Friday, August 31, 2007

Postcard from Arizona

Sometimes good things happen...and you just have to go with them, celebrate them, and tell yourself you deserve them.

On that note, allow me to post the postcard that New York Times Bestseller (giant and genius, author of Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) Stephenie Meyer handed out at her mega-book signing on September 18th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona.

(You might be able to enlarge it by clicking on it; otherwise, zero in on the pink book cover in the center.) And yes--your eyes do not deceive you. Among the books that Stephenie Meyer recommends for her readers is mine, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress.

OMIGOD, huh???

I do not know Stephenie, and until about three weeks ago, had no idea she'd even heard of my book. But the Children's Bookseller of the store, Faith Hochhalter, contacted me to say she was a fan of my book (in fact, has been hand selling it to customers, and listing it as one of their store's favorite summer teen reads) and had passed it along to Stephenie. Together, they made up the recommendation postcard.

Faith was also kind enough to invite me to lunch with her and debut author, Robin Brande (Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, out now from Knopf) while I was in Arizona last weekend. I felt instant chemistry with them both, and there were lots of laughs.

And you can imagine my out-of-body experience as the two of them discussed my book's attributes? I wasn't just Author Tina, but all the Tina's of my lifetime, who had dreamed the dreams, set the goals, and persevered through the rejections, and finally sold the little book she hoped some people might like...

Back in the bookstore, I checked out a perfectly pink top shelf Faith had arranged. I am also an interviewed First Author in the 2008 Childrens Writers & Illustrators Market, which appears just slightly to the right of that shelf. Any wonder I had to be a geek and take a picture?

And now I'm home and reading--and loving--Robin's Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, so next lunch between the three of us (which I hope is soon), it's going to be Faith and me expounding on the captivating and memorable aspects of Robin's book. Oh, and safe to say there'll be a compliment or two about Stephenie Meyer, and her books, as well!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Party!

Hey YA Fresh Readers, there's a blog party going on that you don't want to miss!

Check out our friend, Sara Hantz's blog, where she's celebrating a round of guest blogs from other YA authors--including Tina Ferraro and my myself!-- with some cool giveaways for the release of Sara's novel, The Second Virginity of Suzie Green.

The party is going on from August 30th - September 7th @

Check out the party and share in the fun!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What's Fresh with Caridad Ferrer's It's Not About The Accent

Hello Caridad, good to have you back to chat. Please tell us about your latest novel, It's Not About The Accent.

Caridad: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT, from MTV Books and was just released on August 21, 2007.


Sporting a new name and an exotic new Latina flair, she's ready for her college debut. But is the luscious Carolina really better than plain-Jane Caroline?

Sick and tired of her life in small town Ohio—completely boring with a side of dull—college-bound Caroline Darcy is determined to start fresh . . . as a new person. And that means following in the footsteps of her late Nana Ellie—her witty and vibrant Cuban great-grandmother with the glamorous, well-traveled past. Donning a seriously caliente new wardrobe and a vivacious personality to match, she becomes Carolina, a half-Cuban aspiring actress, ready for adventure.

Once at school, everything goes according to plan. Putting her primo acting skills to use, she flirts up Erik, a smooth-talking frat guy with gorgeous baby blues who can't get enough of her "exotic" charm. The only guy who doesn't seem impressed by her Latina façade is Peter, a quiet, sweet Cuban guy from Miami. But when "Carolina" gets in over her head and finds herself in a dangerous situation, it's Peter who comes to her rescue—and leads her on a real adventure to discover the truth about Nana Ellie and her family. It turns out that being boring old Caroline is way more exciting than she ever could have imagined….

Sounds awesome! Could you share a bit about the main character of your book and what makes her unique?

Caridad: Well, the main character is Caroline Darcy and part of what makes her so unique, at least the way I see it, is what she perceives as her ordinariness. She feels that she has to completely transform herself in order to stand out and for her, the best way to do that is to take on the persona of the one person in her world she saw as unique and different. A good deal of her journey lies in discovering her own gifts and uniqueness.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Caridad: I needed to come up with a concept for a second novel and I’ve always been fascinated by how in this country, so many young women (with ethnic backgrounds in particular) go to such great lengths to change their appearance— changing their hair color, their eye color. I thought it might be fun to take that premise and turn it on its ear a bit, with a very white-bread character trying to make herself more “exotic.”

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

Caridad: Without sounding too preachy, I hope that readers will gain a greater understanding on how surface impressions are but a fraction of what makes us individual.

