Friday, September 28, 2007


So Let’s talk about young adult author websites.

Whose sites are out there that you think are super cool?

Meg Cabot’s site is really awesome and one of my faves. It's hip, it's bright and fun, with loads of information on her books.

On a YA website, I like excerpts, basic book info, maybe a little behind the scenes and characters…

I want to know what you like--please share!

What do you like in an YA author’s website, and which are your faves?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In Your Dreams!

In my March, 2007 release, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, hero Jared McCreary uses one of my favorite phrases when main character Nicolette Antonovich tries to back out of delivering on a lost bet: “In your dreams!”

And it’s funny, ever since I sold that book, my subsequent writing projects have been altered by that very thing--my dreams.

While in the initial stages of writing How to Hook a Hottie (January, 8, 2008), I woke up with the name “Jason ‘Dal’ Dalrymple” in my head one morning, and the insistent feeling that I had to change the best friend’s name to that. I did--and the story suddenly took off.

When trying to find the right characters and tone for The ABC’s of Kissing Boys (Spring, 2009), I woke with the internal directive to change the main character’s name from Alicia to Parker, which to my mind, are completely different kinds of names and personalities, Alicia being soft, Parker having some edge. And besides, I wasn’t even sure I liked the name Parker for a girl. In any case, I obliged my subconscious--and bingo! I found myself moving through the scenes.

Last week, after having completed a list of first draft revisions on The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, I went to bed feeling "done". Only to wake up at 4:45 with the realization that one of the threads did not tie up. This was not something I had a considered a problem. In fact, I had been pleased with how easily and naturally it had resolved itself. Or so I’d thought...

All I can think is that the subconscious is a very powerful tool, and sometimes, my best friend!

Has anyone ever resolved a dilemma--either personal or professional--or gotten a fresher look at life through his or her dreams?

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's Fresh with Melissa Walker's Violet on the Runway

A wallflower in the spotlight can do one of two things: wilt, or blossom...

Violet Greenfield's life changes forever when a lady in giant Chanel shades tells her she could be IT, the next Kate Moss-but taller, and without the PR problems. That's how Violet winds up with a business card in the front pocket of her jeans on her first day as a senior in high school. Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City wants to put Violet on a plane and whisk her into the world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Tall, skinny Violet, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.

And guess what? She's going.

Hello Melissa! Great to have you here. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Melissa: I had been working in magazines for 5 years, and was Senior Features Editor at ELLEgirl when I decided I'd like to get into books. I love the teen audience, so YA was a natural fit. I decided to investigate.

I had no idea what I was doing, so I did things backwards. First I contacted a fantastic YA writer I know through magazines, Carolyn Mackler, to ask her advice on pitching a YA novel. She directed me to Kate Seaver, an editor at Penguin’s Berkley JAM, who was looking for new writers. Kate took a look at my magazine clips, and I sent her a one-page summary of what I imagined VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY would be about. She asked to see the first two chapters, so I sat down to write those and sent them in.

Shockingly, she came back with an offer. I was thrilled, but also scared, so I asked her to give me a week to find an agent. I asked friends, and YA author Kristen Kemp, whom I know through ed2010 and, was particularly helpful in my search--she gave me lots of solid advice, like how the right title could earn you thousands extra. (Mine didn’t, but I’m saving that gem for next time!)

Enter Doug Stewart of Sterling Lord Literistic, whom I had met at a book party five years earlier (my first book party in NYC!). I spoke with a few agents but really felt a connection with Doug. We talked, we signed.

Doug thought that we should shop the summary and chapters around, so we did, and FSG also made an offer. Then he asked both Penguin and FSG to have their very best offers in by Monday at noon (it was a total old west showdown! At least in my mind).

In the end, Berkley JAM was promising to put the book out faster, they wanted three books total (FSG wanted two and were going to wait a couple of years to publish), so we went with Penguin. The money was similar at both places. I was happy, because I had really liked Kate.

Great story, Melissa! 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.

Melissa: I still work at magazines sometimes during the year (filling in for someone on maternity leave or an extended vacation), so during those times, I hardly get to write at all. I do still have a third VIOLET book due, though, so my schedule right now goes like this:

I eat breakfast, then write. I don't allow myself to have lunch until I have 1000 words on the page. They don't have to be good words, but they have to be there. I try to do that that five days a week; afternoons are spent working on magazine stories, which I still need to write to maintain a good income. At that rate, you can get your 60,000 words in just 12 weeks. Of course, some days I play hooky in Prospect Park, some days I have lunch-and-beer dates in the city so just write 300 words, etc. I let myself enjoy the perks of being freelance sometimes! But in general, I am pretty consistent with the 1000-word rule.

