoon”. When Simone’s not writing, she’s speaking to middle and high schools or teaching writing to aspiring authors. In her spare time, she Tivo’s reality television and watches teen movies. She lives near Chicago with her family and two dogs. Simone loves to hear from her readers. Visit her at or and watch her book trailers!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cupcakes Aren't Just for Birthdays Anymore!

I’m on the inside track of something hot and trendy and, yes, YA Fresh. And I gotta share it, even if my scoop is admittedly secondhand.

It’s called Sprinkles Cupcakes, and the word on the LA street is they are to die for.

You’re probably like, “cupcakes?” Those things mothers have been sending into classrooms on birthdays for as long as you can remember? Well, yes--and no. Mom never made flavors like peanut butter chocolate or red velvet or cinnamon sugar, huh? Nor were they ever *this* delicious.

But again, you can’t take my word for it. I’ve never actually eaten one. I just keep hearing about them. And I’m trusting the experts. Like Tyra Banks and Oprah. Like the Good Morning America gang. And the folks at the Food Network.

Stories have come to me about ridiculously long lines at the Beverly Hills bakery, about people finally making it to the front only to discover they’d already sold out for the day. About how they don’t ship, but will car deliver them in the LA area for a Beverly Hills worthy price.

And what was once two southern California bakeries has now exploded nation-wide and even overseas.

Until a Sprinkles bakery comes to a city near you, check out the website ( and dream. And maybe do lots of jumping jacks and sit-ups. For while Sprinkles cupcakes have no trans fats, they are made with the highest quality butter, chocolate and vanilla. But come on, that’s part of the appeal, isn’t it?

I know it is for me. And one of these Saturdays, I’m going to get my butt out of bed before dawn, drive across town to Beverly Hills, get in that line. And then I’ll be back with a first hand report on what’s hot, trendy and YA fresh!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The 2007 Top Ten Quick Picks From YALSA

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)has announced its 2007 annual recommended list of Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. The list was released during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, January 19-23.

Compiled by an 11-member committee, the 76 titles on the list were published late 2005 through 2006 and represent over 35 different publishers. Thirty of the titles are non-fiction and forty-six are fiction.

The Quick Picks committee seeks books that teens, ages 12-18, will pick up on their own and read for pleasure. The list is geared to the teenager who, for whatever reason, does not like to read. The list is not intended for teenagers with reading disabilities, though some of the selected titles may be appropriate for those teens. Teen input is a vital aspect in the final decision of the committee.Committee members spend countless hours reading, selecting books to nominate, and working one-on-one with reluctant readers to gauge their interest in the books.

Wow, a great list! Looks like I have lots of catch-up reading to do. :)

• Cohn, Rachel and Levithan, David.Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. 2006. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf

• Davidson, Dana. Played. 2005. Hyperion/ Jump at the Sun,

• de la Cruz, Melissa. Blue Bloods. 2006. Hyperion

• Giles, Gail. What Happened to Cass McBride. 2006. Little, Brown

• Gruner, Jessica and Parker, Buzz. Emily the Strange: The Lost Issue. 2005. illus. Dark Horse

• Saltz, Ina. Body Type: Intimate Messages Etched in Flesh. 2006. illus. Abrams

• Seckel, Al. Optical Illusions: The Science of Visual Perception. 2006. illus. Firefly Books

• Sniegoski, Tom. The Sleeper Conspiracy. 2006. Penguin/Razorbill

• van Diepen, Allison. Street Pharm. 2006. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse

• Warren, Frank. PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives. 2006. illus. HarperCollins/Regan Books

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Styles of My Teen Years...

I was thinking of the style of clothing I wore growing up. Oh man, my grade school days were embarrassing!

I remember pinning pants to form to my legs, spandex biker shorts, acid-wash jeans, and football team jackets. Lots of gel and rubber bracelets. LOL!

So let's just go straight to my high school days where it's still a little embarrassing, but not as bad as grade school. ;)

Here are a few items I found from a list on In The 90s...

