Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year's Eve!

And I guess it's that time to make some resolutions that maybe I'll fulfill and maybe I won't...haha! Believe me, I try to fulfill my resolutions with good intentions, but they don't always work out. *sigh* So this year, I will try my best to fulfill my 2009 resolutions... :) :)

My New Year's Resolutions for 2009

I will try to write and complete two books this year.

I will try to write and simultaneously keep my house nice and neat. *chuckle*

I will try not to agree to too much responsibility to where I'm crazy busy and too busy to write.

I will try not to follow so much celebrity gossip! haha. Sometimes I am completely too nosey for my own good.

I will try and eat healthier, not so much fried food, with a little more working out on the side.

I will try and share more about the fabulous books I will read this year.

I will try and be more patient, because I am not the most patient person in the world. ;)

And I will try and make YA Fresh a little bit more fun!

Okay, not too over the top. :) 

What are some of your New Year's Resolutions for 2009??

Monday, December 29, 2008

Have You Seen This Lipstick?

I've had a couple readers write and ask me about the lipstick on
the cover of The ABC's of Kissing Boys. I'm not real savvy in the
ways of lipstick--tend to wear the same brand, same shade, when I
wear it at all--plus, I had been thinking it was just a clear gloss.

Bonne Bell put out a clear stick gloss when I was a girl that my
friends and I all used. Nowadays Bonne Bell calls that product
"Lip Smackers" and they come in a lovely array of shades and flavors and bright packages...but same idea.

Anyway, now I am wondering if this IS a lipstick, and not just a
stick gloss. Can anyone identify the silver lipstick tube or guess
at the shade? Any ideas where I can point readers who are
interested in buying a similar product?

All thoughts appreciated!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Captivating New Series...

I had the pleasure of reading the ARC earlier this year, and now that it has hit book stores on December 23rd, I'm thrilled to shout praises about Laurie Faria Stolarz's DEADLY LITTLE SECRET, the first book in the new "Touch" series.

The characters in this novel are real and unique. The writing smooth and the storytelling mysterious and intense. I can only hope I'll get to read the next book in the series before it hits stores again!

Camelia lives a normal high school life, but she doesn't know she's being watched until the weird phone calls and packages begin and now everywhere she turns she senses fear. The new boy with the dangerous past and dark secrets says he can help. Her friends are urging her away from him. Yes, Camelia needs help. She just doesn't know if he can be trusted. Or if anyone can be for that matter.

A boy to admire from afar, a girl you want to befriend, a novel to keep you turning the pages because you won't know who to trust. Laurie Faria Stolarz's DEADLY LITTLE SECRET is a blend of mystery, chills, and forbidden touches--one captivating story you have to experience!

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Project 17 and Bleed, as well as the highly popular young adult novels Blue Is for Nightmares, White Is for Magic, Silver Is for Secrets, and Red Is for Remembrance. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. For more information, please visit her website at

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays to all 
of our Friends!!

~kelly and tina :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let It Snow (Three Holiday Romances)

Some months ago, I read about an upcoming trilogy of holiday romances by three esteemed authors, John Green. Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. Here is the blurb:

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.

While the blurb interested me, it wasn’t until I got to the final line--telling me that the tales were interconnected--that I added it to my book list. I loved the idea that same characters and storylines would pop in and out of each author’s story (in each author’s voice).

So I bought the book, and moved it ahead of my massive reading pile for my December reading. And am I glad I did.

Let It Snow is more than just a holiday book or collection of stories. The writing is sharp, the characters leap off the page, you laugh, you choke up, you shiver in the cold, you warm by the fire...and you fall in the love with the characters. Some of whom do travel all the way through the book, along with clever little themes and phrases.

In fact, one of the characters creates his own swear word, and it appears enough times throughout the book that it stuck in my head. So when a driver cut in front of me this week, guess what came out of my mouth? (No, I'm not going to write it'll have to find it out for yourself!)

I am presently passing my copy of Let It Snow around to my friends...and encourage our YA FRESH readers to check it out, too. And then come back and let is know what you think.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tina Gets an Early Holiday Gift...

This week, my publisher, Random House, released my 2007 book, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress as a Kindle! Yay!

And the timing couldn’t be better since Santa’s bringing me a Kindle for Christmas. (At least, he’s supposed to...) So the way I see it, on Thursday, while the family is cleaning up and starting breakfast, I’ll be in front of the computer, downloading my book from Amazon...

The gift that keeps on giving, huh?

Here’s wishing you unexpected gifts, too!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Who's the Birthday Girl?

Why, it's our very own Kelly!

Everyone, please join me in wishing her a happy, happy birthday!

And allow me to say thanks again to everyone who attended Kelly's author chat last night on PAGEFLIPPER'S site. So much fun!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pets and Holidays...

I’m busy shopping and wrapping this week, and putting presents under our tree...and at equal rate, our cat, Rascal (named after the prom dumper in Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress), is busy sniffing around the presents and poinsettias, tearing into wrapped gifts, and plowing into gift bags. I swear, he thinks this whole holiday thing is about providing him with entertainment, and it doesn’t matter how many crinkled wrapping paper balls you toss his way, he still thinks that the scotch tape on your finger or the nicely wrapped present beside you is the most fun!