Please tell us about your latest novel, VIOLET ON THE RUNWAY, (Penguin's Berkley JAM), out 9/4/07 and what we can expect from your characters.

Melissa: As soon as I started peeking behind the scenes of modeling and fashion as a magazine editor, I knew that I wanted to put a "real girl" in the middle of this crazy world, a girl who would see it from the outside and be like, "Holy crap!" It’s an insane environment, so there’s lots of fodder for adventure, humor and drama, especially from the point of view of a small town girl who’s not yet jaded.

In New York, Violet meets her type-A-nutcase agent and a vicious modeling competitor, Veronica Trask. She has the support of her often-stoned (but wise) Aunt Judy.

There are plenty of adventures with editors, photographers, a playboy club promoter, and of course, the sweet members of her family and two best friends from Carolina, who are never far from her mind.

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

Melissa: I’ve finished book 2, VIOLET BY DESIGN, and I’m almost done with book 3, VIOLET IN PRIVATE. I have another idea that’s in a nascent stage… I have to let the VIOLET stuff calm down a little before I start on another book, so I think I might take a slight break after turning in book 3 and just focus on magazine work. But we’ll see.

VIOLET BY DESIGN comes out in March 2008.

Thank you again for chatting with us, Melissa. I wish you the best with your VIOLET series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Melissa: My advice is to never focus on making it "good" when you're writing a first draft. Just focus on bringing the words and story into existence. The fine-tuning can come later... if you put too much pressure on yourself in the beginning, that first chapter may never come!

And one other idea: One thing I did that helped was that before I started writing, I interviewed my characters about their likes, dislikes, things that made them happy, things that pissed them off, etc. Coming from a non-fiction background, I wasn’t initially sure what my characters would say unless I interviewed them. Does that sound weird? Probably. Oh well. It totally worked.

Melissa Walker is a writer who has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. All in the name of journalism, she has spent 24 hours with male models and attended an elite finishing school for girls in New Zealand, among other hardships.

Melissa grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, and has a BA in English from Vassar College. She really believes in the motto "write what you know." Well, except for the whole supermodel thing. Swear! Visit Melissa's website,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Fresh!

We are continuing our occasional Friday series of random questions of things we really want to know about you.

Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes--and why. (You’ll be surprised what it will reveal about you.)

What shoes do I love?

My low-heeled black sandals. At this point, they’re starting to show wear and tear in places, but I am ignoring it, and planning to wearing them forever.

Why do I love them?

They are comfortable, of course. And they are my “anything” shoes. They work with most any outfit, from a bathing suit to shorts to jeans to out-to-dinner wear.

What does this say about me?

Uh...I value flexibility? (Actually, I do!)

Okay, who is next?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Nice Girl Strikes Back

Are you the nice girl? And sometimes wonder why the heck you’re being so nice when everyone else doesn’t appreciate it or even return the favor?

This is how Emily Abbott feels in Jenny O’Connell’s The Book of Luke.

Emily is a senior in high school--she’s got a great boyfriend, the shot at being valedictorian, and she’s a nice girl.

But when she finds out she has to move to her old hometown in midyear, and her boyfriend dumps her on moving day, and suddenly her dad, who is behind the family move in the first place, gets to stay behind, Emily discovers being so nice may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

When she hooks up with her former friends, they have their share of guy problems too. Together they devise a guide that teaches guys just how to be nice to a girl. And the girls have the perfect guy to teach...

O’Connell captures readers with her memorable characters, unique high school drama, and a love story to make you melt.

Definitely keep your eye out for The Book of Luke. This is one story you don't want to miss!

(Read Jenny's YA Fresh interview here!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

And the winner of JINX is Nate! :) Thank you to each of you who commented! Please email me, Nate, with your mailing address!

Are you prepared for the new TV season??

I don't know about everyone else, but I’ve already got a schedule noted down of dates I don’t want to miss. Haha!

Heroes is returning on 9|24.
NCIS on 9|25
Ghost Whisperer on 9|28.

And there are, of course, new shows I’m eager to see:

Gossip Girl on 9|19
Bionic Woman on 9|26
Moonlight on 9|28

Yes, my week will be filled! *rubbing hands together*

Any shows you’re eager to return to or new ones you’d like to check out?

Friday, September 14, 2007


Jinx is the nickname of Jean, a girl who totally has had bad luck follow her most of her life. And now because of a stalker, she’s moving to NYC with her aunt, and family.

The only problem is, her cousin Tory is not thrilled to have Jean around. Not when the guy she likes starts hanging with Jean, and Jean is so painfully innocent in Tory’s eyes.

The fun starts when both girls have secrets of their own stemming from a family myth. But which secret is real and which is false?