Thanks for sharing, Caridad. Best of luck with It's Not About The Accent. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Caridad: Wow--so many great books to choose from--lately, I’ve been revisiting one of my longtime favorites, HEARTBREAK HOTEL by Anne Rivers Siddons. It captures such a unique moment in time--both for the character and for the time period during which the story is set, but at the same time, it’s an incredibly timeless story. I first discovered it my sophomore year of high school and I can’t tell you how many copies I’ve worn through since then. Completely fabulous story!

Caridad Ferrer is a first generation, bilingual Cuban-American, born in Manhattan and raised in Miami. Her debut novel, Adiós to My Old Life (MTV Books), was named Latinidad’s Top Teen Read for 2006 as well as winning the Romance Writers of America's 2007 RITA® for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance. Writing as Barbara Ferrer she has also contributed to the anthology, Fifteen Candles: 15 Tales of Taffeta, Hairspray, Drunk Uncles, and Other Quinceañera Stories (Harper Collins/Rayo). Find her on the web at and

Monday, August 27, 2007

31 Authors!

Swiped from Little Willow’s blog:

In October, 31 Flavorite Authors will be rocking the internet and reaching out to readers. YALSA and readergirlz have teamed up to present an amazing month-long experience. Every day in October, a different author will be appearing at the readergirlz forum to chat with fans.

Talk about fun with some awesome YA authors. Check out the list:

Week One
1. Meg Cabot
2. Tiffany Trent
3. Brent Hartinger
4. Lorie Ann Grover
5. K.L. Going
6. Nikki Grimes

Week Two
7. Ellen Hopkins
8. Justina Chen Headley
9. Chris Crutcher
10. Ann Brashares
11. Sarah Mlynowski
12. Cecil Castellucci
13. Kirby Larson

Week Three
14. Tanya Lee Stone
15. John Green
16. Sara Zarr
17. Deb Caletti
18. Rachel Cohn
19. Kirsten Miller
20. Mitali Perkins

Week Four
21. Sonya Sones
22. Lisa Yee
23. Carolyn Mackler
24. E. Lockhart
25. Janet Lee Carey
26. Gaby Triana
27. Lauren Myracle

Week Five
28. Holly Black
29. Cynthia Leitich Smith
30. Dia Calhoun
31. Stephenie Meyer

I know where I'll be hanging out in October. Visit ReaderGirlz for more info!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dark, Hidden Secrets...

Jo Knowles tackles dark hidden secrets with Lessons From a Dead Girl.

Laine has a secret with her childhood best friend, Leah.

Leah is everything Laine isn’t…vibrant, pretty, popular, so when Leah makes Laine her best friend forever, Laine feels on top of the world.

Until Leah begins to play a secret game with Laine that at a young age neither truly understand. The friendship shifts when Leah makes Laine promise something very crucial and Leah accidentally breaks it. Leah never forgives her.

The story travels from grade school through high school, following one friendship that blossoms, breaks, and then ultimately comes to a tragic end. A journey of one girl who learns harsh life lessons from another and tries to overcome secrets they both held in for years.

This novel is recommended for mature YA readers due to the sensitive subject matter Knowles handles so delicately.

Lessons From a Dead Girl is a fast-paced read that promises to capture the reader with the intense subject matter and emotional drama. Knowles isn’t afraid to write about hidden secrets that all too sadly happen in real life.

Don’t miss this one in October from Candlewick Press!

(Read the interview with Jo Knowles here.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pre-School Programming: It's Not Just For Kiddies Anymore!

We all have moments when we long for simpler times, especially during times of stress. In fact, a recent stress survey revealed that a surprising number of adults secretly record pre-school programming to play after a killer day at work. (A big purple dinosaur, anyone?)

And its not unheard of for teens to pull Care Bears and Power Rangers VHS tapes out from the back of the closet to play and laugh at them right before finals or going off to college...

The pre-school show that jumped out at me as fresh and interesting was Sesame Street.

To this day, if I'm skimming channels and come upon it, I'll watch a few minutes to see what they're up to now. Big Bird is second only in my heart to Elmo! So it's safe to say, if I ever become one of those adults who turns to pre-school programming to unwind, Sesame Street will be my show of choice!

How about you? For stress or just for fun, any pre-school programming that continues to amuse you?

Monday, August 20, 2007

My Stages of School Dances

I went through various stages of dancing through school.

In sixth grade, omigosh, I knew all those little dances back then (embarrassingly so).

Roger Rabbit
M.C. Hammer
The Reebok
The Freak
The Snake

It makes me chuckle just reading the list I’d been so proud of!

Years past, and it wasn’t about being the center of attention anymore during the dances. In Junior High it was about getting asked to a dance by a boy, especially if it was a couple dance where you had to wear the same shirt, or the girl asks the boy, or a Hawaiian theme, or the Christmas dances.

