I accepted a foreign rights offer this week to release TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS in Indonesia! I am delighted that the book will be available in foreign markets, and can’t wait to see my words translated.
So that made me think about the country of Indonesia, and the TOP FIVE things I know about it (mostly courtesy of Wikipedia, that is):
--It is made up of 17,508 islands.
--Jakarta is the capital.
--The official language is Indonesian.
--It is the 4th most populous country in the world.
--At least one publishing house there has very good taste in teen fiction! :)
I hope something fun happens in your life this week, too.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
What's Fresh with Dominique Paul's The Possibility of Fireflies
I am sitting on my front stoop. I think it's about midnight. I was busy reading up until an hour ago, but my eyes started to hurt from squinting. Now it's just me and the waiting.
It's 1987 and fourteen-year-old Ellie Roma doesn't have much of a family. She lives with her mother, who has taken a break from parenting; and her older sister, Gwen, who is on her way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. Her father left them to start a new life.
So Ellie spends a lot of time alone, especially at night, when all she has to keep her company are the fireflies that flicker in the summer air. Then one day a mysterious stranger enters her dark world. He is Leo, twenty-one, who is on his way to Hollywood to become a rock star. Ellie and Leo connect instantly, and Ellie hopes Leo will be the one to rescue her from her unhappy life. But instead, Leo teaches Ellie that no one can save you. You have to go after what you want. So one night -- one terrible, frightening, thrilling night -- that's exactly what Ellie decides to do.
With a fresh perspective, first-time novelist Dominique Paul deftly weaves a family drama about chaos and dysfunction, with a young girl's journey of triumph. Full of humor and sorrow, heartbreak and hope, The Possibility of Fireflies is really a story that we all have to tell: the story of the summer we grew up.
Also read Kelly's take on The Possibility of Fireflies.
Hello Dominique, thanks so much for agreeing to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold your novel, The Possibility of Fireflies, to Simon & Schuster?
Dominique: Hi! Thanks for having me. Like many authors, the road to getting published was not a straight line. This is the first book I’ve written, and apart from keeping decades of journals and a Bachelor’s Degree in English, I had virtually no professional experience. Writing was something I’d always done, not something I thought I could actually do for a living. I finished my book in 2002, but didn’t find my agent Diane Bartoli until almost two years later. Once she got on board, the book sold within a few months. There was even a bidding war for it! It was amazing. Ultimately we went with S&S.
Please tell us about your debut novel, The Possibility of Fireflies, and what we can expect from your characters.
Dominique: The novel is a coming of age story about a girl growing up in Maryland in the late 80’s: those torturous years when you don’t fit in, you’re totally insecure, and to add to your Hell, you fall in love with someone who can’t love you back. Then, of course, there’s also the dysfunctional family to contend with.
The main character, Ellie, is fourteen years old and trying to figure out who she is in the world. She lives with her mother, who drinks and can be abusive, and her older sister Gwen, a rebellious metal-head who has declared war on her mother. Things are not easy for Ellie and the book is really about Ellie’s will to survive, to not let her spirit be broken. The thing I love most about Ellie is her unrelenting hope and utter determination to find happiness and love in spite of her circumstances.
I was going through a break-up when I wrote the book and needed a place to channel my pain, so the novel ended up being kind of heart-breaking. But still, I think Ellie’s observational humor and stubborn optimism make it very funny and light-hearted too.
I can attest that The Possibility of Fireflies has all these emotional aspects and is a wonderful read. :) The word is that your novel, The Possibility of Fireflies, is being turned into a movie starting this spring in Rhode Island, and that it will star Kelly Preston. Wow! Would you share with us how this developed?
