Thursday, November 29, 2007


I have talked about my Spring, 2009 release, THE ABC’S OF KISSING BOYS, and how it’s in the revision process.

I’m having a great time fine-tuning some of the points--but I’ve hit a wall on one line, and can use some feedback. If you’re so inclined, please read the following and weigh in on what you think works best!

Book blurb:

16 year-old Parker Elizabeth Stanhope was the only one of her friends not to be advanced from JV soccer to Varsity. She’s humiliated--and worse, suddenly getting the cold shoulder from her friends. Desperate to somehow still make Varsity before the season begins, she concocts a crazy-but-just-might-work scheme that involves kissing the socks off the prom king at the school’s Sports Fair kissing booth. But between now and then, she has to learn everything she can about kissing. And that help comes in the unlikely form of a freshman. But if her status-conscious friends find out she’s locking lips with a younger guy, she might as well kiss off their friendship--whether or not she makes Varsity. It's a lose-lose! Or is it?

Scene Set-Up:

Parker has learned that her freshman neighbor, Tristan, spent his summer nights at camp playing kissing games with the other counselors. She’s intrigued and has asked one too many questions. Getting suspicious, he playfully suggests that even though she’s sixteen, she’s never been kissed. She charges back that of course she’s been kissed.

Then he responds with one of the following:

--“Spin the bottle does not count!”
--“The back of your hand does not count!”

Or...something else! Ideas? Thoughts?

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's All About a Fresh Read

Caroline Darcy wants to live a new, daring lifestyle when she heads to college for the summer. She’s actually a quarter Cuban, but wanting to follow in the exotic footsteps of her late Cuban great-grandmother, she takes on a Latina persona, starting a hot and fast relationship with a good-looking college guy.

The problem is, her new persona meets with a dangerous situation, and coming to her rescue is her friend and dorm-neighbor, Peter.

After some intense soul-searching Caroline is ready to tackle school with her true self and finds a way to reconnect with her great-grandmother through a research project. Caroline begins to see her friendship with Peter in a new perspective and discovers more of herself than she ever did, pretending to be someone she's not.

Recommended for mature teens, Caridad Ferrer writes with a fun and intelligent voice, mixing college life, Cuban family roots, and a memorable sweet romance in IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Winner Is...

And the winner of an advanced reader copy of How to Hook a Hottie is:


who submitted the following sentence (and gave me permission to reprint it)...

I would like win to because I picked up your book, Top Ten Uses For an Unworn Prom Dress, because I also got dumped right before Junior Prom and it intrigued me, now I have read that book at least five times.

This decision was very hard to many of you sent really compelling comments, and I thank you for every one of them. And stayed tuned because I'm sure to give away copies of the book in the future!

Thanks to all who entered!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Win an Advanced Reader Copy of How to Hook a Hottie!

With only six weeks left until my next book hits the shelves, I decided to post a MySpace bulletin yesterday, offering one of my remaining ARCs to the commenter who gave me the best "one sentence" why they should win. I am extending that contest to this blog, if anyone is so inclined, leave a message here and I'll put it "into the hat."

The deadline is tomorrow night at midnight PST, and I will post the winner's first name here and on MySpace on Sunday morning.

Hope you play! :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

YA Fresh is thankful for all the readers and authors who visit with us daily!

I hope all of our US friends have a wonderful Turkey Day with their families!

Best Wishes,

Kelly & Tina :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's Fresh About Crissa-Jean Chappell's Total Constant Order

Fin can't stop counting. She's always heard a voice inside her head, ordering her to listen, but ever since she's moved to the Sunshine State and her parents split up, numbers thump like a metronome, rhythmically keeping things in control. When a new doctor introduces terms such as "clinical depression" and "OCD" and offers a prescription for medication, the chemical effects make Fin feel even more messed up. Until she meets Thayer, a doodling, rule-bending skater who buzzes to his own beat—and who might just understand Fin's hunger to belong, and her struggle for total constant order.

Crissa-Jean Chappell's candid and vividly told debut novel shares the story of a young teen's experience with obsessive compulsive disorder and her remarkable resolve to find her own inner strength.

Hi Crissa, it's great to have you on YA Fresh. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Crissa: As a kid, I’d steal pens from my dad’s pocket and “draw” stories on notebook paper. I stapled the pages together: tales of talking lobsters and identical twins who lived in a treehouse.

