Monday, April 30, 2007

Dreaming It Up!

It's Meme-Girls time again, with The Dream Meme by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Do you remember your dreams? Yes, but mostly when I first wake up, then as the day goes on they are smoke!

What's the best dream you've ever had? To be a writer. :) :)

What's the worst nightmare you've ever had? I was being chased by a really mean person. Yikes!

What's the absolute WEIRDEST dream you've ever had? I actually had one of those dreams where my teeth fell out. It was the weirdest sensation. haha!

Can you control your dreams? I used to when I had more time to lay down and think about them, but I'm so busy I'm lucky if I remember much of my dreams.

Do you have any recurring dreams? No. All my dreams are fresh and new. :)

Have you ever had a flying dream? No, but I wish I did!

How about one of those dreams where you go to school/work and realize that you're naked? LOL! No, not yet...

Have you ever had a dream that featured characters from a book, movie, or television show? Yes! It's embarrassing but when I was younger Kirk Cameron was in my dream. haha!

Have you ever had a dream where your teeth fall out? Yes, see above!

Have you ever dreamed something that later came true? I'm not sure, but I've had that deja vu feeling many a times.

Bonus question for writers: Have your characters ever shown up in your dreams? No, that would probably really trip me out!

Who else wants to play? :)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's Fresh with Lauren Barnholdt's The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney (YA Fresh loves Tween Books too!)

Mom says karma always comes around to get you, and I guess it's true. Because last summer I was a total liar, and now, right in the middle of Mr. Pritchard's third-period math class, my whole world is about to come crashing down.

That's because while Devon was living with her grandmother for the summer, she told her "summer friend," Lexi, that she was really popular back home and dating Jared Bentley, only the most popular guy at school. Harmless lies, right? Wrong. Not when Lexi is standing at the front of Devon's class, having just moved to Devon's town. Uh-oh.

Devon knows there's only one way to handle this -- she'll just have to become popular! But how is Devon supposed to accomplish that when she's never even talked to Jared, much less dated him?! And it seems the more Devon tries to keep up her "image," the more things go wrong. Her family thinks she's nuts, her best friend won't speak to her, and, as if it's not all complicated enough, Jared starts crushing on Lexi and Devon starts crushing on Jared's best friend, Luke. It all has Devon wondering -- who is the real Devon Delaney?

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

Lauren: My first sale was for my YA book, REALITY CHICK, which came out last year. I’d been writing YA for a while, and not having much luck. Another book I’d written had been rejected by every publisher in New York. I decided it was time to switch agents, and when I showed her my new project, she sent it out and sold it in two weeks to Simon and Schuster.

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.

Lauren: I don’t really have a typical schedule. It really all depends on where I am in the writing process. I like to have coffee or diet coke with lime while I write. And I always set a word count for the day – it helps me to have a specific goal to fixate on.

Please tell us about your latest novel THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY and what we can expect from your characters.

Lauren: THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY is out this week from Simon and Schuster's new MIX line for tweens. It’s about what happens when thirteen-year-old Devon goes away for the summer and lies to her “summer friend” Lexi about how popular she is, only to be left scrambling to recreate her “secret identity” when Lexi shows up at her school.

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

Lauren: My latest YA book, TWO-WAY STREET, will be out in June, and I’m currently working on my next tween book, which will be out next year.

Thanks Lauren! I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Lauren: Here are my top three tips for aspiring writers: 1. Don’t give up. 2. Don’t compare yourself to other writers – everyone’s path to publication is different, and what happens to one person is not necessarily going to happen to you. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. 3. Enjoy the process. Sometimes it’s so hard to enjoy writing when you’re getting rejections or things aren’t going well. But remember that you’re working toward a goal, one that’s worth it. And be thankful that you’ve found what it is you’re passionate about – not everyone can say that.

Lauren Barnholdt’s first book for teens, REALITY CHICK, was a Teen People Can’t-Miss Pick and a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age 2007. In junior high, she was known to have a few “secret identities” of her own. She currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts, where she’s hard at work on her next book. Visit her website,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Making Good Foods Even Better

When I was kid, I knew people who put ketchup on their eggs. I thought that was gross and weird...until salsa came into my life, and now I totally get the tomato with egg taste.