In fact, here’s a couple of pictures from two years ago, when we couldn’t “find” him on Christmas morning!

He also wants to know what all these funny decorations are that we have up on counters and tables, and apparently likes the way they sound as he knocks them to the carpet.

Kelly has a new puppy this year, Cinnamon:

One of the cutest I think I’ve EVER seen--and I’m looking forward to hearing about her first holiday season. Kelly, what can you tell us so far?

And how about the rest of you, how goes it with pets and holidays at your house?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Chances to Win...

Hi YA Freshers! I'm inviting readers to a couple of on-line events this week for a chance to chat with me and win a copy of Invisible Touch!

On Wednesday, December 17 the cool authors at Wolfy Chicks have invited me for an interview and have graciously donated a copy of Invisible Touch to giveaway to a lucky commenter. So if you're interested in reading Invisible Touch, I'd love for you to stop by this great YA paranormal blog and leave a comment tomorrow!

Then on Thursday, December 18th, 8 PM Eastern (7 Central, 6 Mountain, 5 Pacific) the awesome Pageflipper is hosting monthly chats with authors--how cool is that? And during the chat on Thursday, I'll be giving away three copies of Invisible Touch to random chatters! It's very easy to register and to enter the chat. And if you've already read Touch, you can still check in and ask me any questions on Graffiti Girl or Touch! So please stop by here and be ready to ask any questions on books, reading, or writing!

Thanks and hope to chat with you soon!


Sunday, December 14, 2008


A Signed Hard Cover Copy of GOOD ENOUGH by Paula Yoo (pictured here from last August at the SCBWI Conference)

goes to...

Shari Green!!!

Shari, please contact me at admin with your mailing information. And congratulations!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Plot, Plot, Fizz Fizz Contest!

Some years ago, Alka Seltzer ran a commercial that went: "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is!"

Well, last weekend, my writer-friend, Paddy Lock, and I attended a Writer2Writer Workshop at Flintridge Bookstore, where the lovely and talented Paula Yoo spoke to the group about plotting. And I couldn't help humming that little jingle to myself because just the way Alka Seltzer revives one's ailing stomach, there's nothing like plot points to bring life to an ailing storyline.

Paula has extensive experience in plotting books, as well as television screenplays, and explained her processes using examples from classic novels and the classic movie, “Diehard,” as well as providing hand-outs with further elaborations, exercises, and sources.

It was also great to hear about her writer’s journey, the two books she has in print, the one out in 2009, and a particular highlight was the brainstorming exercise she ran us through as if we were a table of TV screenwriters looking for new ideas for upcoming episodes.

Following her talk, she signed copies of Good Enough. Here she is with the director of the Writer2Writer program, Catherine Linka:

And with Paddy and me:

What Paddy and I did was to buy two books, one for us to read, and one for me to share with one lucky commenter here at YA Fresh. The contest starts NOW and will close on Sunday, December 14 at 6:00 pm PST. So go ahead and leave a comment...and best of luck!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's Fresh with Lauren Baratz-Logsted's The Sisters Eight Series for Young Readers

Hello, Lauren, it's great to chat with you! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Lauren: I was an independent bookseller and buyer for 11 years until 1994 when I left to take a chance on myself as a writer. Over the course of the next eight years, while writing seven books and trying to make a first sale, I supported my writing habit with part-time jobs as a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles), a freelance editor (nearly 100 books), a sort-of librarian (arranging author visits and leading a writing workshop), and window washer (I washed Robert Ludlum's windows). In fall 2001, I began reading reviews of a new publisher, Red Dress Ink, whose editorial sensibility I felt was a match for the sixth book I'd written, THE THIN PINK LINE, a dark comedy about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy. So I showed The Thin Pink Line to an agent I was working with at the time on Vertigo, another book that has since sold and been published, and asked if he'd read it. He did, said he loved it but that there were too many books like it out there. You know, all those other fake pregnancy comedic novels? So I asked if he'd submit it to this one publisher, RDI, who still seemed perfect for it. He said no, because he knew for a fact that they didn't want books with a London setting. This sounded frankly nutty to me, so I asked if he'd be offended if I sent it to them on my own. He said, very scathingly, "If that's what you want to do with your time..." So I sent it off, it sold as part of a two-book deal, was published in 10 countries, optioned for a film (never made but at least I got paid) and was the first Harlequin imprint book ever to receive a starred Kirkus review, causing them to buy three more books from me before the first even came out.

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

Lauren: When I still needed four part-time jobs to support my writing habit, I used to begin my writing workday between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m. Now I'm more lax. I begin at 7 a.m. when my daughter leaves for school and pretty much work straight through til 4 p.m. when she gets home. If the writing is good, I'll also sneak more time in the nights and on weekends. I do try to arrange things so I'm only answering email etc between 3 and 4 p.m. so I can have "General Hospital" on in the background.