I traded stories on cassette tapes with my cousin, Jonathan. Every month, we’d mail fat envelopes decorated with treasure maps. Together we developed epic stories in our own fantastical universe.

After writing and publishing short stories in college, I wasn’t sure if I could tackle a novel. It took nine months to write Total Constant Order (HarperCollins) and a year to find my agent. (read my 21 steps here. )

I met my agent in cyberspace. (To this day, we correspond primarily through email). A few months later, she sold my novel at auction.

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.

Crissa: I wake up and crawl to my computer, just a foot away from my bed, and begin dreaming with my eyes open. I spend a few hours eavesdropping on the people in my head (or plucking notes from one of the many Moleskines in my purse). Then it’s off to work at the Art Institute, where I teach creative writing and film studies.

While writing, I listen to music. It becomes the soundtrack to the movie in my mind. (my TCO music picks )

My friend, Adrian Michna (aka DJ Egg Foo Young of the band, Secret Frequency Crew) composed a mini-soundtrack for Total Constant Order (it’s the dreamy music that plays in the background of the book’s animated promo, designed by Marlon Morina).

I love the animation, it's very unique. Please tell us about your novel Total Constant Order (HarperCollins, Oct. 23, 2007) and what we can expect from your characters.

Crissa: In Total Constant Order, we meet Fin (short for Frances Isabelle Nash). Fin loves numbers more than most kids. She counts her breaths, the cars on the highway, the boys with unlaced shoes in the classroom. The clean order of numbers keeps her worries away.

When Fin meets a fellow outcast, Thayer Pinsky, an asthmatic, cartoon-quoting skateboarder with Attention Deficit Disorder, she must spill her secret. Both kids struggle with therapy, prescription medicine, and painful side effects. In a society that offers a pill for everything (including happiness), Fin worries that Paxil will destroy her personality or worse: transform her into an artificially joyful drone.

This is a story about swallowing the fear of insanity that we all share, and escaping the judgment of others. It’s a story about sawgrass and graffiti and palm trees strung with Christmas lights.

For the past two years, I wrote stories, drew pictures, and took photographs as Fin for a blog called Sunshine State). The experience reminded me of the interactive stories on tape that I created as a kid. Instead of sharing it with one person, I was able to share it with many different readers, all around the world.

Wow, TCO sounds awesome. I can't wait to pick up a copy. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Crissa: At the moment, I am editing my second novel and finishing the rough draft of a third. (That’s all I can say for now!) I love writing about teenagers: especially those who feel like they’re on the outside, looking in.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Crissa. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Crissa: I’m sure you’ve heard the “show, don’t tell” rule before. What’s the best way to learn it? Write in active voice. Avoid adjectives and adverbs. Let verbs do the work for you. Verbs are your secret weapon!

Also: The publishing world can seem otherworldly at times (much like the Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a curtain). If you get a chance to attend one of the big SCBWI conferences, you can learn a lot about the business. And you never know who you’ll meet…just hanging by the hotel pool.

Crissa-Jean Chappell was born in Miami, Florida. She received her interdisciplinary PhD in literature, film theory, and philosophy from the University of Miami, as well as an MFA in screenwriting. For eight years she wrote a weekly film column for the Miami Sun Post. Her reviews, short stories, and poems have appeared in many magazines, including Confrontation, and the Southwest Review. She teaches creative writing and film studies at Miami International University of Art and Design. Visit her website,

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fresh!

I finished up a first round of revisions this week on my next book, The ABC's of Kissing Boys.

As the title suggests, each of the 26 chapters offers an
alphabetical kissing tip, so when I logged onto MySpace the other
day and saw an ABC's Meme, I decided it might be fun to play with it--here.

I'd edited the questions down to a YA FRESH specific anagram, and hope you'll play, too:

Y is for yummy food you ate today?

cake with butter cream frosting

A is for age?
Uh, over 30

F is for favorite TV show at the moment?

R is for biggest regret?
that I don't stop eating when I'm full

E is for essential item you use everyday?
my car

S is for status?

H is for home town?
Well...I was born in a suburb of Boston, spent several
years in Los Angeles, and then in Westchester County, New York. So, you pick! :)

Who else wants to play? Answer all YA FRESH questions or just the ones of your choice!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Win an ARC!

The talented Cassandra Clare is holding a really creative contest on her blog, The Gray Book, for an ARC of her anticipated sequel to her Mortal Instruments trilogy, CITY OF ASHES.