On the flipside, while visiting a friend in Europe, I shocked her by eating a raw floweret of broccoli. I kept insisting raw veggies and dip was standard party fare in the U.S., but all she could do was laugh at me.

I guess it’s all about what you know and feels right to you, huh?

Now, check out this picture of pancakes and orange slices.

Rather standard breakfast fare, and as it happens, two of my favorite things. Except for the way I eat them: my pancakes runny in the middle, and my orange slices with the rind attached. In addition, I consider the skin the best part of the baked potato. And I’ve been known to eat dry Coffeemate from a spoon.

I’m betting I just earned myself an “ewww” or two? Believe me, I hear them from my family over these things all the time. But hey, why not eat foods the way you like them?

So how about you? Any creative and original ways that you make good foods even better?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What's Fresh with Sean Beaudoin's Going Nowhere Faster

Everyone in town thought Stan was going to be something and go somewhere, but they're starting to realize that when this boy genius can't even get out of Happy Video, he's going nowhere, faster. But when things look like they're only getting worse, Stan is forced to decide what he wants to do with his life. Suddenly, he may be getting somewhere afterall. With sarcastic, dry wit reminiscent of David Sedaris and Tom Perrotta, this debut YA novel delivers with laugh-out-loud hilarity and a lot of heart.

Hi Sean, thanks for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold Going Nowhere Faster (love this title!) to Little, Brown?

Sean: I wrote 15 issues of a DIY zine that was somewhat popular in San Francisco in the early 90's. Blogs weren't around at that point. I'd had a few short stories published in various lit journals, one of which drummed up interest from an agent or two. A friend of a friend suggested that my "voice" was perfect for YA. I was like, "You A--hole?" and he was like "No, Young Adult." I sent the agent the first three chapters of Going Nowhere Faster, and we were 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.

Sean: I work from home and am able to devote most mornings to writing, just letting go and not thinking about it too much. In the afternoons, I get more disciplined and work on revising, editing, and the other mundane aspects of authorship: marketing/emails/phone calls. I drink an astonishing and possibly lethal amount of coffee. I have an almost-full 80gig iPod that stays on shuffle all day and is supposed to not repeat itself for a month and a half, but I could swear the same three songs keep coming up.

Please tell us about Going Nowhere Fast and what we can expect from your characters.

Sean: Going Nowhere Faster came out April 1st. There's a lot of info about it on my website, (not a shameless plug, it's just easier to read it all there.) There's also a song by Miles Ahead (the band of one of GNF's characters) as well as a video. Essentially, GNF is the story of Stan Smith, which means it's also the story of being too sensitive, too insulated, too ignored, too alone, too egotistical, too judgmental, too seventeen.

I'm definitely intrigued, Sean! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Sean: The first draft of my second book "Sour White" is nearly complete. I hope to have it to my editor by mid-June for revisions and then into copy edit. It's a story told simultaneously from three different voices, two females and a male. It deals with some pretty small subjects: Life, Death, Afterlife, Podcasting, What It's Like To Be A Dog, Sumo, and The Perils Of Acrobatic Cheerleading. Seriously, that's what it's about.

Great, Sean, thanks for sharing with us. I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Sean: Sure. Even though I've been writing since I was 14, which back then consisted of maudlin poetry and maudlin-er journal entries, I've always sort of had the sense that writing books or stories was something "other" people did. People who were somehow Born To Write (as opposed to Run). I never really believed writing was something I could actually do. Not only in terms of making a living, but just finishing a book. As it turns out, more than anything else, you have to make yourself sit down and do it. I realize it may sound annoyingly simple, but that's my tip. It requires discipline to write every day, but not much more than it takes to get up and go to school or show up for your job. It's like playing guitar. You don't just pick up your older brother's Strat and suddenly start jamming. You have to practice. But once you get even a little bit good at it, practicing gets more and more fun. And pretty soon you're in a band. Or halfway through a manuscript.

