Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's Fresh with Kelly McClymer's Competition's a Witch

Prudence Stewart is finally starting to get her witch on. It's been a month since her parents decided to give their magic-deficient daughter a crash course in enchantment by enrolling her in Agatha's Day School for Witches. And sure, Pru's still stuck in Magic for Dummies -- but at least she made the cheerleading squad.

Now Prudence has a bigger problem...she walks, talks, and cheers like a mortal. And she's deathly afraid the other witches will catch on. So she vows to give up her old earthly ways: no cell phone, no car, and above all, no dating mortal boys.

There's just one hitch to the sitch: Angelo, the megacute mortal-next-door. When he and Prudence meet, sparks fly -- no magic necessary. And breaking Angelo's spell turns out to be the hardest trick of all.

Hello Kelly! (I just love your name. *big grin*) Thanks for joining us at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Kelly M.: Well, you'd think that would be a simple question, right? Not for me. My very first sale was a short story called "Napping on Jungle Time" and featured a mother overly tired from nursing her daughter through a bad bout of flu and the resultant semi-awake dream that starred Tarzan. It was published by a small press magazine no longer in print called Housewife-Writer Forum, and I made the sale because I wouldn't give up on that story and submitted it *everywhere* until I found someone to publish it.

My first novel sale was for a historical romance THE FAIRY TALE BRIDE for Kensington. I'd written the first book as a stand alone, but my agent at the time jumped on the opportunity to pitch it as a series for a new line that was starting up, and I ended up furiously writing six synopses in two days. She sold three of those books initially, and I went on to publish all seven of the books in that series.

My first YA sale was THE SALEM WITCH TRYOUTS to Simon Pulse. I wrote the entire book before sending it to an agent who handled YA (my previous agent was not interested in YA fiction). I felt sure I had a catchy idea, but you never know until you get the bite, so I was nervous. After several rejections, I clicked with a new agent, and she submitted the book several places, got two publishers interested and...I ended up with Michelle Nagler at Simon Pulse for my lovely and talented editor for four YA books: GETTING TO THIRD DATE; and the Salem witch trilogy, of which COMPETITION'S A WITCH is the second installment.

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.

Kelly M.: Ever since I was a child, I balked at a routine. This has made writing difficult, to say the least :-) There have been times when I tied myself to a chair with my bathrobe belt to finish a book by deadline. I believe in creativity 'jumpers' to get me past the fear that *this time* I won't be able to write the book I want to write (I'm kind of hard on myself :-) There have been times when I wrote fifty pages in one setting because everything was clicking.

Whenever I find myself procrastinating too badly, I pick up a writing book and start reading. Pretty soon, the itch to apply the advice hits, and I start writing again. My last purchase of a writing book was WRITING OPEN THE MIND (I was visiting Half Moon Bay, California, on impulse--which has three bookstores!--and saw it sitting there; despite a bulging suitcase, i couldn't resist).

Hey Kelly, our procrastinating routines are a little similar! :) Please tell us about your latest novel COMPETITION'S A WITCH and what we can expect from your characters.

Kelly M.: COMPETITION'S A WITCH, just out in April, is the next installment of my Salem witch series. Pru Stewart may have made the cheerleading team, but she's still stuck in remedial classes and determined to study her way into regular magic classes, no matter how opposed to the idea her headmistress, Agatha, is. She thinks she knows the solution: ditch every mortal habit she's learned in sixteen years of living among mortals. The only glitch is the cute -- mortal -- boy who lives next door.

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

Kelly: The final book in the trilogy, SHE'S A WITCH GIRL, comes out in August. Pru learns what being a witch really means -- and has to decide if that's what she really wants.

Currently, I'm finishing up MUST LOVE BLACK, a gothic look at a semi-goth girl who takes a job as a nanny at a Maine spa-psychic retreat and finds her worldview challenged from the most unlikely sources.