You’ll have to read the book to find out…

Jinx is fun and entertaining, with a refreshingly sweet romance!

If you’re a Meg Cabot fan, you’re in luck! I’m giving away a hardback copy of Jinx to one lucky visitor over the weekend. Leave a comment and check back on Monday for the winner.

Good luck and Happy Reading! :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Bye-Bye Mr. Wrong Diet

As many of you know, the backstory to Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress is that 16 year-old Nicolette got “dumped” shortly before the prom and is therefore unable to wear her perfectly magical prom dress. The book starts that fall when her mother jokingly proposes the idea for the Top Ten list.

In my single years, my friends and I went through our own romantic disappointments, and while talking and laughing together about them was indeed therapeutic, at one point, I developed the harder-edged "Bye-Bye Mr. Wrong Diet" to put us back on the right path.

Here it is for all who need it (or are simply curious):

--Replace junk food with all healthy choices.

--Step up your exercise plan.

That’s it! And here’s why it works:

--It gives you something to think about. (Besides him.)

--It feels empowering because your health is something you can totally control. (As opposed to him.)

--After a few days, your clothes fit a bit better, your complexion is a little clearer. (Blowing raspberries at him.)

--Finally, the toning up and the loss of a few pounds makes you feel better and therefore, come off confident and attractive. (TOO confident and attractive for him.)

And now you’re walking with a new bounce in your step and setting your sights on someone else. Who needed him, anyway?

As simple as it sounds, it's a good game that can work.

Has anyone else tried a form of this, or have other ideas on how to “move on” from Mr. Wrong?

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's Fresh with Bev Katz Rosenbaum's Beyond Cool

Apparently being frozen for ten years hasn't made me any cooler...

The next in the hot series about a girl whose life is really on the rocks.

Floe Ryan was frozen at sixteen because of a rare disease. Now she's been thawed back to her normal self-but everything else has changed: her little sister's older than her, her teachers are holograms, and she's learning to drive a hovercar. Plus, with her boyfriend acting distant and having to deal with all the cliques, high school is becoming an even colder place. She's also learned that those who were frozen are susceptible to illnesses, and the one doctor who can cure them has gone AWOL. Floe must find him. But she's learning that someone might be hunting for her too-and she could be iced for good this time.

Hello, Bev, great to have you here again! Please tell us about your latest novel Beyond Cool.

Bev: Beyond Cool is a Berkley Jam book that came out on August 7th--woohoo! It's the sequel to I Was a Teenage Popsicle, but can also be read as a standalone. It's as fun and action-packed as Popsicle! This time around, cryonically preserved and recently 'thawed' teen heroine Floe Ryan is in a race with the anti-cryonicists to find the one AWOL doctor who can cure the frozen zombies' immune system deficiencies--all while trying to hang onto her hot boyfriend and learn how to drive a hovercar!

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

Bev: Well, she died, was frozen, and then brought back to life ten years later, which makes her pretty unique! But seriously, Floe's the ultimate outcast. She's come back to a whole new world. Talk about feeling out of it! (So while she's unique, she's also just like every other teen in the world... Who among us didn't feel like a freak as a teen?)

Yeah, I had plenty of those moments. haha! How did the idea for this novel come about?

Bev: A few years back, my hubby was following the Ted Williams cryonics brouhaha, and he casually mentioned that a cryonically preserved teen would be a great YA protagonist. I agreed!

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

Bev: I hope they realize that every teen girl feels like a freak at one time or another--frozen or not!

LOL! Thanks for sharing, Bev. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Bev: Wow, that's a tough one. There are so many great ones. I love Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, and any of Meg Cabot's books. And, of course, Kelly Parra's Graffiti Girl--no was great!

Thanks, Bev! You're so sweet! Best of luck with Beyond Cool!

Bev Katz Rosenbaum is a former fiction editor who turned to YA writing when she fell in love with the books her kids were reading. She lives in Toronto with her family. Bev also runs a popular manuscript critique service. Check out her website at

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Fresh!

We are continuing our occasional Friday series of random questions of things we really want to know about you. Here’s today’s question: Which “vintage” TV show would you like to see brought back (and why)?

My answer is going to reach back 13 years, so apologies to those of you who weren’t watching much TV then. But there was a show called “Christy” which starred Kellie Martin that I found warm and fuzzy (in a good way).

I first tuned into it because it was based one of my favorite novels from my teen years (Christy by Catherine Marshall) but soon found that the individual episodes had lives of their own, driven home by some strong acting performances.

The action centered around 19 year-old Christy who had come to this Appalachian town (that took two hours of walking in the woods to reach) in the early 20th century to teach school, and how she ends up learning as much from the “simple folks” as the kids do from her.