Sean Beaudoin has used his B.A. in photography as a springboard into the following jobs: construction laborer, circus roustabout, busboy, used book buyer, hotel desk clerk, camp counselor, statue repairman (really), seller of jazz vinyl, and a nine-day stint as The World's Worst Telemarketer. He now resides in San Francisco with his wife and daughter. Information about his other published work is on the website. Visit his website,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Totally DVD

I have finally taken the plunge.

At first I didn't think I would ever do it even though I'm such a cyber nut. Always on the 'net, soaking up info whenever I can find it, trying out new gadgets daily.

Why, would I need to order DVD rentals on-line, you know?

I mean, I would totally read how many of my friends order from Netflix--pick movies, and wait for them to arrive in their mailbox. Pretty simple, right?

So I researched, figured it would save me actual money in the long run if I joined Blockbuster Total Access, which is like Netflix, but I get to also take my rentals to my local Blockbuster and get free rentals!

Yes, I love free stuff. haha!

I am so in! I have added another notch in my cyber belt of experience. I'm actually excited to check my mail now.

One of these days, I am going to even order books on-line!

(And before anyone gasps :) :) , there is just something about walking into a book store that is really hard to replace by ordering on-line. Being surrounded by books is such a comfort to me!)

So...are you a DVD/Book order on-line kind of a person, or do actual stores suit you better?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Drive-By Signings

Last week I talked about my geeky book signing kit, and mentioned I was going on a signing road trip.

Well, one week and seven bookstores later, I am here to report the results. Fabulous! I met wonderful store managers and staff, all super-friendly and helpful.

In five cases, they had at least one copy of my book, and were happy for me to sign their stock and add bookmarks. Without me asking, each time, the books were then moved to end-caps, and in one store, they put some on the Recommended Shelf. See?

An employee at one store apologized that they only had one copy on hand, saying, “We just can’t keep your book in stock." (Yea!)

Several managers offered me booksignings if I would call ahead when I returned to the area.

At two stores, they did not have any copies, but both times the managers greeted me warmly, took a bookmark and said they’d consider ordering.

So...all good! And when I mentioned my drive-by signings to my editor, she seemed very pleased, telling me “every visit helps!” So I encourage all of you with books out (or coming out, especially, a-hem, next month) to consider making these store visits yourself. It’s a whole new level of geeky fun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's Fresh with Paula Chase's So Not The Drama

Hoping Del Rio Bay High will live up to her greatest expectations, Mina has big plans for infiltrating the school's social glitterati. After all, she's been mad popular for as long as she can remember--and she isn't about to go from Middle School Royalty to High School Ambiguity. But Del Rio Bay is a big school, so it'll take some plotting to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Good thing she isn't afraid of a little hard work--and that her playground peeps, Lizzie, Michael, and JZ, have got her back.

But it isn't long before Mina's big plans for securing her social status take a back seat to some drama that was so not expected. Lizzie's scored an invite from the beautiful people that Mina can only dream about, and not only is Michael tripping about being back in school, but now he's beefing with JZ. Worst of all, Mina's sociology class experiment to rid the world--or at least Del Rio Bay High--of prejudice is about to backfire. Because it might just mean she'll have to rid herself of her very best friend...

Hi Paula, thanks so much for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale, So Not The Drama to Kensington?

Paula: I’ve always been a writer. Even though I grew up quite addicted to both the television and radio, writing and reading were hobbies of mine. I even majored in Journalism for a whole semester before switching to public relations. I felt then, and now, that writing could be a big part of my profession without actually being a full-time writer. I was right. Many of my PR jobs called for lots of writing, speeches, articles, marketing material etc…

The very first article I was ever paid for was my local community paper, The Severna Park Voice. From there, it went quickly as I began writing for Sweet 16 and Girls Life. So Not The Drama is my first manuscript and the first novel I’ve ever sold.

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.