-Doc Martens
They were boots and sandles that were very popular. They cost around $100 a pair, but almost every teen had a pair in the late 90's. (Oh yes! In fact, in the first novel I wrote, my heroine loved her Docs!)

-Flare Jeans
Similar to bell bottoms with less of a flare! (Sadly, I still like my flare, only now they call them wide leg. :))

-Overalls (coveralls)
Teens wore their overalls in two ways: They wore their overalls with a belt, and let the 'front flap' and 'back straps' hang straight down. The other way, was to only hook together one side of the overal straps, and leave the opposite side open.The popular over-all styles were: light blue; or gray stone-washed; overalls, with lots of zippers and metal buttons down the sides. (I loved the overalls. They were comfy and kick-back.)

-Back-Pack Purses
Exactly what the name describes; a miniture back-pack used as a purse. (I've had my share, and may still own one! At least they are made a lot more stylish these days. :))

-Spiral Perms
Long, spiraly curls ala Mariah Carey, were very popular in the early to mid 90s. (uh-huh, no comment.)

-White Hairband or Scrunchies
A narrow, elastic white hairband worn near the front of the hair by teenage girls and young women in the late 1990s. (Headband & scrunchie galore!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

What's Fresh with Daria Snadowsky's Anatomy of a Boyfriend

Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body. Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love. And then came the fall.

Daria Snadowsky's unflinching dissection of seventeen-year-old Dominique's first relationship reveals all the ecstacy and agony of love, and everything in between.

Hi Daria, thanks for taking the time to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale, ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND to Delacorte?

Daria: I started off in journalism when I was a teen. I contributed to local newspapers back in high school, and during college I wrote for the student paper and interned for various city-wide magazines. One of the best parts about journalism is that you’re always meeting new people and learning new things that you would never have known about otherwise.

I didn’t think about writing fiction until I was 22, and it took a year before I had a first draft. (With journalism, you’re always working under deadline and usually with strict world-count maximums, and I think that work environment helps when attempting any other kind of writing because you’re already disciplined and used to editing aggressively.) It took nearly a year to find an agent and several more months until Delacorte made an offer on my manuscript.

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.

Daria: For the first year I was working on ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND, I wrote full-time. In the mornings I would go to the gym first thing, reach that “endorphin high,” and immediately after my shower take my laptop to Starbucks. Then when I attended law school, I didn’t schedule classes on Friday so I’d have a three day weekend just to work on the book, and I forced myself to do all my law work Monday through Thursday.

Please tell us about your novel, ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND, and what we can expect from your characters.

ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND (Delacorte) went on sale Tuesday, Jan 9. The story’s narrated by 17-year-old Dominique, who’s in her final semester of high school. She’s very Type-A, logical, and she’s looking forward to going premed in college, but then she meets Wes. Suddenly, she finds herself practically addicted to him, and being his girlfriend becomes her number one priority even though graduation is just around the corner.

While there are a lot of great stories out there, especially in kid lit and YA lit, which have “good” characters and “evil” characters, I tried hard to make everyone in this book basically good but who sometimes do bad things--this doesn’t make them bad people of course, just human. Dominique speaks very honestly and unabashedly about her emotions and sexuality, so I hope readers appreciate and identify with her choices, even when they're the product of poor judgment.

ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND is funny, racy and modern, but in the end it’s a story of first love, which is very serious business and sometimes desperately sad, not to mention timeless. One of the main points I hope gets across via Dom’s (mis)adventures is that while there may be near-foolproof ways to prevent getting pregnant or an STD, all the condoms in the world can’t protect against hurt feelings. I think that’s a fact health teachers often skip over in class.

You can build your own boyfriend at!