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

Kelly M.: Oh, yes. Like I said, I try lots of things to jumpstart myself past the fear of success/failure and get into the deeply creative mode. WRITING OPEN THE MIND has the most fantastic exercises. One of these I'm using to finish up MUST LOVE BLACK: Tarot cards. I shuffle the deck, deal out one card. That tells me what the scene focus is. Then I deal out five more cards and use them to tell the scene in vivid detail. You don't need to understand Tarot card meanings (I don't), you just need to look at the pictures and the card title. I've gotten the most amazing insights from doing this, and it really is helping me get past the difficult days of writing this book, which is not coming easily for some reason.

So. The tip isn't really to try Tarot cards, but to try *something* that will reach down into the subconcious and get past all the procrastination and delay tactics to make you excited about your writing every time you sit down to write.

Kelly McClymer has very much enjoyed rediscovering her inner sixteen-year old. She hopes never to lose touch again. Visit her website,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Street Dealin'

Allison van Diepen's Street Pharm (Simon Pulse, July 2006) takes readers into a teen hustler's New York lifestyle as if the author lived through the experience herself. I hear she's a teacher who is often mistaken for a student but by this street tale, you'd never have guessed it.

Ty Johnson has inherited his father's drug dealing business at sixteen. He's street smart, cautious, and knows the business. He follows his personal life rules that keep him in line and on top of his game.

Allison breaks the surface and let's us inside a boy who suddenly has to fight not only for his business but his survival. Ty isn't just any street dealer out for making the money. He has a moral code he struggles with daily and the reader learns of a hidden side to Ty as he starts to care for a girl who has gotten through his tough exterior. Ty soon discovers what happens when the King of the Streets starts to fall...

Street Pharm is real, vivid, and intensely honest. A dramatic look into the all too real world of drug dealing and the dangerous repercussions behind it. A highly recommended read. :)

Check out Allison van Diepen's YA Fresh interview here!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good Day at the Bookstore!

My friend, author Janie Emaus, and I met for lunch earlier this week, then popped into the nearby bookstore to check out a book or two...

Namely, our own Kelly Parra’s GRAFFITI GIRL, which we easily found in the faced-out position--and five copies, no less. Here I am, standing by her baby!

On the other aisle, also prominently turned out was my book, TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS. Here’s Janie as a display model.

So three cheers for the chain bookstores, who are doing a great job of getting our books into the stores, and to all the booksellers out there who are gracious enough to feature them!

Kelly and I hope you all find some time to relax with a good book over this Memorial Day Weekend, and have a safe and fun holiday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Island Fun

I haven't blogged about a movie for a while on YA Fresh, so let me tell you about another cute flick with a fun actress...

Amanda Bynes in Lovewrecked! (Bynes just cracks me up.)

Bynes plays Jenny Taylor who is up to her crazy schemes as a crazed fan of a popular singer named Jason Masters, who she also revivals attention for against her nemesis, Alexis. Jenny just so happens to be working as a lifeguard at a exotic island resort with her best friend, Ryan, who has a mad crush on her (but doesn't have the courage to tell her), when Jason comes for a two-day stay at the resort. While Jenny tries her best to get near Jason on a pirate ship cruise, Jason falls overboard during a storm and Jenny goes after him. Where they end up--you guessed it--stranded on a deserted island...or so they think...

Lovewrecked has plenty laughs to keep you entertained. Check it out if you're looking for a sweet romance that is light and fun. :) :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's Fresh with Antonio Pagliarulo's The Celebutantes: On The Avenue

The Hamilton Triplets--Madison, Park, and Lexington--are accustomed to living in the public eye. Heiresses to a billion-dollar media empire, they have been raised in New York's most elite social circles and, at 16, know firsthand the demands of being celebutantes. There are people to impress, appearances to make, and paparazzi to outrun. Not to mention high school to finish.

But when fashion editor Zahara Bell is found dead in a one-of-a-kind frock from Lex's unreleased clothing line, and then the priceless Avenue Diamond goes missing, getting to class is as far from the triplets' minds as their first pair of Manolos. One of the girls is a suspect, and the sisters find themselves in the middle of a scandal that could sink their reputations and their father's companies for good. And the press is ready, willing, and able to lend a hand.

The Hamilton sisters need to stick closer than ever before. The killer is still out there, and if they don't solve the case their threesome could become a twosome quicker than you can say Cartier.