Dominique: Yes, it goes back to that straight line (or lack of), which I referred to earlier. In the two years it took me to find an agent for my book, I met a TV agent who recommended I turn the novel into a screenplay so he could get me work as a screenwriter. I followed his advice, but still no sale and no TV work either. I was on the verge of giving up. Then, one day-- and I remember it well because it was pouring rain in Los Angeles--I got a phone call from a producer. Turns out, my ex-boyfriend had (unbeknownst to me) slipped the script to one of the producers of the movie Monster. So it’s pouring rain and I pick up the phone and the guy says “My house just fell down the hill in the mudslides…but I love your script! I want to meet you!” Now, that’s what I call passion. So, we set up a meeting, and by the end of that meeting he optioned my screenplay and I’d been given the chance to direct the film myself! That same week we sold the book to Simon and Schuster. Sometimes I still can’t believe it!
Indie filmmaking is a grueling process, but we have great people on our team and we are finally shooting this Spring. The movie version is a bit “edgier” than the novel (although I hate the word edgy). But it is definitely an R-rated drama. It’s also a love letter to Maryland and to all the awesome Hair Metal music and fashion of the day. It captures what I most like to explore, the juxtapositioning of humor and emotional intensity. Darkness and light.
What an exciting story! What's up next? Do you have another fiction project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Dominique: I will be working on the film for the remainder of the year. We’re hoping to have it completed in time for Sundance. I’m also working on a sequel to Fireflies. I’ve gotten emails from so many girls who were affected by the book and especially by Ellie. Everyone wanted to know what happened to her after the book ended. I found myself thinking of Ellie and wondering too. I’m writing it now, and let’s just say her life gets better, but it is by no means perfect. And Leo makes an appearance!
Looking forward to both projects, Dominique. Thank you again for sharing! I wish you the best with your writing and film career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Dominique: Thank you so much! A writing tip? I would have to say that when searching for subject matter, it is always best to write what you know. That doesn’t mean it has to be factually accurate. Just emotionally true. There is such richness in our everyday lives to be tapped into and drawn from. Oh, and one more thing – never ever ever ever ever give up.
Dominique Paul grew up in a Maryland suburb just outside of Washington, D.C., and received her BA in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently she lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a screenwriter. The Possibility of Fireflies is her first novel.
Friday, February 23, 2007
My New Book Cover!
I am so excited to share the cover of my Spring ’08 release! As you can see, it’s called HOW TO HOOK A HOTTIE. I owe the cover concept--the girl swinging on a huge fish hook--to my editor, the amazing Krista Marino.
She is also the one to credit for writing up the back page blurb. Here is an excerpt of the blurb that I think sums up the book really well:
When Kate DelVecchio agrees to go to a sports banquet with a hotshot baseball player, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the school is amazed that the no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn't know anything about getting guys, but for $100.00 a pop, she's more than willing to try, including inventing a 6-step-plan on How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?
So yea for my fabulous cover, and my fabulous editor! Next up, getting a release date and starting the countdown...
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I've never been a lot into gold jewelry. I admit I had a obsession with silver jewelry in high school. Or maybe I just kept getting silver jewelry as gifts, I don't know, but I had a lot that my mom would snag on occasion (sorry Mom!) :) :)
What I do know, is that I've always loved bracelets.
It started with Rubber bracelets. Just a circle around your wrist made from rubber that could be twisted with other rubber bracelets made of various colors, like black, and pink, and neon green. haha.
Now the rubber bracelets today are thicker and still bright with cool messages on them.
Today the Italian Charm bracelet circles my wrist, that I have yet to fill...one day it will happen!
My all time favorites are the Friendship bracelets made from colored string.
I made these babies like crazy--braids, tie-knots, up to 12-15 strings of colors. It would sometimes take me a couple of weeks to finish them, but it was fun to give them away to my best buds.
And I still have an assortment of string that I pull out just to make one for a new friend. I guess friendship bracelets will never go out of style with me!
Monday, February 19, 2007
My latest TV flick adventure...Gilmore Girls
I'm introducing myself to the Gilmore Girls on DVD.
Unfortunately, the show has six seasons of DVDs! With 6 DVDs per season, and I'm currently at DVD 3 of Season 1, I have a lot of catching up to do. haha.
But I'm really getting into the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory, and Lorelai and her mother, Emily. It's great to watch with funny and heartwarming moments to sink into.
And the characters, I just love how unique they are!
-Lane, Rory's bestfriend, and her strict mother are priceless.