Paula: I’ve noticed that I don’t have a routine…at least not one that’s consistent. When I was writing full-time, which I only did for a year, I wrote eight to ten hours a day. Then, for about two years I wrote only late night. The biggest problem with night-writing – fatigue. By the time the entire house is quiet I’m dead tired. So this time around, I get up early (and early just means before the kids) and write for as long as the house is quiet. Most times that’s an hour to 90 minutes. I love getting the writing done early. #1 It eliminates any writer’s guilt later on in the day and #2 Often it jump starts my brain and I’ll continue to come up with story bits throughout the day, which I capture in a variety of notebooks. I’m swimming in notebooks!

Please tell us about your novel So Not The Drama and what we can expect from your characters.

Paula: So Not The Drama is the first in my Del Rio Bay Clique series being released by Kensington. The book hit shelves March 7th. It’s about the transition from middle school to high school and how it impacts our friendships as each person begins to start down a new avenue. Also, at the heart of it, it’s about the awakening of the main character, a friendship loving but popularity obsessed freshman.

I see my job, as the author, to put my characters into typical teen situations and see how they get themselves out of it. What the reader will find is, sometimes they grow from those experiences and other times they don’t. I think that’s realistic. Some people take longer to change than others.

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

Paula: Kensington acquired a total of five books in the series. Drama’s on shelves, Don’t Get It Twisted comes out in December and I’m writing the third book, That’s What’s Up! now.

I have another standalone book, for older teens, that I’ve neglected for about a year. I really want to give it my attention but honestly I don’t know that I’ll have time until I’ve finished at least the fourth book in the Del Rio Bay Clique series.

Thanks so much for sharing, Paula, I wish you the best with your series. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Paula: Writing is neither the easiest or hardest profession. But it’s one of the few where without the passion for it, you’ll lose your taste for it very quickly. I’m never quite sure where the words come from, but I suspect my passion for it, my characters and this genre are part of the formula.

Author, Paula Chase has written for Girls Life, Sweet 16 and Baltimore Magazine, among others. In addition to her background in corporate communications and public relations, she founded the Committed Black Women, a youth mentoring program for 14-17 year old girls. Her Del Rio Bay Clique series helped launch Kensington Books YA line and joins a burgeoning number of YA books targeted to multi-culti suburbanite teens. Chase calls her brand of teen literature, Hip Lit, a nod to the diversity spawned by the MTV-watching, 106 & Park-ing, pop culture hungry hip hop generation. The author lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about the series and author at

Monday, April 16, 2007

So did you hear?

"Harry Potter" pre-orders break bookseller record.

Barnes & Noble Inc. on Thursday said advance orders for author J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" have topped 500,000 copies, breaking the bookseller chain's record for the most advance requests in its history.

Imagine that. 500,000 copies on advance order before the book hits shelves on July 21st. Yowzers. Think of all the pre-orders before then as well as other booksellers, including the sales of buyers who will pick it up from all this buzz alone.

Because there are readers--like myself!--who haven't read the Harry Potter series. One of these days I will. I have watched the movies. haha!

Let me know if you're a faithful Harry Potter fan. :) :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

What's Fresh with PC & Kristin Cast's Marked: A House of Night Novel

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

Hello P.C. & Kristin, thank you so much for chatting with us. (My first mom and daughter writer team interview! I'm so excited!) Could you both please tell us a little about your writing background and how you each made your first sale?

PC: I’ve been writing for as long as I've been reading, which is as long as I can remember. Actually, I wrote my 1st book in first grade (it didn’t get published). My first novel sale was the first adult book I completed, GODDESS BY MISTAKE. I sold it to a small press and it was published in 2001. My first NYC sale was to Berkley. GODDESS OF THE SEA began the Goddess Summoning Books, and was published in 2003.

KC: My writing started with my first book , THE FLOWER, which I wrote in elementary school. I was also the editor of my high school magazine. My first sale was MARKED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL, and I am so excited!

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.

PC: My writing schedule depends upon where I am in a manuscript. In the early stages (which I’m in now for my 2008 Goddess Summoning Book) I don’t usually write every day, but I’m constantly thinking about the characters and plot. I usually write the first chapter or two quickly, and then do a lot of rewriting until I get the feel for the characters. Then it’s like sloughing through ankle deep mud for about the next 250 pages until I get to a magical place in the manuscript where the thing just takes off. At that point I can’t stay away from my computer and easily put in 8 – 12 hour stretches producing 10-20 pages a day.