Hey Antonio, thanks for chatting with us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Antonio: My road to publishing isn't exactly a short story, but it is an interesting one. Like most writers, I started writing at a very young age. I began publishing stories and articles and poetry while in high school. Then, in my senior year, I wrote a book. Being seventeen and fearless, I queried a top New York literary agent and, much to my surprise, she and her associate took me under their wing and taught me about the writing biz -- that is, what it means to be a professional writer. My first sale was actually a nonfiction book, which I loved writing. A few years later, I made the jump into the YA market with my first novel, A DIFFERENT KIND OF HEAT (Random House, 2006). It's been a lovely ride thus far. I guess you could say that my road to publication has been a combination of passion, perseverance, and having the good fortune to work with quite a few great people.

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.

Antonio: All in all, I follow a pretty rigid routine. I'm at my computer early in the morning, loading up on caffiene and story lines. I write for a couple of hours, then check and respond to emails. I also fire off a few of my own. I tend to bother my agents and editor a lot (they're very kind and pretend not to be annoyed by me), and then it's back to work. I break early in the afternoon for lunch, turn on CNN to see what's happening in the world, and then hit my desk again. There are certain periods when I have to work on more than one project at a time; this makes for very long hours, ample amounts of caffeine, and a fan to get rid of the smoke that shoots out of my ears. If I'm not writing two different books, I might be working on one book and going over edits from the last one. It's busy. Writing is hard work, but it's also loads of fun.

I agree! Please tell us about your latest novel THE CELEBUTANTES: ON THE AVENUE and what we can expect from your characters.

Antonio: THE CELEBUTANTES: ON THE AVENUE (Random House) hits stores on May 22, 2007. It is the first book of new series, and it introduces the Hamilton triplets: Madison, Park, and Lexington. They're celebutantes; they're worldly and wealthy and incredibly fashionable, but they're also smart and ambitious and incredibly funny. What's more, they have a knack for solving crimes. In THE CELEBUTANTES: ON THE AVENUE, Madison, Park, and Lex investigate the murder of a high-powered fashion editor all while juggling fame, high school, and very busy private lives. The CELEBUTANTES series is a strong mix of everything readers want in a book: romance, suspense, humor, action, and flesh-and-blood characters. As Madison, Park, and Lexington Hamilton like to say: Fashion and forensics go hand-in-hand. The second book in the series, THE CELEBUTANTES: IN THE CLUB, will be published in early 2008, followed by THE CELEBUTANTES: TO THE PENTHOUSE, also in 2008. Readers can visit the website at:

Great Antonio, I'm excited about your new series. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Antonio: In addition to THE CELEBUTANTES series, I am working on a stand-alone thriller for young adults entitled THE NIGHT OF IAGO. It's the story of a brilliant young woman who gains entrance to her high school's elite literary society, only to discover that the society is linked to a brutal murder. Set against the backdrop of Shakespeare's Othello, THE NIGHT OF IAGO examines several pertinent issues -- friendship, betrayal, elitism, the psychology of criminal behavior among young adults. It's a complex story, but a very compelling story just the same. NIGHT OF IAGO will hit stores in early 2009. I am also working on my first thriller for adults.

Wow, Antonio, you're my latest author hero! LOL. Thanks so much for sharing with us and I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Antonio: I always give the same writing tip: If you want to be a good writer, become a good reader. Read as much as possible. Study how your favorite writers write; listen for the voice, the rhythm of the narrative, and study how they delineate characters and build tension and juggle multiple plot lines. Reading should, of course, be enjoyable. But for a writer, reading should also be educational. So READ -- and read a lot!!

Antonio Pagliarulo is the author of The Celebutantes: On the Avenue (Random House, 2007) and A Different Kind of Heat (Random House, 2006), which was an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and a 2007 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. He lives in New York City.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Dark, Edgy Modern Faerie Tale...

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Simon & Schuster, 2003) by Holly Black, the first book in her Modern Faerie Tale series, is a dark and edgy YA fantasy.

The heroine Kaye is unique in her survival abilities and living an unsteady lifestyle with her mother who is a musician. But when an attack is made on her mother's life, they return to Kaye's grandmother's home where she spent time growing up with her "imaginary" friends.