-Patty, the dance instructor is hilarious.
-Sookie, the accident prone bestfriend/chef, is so cute!
-Luke, the grouchy, health-lecturer diner owner and yep, future love of Lorelai is great to watch. :)
I've been actually watching the previews to the GG girls for a couple of years so I know what the future holds, but I'm enjoying the show from the beginning!
Whenever I manage to get through all the GG DVDs, next up: Veronica Mars. :) :)
Friday, February 16, 2007
WHAT'S A MORP?
With only 25 days until the release of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, my brain is going inside-out, upside-down. So what better time to look at a growing high school trend, the backwards Prom, or the Morp?
The Morp is generally an alternative celebration in boycott of
the school's official Prom and its rules. Sometimes it's put on by
students who disagree with the values of the in-crowd.
Morps tend to have no dress code--in fact, the crazier the
better, and often it's girls in tuxes and guys in dresses. They
don't have any prescribed format, and often play music that
wouldn’t be allowed at a traditional prom. A fun addition is a
runway for guys and girls to model their unusual outfits. The mood is usually very upbeat, for often it's about solidarity and finding common ground among people who generally feel left out.
But backwards or forwards, traditional or alternative, Morps have
one thing in common with Proms, and that’s having fun.
And as I try to wait patiently through these next 3-1/2 weeks,
having fun and enjoying the ride will be what I'm all about, too...
Anit (you know, backwards for Tina)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
What's Fresh with Liza Conrad's The Poker Diaries
From the author of Rock My World and High School Bites-a tale of a poker-playing teen whose two lives are about to collide.
For a city girl, Lulu has the best of both worlds-uptown and downtown. Her mother teaches her about art and high society...then every other weekend she's with her dad, playing poker in the back room of her grandfather's bar. Mark, her downtown crush, is almost as good at the game as she is, but her uptown friends lose their shirts. So when her buddy Dack gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and loses a bit more than he should, it's up to Lulu to win it back for him. But things have become even more complicated- especially now that her mom is dating Mr. Toughon- Crime himself, the Mayor of New York City.
Hi Liza, thanks so much for chatting with us at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
Liza: I was a book editor and ghost writer for about ten years after college, and I nursed this secret dream of writing a novel. I wrote my first one, Spanish Disco, but I knew it was really quirky. A tequila-drinking, b-word of a heroine. I had landed an agent, and he sent it out and I had a deal with Red Dress Ink in about three months, which is a sickeningly easy first sale story--so I hate to tell it. Since then, I've written and published about twenty novels, including three YAs writing as Liza Conrad. (I write for adults as Erica Orloff.)
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.
Liza: My typical day is atypical! :-) I have four kids, three dogs, a parrot, a python, a canary, and assorted fish. Only the fish are well-behaved. My kids all play instruments (except the baby--who is two and learning to feed the dogs things like the contents of my wallet)--violin, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano. So my house is noisy. I write in the quiet lulls--early in the a.m., around 5:30. Later at night. And when I can in between. I've learned to write with distractions . . . and I guess I am just used to it. But I don't have any set schedule. I kind of wish I did. But then I wouldn't have my wonderful, messy life.
Please tell us about your latest novel YA novel, The Poker Diaries, and what we can expect from your characters.
The Poker Diaries is about Tallulah "Lulu" King. Her mismatched parents divorced when she was a baby, and now she splits her time between her mother's cultured world on Central Park West, and her father's world in Hell's Kitchen--where she plays illegal backroom poker. She is an amazing poker player because she trusts her gut and she can read people well. And when her best friend, Dack, loses an irreplacable watch in a poker game, she tries to win it back--and in the process gets blackmailed into playing a very high-stakes game in which she is in over her head.
The characters are, like a lot of my books, extremely loyal. These are the friends who watch your back no matter what.
Sounds unique and fresh, Liza! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Liza: I am working on a trilogy for Nocturne--paranormal romance. I just completed my next Red Dress Ink title for 2008. And I just gave my agent a proposal--top secret--for a new YA series.