Here are the deets:

"...there are five categories and one ARC for winning in each category. Each catgory requires you to do a funky, fun or creative thing. You can enter the contest more than once as long as you enter in different categories (so you can enter up to five times. You can, however, only win once.) The categories are as follows:


1) Writing: write a drabblette (a word I just made up) which is a story of 200 words or less set in the Mortal Instruments world. It can be about anything, set at any time, just keep it under a R rating, please. :D Alternately if you don't like writing fiction, you can write 200 words of a poem or an essay (like a short essay about which ship is your Mortal Instruments ship and why.)*

2) Art: Create a piece of fanart related to Mortal Instruments. Again, it can be anything you want, of any scene or character or location, in any medium. Drawing a comic or cartoon counts. Photography counts, too.

3) Video: Create a fanvid, a movie, or a book trailer. Book trailers look kind of like this. This category is more work, but that means less entries so you'll have a good chance of winning. :D

4) Book location: Take a picture of a copy of City of Bones in a weird location. On top of a school bus, in a fish tank, at the circus, whatever. You have a month to do this so feel free to wait for that trip to the Ice Hotel.

5) Miscellaneous: Make up your own entry.The only rule is that it has to be Mortal-Instruments-related. Bake a cake in the shape of Jace, be like Kinsey and make a shirt, create a lolcat cover (these may inspire you) for CoB, cosplay, do puppet theater - really, just go nuts."

Contest ends December 8th. Find out the entry specifics here.

Good luck!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Nose Knows...
My mind is all around body sprays today, and how I can’t get enough of those cool blasts...

I drop by Bath & Body at least once a month to use whatever coupons I’ve collected. By the time I leave, I am a walking advertisement for all their scents, especially anything I can spray on.

Here at the computer, I always have a couple sprays on deck for a quick break-from-writing pick-me-up. I’m particularly fond of the lighter scents, like Coconut Lime Verbana, Sparkling Mountain Springs and Cool Citrus Basil. Although I’ve also indulged in the sweeter and stronger sprays, those seem to “stay with me” too long. I like to keep it light because what I really want is another excuse to push that trigger!

Any other body spray fans out there? And any favorite scents?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What's Fresh with Elizabeth Lenhard's Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise)

For Scottie, Amanda, Bella, and Tay, life in Chicago is all about seeking shelter. They've found it in the raggedy comfort of KnitWit, in their firelit stitch 'n bitch at Joe's, in the halls of their quirky private school, even in the arms of boyfriends.

But now the girls are staring down the end of high school. Fueled by the stresses of college applications and service projects, will it also mean the end of the Chicks? Or can this unlikely foursome bind off the happy ending that only true friendship can craft?

The Chicks return, along with four hip new projects.

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for agreeing to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Elizabeth: My path to writing fiction was a bit unorthodox. I was a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and knew a fellow reporter who was moonlighting as a book packager. He had to churn out a bunch of middle-grade horror books and was hiring his colleagues to ghost-write them for him. So I gave it a try with a goofy little book called "Beware the Bog Girl." I fell in love with writing fiction for kids and decided to take a stab at a second career. Soon afterward, I got a gig writing a TV-tie-in paperback for Simon & Schuster called "Clueless: Bettypalooza." That was the first book I wrote with my name on it. Many, many writing-for-hire gigs followed until I finally wrote a book that was all my own (and my first hardcover) for Dutton in 2004: "Chicks with Sticks (It's a purl thing)." "Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise)" is my third C w/ S book.

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.

Elizabeth: I used to write constantly, but now that I have a baby, I work three afternoons a week. On those days, I take care of my daughter from wake-up time (6:30ish) until my mother, aka "granny nanny," arrives (11:30ish). I go into the home office and shut the door. I then realize that I'm kinda TIRED from all that early a.m. momming, so I ease into things with some e-mailing, blogging, and blog-reading. I rarely get rolling before the clock strikes noon, but then I try to work until 5 or 6, with occasional breaks for cuddling with the baby and chatting with my mom. It's a longer, messier work day than it would be if I went somewhere "off-site" and just FOCUSED for several hours, but this have-my-writing-and-the-baby-too situation is working for all of us at the moment, so I keep my fingers crossed and press on!

Please tell us about your latest novel Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise) (Dutton, October 2007) and what we can expect from your characters.