As Kaye tries to hang out with her old best friend, she starts to experience strange occurrences, and discovers her imaginary friends are not as fictitious as she thought.

One night she helps save someone's life...a faerie knight...and that is when Kaye's life begins to ultimately change forever. Her past is not what she had believed and she is not who she always believed.

Though the story is not too graphic, it has all the dark elements of a faerie fantasy with the Seelie and Unseelie court, and the gritty struggle between kingdoms that seem to have no boundries. This story keeps you enthralled with the unique world-building and romantic fantasy. I recommend this book for the older YA reader.

Tithe is a enthralling, dark fantasy to keep you up well into the night. :)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fresh Friday

Wow, did you read all the great hobby posts for the contest this week? I am impressed, People! Thank you, thank you for sharing your great high school activities and hobbies with us. It was a blast to read all of them.

And a big thanks for taking part in Graffiti Girl Week at YA Fresh! Next week, we're back to our regularly chitchat about books, authors, and fresh fun. :)

So it was a really tough choice...but we had to pick one. The winner of an autographed copy of Graffiti Girl and little bitty promotional items.... (drumroll....)

"My first love was fostering kittens for the local Humane Society. I couldn't get enough! I'd bottle feed babies and then take them to adopt-a-thons and match them up with the right home."


Thanks Jessica, please send me an email with your mailing address and I'll get that out to you.

Thanks again and have a great weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On Shelves

While the "What's Your Hobby?" contest is still going on until Friday, I thought I'd share the first sighting of Graffiti Girl on the shelf.

See? With the big blue autographed sticker on the front? :) :)

autographed books on shelf

All I can say is that it brings an instant smile to my face to see my book on the shelf. I've been slowly getting positive feedback from readers, and it becomes a little more real to me each day.

I'm also excited about my first book signing this weekend. This is the display they have for me--so awesome and nice of them!

borders display #1

I met the managers this past weekend and they were very easy to get along with and friendly, so I know I'll have a good experience even if I'll be really, really nervous! :) :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Graffiti Girl Giveaway: What's your hobby?

Like my character Angel in Graffiti Girl, I was a teen artist in high school. I even had friends who were into graffiti art. I had tried my hand at the graffiti style on paper designs, but I pretty much flunked as a graffiti artist in training. :)

But if there was an art class, I took it.

In art class, you are able to experiment with a variety of mediums. I remember learning so much. I designed artworks with acrylics, watercolors, charcoal, linoleum blocks, scratchboard and collages. We created still lifes, ceramics, and even paper mache masks.

I loved it. :) In a way, all my years of experimenting with art shaped me into who I am today.

For my giveaway, I'd love to hear your high school interests or hobbies. What is or was the activity for you in high school? Sports? Clubs? Music? Drama? Skating? Just hanging out with your friends?

Please leave me an answer in the comments and I'll pick a winner on Friday to win an autographed copy of Graffiti Girl and some promotional items! :) :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's Fresh with Kelly Parra's Graffiti Girl

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos -- a senior track star and Angel's secret crush -- taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin -- from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte -- opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

* * * * *

As you know, today is the official release of GRAFFITI GIRL, and to celebrate, I am interviewing Kelly!

Tina: Hello, Kelly, could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold your young adult novel GRAFFITI GIRL to MTV Books?

Kelly: If I could have seen my future about ten years ago, I would have been shocked to see that I would be a writer. Most of my life had been about art and graphic design. But about six years ago, I became an avid reader of fiction. Two years later, I read a bio about a local author who made a living at writing books, and that day I sat down to begin my first book. I started out writing Romantic Suspense, which I did sell. Unfortunately the line closed before that book could be published. A few months after my first sale, I sold GRAFFITI GIRL to MTV Pocket Books--and now I'm excited to be going in a new direction in my writing career.

Tina: Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

Kelly: My typical day is to get up and ready my kids for school and out the door. Then when I return home, I refuel, check email and my numerous blogs, and that takes at least an hour. I can then settle into where I left off with my current book. I usually read the prior chapter to get back into the tone and scene, and that goes on with breaks until it's time to pick up the kids. Not a very eccentric lifestyle, I know!