I love the Build your own Boyfriend! So fun! What's up next, Daria? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Daria: The only project I’m working on right now is READING! Prior to the July 2006 bar exam, I don’t think I read any books since 2003. When I wasn’t reading for law school, I was revising ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND, so I had zero spare time. Since the bar I’ve read dozens of books, mostly YA fiction, and I blog about them at

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

Daria: A former professor of mine gave me a tip back in 2003 that was enormously helpful. We were chatting over coffee and I had promised to show him my manuscript of what was to become ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND. Prior to that, no one had read a word of it, and I had already been working on it for over a year. Then when we finally met at that coffee shop, I got major cold feet and told him that I was having second thoughts about letting him look it over. He asked why, and after a long pause, I answered with a lump in my throat, “What if you don’t like it?” He shook his head “no” and said, “You have to let people read it. The best writing in the world never gets published because the writers are too scared to face judgment. No matter how perfected your work is, it’s always going to inspire an entire range of reactions including people who hate it.” That was a real breakthrough moment for me, and in the next two weeks I gave the manuscript to several other people to read. It’s really important to get feedback from others, and in the end it’s your choice whether to take what they advise to heart.

Daria Snadowsky grew up in Greenwich Village and Las Vegas. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in film studies from Emory University in Atlanta. She’s written for Creative Loafing, Las Vegas Weekly and Nevada Law Journal. She also holds a J.D. from UNLV Law and is licensed to practice in Nevada. One of her favorite pastimes is watching Sixteen Candles with friends while pigging out on Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Visit her at Add her on MySpace at

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sometimes you just got to step back and take a breather.

Maybe have a laugh when the tough get going. Or just take a quick few minutes to do a little procrastinating when you should be doing other cleaning a room, or homework, or work stuff. ;)

I have just the place to visit...Pyzam Toys.

*sniff, sniff* Your page need a little refreshing? Not a problem...

Click Here to get this from!

A little magnet play is always nice!

Click Here to get this from!

Fortune cookie, anyone?

Click Here to get this from!

Be careful with this one! A half hour could pass before you know it!

Click Here to get this from!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Who Doesn't Love a Free Book?

My mother read women’s magazines when I was a teen, which often included a condensed book in the back pages. I devoured those stories, with the idea of them being free seeming like an added bonus.

Now I understand there was nothing free about them. The authors sold the rights, and of course, my mother paid for her magazine subscriptions.

But all these years later, I am still a sucker for a free book. I confess I go to writers conferences with a half-empty suitcase, in joyful anticipation of my bounty. I scoop up books I can't wait to read--and some I wouldn’t normally have considered. Because hey, they’re free, and you never know what will grab you.

For instance, a book from a popular romantic suspense series sat on my luncheon chair at a writer's conference a few years back, and even though I hadn’t much cared for one of the author's earlier works, I slipped it into my bag. Well, fast forward, I read it and loved it, and at this point, I am a bonafide fan who has purchased and read the entire series. Ditto for one of my friends with a sci-fi giveaway she picked up. And I’m willing to bet that most writers have stories along these lines.

So...yea for the freebee, where everybody wins.

And I should let you know that I will be following in this time-honored tradition. In March, the first ten people who show up at my Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress local book signing in a prom dress? They get the book free!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What's Fresh with Bev Katz Rosenbaum's I Was A Teenage Popsicle

Floe Ryan was frozen--well, 'vitrified'--when she was sixteen. She's just been thawed, and guess what, it's ten years in the future and she's still a teenager. And her parents are still, shall we say, chilling out. Floe's little sister is now her older sister (and guardian!), and payback's a beyotch. On top of that, Floe has to get used to a new school, new technology, and a zillion other new things that happened while she was napping in the freezer. Luckily, she has Taz Taber--the hottie sk8er boy who used to make her melt before she was frozen--to reintegrate with. But now they're trying to close the Venice Beach Cryonics Center--with Floe's parents still in it! Now that's cold. It's up to Floe to save the clinic and her parents--so she can finally have a chance at a somewhat normal life…

Check out Kelly's take on I Was A Teenage Popsicle.