KC: I don’t really have a routine or a schedule. When my mom gets done writing a few chapters, she emails them to me and I rewrite and add things.

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

PC & KC: I can answer this one for Kristin and me. I have four novels coming out this year: MARKED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL (St. Martin’s, May 07), GODDESS OF LOVE (Berkley, June 07), DIVINE BY BLOOD (LUNA, Sept 07), and BETRAYED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL (St. Martin’s, Oct 07). The two HOUSE OF NIGHT novels are the wonderful paranormal YA books I’m co-authoring with Kristin. They are set in a world very much like ours, except in the House of Night world vampyres exist. Our vampyres mythos has a biological basis, but they do have paranormal abilities and they follow the Goddess of Night, Nyx. Their society is matriarchal, and doesn’t exist very comfortably beside humans. Our books follow an unusual vampyre fledgling, Zoey Redbird, as she undergoes the Change that will either turn her into an adult vampyre or kill her. Zoey has been Marked as special by Nyx – even though she’d be much happier if she could just fit in with her friends and be normal. The series is funny and slick and appropriately sexy. We’re having a great time writing it!

As for my other two books – GODDESS OF LOVE is the next book in my Goddess Summoning series. This time Venus is my heroine. And DIVINE BY BLOOD completes the fantasy trilogy that began with DIVINE BY MISTAKE and DIVINE BY CHOICE (LUNA).

Sounds fantastic! I'm thrilled to be able to read an ARC and share about MARKED on YA Fresh. What's up next for you both?

PC: Later this year I’m going to dive into a new dark paranormal series I’ve sold to Nocturne slated to come out in 2008. I’m also writing another novella for the second MYSTERIA anthology with MaryJanice Davidson, Susan Grant, and Gena Showalter. And Kristin and I will be working on the third book in THE HOUSE OF NIGHT series.

KC: Well, right now I’m doing research on selkies, so keep your eyes open for a big underwater adventure.

Great Ladies! Thank you again for chatting. I wish you the best with this cool new series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

PC: The best advice I was ever given about writing is that there’s no trick or magic pill or short cut to creating a successful book. You just have to sit your butt down and write and write and write. And then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

KC: Your biggest enemy is yourself. You have push past that voice in your head that’s telling you that your writing sucks.

P.C. Cast:

Ms. Cast is an award winning fantasy and paranormal romance author, as well as an experienced speaker and teacher. In addition to her new paranormal YA series for St. Martin’s, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT, she writes the popular Goddess Summoning Books for Berkley, and epic fantasy novels set in the world of Partholon for LUNA . Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and Laurel Wreath. Currently she lives and teaches in Oklahoma with her talented daughter who is attending college, her spoiled cat (who has refused higher education), and her Scottie dogs – better known as The Scottinators. Ms. Cast loves to hear from her fans and can be reached through her website,

Kristin Cast:

At 20-years-old, Kristin is thrilled to be coauthoring the YA series, THE HOUSE OF NIGHT, with her mother. MARKED is her first published novel. She has won awards for her poetry, as well as served as journalist for her intermediate high school newspaper, Tiger Tales, and as editor for her high school magazine, Tiger Eye. Kristin attends Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University as a biology major. She has a cat named Hank who is very ADD. Kristin would love to hear from her fans, and can also be reached through her mother’s website,

(Check out the YA Fresh review here!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Music. Make-up. Extravagance.

A music lyric contest from E. Lockhart, author of Dramarama. (Love that title!) Sounds like fun, and the prizes aren't too shabby, either! Get the full deets @ Not Your Mother's Bookclub.

"Free signed books --
And only two minutes of work:

YOU CAN WIN AN E. LOCKHART "extravabasket" of goodies OVER AT
Not Your Mother's Bookclub

It includes
signed copies of lots of books,
audio books,
diva-esque treats from Sephora,
a CD I hand-made (well, with the help of the computer)
and more.