Tina: Please tell us about your novel, GRAFFITI GIRL,published by MTV Books (May 15, 2007) and what we can expect from your characters.

Kelly: GRAFFITI GIRL is about a high school Mexican-American artist named Angel. She is drawn into the underground world of graffiti art, feeling this is the only method her artwork will be accepted and still allow her to stay true to her cultural identity. It's a story of finding where you belong and believing in your talent enough to be different. I'm hoping it will connect with teens in different ways, and that they will ultimately feel GRAFFITI GIRL is an entertaining read!

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

Kelly: I just sold my second young adult novel to MTV Books about a girl who anonymously blogs about her ability to see psychic images or signs on her fellow students and attempts to piece together the clues in order to help save them from unfortunate fates. I'm excited about finishing the book and playing with the paranormal element, which is a new aspect for me in my writing.

Tina: Sounds great! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Kelly: Of course! Even while I was struggling to finish my first book, and trying get an agent, then getting rejection after rejection from editors, there was this voice inside that kept saying, "Don't give up." So that's what I like to say to writers who know how hard it is to finish that first or second book. The ones who feel discouraged after receiving a rejection from an agent, editor, or even a contest. Don't give up. If you work hard enough, keep working on your craft, and keep going, your break could be just around the corner. Thanks for chatting with me, Tina!

Kelly Parra writes young adult fiction for MTV Books. When not at work on her current novel, she spends her free time roaming bookstores, surfing the blogosphere, and watching reality TV. GRAFFITI GIRL is her debut novel. For an excerpt visit,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Graffiti Girl Week At YA Fresh!

Today is May 14th, and tomorrow is the official release date for Graffiti Girl...


Graffiti Girl has actually been hitting B&N stores in different parts of the US. Here I was prepping for my big release day when GG has been trickling in at different locations. haha!

Tina was kind enough to join me in celebrating the release of Graffiti Girl this week and having a Graffiti Girl week at YA Fresh!

This week we'll have an interview with Tina and me, some fresh GG talk, and a contest for a chance to win a free copy of Graffiti Girl along with some little GG promo items like buttons, bookmarks, and stickers oh my. So stay tuned for some fresh fun!

I'll start off the week with a little character run down...
Angel is a teen artist. A little rough around the edges and really doesn't know her self-worth. She believes she can find it through her art. Even though she struggles with what is right or wrong, she has a good heart. She finds herself torn between two with a beautiful eye for detail, another who uses the streets as his canvas.

Miguel is the leader of a small town graffiti crew. He basically does what he wants to get what he wants. Right now he wants Angel in his crew. He's a bad boy and doesn't care what anyone thinks. He's also got a hidden feud with Track star and artist, Nathan...

Nathan creates art with classic beauty, and he wants to show Angel a different track with her work. But is it because he really is her friend or that he just doesn't like Miguel? And will Angel see past the differences in their lifestyles in order to find out?

Stay tuned for more sharing this week! :)

Friday, May 11, 2007

RWA’s Readers for Life

At the Romance Writers of America national conferences, they hold a “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing session, where over 400 authors sign books donated by the publishers, with the proceeds of sales going to literary charities.

The Lit Signing, as it is often called, is one of my favorite events. In fact, several years ago, I volunteered as a runner, and ended up with the dream job of badge checker at the Author Only Door. I got to hob-nob with every author who entered, put faces to names, exchange a few words. I was in Heaven!

At one point, three authors arrived together. Two had their badges prominently displayed, but at my angle, I could not see a badge on the third. So I said, “Excuse me” to her to get her to turn my way. She did and met my eye. Looking very much as she does here:

I sort of gasped, and backed away to let them all in. Can anyone tell me who that third author was? Does saying her books have spent a combined 116 weeks at the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list help? (And Kelly--no fair you jumping in!) And how funny is it that of all people, she was the one I questioned entering the Author Only Door!

Anyway, I am thrilled to add that this July 11th I am going to be one of those authors who gets to enter the Author Only Door, and sign for the literacy cause. If any of you attend the event, please come by my table and say hello!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Feels Like Home

There are days when you are in the mood for something different. Something you can read that will make you sit back and think.