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

Bev: I'm a former Harlequin editor who wrote a couple of romance novels after I left to freelance edit. I soon learned I like to write short and funny, and as my kids got older, I found myself loving the stuff they were reading and realized I should probably take a crack at this YA stuff!

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.

Bev: Most people think you spend all day writing, but there are so many other things to do--promotion, revisions, galley-proofing...the list goes on. Plus, writing is mentally draining--you can do it for only so many hours straight. So when I'm not on a really tight writing or revising deadline (sometimes you really do just have to write for a couple weeks straight!), I usually split my day into thirds; I write for one third, do promo stuff for another third, and do other administrative/niggly stuff for the last third. Works for me!

Please tell us about your novel I Was a Teenage Popsicle published through Berkley Jam (October 2006) and what we can expect from your characters.

Bev: My first YA novel, I Was a Teenage Popsicle, is a super-fun (IMHO!) mix of teen chick lit and sci-fi. It's a Berkley Jam release currently in bookstores. The heroine is the first cryonically preserved human to be 'thawed', and she's forced to go live with her younger, now older sister. (Payback's a beyotch.) There's also a romance (with the second thawed human) and tons of action/adventure, as Floe tries to keep the cryonics center, where her parents are still, um, chilling, from being shut down.

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

Bev: I am currently revising the Popsicle sequel, called Beyond Cool, to be released in August.

Thanks again for sharing, Bev, best of luck with your writing career! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Bev: Try to come up with a truly fresh and different hook--I guarantee you'll attract interest!

Bev Katz Rosenbaum is the author of I Was A Teenage Popsicle and Beyond Cool to be released August 2007. Check out her website,

Friday, January 12, 2007

In the Pink

It’s the color of baby girl's clothing, of carnations and roses, of bubble gum, of blushing...and the signature colors of Elle in “Legally Blonde” and Shelby in “Steel Magnolias”.

It’s pink, and its variations run from the softest shades of iced peppermint to shocking hot. Pink has got it all.

And it is the only color I considered when creating the perfect, almost magical prom dress for Nicolette in Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress. And although the dress itself went through some minor alterations in the editing stages (from calf-length of knee-length and developed a heart-shaped bodice) there was never any consideration of changing the color.

Pink was--and is--perfect.

Nevertheless, when I went to use a Christmas gift card at my favorite clothing shop, I was thinking something business casual, maybe in chocolate or burgundy, my favorite winter colors. But within seconds of entering the store, my gaze was stolen by a splash of pink on the far wall. “Nic Pink”, the exact shade of her prom dress on the cover of my book.

Soon I was touching a pink suede jacket--and it was 30% off, I might add, because I guess the average person isn’t in the market for pink suede. (Go figure!) Anyway, it was my size, and of course, I bought it. It now hangs in my closet, ready and waiting for my March book signings.

You’ve heard of mother/daughter clothing? I may be among the first to don author/heroine clothing! And fingers crossed that when that day comes, both of us look “pretty in pink”?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Friendship and Volleyball and all the good stuff in between...

I was cruising the movie rentals this past weekend, not sure what I was looking for. Just strolling along...when--bam--MTV films printed on a DVD cover caught my eye, with high school girls wearing athletic uniforms. And looking very tough, I might add. :)
The movie?

All You've Got

About two rival high school volleyball teams who have to join together as one team after tragic circumstances. This movie has really interesting themes, cultural and social differences, friendship and guys, and the dilemmas of father/daughter relationships. I kept wondering if this film had been a novel. It struck me as an intense YA drama.

And since it was an MTV film it had an outstanding soundtrack with live performances by top hip-hop artists, as well as starring the talented artist, Ciara.

Gabby, is a petite, fiesty Latina and Lauren, a wealthy, naive blond. Two girls so culturally and socially different, with two things in common: Volleyball and winning an athletic scholarship to their top college. The viewer watches an unlikely friendship form, especially with the added complication of a cute guy thrown into the mix.