Go over there and read the contest guidelines even if you don't want an extravabasket
(and really, how can you not want an extravabasket?)
because I got Maureen Johnson (Devilish, Girl at Sea, 13 Little Blue Envelopes)
and Maryrose Wood (Why I Let My Hair Grow Out, Sex Kittens & Horn Dawgs Fall in Love)
both fabulouso YA authors to write song lyrics about my books!

It only takes two minutes and a bit of wit to enter. You just plug your entry in the comments, or you email them to the bookclub. Deadline April 30th.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Writer Geek Chic

Every career has some geeky components and accoutrements, and I've recently found out that being a published author is no different. I mean, I'm not carrying around slide rules or all-purpose bottles of Windex (remember My Big, Fat Greek Wedding?), but for the past month, I haven't gone anywhere without my Author Signing Kit.

The kit itself started as a money pouch and was a gift from a friend. It closes with a zipper, so I know nothing will spill into the dark hole of my purse. Inside, you'll now find two kinds of stickers, "Local Author" and "Autographed Copy". I also carry a stack of TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS bookmarks, which I slip into signed books, as well as hand out to people as a business card when they ask about buying my book.

And finally, my kit includes my favorite not-cheap pen. One that always works and makes my terrible handwriting a little better.

The only thing I don't like about the kit is the snickers I sometimes get when I pull it out. But I just sort of sigh and smile. Because hey, after years of weathering rejection slips, what's a laugh or two at something that's working for me?

On this note, I'm leaving on Friday for a four-day driving trip that will include hitting as many bookstores as possible. Wish me luck they have copies of my book to sign!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Would You Add?

Sometime ago Yahoo had put together an electronic time capsule. Anyone could contribute photos, writings, videos, and even audio. I had thought I might send a photo, but never got around to it.

I went and checked the link and they closed it, and it will be opened again in March 2020. Pretty neat. They even have a count down here.

So I thought of this scenario...your high school (or current school) is putting together a time capsule and you are allowed one thing to add to the capsule that reminds you of what you were like while attending.

For me it would be a paintbrush. :) :)

Art was the thing for me in high school.

What would you add?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Nail Art

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my nails. Although I love getting manicures and pedicures, I generally stay with the classic French look because it matches everything--or--I go with shades to match the color scheme of a particular outfit.

But I’m always looking at other women’s nails, and I’m not shy in telling a stranger when hers look great. I’ve noticed that nail painting has become part of the total look--much like other accessories--often in every color in the rainbow, and adorned with stickers, decals, and even piercings.

Still, I don’t have the desire or the guts to go that far myself.

However, I will make the following statement right here and now: if Kelly or I “final” next year in the Romance Writers of America “Rita” Contest with GRAFFITI GIRL or TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS, I promise to go all nail-crazy. A pink flowery prom look to match my book. Or graffiti art (?!?) to go with the heart of Kelly’s heroine’s desire. And if we both final...uh...fingers one look, toes the other?

Let’s cross all our digits that I’m forced to live up to this promise!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What's Fresh with e.E. Charlton-Trujillo's Feels Like Home

Growing up in a dead-end South Texas town, Mickey had two things she could count on: her big brother, Danny-the football hero everyone loved-and a beat-up copy of The Outsiders. But after the accident-after Danny abandoned her to a town full of rumors and a drunken father-all Mickey had left was a smoky memory, her anger, and the resolution to get out of town for good.

But Danny is back-and he's not the golden boy who left six years ago. He's altogether a different person, and the life Mickey has worked so hard to rebuild seems to be falling apart. Danny's anger is something Mickey just can't forgive, and his best friend's mysterious death six years ago keeps coming back to haunt the edges of her mind. No matter how hard she tries, she can't remember what happened that night-and she's starting to realize that remembering is the only way she can move on. She'll have to face the brother who broke her heart, and that beat-up book that will never again feel like home.