After reading Feels Like Home (Delacorte Press, April 2007) by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, that's just what I did.

E. writes with a vivid imagery, and she creates characters that are unique and dealing with strong emotional dilemmas.

Feels Like Home opens at the funeral of Mickey's father, a girl holding it together the best she can. Then her brother Danny shows up after leaving six years before, and she's faced with all these feelings of dealing with her father's death, the abandonment of her brother, and the past she's not ready to face.

She doesn't know where her brother has been, only that he's trying to make things right between them again, but is Mickey ready to accept that? One strong connection Danny keeps returning to is an old copy of S.E Hinton's The Outsiders.

The problem is while Danny is trying to remember their relationship, Mickey is trying to forget.

Feels Like Home is a page-turning story of family, of living in the past, and the journey they face in order to move forward. A strong emotional and recommended read!

(Check out e.E. Charlton-Trujillo's YA Fresh interview here.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What's Fresh with Alyson Noël's Kiss & Blog

What’s the best revenge when your best friend ditches you for the popular crowd? Alyson Noël reveals all in her hot new young adult novel.

As freshmen at Ocean High last year, Winter and her best friend Sloane thought they could ditch their nerdy past, launching from invisible to cool. But after another miserable year of standing on the sidelines they make a pact to do whatever it takes not to go unnoticed in their sophomore year, promising each other that whoever makes it into the cool group first will bring the other along.

One Sloane gets a taste of life on the A-list, she slams that door in Winter’s face. Suddenly cast out of her former best friend’s life, Winter takes revenge the modern way: by announcing all of Sloane’s dirty little secrets on an anonymous blog. Then the blog becomes more popular than she ever dreamed and Winter must decide if her retaliation is really worth the consequences—and if the price for popularity is one she’s willing to pay. Once again, Alyson Noël navigates the tricky waters of the high school social scene with the heart and humor her readers have come to love.

Hello Alyson, thanks for agreeting to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale to St. Martin's Press?

Alyson: Well, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until I was working as a flight attendant in NYC, dealing with the post 9/11 pay cuts, that I finally made the decision to sit down and write a book. The moment I finished the manuscript I sent it out to a long list of publishers, crossed my fingers, and waited for the offers to come pouring in! Seriously, that’s how green and naïve I was! When I received a steady stream of very encouraging rejection letters instead, I enrolled in some online writing courses, and worked on the revision. Through one of those classes, I met a writer who led me to my then agent. And after yet another revision, it ended up selling to St. Martin’s Press. My debut novel, Faking 19, was the first book I ever wrote, but it went through several story incarnations before it finally 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.

Alyson: Okay, but I’m warning you it’s not pretty! It involves a full day of sweat pants, way too many cups of coffee, a delayed shower, and a lot of Internet scrolling I like to refer to as “research.” But once I do get going, and really get into the zone of the story, I can write for hours, only stopping when my fingers are gnarled and cramped, or my favorite TV shows come on. I love that feeling of getting lost in my character’s lives--so much that I only take the shortest of breaks between books.

Hey, sweat pants and lots of Internet? That's sounds too familiar. haha! Please tell us about your latest novel Kiss & Blog and what we can expect from your characters.

Alyson: Kiss & Blog is coming out in May and it’s published by St. Martin’s Press. It’s about two best friends, Winter and Sloane, who are sick of being unpopular they make a pact to do whatever it takes to get in with the cool group, promising that whoever makes it in first, will bring the other along. But when Sloane gets a taste of life on the A-list, she leaves Winter behind, so Winter gets revenge by revealing all of Sloane’s dirty little secrets in an anonymous blog. . . which ends up being not so anonymous after all. . .

A story of friendship and betrayal. Sounds like my kind of read! What's up next, Alyson? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Alyson: Saving Zoë is coming out in September 2007, and it’s the story of Echo, a typical teen trying to survive the dramas of high school while dealing with the aftermath of the brutal murder of her older sister Zoë. When Echo gets hold of Zoë’s diary, she doubts there’s anything in it she doesn’t already know. But once she starts reading, she learns that her sister led a secret life no one could have guessed. . .