Ugh, I hated getting spiffed up for the Christmas dances, you know when the panty hose didn’t exactly fit my skinny legs very well. Haha!

Then in high school there was Homecoming, Christmas (still) and then the Prom.

It’s funny, but when I think of Prom, I think of Tina’s Top Ten Uses of an Unworn Prom Dress rather than my own. :)

Now it takes a lot to get me to dance with a room full of people. In my own home, I can blast the music and dance like a goon, but that’s about it.

So I’m wondering did or do you like your school dances??

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Fresh!

Kelly and I are starting something new here at YA occasional Friday series of random questions of things we really want to know about you.

Here’s our first question:

If you could spend a day living inside the pages of a book, which book would you choose and why?

My answer: I’d like to hang with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants girls--Bridget, Carmen, Lena and Tibby--because I think their unconditional love and friendship would feel empowering. I’m all about the group hugs and communal popcorn bowl. Here's the cover of the second book, one I just couldn't put down:

What say YOU?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What's Fresh with Heather Brewer's The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites

Junior high really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: his mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: he’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

Hey Heather, thanks for joing us for a chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Heather: Sure! I always wanted to be a writer. In fact, I can clearly remember finishing Stephen King's CARRIE for the first time when I was twelve, closing the cover and saying, "That's what I want to do. I want to be a writer." Many years, a couple terrible manuscripts, and hundreds of awful emo poems later, I got serious about it. I started not just reading, but studying my favorite books, trying to figure out what made them so good. On the same day that it clicked, I asked myself a question. "Self", I said ('cuz that's what I call me), "why is it there are so many books about human girls falling for vampire boys…but so few books about the vampires themselves, and even fewer about teenage vampire boys?" And, to make a long story short, that was the moment Vlad popped into my head. He's been there ever since, uncomfortably close to my jugular.

Vlad, of course, is the main character of EIGHTH GRADE BITES, the first book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series (Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Group).

I took three months to write EIGHTH GRADE BITES, another month to polish it, and after sending out nine query letters, I'd received multiple offers of representation. Fortunately, the choice was easy for me, and I thank my lucky stars I chose Michael Bourret (Dystel & Goderich Literary). Michael had some thoughts about the manuscript that only took a day for me to tweak. Once the book went on submission, I was faced with more multiple offers, and eventually sold to Dutton—a two-book deal (the second book in the series, NINTH GRADE SLAYS, debuts next Summer). The whole thing has been a dream.

Wonderful story, Heather! 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.

Heather: If I'm honest (which I am), then I have to say that my typical writing days are not terribly exciting (well, for anyone but my characters and I, I'm sure). I head downstairs to my office first thing in the morning, check my email, my MySpace page, certain blogs…you know, generally procrastinate until I'm fully awake. Then I start writing. On good days, I can get several thousand words. On bad days, I can get as few as ten. But I always write something. And even when it seems I'm just zoning out at my keyboard, I'm writing.

Please tell us about your novel, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites, and what we can expect from your characters.

Heather: You can look for The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites in stores now! (The release date is August 16th) My publisher is Dutton Children's Books of Penguin Group.

What you can expect from Vlad is a lot of humor, a little sorrow, and a healthy dose of angsty sarcasm. Really, Vlad is your typical teenage boy (except for the whole blood-drinking thing)--what's not to love? I'm often asked what genre EGB fits into. The problem is that it fits into many. It has horror, humor, action, romance, and yes, the occasional gross-out. No matter what you read, you should give Vlad a try. (And yes, I'm fully aware that I'm biased)

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

Heather: I'm currently working on two things: one, the third book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series (the second one is in copyedits right now), and two, a YA horror titled DEVON'S PLAYGROUND. It's about a teenage boy who gets mixed up with the wrong crowd. I can't really go into much more detail than that right now.

Thank you again for taking to time, Heather, I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Heather: The old standby is that you should read a lot and write a lot, but I'll go a step further: study the texts that you love. Really dig in and figure out what makes them so good, and then take that information to your own work.

Heather Brewer is the author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. The first book, EIGHTH GRADE BITES (Dutton/Penguin), debuts August 16, 2007. She doesn't believe in happy endings...unless they involve blood. Check out her movie trailer for Eighth Grade Bites and her website,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Characters and their “Thing”

Let’s be real, everyone has his or her “Thing”, especially teens. Something they enjoy doing to take away the boredom.

So when I read a YA book, I like to discover what the teen is really into. Whether it is music, comic books, art, or sports. Something that defines a part of who they are.