Thanks again for sharing with us, Liza! I wish you the best with The Poker Diaries. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Liza: My tip is my life philosophy. Live your life with gusto, try new things, meet new people, be open to life, laugh loudly and inappropriately at least once every day, live each day breathlessly as if it's you're last--and then you'll have lots to write about, full of rich detail and, hopefully, meaning.
Liza Conrad is an author who lives in Virginia with her family and a menagerie of pets, including a python (her son's... she is waiting to get up the nerve to hold it), a very loud cockatoo, a disobedient corgi who can field grounders but doesn’t know how to sit on command, and two adorable mutt puppies who have turned her office upside down. In her free time, Liza likes to play poker, hunt for Buddha statues to add to her collection, knit lopsided scarves (still working on mastering this knitting thing), and of course...WRITE! She may be reached at her website at www.lizaconrad.com. Visit her writing blog at www.ericaorloff.com/blog.
Happy Valentine's Day from YA Fresh!!!!
May you have a great time with your sweetie, or your friends, or your family--whoever you hang out with. ;) Oh and eat lots of chocolate. Yum. :) :) haha!
Monday, February 12, 2007
Free Cyber Graffiti Fun!
Just three more months until the release of Graffiti Girl! Each month that goes by is exciting and surreal at the same time. It's like a giant mental clock that tick-tocks until release day.
Oh boy, oh boy. *wink*
So I wanted to share that from March until May I will be having contest giveaways each month on my website. Free goodies, hooray!! haha.
In honor of my free goodies announcement, I thought it would be fun to check out the free graffiti fun on the web!
Graffiti Wall Sign Generator
Myspace Graffiti Generator
POQbum's Flash Graffiti Message
Friday, February 09, 2007
All Ready for Valentine's Day?
If you are, you’re in the minority! Hallmark claims that 60% percent of their valentines are sold in the 6 days before the holiday, making procrastination the norm for Valentine’s Day!
And you may want to re-think chocolates this year, if you’re looking to be cutting edge. While the average American gobbled 27 pounds per year in 1997, that number considerably dropped to only 4.7 pounds last year. (Personally, I point the finger at coffee shops because since the invent of Iced Blended Mochas and Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, that’s where I go for my sweet fix.)
Flowers are still the rave for your honey. Lillies were the top seller last year, followed closely by cut roses.
And don’t forget jewelry! In February of 2005, jewelry stores did a record 2.5 billion dollar sales. But keep in mind that jewelry often leads to weddings...
And 12,000 people marry every day in the U.S. And what do you bet that number spikes much higher on Valentine’s Day itself?
(Thanks to the History Channel for these fun facts!)
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Traveling Pants & Tears
I was reading the Not Your Mother's Book Club blog regarding Ann Brashares's recent book signing. Yes, I'm a fan of The Sister Hood of the Traveling Pants series. In fact, my YA Fresh team blogger, Tina, is the one who told me about the books a year ago, and when I first read about Carmen, Bridget, Tibby and Lena, I was hooked.
I sped through the first 3 books like nobody's business and reading the final book now, Forever Blue. Even kinda bummed knowing the series is ending.
But enough about me, read what happened at the end of Ann Brashare's signing:
I think the best moment came at the very end. The crowd was gone and she had gathered up her things and was heading out the door. A woman came up, holding the new book, and said (approximately):
"I'm sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU for writing these books. My three best friends and I loved them in high school - we all live far away and haven't been able to see each other for years, but we all got together tonight in San Francisco to see you - so thank you, thank you so much!"
She then burst into tears, which made everyone else cry, too. Yes, yes, including me. Please, I'm not made of stone, people!
Oh gees, that had to be wonderful and sad all at the same time! I would have been crying like a baby. :)
Monday, February 05, 2007
What's Fresh with Jennifer Lynn Barnes's Tattoo
Bailey Morgan isn't the type of girl who shows a lot of skin, but somehow, she ends up in a dressing room at the mall with her friend Delia applying a temporary tattoo to her lower back. Never one to suffer fashion doubt, trendsetter Delia knows exactly where she wants her own tattoo: on her stomach, right where her shirt ends - can you say "midriff"? Annabelle, the quiet one, chooses the back of her neck, and tomboy Zo plasters hers on the top of her foot. The tattoos will last for three days, and Delia's sure that with them, the four friends will absolutely kill at the school dance.