Hello e., thanks so much for agreeing to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale PRIZEFIGHTER EN MI CASA to Delacorte?

e.: I've been a writer my whole life but never really saw it as something I could do. See, sometime around the age of four, I decided I wanted to win an Oscar for directing. A little ambitious, but it seemed more realistic than my dream of being the drummer for KISS.

So, I eventually landed in film school and soon working with famous people that seemed a million miles away from where I grew up in Mathis, Texas -- population 5,039 and three stray dogs. At the end of grad school, life threw me a curve ball and a pretty significant loss. So I ditched a solid gig with a Los Angeles director and started scribbling a book on a dare. I crashed out on couches and floors before eventually living in Belgium with my brother and his wife (the ticket was $300 round trip, go figure). I finished PRIZEFIGHTER EN MI CASA in two months. The friend who had dared me said, "People gotta read this."

I sent it out to a few publishers while writing this other book called FEELS LIKE HOME. A year from the date of finishing PRIZEFIGHTER, I won the Delacorte Dell Yearling Award for First Middle Grade Novel competition. Random House hadn't given out the award in four years! When my soon-to-be editor called, I thought she was the student loan people who had been stalking me since graduation. We still joke about that.

She asked if I had any other books and I told her about FEELS LIKE HOME. My pitch was terrible! But she read it anyway and two weeks later, I had sold that one and picked up an agent. I couldn't believe that I went from filmmaker on the rise to novelist almost overnight? But it happened and I'm still blown away by it. It's pretty swell!

Wow, what a great story, e.! 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.

e.: My day always starts with music. I tend to have three novels and a screenplay going at the same time. To keep the energy up, I build a soundtrack on my iPod for each novel. Usually, I'll have a song for each character or possibly for key scenes. As a filmmaker, I see novels cinematicaly and it seems natural to incorporate music. Once I've got a groove going, I dial down the music for a while and run with it.

Also, hit the page early. Sometimes at 5:30 in the a.m. I'm definitely a morning writer. There are times I'll crack away for 8 to 10 hours a day. When I'm done, I jet to the gym, come home and maybe watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Veronica Mars (if it's Monday then it's all about Heroes). Somewhere in there, I try to get some skate time and have dinner with pals. Writing can be a lot of work but it's well-worth the it...

Please tell us about FEELS LIKE HOME and what we can expect from your characters.

e.: FEELS LIKE HOME (Delacorte) releases April 10th...YIKES! These characters couldn't be more night and day from the world of PRIZEFIGHTER EN MI CASA. FEELS LIKE HOME is the story of seventeen year-old Michelle "Mickey" Owens and her estranged older brother, Danny. There's a lot of tension between these two because Danny ditched Mickey six years earlier after an accident tore them and their small Texas town apart. Her father has died and Danny has come home. Mickey is definitely not warm to a reconciliation. This is definitely not a feel good After School Special!

For S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS fans, you'll get an ample dose of that world in FEELS LIKE HOME. It was an important book to Mickey and Danny before the accident and is key to coming to terms with who they are now. I know it all sounds heavy but I swear it isn't a total downer. Mickey's best friend Christina is hilarious! She's a Mexican-American with intelligence and humor--I wish I could come up with some of her lines on the spot. And there's an anti-popular popular heart-throb by the name of Ricky that really blows Mickey's otherwise practical mind away.

So, if you're looking for humor, drama, coming of age, THE OUTSIDERS and a taste of growing up in's all here and more.

e., I just have to say, I'm currently reading an ARC of FEELS LIKE HOME and I'm engrossed with Mickey and Danny's relationship. I can't wait to chat about it on YA Fresh. What's up next for you? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

As I said, I've always got something going. I'm writing along with directing a feature film out of Chicago this summer. So it's a little crazy at the moment. I'm working on a novel that is a spin off character from FEELS LIKE HOME. We'll see...maybe that Oscar and a Newberry won't be too far off.

Thanks, e., it's been great chatting with you! I wish you the best with both your writing and film careers. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

e.: Be specific who you take criticism from. You know your characters and your landscape better than anyone. A lot of people will try to write the story for you. Be honest with your characters regardless of the subject matter. Know them the way you know your closest friends and you'll rock the page! All the best and thanks for the read.