Then today as I skimmed some recent YA sales, I find this:
Author of the YA novel and MTV film ALL YOU'VE GOT Karol Ann Hoeffner's SURF ED, in which a girl, irritated that she's forced to move from Texas to California after her parents' divorce, tackles high school romance and the surfing world, to Bethany Buck at Simon Pulse...

This movie was first a novel by Karol Ann Hoeffner! You know what this means?

I'm going to have order the book now. ;)

Check out the movie if you're looking for a good teen flick!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What's Fresh with Robyn Schneider's Better Than Yesterday

If you take your IQ and multiply it by 10, that's what you'll score on the SATs. Popped collars are for preps, not fashionistas. Summer session isn't for slackers.

At the elite Hilliard Preparatory School, the competition is fierce, the gossip is worse, and Blake Dorsey has just arrived back on campus after an unexplained two-year absence.

Skylar Banks has a hunch Blake's in trouble. Skylar is the most likely candidate for valedictorian, but she's no stranger to tricky situations herself. Shes got a reputation for taking her relationships straight from JV to varsity, and that rep is about to catch up with her.

Charley Morton doesnt have time for Blakes problems--not if he plans to get into Harvard the way his parents expect, or to win over his dream girl (AKA Skylar). But then Blake takes off for New York City, and Charley, Skylar, and her roommate, Marissa, have no choice but to risk their perfect transcripts to find him. Its a journey that will change the way they see each other--and themselves--forever.

With its quick-witted he said/she said narration, Robyn Schneider's debut novel is a compelling, honest take on the boarding school world, and on the challenges and friendships that shape a student's life.

Hello Robyn, could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale BETTER THAN YESTERDAY to Delacorte Press?

Robyn: Before Better Than Yesterday, I'd written a number of throwaway novels, some short stories and a newspaper column. After finishing BTY in June of 04, I sent out 12 e-queries in August and had an offer of representation in October. Delacorte made their offer in March. I remember my agent telling me about the offer in the early morning, and the strange look my college roommate gave me when I started jumping up and down. I had to cut the call short, though, and sprint to class. If the prof had asked why I was late, I would have had the best excuse ever. :-)

So true! 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.

Robyn: I don't really have a set routine, and I certainly didn't while writing BTY, which I completed before selling. However, I usually write in bed, and I typically assign myself a wordcount for the day between 1000 and 3000 words, depending on where I am in the novel (it's easier to write more toward the end).

Please tell us about your novel BETTER THAN YESTERDAY-- hitting shelves today!--and what we can expect from your characters.

Robyn: Better Than Yesterday is about four very different seniors at a boarding school who formed an underground pranking society as freshmen, grew apart, and are now thrown back together when one of them runs away to Manhattan. The two narrators are Skylar, a math nerd turned school slut turned top contender for valedictorian, and Charley, a guitar-playing debate geek who is terminally second-best and hopelessly in love with Skylar.

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

Robyn: My next book is out on June 26 from Simon Pulse, a nonfiction book called The Social Climber's Guide to High School, which is a hip handbook for aspiring A-listers of the high school social scene. And in Spring 2008, Delacorte is publishing my next novel, The Ivy Legacy, about a high school freshman who joins her older sister's all-female secret society, witnesses the theft of a campus relic, and unknowingly falls for the head of the rival all-male secret society.

Thank you for agreeing to chat, Robyn. I wish you the best with your debut! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Robyn: The best advice I ever heard about writing was from Scott Westerfeld. He said something along the lines of: In the first half of the book, go ahead and make choices that will add complications to the plot, but in the second half, make choices that will simplify things.

Robyn Schneider is the author of Better Than Yesterday (Delacorte Press), and the forthcoming books The Social Climber's Guide to High School (Simon Pulse, June 07) and The Ivy Legacy (Delacorte, Spring 08). Her blog, Queued Paper, can be read at

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Get ready for the tears if you read...

The Possibility of Fireflies by Dominique Paul

So truthfully, I hadn't heard about this book before I browsed the book aisles last week and its title and cool cover happened to catch my eye. Isn't the design awesome?