Unfortunately, killing is just what someone has in mind, and Bailey, Delia, Annabelle, and Zo are in for the battle of their lives. Along with her tattoo, each girl receives a gift - a supernatural power to help them in their fight. As Bailey's increasingly frightening dreams reveal the nature of their enemy, it becomes clear to the girls that it's up to them to save the world. And if they can get Delia to stop using her newfound power to turn gum wrappers into Prada pumps, they might actually stand a chance.
Hello, Jennifer, thanks for agreeing to chat. Please tell us about your latest novel, TATTOO.
Jennifer: My newest release is a young adult fantasy/chick lit hybrid called TATTOO, which tells the story of four best friends who put on a set of temporary tattoos that- unbeknownst to them- have a mystical origin. The tattoos give each of the girls a supernatural power, and suddenly, it's up to them to save the world. Tattoo came out on January 9, from Delacorte.
Could you share a bit about the main character of your book and what makes her unique?
Jennifer: TATTOO is a friendship story, which means that even though one of the girls is the narrator, I consider them each essential to the story, but for the purposes of this question, I'll talk about the narrator. The thing that makes Bailey unique- both among the girls and among a lot of other characters- is that she's not particularly unique. Each of the other girls has a really defined role that they play in their friendship- Zo is the tomboy, Annabelle is the brain, and Delia's the fashionista. In their own ways, the other three are each remarkable, but Bailey just sort of is, and even though she's aware of this fact, it's not a major cause for angst, because the girls' friendship is so solid. What Bailey doesn't realize is that she's the one who holds the group together, and even though there are lots of ways in which she's the least remarkable, it's something that none of the others could do.
How did the idea for this novel come about?
Jennifer: I knew I wanted to write a book about four best friends who acquire supernatural powers. What I didn't know was how exactly to give them said powers. I wanted something different, and couldn't really think of what it would be, until one day, I found this awesome temporary tattoo in my drawer that was blue-green and sparkly and looked as if it could have some kind of mystical origin. The rest is history.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?
Jennifer: More than anything, I hope to entertain. I also hope that readers take home something from the girls' friendship. They squabble and
they tease, but at the end of the day, they have each other's backs. Sometimes, I read YA or MG literature and just shudder at the portrayal of friendships that have a real element of cruelty in them, not because these depictions aren't realistic, but because they are. I was lucky enough to be part of an incredible group of friends in college, and it made me want to write a book about friends who actually act like friends towards each other.
Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. I can't wait to read TATTOO. Best of luck with this release. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?
Jennifer: This is by far the hardest question. I read constantly, and it's so hard to pick just one book to recommend, but I'll go with a non-YA book that actually stuck with me for a long time (a big accomplishment, since I vastly prefer YA to adult novels), MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult, because it made me cry harder than pretty much any other book I've ever read, and that's saying something.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote GOLDEN the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen. Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Visit her website, www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Yea for Justine Magazine!
My good buddy, Stephanie Hale (Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, Berkley Jam, July, 2007) made a terrific discovery last weekend. Not only does the February/March issue of Justine Magazine include Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress in their round-up of great reads, but one of the prizes you can win through their website Giveaways Galore is a free copy of my book! Check it out for yourself:
Go ahead and enter. I hope you win! (See my previous post on my love of the free book.)
And I also need to gush about a pair of Prom ‘07 rhinestone sandals featured in the magazine that you can purchase through this website:
Maybe I’ll buy a pair and wear them to my book signings?
In any case, Justine is an up-and-comer among teen magazines. Their editorial content is geared to being at once entertaining, stylish and wholesome, and their pages are bright and lively, filled with beauty and fashion tips, fun celeb profiles, and tons of photos of really cool clothes.
And hey, the editors like my book, so they are definitely YA Fresh!