Elizabeth: Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise) is the third and last book in the Chicks with Sticks trilogy. The main players are: Scottie, an angsty everygirl who's hit rock-bottom as the series begins; Amanda, a beautiful, trust fund princess and Scottie's former best friend (who will reconnect to Scottie through knitting); Bella, a kooky, beautiful yoga goddess; and the unlikeliest knitter of all, Tay, who's tattooed, surly, and tomboyish. Book #1, Chicks with Sticks (It's a purl thing) (2005) was all about establishing the four characters, their knitty passion and their unlikely but loving friendship. In Book #2, Chicks with Sticks (Knit two together) (2006), the girls all have dramas and traumas with BOYS. And finally, in KnitWise, the Chicks are getting ready to choose their colleges and say good-bye to each other, which prompts major freak-outs, especially for Scottie. In subplots, Amanda is forced by her parents to be a debutante, and hates it, but is surprised to meet a boy who hates it even more. Tay's divorced parents have a new custody arrangement, which means she actually had to DEAL with them. And Bella, who is generally her vegan yogi parents' dream daughter (given that she's a vegan yogi, too) worries that her life choices might disappoint them. Like the finale of a TV show, favorite characters from the first books resurface, and there a few tearjerker moments.

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

Elizabeth: I'm at the beginning of another YA novel. I'm very excited about it. I can't say what it's about, other than I've changed settings. (Settings are very important to me.) Chicks with Sticks was set in my former home, Chicago. This book is set in my current, very quirky, country/urban 'hood in downtown Atlanta. And there's no knitting--at least, that's the plan!

I wish you the best with your writing career, Elizabeth! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Elizabeth: My standard tip is to read, read, read! Surprisingly, not all people who want to write do this! And don't just read -- read what you'd like to write. If you mostly read books for adults (because you are one) then maybe writing for teens isn't for you. I write YA because YA is what I prefer to read. In other words, write what you love, not what you think might help you get published or might sell.

Elizabeth Lenhard grew up in Atlanta and studied English and creative writing at the University of Michigan. She’s been a features reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a contributing dining critic for Chicago magazine, and the author of more than thirty series books for teens and children. Elizabeth lives with her husband and daughter in Atlanta. Now that the Chicks are college-bound, she’s assuaging her empty nest syndrome with lots and lots of knitting. Visit her website,

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ever Dream About Being a Teenage Millionaire?

Okay, so if you frequent Myspace like I do--daily :)--you’ve probably heard of the totally fun myspace template website,

Before I totally pimped out my site, I dressed my space with the cool temps from whateverlife. So you can imagine my shock when I saw this article with Ashley Qualls, who took an $8 site and turned it into a money making empire. Not by selling her template designs, but by giving away free templates and renting ad space on her site that gets, like, a million hits a day and businesses are sending her huge checks.

“Thanks to Ashley's work ethic and savvy cultivation of her peer group as a target market, Whateverlife began pulling in more teenage girls than a Justin Timberlake concert - about a million a day. With a big audience, the site attracted advertisers. Ashley's first check was for $2,700. The next was for $5,000, the third for $10,000.”
She bought her family a four-bedroom house at 17. Wow! If you read the article, you'll find out it’s not all fun and games, and a lot of time and hard work, but I think we can all agree that Ashley Qualls is one savvy teen.

Go, Ashley!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Left Brain v. Right Brain

The Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, is running a fascinating “left brain versus right brain” test on their website right now. Pop over there and check out the dancer, and see which way she is turning. Clock-wise? Counter-clockwise? Or...can you see her turn from one way to another?,21985,22556281-661,00.html

As the website states, counter-clockwise (or anti-clockwise, which I assume is the Australian term) means you are left-brained, which is your logical, detail-oriented type brain. Creative types (like YA writers!) often see her moving clockwise.

I’ve run this test on about ten people, and so far, everyone sees the dancer moving exclusively in one direction. Except for me. I see her changing, going one way for a while, then in the other. Which actually sums me up perfectly. I am ridiculously organized, with a sharp memory for details. But I’m also a major daydreamer whose book characters often seem more real than the people in my supermarket.

You can see from the 800+ comments it got that some people believe it to be a hoax. I can't vouch for its authenticity. But I can say that I sat for about 10 minutes with a math/science whiz and rarely saw the same movements in the dancer. I mean, to the point of arguing. That's all I know!

How about you? What do you see, and how does this explain you?