Wow, looking forward to both books. Thanks again for sharing, Alyson. I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Alyson: I think it’s important to allow yourself to just write, to create freely and without judgment, because no one writes a pretty first draft! So instead of trying to be Pulitzer perfect, just fill up the page without any boundaries or negative self-talk, since you’re just going to go back and revise it a gazillion times anyway, so you might as well let it all out, and see where it leads.

Alyson Noël is the author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, and the upcoming Kiss & Blog, and Saving Zoë. An OC native, she’s lived in Mykonos and Manhattan, only to return to Laguna Beach where she lives and writes full time. Visit her website,

Monday, May 07, 2007

Crush City

(My mind is cluttered and I'm afraid it will be for the next 2 weeks with the release of Graffiti Girl. *tha-thump-tha-thump* Yes, that's my heartbeat. haha.)

I thought I'd chat a little about my celebrity crushes as a young girl.

There was Kirk Cameron. Oh, Growing Pains was one of my fave shows!

There was Tom Cruise--The Top Gun Tom.

Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street.

Okay, who am I kidding? Johnny Depp will always be a crush for me.

So do tell--who is or was your young crush??

Friday, May 04, 2007


Back in school, I think I liked my yearbooks as much as the next person. I opened them eagerly, spent a few days studying every page and getting friends' signatures--then basically put them on the shelf.

But the summer I was 16, I fell madly in love with a yearbook. We were visiting some family friends, and their oldest daughter had just graduated from high school. She seemed mildly amused when I started picking her yearbook up, and asking questions about who-was-going-out-with-who, was-this-girl-as-nice-as-she-looked, etc. But as days passed, I know my extreme interest both perplexed and annoyed her.

I didn't understand it, either. Just that those pictures made stories explode in my head, and they filled me in a way my day-to-day conversations didn't. Those yearbook people were all strangers to me, and therefore, clean slates for my random creations of backstories, plot lines and romances. Completely unlike my own yearbooks, which were filled with people I knew. No room for fantasy there.

It wasn't until years later that I looked back on that infatuation for what it was, part of my writer's journey.

For a laugh, here's my graduation picture--bad hair, squinty eye and all:

Wonder if anyone ever looked at it and found the inspiration to create an alternate persona for me? Nah...but hey, I can always dream up someone dreaming me up!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled YA Blogging For A Good Newz Announcement...

Sometimes the cosmos align at the same time for Tina and me. We are proud to announce our latest Young Adult novel sales:

May 3rd - Children's: Young Adult

How to Hook a Hottie author Tina Ferraro's THE ABCs OF KISSING, again to Krista Marino at Random House, by Nadia Cornier at Firebrand Literary.

April 30th - Children's: Young Adult

Graffiti Girl author Kelly Parra's SIGNS, in which a seventeen-year-old Latina anonymously blogs about her ability to see psychic images or signs on her fellow students and attempts to piece together the sign clues in order to help save them from unfortunate fates, again to Jen Heddle at Pocket, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency.

Thanks for letting us share. It's been an exciting week! :) :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's Fresh with Rosemary Clement-Moore's Prom Dates From Hell

Maggie Quinn, Girl reporter. Honors student, newspaper staffer, yearbook photographer. Six weeks from graduation and all she wants to do is get out of Avalon High in one piece. Fate seems to have different plans for her.

High school may be a natural breeding ground for evil, but the scent of fire and brimstone is still a little out of the ordinary. It's the distinct smell of sulfur that makes Maggie suspect that something's a bit off. And when realTwilight Zone stuff starts happening to the school's ruling clique—the athletic elite and the head cheerleader and her minions, all of whom happen to be named Jessica—Maggie realizes it's up to her to get in touch with her inner Nancy Drew and ferret out who unleashed the ancient evil before all hell breaks loose.

Maggie has always suspected that prom is the work of the devil, but it looks like her attendance will be mandatory. Sometimes a girl's got to do some pretty undesirable things if she wants to save her town from soul-crushing demons from hell and the cheerleading squad.

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

Rosemary: I’ve always made up stories--sometimes written down, sometimes acted out. I worked of a tiny little theatre in a tiny little town, and taught classes and wrote plays. It gave me an ear for dialogue, and since I was writing plays that my teen students would enjoy performing, and their parents would find funny, too, it made YA a natural fit for my voice.