Then I opened the book to the first page and the voice, deep and honest, pulled me straight to the cash register.

So what's so fresh about The Possibilities of Fireflies?

It takes place in 1987. Rock n' roll is hot and so is big hair. ;)

Fourteen-year-old Ellie is real, wise to her hardships, and just trying to hold it together as she lives with the intense and volatile relationship between her alcoholic mother and older sister, who Ellie both loves and other times wishes she was far away from.

And there's this older guy, a wannabe rocker and secret crush to Ellie, who has dreams and hopes and urges Ellie to believe in some of her own.

Oh yeah, did I mention the tears?

A totally fresh and totally recommended debut by author Dominique Paul. Add this novel to your wish list!

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's In His Kiss

Experts say that when you kiss, the side of your face you lean-in on tells how “into” your partner you are. The right hand lean-in suggests closeness and intimacy, while the left hand lean-in could mean insincere. And this is supposedly true for left-handers as well as right-handers.

Interesting, huh? That fun fact got me thinking about kissing, and on-screen kisses, in particular. Here are four that WOW me. But since film can be reversed, there’s no way to say which side the characters leaned in on...


The upside-down kiss in the rain between Mary-Jane Watson and Peter Parker/Spiderman is as unusual as it is passionate.


Jack Dawson kissed Rose Dewitt Bukater a number of times, but most memorable and foreshadowing is the kiss on the prow of the ship during sunset with the icy cold water behind them.

Bridget Jones’ Diary

Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones overcome months of conflict to meet up on a snowy street, she just in a T-shirt, sneakers and a leopard-striped underwear. As they kiss, he wraps her in his coat.

The Princess Bride

Following narration that tells us this kiss was the most passionate, the most pure of all time, Wesley lives up to it as he kisses Buttercup/The Princess Bride.

Can you think of any killer film kisses to add to this list?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What's Fresh with Alex McAulay's Lost Summer

From the author of Bad Girls comes another dramatic novel of survival and suspense. It's Laguna Beach meets Cape Fear when a rich girl from California confronts murder and isolation on North Carolina's stormy Outer Banks.

When Caitlin Ross's mother takes her and her brother to an island in the remote Outer Banks for the summer, Caitlin is furious. She was planning on spending the summer hanging out by the pool, partying, shopping, and singing backup in her boyfriend's band, Box of Flowers. North Carolina isn't anything like California, and Caitlin doesn't fit in. But her troubled mother is too busy popping pills and trying to win back her creepy ex-boyfriend to care.

At first, the only friend Caitlin makes on the desolate island is a local misfit named Danielle. But things start to improve when she meets a bunch of visiting prep school boys and gets swept up in their exciting world. Then, one dark night, she witnesses a murder and begins to suspect that her new friends aren't really her friends at all. With a powerful hurricane approaching, and the island cut off from the outside world, Caitlin has no one to turn to but herself . . . and whether she'll live to see another summer is the biggest mystery of all.

Hello Alex, thanks so much for agreeing to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold your novel, Bad Girls, to MTV books?

Alex: I never expected to become a novelist. Although I studied English literature at college, I was mainly interested in music at the time, and thought I was going to become a rock star. When that didn't happen, of course, I had to figure out something else to do with my time that would be fun, creative, and make some money. Everyone who knew me told me I was crazy to try writing novels, and that I would probably fail to get published--everyone except my wife, Lisa, who actually encouraged me! So I began trying to write. I had an idea to do an all-female version of Lord of the Flies, and that became my first novel, Bad Girls. At the time, I was teaching English lit during the day, and writing the novel late at night on little scraps of paper. Slowly over time the papers turned into a very rough first draft. Then I spent several months revising it. I had no clue what to do with the novel when I was done, so I wrote a letter to a local author and musician, Matt O'Keefe, and his wife, the novelist Leah Stewart. They were very kind and volunteered to read some of the pages. They liked the pages and forwarded them to Matt's agent, Dave Dunton at the Harvey Klinger Agency in New York. Dave, who is a brilliant agent and has since become a good friend, read the book, and after suggesting some changes, sold it to MTV Books a few weeks later.