In Graffiti Girl, Angel’s thing is obviously her art. It is her passion and self-expression.

In Tina’s Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, Nic plays volleyball. It is her “Thing.” And well, her Prom Dress is her passion. :)

Not every hobby to every teenager has to involve passion, but there’s often something they enjoy that says something about who they are…

More examples:

Caridad Ferrer’s Adios To My Old Life…Ali’s thing is her music…

Tara Altebrando’s The Pursuit of Happiness…Betsy’s thing is cutting out black paper silhouettes…

Allison van Diepen’s Street Pharm…Ty thrives on basketball…

If you are a writer, does one of your characters have a hobby or “thing” that is part of who the character is? If you are a reader, does your favorite character have an activity that he or she loves to do?

Friday, August 10, 2007

A (YA) Fresh Summer Dessert!

A few summers ago I went pretty bonkers over a homemade soft serve ice cream recipe. I’d forgotten about it until recently--something my waistline thanked me for--but it’s not only back in my brain now, but I thought I’d share it with all of you. It is super easy to make and as I said, addictively good...

(YA) Fresh Fruit Soft Serve Ice Cream

2 pints whipping cream
Frozen fruit (strawberries, peaches, blueberries--
not packed in juice)
Sugar to taste

Put the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes to make it very cold. Then put the cream and fruit into a food processor and blend until it becomes the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Add sugar and blend a little more, to taste.

Serve immediately--it melts fast! And enjoy!

And happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

All Night Read Club

Sadly, I wasn’t an avid reader growing up. I mentioned before that art was so much a part of my life. I’d rather have drawn a picture from my head with a pencil and paper than read the classics that didn’t really connect with me from ages 13 on.

But I recall the one summer when I moved to a new town and didn’t have any new friends before the new school year, and my aunt gave me a stack of V.C. Andrews books.

And that’s when I discovered the All Night Read.

I opened those books and was thrust into a world of dark secrets and suspense. My heart would actually ache for the characters and the horrible things they had to face.

I would go to bed with a book, intending on falling asleep soon after, when my mind would race with the story and each turn of the page. I didn’t want to--couldn’t--put the book down to rest.

Yep, I would feel my eyes droop, my mind grow fuzzy, but I would blink and shift until I could find out what happened next. Not until in the early hours of the morning, and I read the last page, would I set the book aside and finally fall asleep.

Today as an adult, I still do the All Night Reads.

Sometimes, I can’t stop myself. If the story is pulling me along, I don’t want to stop until I reach the end.

Believe me, I pay for it the next day! But a great story is worth it.

Raise your hand if you’ve joined the All Night Read Club!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Public Libraries: The Happiest Places on Earth

I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t in love with public libraries. Especially when I was a teenager. All the books I want to borrow--for free? That was like continuously winning the lottery!

So when I was in my hometown last week, nothing could stop me from going to my old stomping ground and seeing if they had a copy of my book in the stacks, TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS. What a dream-come-true, right?

They’d enlarged the library, which intellectually I loved (more room for books!) but bothered me in a nostalgic way because I wanted everything to be the same. But the children’s room hadn’t changed a bit, and when I asked a librarian about my title, she perked up and said she knew it, and couldn’t wait to read it herself. (Yea!) But that it would be housed over in the Young Adult area.

Which delighted me: the library hadn’t had a YA area back-when, and how great that they recognized this need! So I wandered over there and found a real nice assortment of books--just not mine. A quick computer check showed they didn’t have it, either. (Wah!) But a few minutes later, the YA librarian and I concocted a sweet deal: I will send them a library hardcover copy plus a picture and biography, and they will display it on a special stand. Works for me!

So soon, the library that helped nurture my young mind will feature some fruit of their own labor. And who knows? It might touch a reader or two...maybe even one who goes to my old high school and has secret aspirations of writing a book herself some day? I’ll probably never know, but I can dream...

Something I cultivated with help from my local public library.

Are there any other “library geeks” out there?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I saw The Simpson’s Movie! Haha.

We went in a big group. It was just like the show with goofiness and innuendo, but extended. Scenes were random, but made you laugh like a goon, and characters didn't disappoint.

True to Homer, he dumps hazardous waste in the lake out of laziness and ends up quarantining the entire town due to biohazard. A giant dome is placed over the Springfield and they all blame Homer. After some self-realization, Homer sets out to save the town from catastrophe!

Can he do it, you ask? Check out the movie and found out. :)

My favorite part of the movie, “Spidie pig, Spidie pig, catches thieves just like flies--Spidie Pig.” Yes, you had to be there, but it's one of those scenes I can't get out of my head!