When I started writing Prom Dates From Hell, I was at a crossroads. I’d quit my job two years before in order to take care of my ailing father, and after he died, I had to decide what to do next. It was either: (a) go back to school, (b) get a job (gulp!), or (c) stop talking about writing a book and actually write one. I didn’t have money for school, and was terrified of looking for a “real” job in a new (very big!) city, so I gave myself the summer to write a book. I did nothing but write, and on Labor Day I sent out my first query letter, to my soon to be agent and about four others. Within six weeks, Lucienne had accepted me, and by the first week in November we’d sold Prom Dates From Hell (and a sequel) to Delacorte Press. I’m so glad I decided not to turn in that Starbucks application!

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.

I write most of my new pages at night; 10 PM to 2 AM are prime writing hours. The house is asleep, everything is closed, no one is going to call. I get twice as much written in those four hours than the whole rest of the day.

Unfortunately, right now I have a new puppy, who, no matter when I last let her out at night, has to get up to pee at 6:05 AM. Plus, our house is on the market, and it’s embarrassing being in your PJs at 10 AM and having a realtor show up at your door. (I’ve answered the door for the UPS man more than once in my bathrobe, but if I’m in my PJs, you can bet the beds are unmade and the dishes undone.)

So usually I do my non-writing tasks in the morning: read blogs, answer e-mail, do any household errands. In the afternoon I either do research, edit, or write new pages, depending on where I am in the book. I take a break mid-afternoon, sometimes to take the puppy for a walk, sometimes for a nap (see above re: 6:05 AM). Mostly I play Guitar Hero. Usually I’ll go back to work (unless I’m really kicking it on GH) until dinner, then it’s TV time until I put my butt back in the chair at 10.

Please tell us about Prom Dates From Hell and what we can expect from your characters.

Rosemary: Prom Dates From Hell (Delacorte Press, March 07) is the first in a series of Young Adult Supernatural Mysteries. Maggie Quinn is the smart, sarcastic girl detective who has to figure out who, or what, is behind the eerie ‘accidents’ befalling the school’s elite. She’s also slightly psychic, something she won’t even admit to herself, and since she can’t stand the victims--which include half the cheerleading squad, all of them named Jessica--it would be easy to just ignore the things only she can see. But she can’t, so she teams up with her best friend, D&D Lisa (ex-Goth and presumptive valedictorian), and a rather hunky college student with a mysterious interest in the supernatural. Maggie is more smart-ass than ass-kicker, but she gets her girl detective game on to tackle demons, hellhounds… and the cheerleading squad.

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

Rosemary: The next book in the series, Hell Week, will be coming out in early spring 2008. Maggie is a freshman in college, and when she goes through Sorority Rush in order to write a newspaper story, she discovers a Sorority that is supernaturally successful, both in college and in their careers. Social networking, or Faustian bargain with the devil? Maggie goes undercover to find out, even if it means learning how to flat iron her hair.

I’m currently at work on the third “Hell Book,” but it’s at the super secret stage. (In other words, I still don’t know how it ends.)

Thanks again for sharing with us, Rosemary. I wish you the best with your new series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Rosemary: Read everything: all types of books, even things that you wouldn’t ordinarily chose to read. When you’re developing your narrative voice, what you don’t like can be as important as what you do. Experiment with different genres, styles and voices and see what seems natural to you. Then put your butt in the chair and write. Keep writing until it’s not crappy any more. And never think you’re wasting your time. Every word you put onto paper (or into phosphor) is one closer to being published.

And if at all possible, have fun! It will show in your writing. :)

Rosemary Clement-Moore has been writing stories her whole life, even when she should have been doing other things, like algebra homework. Despite this inauspicious beginning, she managed to acquire a master’s degree in communication, along with an eclectic resume. Now she writes full time, which allows her to research weird subjects and work in her pajamas. She lives in Texas with her husband and too many pets, none of whom really understand why the best writing hours are between ten and night and two in the morning—but let her sleep late anyway. Visit her website,

(Check out the YA Fresh review for Prom Dates From Hell, too!)