Although the show only lasted one season, certain episodes were sold as tie-in novels with Kellie Martin’s picture on the front. I admit that I bought and read every one of them.

You can also buy the whole series on DVD now.

So, yeah, if I could bring back and old show with new episodes, it would be the family, feel-good “Christy”.

Who else wants to play?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

You've Never Known Vampyres Like These

In Marked: A House of Night novel by P.C. & Kristin Cast, sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been marked as a vampyre.

Her already unhappy life becomes worst…or so it seems...when she must leave the home of her mother and annoying stepfather, her best friend from school, and her almost ex-boyfriend in order to go through the “change” from human to vampyre--if she survives it--in the mysterious House of Night.

Talk about stress!

The only problem is, Zoey doesn’t fit in there, either. As a new “fledgling” vampyre she already has powers beyond her dreams, as well as an uncomfortable and embarrassing bloodlust. She feels so alone and unsure who to trust.

The reader is taken into the House of Night with Zoey and is introduced to an array of fun characters and the inner workings of a distinguished school, while Zoey goes through a journey of self-discovery and learns to make new friends.

Marked is a unique tale of vampyres in training and the goddesses they honor. The Cast team know how to spin one cool vampyre story with a fresh voice!

(Check out the interview with P.C & Kristin Cast here!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's Fresh with Sara Hantz's The Second Virginity of Suzy Green

Suzy Green used to be one of the coolest nonconformist "almost—Goth" party girls in Australia. That was before her older sister Rosie died and her family moved to a new town. Not even her best friend would recognize her now. Gone are the Doc Martens and the attitude. All she wants is to be like Rosie—perfect. The new Suzy Green makes straight As, hangs with the in—crowd at her new school, and dates the hottest guy around. And since all her new friends belong to a virginity club, she joins, too. So what if she's not technically qualified? Nobody in town knows . . . until Ryan, Suzy's ex, turns up.

As the past and present collide, Suzy struggles to find her own place in a world without her sister.

Hello, Sara, good to have you here to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Sara: I spent many years in academia, so before writing fiction I wrote text books, academic papers and reports. About four years ago I decided to try writing fiction, and I realized this was what I wanted to do full time. I wish I’d done it sooner!

I started off writing chick-lit and hen-lit, then in November 2005 I decided to try a teen-lit. After writing 3 chapters I did what you’re not meant to do and started to send it to agents, to test the water. Ooops!!! That’ll teach me. The story seemed to hit the right nerve because straight away five agents asked for the full manuscript and six for partials. I sent the partials and said to those requesting the full that it still needed some tweaking (aka writing) and I’d send when ready. In only a few days one of the agents had read the partial and asked for the full.

I managed to finish the full by January and send to all those who requested it….. most of them asked for it by email which was an added bonus….. 10 days later the agent I mentioned above phoned and offered representation. I said yes pretty much straight away. By February I’d done some revisions for my agent and she sent it out to lots of publishers. Andrew, the editor from Flux, phoned asking if I’d be prepared to do some revisions. I said yes (obviously!!!) and he sent me a very detailed letter. I did them. He was happy and then asked me to do some more, saying if they were ok he’d take it to the Acquisitions Committee. He took it to the Committee and they offered me a contract. The title changed to The Second Virginity of Suzy Green.

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.

Sara: I follow the ‘little and often’ principle. I always have my current manuscript open on the PC and dip in and out of it all day long. I have a very short attention span and find myself getting distracted by other things, yet some how I manage to produce the work – I suspect there are fairies at the bottom of the garden who come out at night and do some for me.

Now why does that short attention trait sound familar to me?? *wink* Please tell us about your novel, The Second Virginity of Suzy Green, and what we can expect from your characters.

Sara: The Second Virginity of Suzy Green, released by Flux on September 1st 2007, is about a troubled teen who moves to a different town to make a fresh start. She even joins the virginity club, despite not technically qualifying. But that’s ok, because nobody in town knows the truth… until her ex shows up.

Can't wait to read it, Sara! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Sara: My agent is currently selling my book about a kick boxing champion who acts as a stunt girl for a rebellious teen movie star.

Thank you again, Sara, for sharing with us. I wish you the best with your debut. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Sara: Writers get rejected all the time, so when you receive one hang on in there. Very often rejections don’t mean you have no talent, just that your manuscript isn’t right for them at that particular time. I believe there’s an element of luck involved in all sales. Take The Second Virginity of Suzy Green as an example. It landed on the editor’s desk just as he was thinking about broadening their offering to include books set overseas. Right place, right time!

Sara Hantz started writing when she ran out of degrees to study and decided it was much more fun to make things up than to comment on dry academics. Born in England, she moved to New Zealand a few years ago. The Second Virginity of Suzy Green is Sara's first novel. Visit her website,