Very cool, Alex! In publishing news, the word is that your novel, Bad Girls, is being turned into a movie. How exciting! Would you share with us how this came about and more importantly how you felt when you first discovered the news?

Alex: MTV Films offered the film deal at the same time MTV Books offered to buy the book, so the film news was a very exciting (but strange and slightly overwhelming) experience! It was a relief not to have to teach anymore, or worry about scrounging up a crappy day job. I'm fairly disconnected from the film stuff at this point, although I'm fascinated by the rumors that have swirled around the project. At some point I read online that Lindsay Lohan and/or Hilary Duff was interested, and later Jena Malone (of Donnie Darko fame), but nothing concrete has happened yet. MTV did re-option the film rights last year, though, so I have my fingers crossed that one day they will actually make the movie...

Please tell us about your latest novel, Lost Summer, and what we can expect from your characters.

Alex: My second novel, Lost Summer, was released this past summer. Like Bad Girls, it's a thriller about a girl in trouble. The main character, Caitlin, gets dragged to a remote island off the coast of North Carolina by her drug-addicted mother. She ends up hanging out with an unsavory group of kids and witnessing a murder on the beach. From there, she's on the run for her life. My editors at MTV/Pocket Books, Lauren McKenna and Megan McKeever, are both really fantastic and they helped me hone Lost Summer into a really compelling read (my initial draft was something like 400 pages long, and we got it down to a faster-paced 300 or so). Erica Feldon, who does publicity over there, was also really great in helping work with and promote the book.

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

Alex: At the moment, I'm just finishing up my third novel for MTV/Pocket Books. It's a dark thriller called Snowbound. The details are top secret (okay, not really). It's about a group of teens who get lost in a blizzard in Colorado and encounter some very scary things. I'm almost done with the first draft, and will probably have it all wrapped up by February. MTV Books is releasing it in early November 2007.

Sounds like another great one! Thank you again for sharing, Alex. I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Alex: My writing tip is to read as many good books as possible. Here are some of the great books I've enjoyed, and learned from, recently: The Ruins, by Scott Smith; The War Against Cliche, by Martin Amis; The Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen; The Myth of You and Me, by Leah Stewart; Cell, by Stephen King; John Fowles Diaries, by John Fowles; Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen; The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Alex McAulay was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up mostly in Dallas, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Brown University in 1998 with a degree in English Literature. Under the name "Charles Douglas," he has recorded several indie-rock albums, and worked with members of The Velvet Underground and The Pixies, among many other bands. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lisa and their two cats. Visit his website

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year/Happy New Blogger

Thanks again to Kelly for inviting me to join her here at YA FRESH!

I thought I’d open with some info about Kelly and me...

We met through an on-line critique coordinator, at a time when neither of us had a publishing contract, an agent, or a clear direction in our writing careers. Almost four years later, we’ve both made a lot of writing dreams come true, and remain thick as thieves--or as I like to say, “twins separated at birth”. Even though it seems as if we’re more different than alike...

--I am old enough to be Kelly’s...uh...much-older sister.
--Her husband is covered in tattoos; mine in freckles.
--My ancestors were mostly from Europe; Kelly’s came from as close as Mexico and far as the Philippines.
--She limits herself one cup of French Vanilla Café a day (unless on deadline); I lose control--and count--of my cups when flavored creamer is in the house.
--I root for The Apprentice; Kelly likes to watch Big Brother reality TV.
--She avoids flying; I spend so much time on planes that I look for my seat belt in the movie theater.
--I tend to write conflicted good girls; Kelly loves to get into the heads of the bad ones.

Differences aside, our love of writing brought us together, and proved something neither knew back in high school: that while having friends “just like you” is terrific, sometimes having friends who are different is even better. :)

See you on Friday!