"I may have grown up in small-town South Texas, making movies in stills with a dinky Kodak 110. But my career has spun me from Ohio to New York City, Belgium and the dairy state of Wisconsin.

"I studied as an actress before becoming a director/writer/producer and most recently a novelist. In filmmaking, I've worked with such talents as Douglas McGrath (Infamous, Nicholas Nickelby), Betty Thomas (John Tucker Must Die, The Brady Bunch Movie) and Lucy Walker (The Devil’s Playground). Some of my mentors have been novelist Carolyn Coman (What Jamie Saw and Many Stones), playwright Charles Smith (Pudd'nhead Wilson and Knock Me a Kiss) and screenwriter and playwright Vincent Cardinal (MTV's The State and Greenpoint). All in all, I have to say I feel pretty lucky.

"As far as writing goes, I’m just a person who loves storytelling. Bending a story and stretching it to its limits. In whatever medium it comes. Kodak 110 or ink and pen." Visit e.'s website,

(Read the YA Fresh review here.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's Fresh with Jenny O'Connell's The Book of Luke!

Hello Jenny, thanks for agreeing to chat! Please tell us about your latest novel, THE BOOK OF LUKE.

Jenny: THE BOOK OF LUKE comes out this week (April 3rd, 2007) and it's published by MTV Books. Here's a blurb:

Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to be Nice--but lately being nice hasn't done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily's senior year. Only Emily's first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her only shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What's a nice girl to do?

When Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father decides to stay behind in Chicago "to tie up loose ends," Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice. When she rejoins her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, Emily discovers she's not the only one who's been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don'ts. And when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They'll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys--an instruction guide that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston--the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email--Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

Sounds great! I know I loved PLAN B, so I'm excited to read TBOL, too. Could you share a bit about the main character of THE BOOK OF LUKE and what makes her unique?

Jenny: Emily Abbott is the daughter of an etiquette guru who writes books and syndicated newspaper columns about how to do everything right. She grew up believing that everything can be viewed in black and white, right and wrong, and has to learn the hard way that there are a lot of gray areas.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Jenny: It's a contemporary take on Moliere's comedy "The Misanthrope", a play about a man who is quick to criticize the faults of others, but who remains blind to his own.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Jenny: I just hope they find some parts funny, some parts true to life, and ultimately, when they get to the end, I'd like them to feel like it was worth the time they took to read it.

I'm sure they'll feel each of those and more, Jenny. Thanks so much for sharing. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Jenny: I absolutely love WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW by Sonya Sones. The entire story is told in free verse poems and it's amazing. It's one of my favorite teen books.

Jenny O'Connell is the author of PLAN B and THE BOOK OF LUKE. Her days as a high school senior may be long behind her, but Jenny did receive her B.A. from Smith College and her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. She has also written six books for adults under her grown-up name, Jennifer O'Connell. Visit her website,

(Read the YA Fresh review here!)

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Yum Experience...

I mentioned before that I was slowly making my way through the Gilmore Girls DVDs, and I am now officially on Season 2. In Season 2, Lorelai is engaged and her best friend Sookie is throwing her a surprise wedding shower, and Lorelai walks in on all these beautiful heart-shaped cookies and cakes, and everything is pink and white and...yummy.

You're probably wondering, where is she going with this?

Where I'm going with this is straight to desserts. Yep, yummy desserts. Because the only yummy dessert I had in the house after looking at all the delicious desserts on Gilmore Girls were brownies! So I set out to make brownies.

Then I wondered, what are my favorite desserts? It used to be milkshakes. When I was younger, having the tallest, coldest, chocolate milkshake with whipped cream was the ultimate dessert experience. And now as a mature adult--hehe--it's cheesecake. Yum, cheesecake, but I'll travel far for a really good muffin. crumb...whatever gives that yummy goodness. And really, muffins can also be breakfast, a snack, or a dessert, right?

As I write this and stuff my face with a rich dark brownie, please dish--haha!--what's your favorite dessert? :) :)