Please tell us about your latest series THE SISTERS EIGHT and what we can expect from your characters.

Lauren: THE SISTERS EIGHT is a nine-book series of books, launching Dec 29 with Annie's Adventures and Durinda's Dangers, about that rarest of things: octuplets. On New Year's Eve, Mommy goes out to the kitchen for eggnog, Daddy goes out to the shed for firewood...and neither returns. Now the Eights, as they are known, must solve the mystery of what happened to their parents while keeping the wider world from realizing that eight little girls are living home alone. The books are geared toward ages 6 to 10 but with early reviewer comparisons to Lemony Snicket, Roald Dahl and Edward Gorey, hopefully readers of all ages will enjoy. The books are being published by Houghton Mifflin and the first two have been selected by the Junior Library Guild. Curious parties can read more about the series at the wonderful site Houghton Mifflin created,

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

Lauren: My next non-SISTERS EIGHT book is CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, due sometime around mid-2009 and also with Houghton Mifflin. It's a contemporary Beauty & the Beast YA story about a gorgeous girl and a boy with hooks for hands.

Lauren, thanks so much for sharing with us! I wish you the best with your new series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Lauren: I always say the same thing. Read, read, read, because you can't be a good writer if you're not a good reader, and always remember: the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

By the end of 2008, Lauren Baratz-Logsted will have had 12 books published since 2003 in a variety of genres. For adults: Vertigo (Random House); The Thin Pink Line, Crossing the Line, A Little Change of Face, How Nancy Drew Saved My Life, and Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes (all from RDI). For teens: Angel's Choice and Secrets of My Suburban Life (both from Simon & Schuster). For tweens: Me, In Between (S&S). For young readers: the first two volumes in The Sisters Eight series, co-written with her husband Greg Logsted and their eight-year-old daughter Jackie, both of which books will be twin lead titles from Houghton Mifflin in December. Lauren is also the editor and a contributor to the anthology This Is Chick-Lit (BenBella) and has had several stories and essays published. Her books have been published in 11 countries and you can read more about her life and work at

Monday, December 08, 2008

What’s Fresh with Janette Rallison!

Some of you may remember that Janette Rallison and I did a booksigning together in Mesa, Arizona in the summer of ’07.

She’s great fun to be around, not to mention a heck of an author, so I touched base with her again over the Thanksgiving holiday, and invited her to visit with us on YA FRESH...

Hi, Janette! Could you tell us a bit about your career, the types of books you write, and how you made your first sale?

I started writing long ago when I realized that writing was way more fun than doing housework. Twelve years later (and countless unmopped floors) I've written fifteen books, nine of which are young adult novels. My books tend to be romantic comedies because I love a book that can make me laugh and I'm a hopeless romantic. Even though My Fair Godmother is a fantasy, it's still a romantic comedy. But it was way more fun to write than my typical high school novel so it definitely won't be my last fantasy. I'm hooked on mysterious Black Knights, dragons, wizards, enchanted goats--all of it.

I found my agent, Erin Murphy, through the recommendations of people in my SCWBI group. I sent her a manuscript and she accepted it. I know that's not the way it is for a lot of people, though. It's more common to query tens or even hundreds of agents before they find a fit. I just got lucky that I got an agent who liked my writing style and story on the first try.

What's your writing routine like?

After I get the kids off to school, I tell myself that I will not get ready for the day until I've written four pages. Then I go check my email and somehow manage to spend two or three hours on the computer doing email and business stuff. Finally I realize that it's getting late, I eat lunch, and start writing. This is when the time-continuum speeds up, and suddenly the children come home and I'm still in my pajamas. I'm trying to convince people that I actually have a job working night-shift, but I'm not sure anyone buys it.

Please tell us about your latest novel, My Fair Godmother.

I admit that I'm awful in describing my own books. Authors are supposed to have snappy synopsis on hand for this question and you'd think after twelve years of being a published author I would. Instead I always end up telling people, "Well, it's about this girl . . ." So here's the flap cover:

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

Sounds great! And Romantic Times clearly agreed, because I read the very nice review they gave it! So, what's up next?

I'm always working on something new. I have a book coming out in March called Just One Wish. It's about this girl . . . okay, I will try to be less boring as I describe it. Annika's little brother has a brain tumor and wants to meet his idol--an actor who plays Teen Robin Hood--before his upcoming surgery. Annika decides to drive to Hollywood to find and convince the actor (who, by the way is extremely hot) to come visit her brother. It's still a romantic comedy--but this book will make you cry. I cried when I wrote it and every single time I went through it doing revisions.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

It seems like the writing tip I'm giving to people most these days is this: get deeply into your protagonist's point of view. See, think, feel, what they are seeing, thinking, and feeling. Your story should hardly ever be told from the author's point of view. Let the main character tell it.

I couldn’t agree more! Thanks so much, Janette, and I know we’re all going to be looking forward to picking up My Fair Godmother. the way, I will be reviewing here at YA Fresh in upcoming weeks, as Janette has been gracious enough to offer to send me a copy. So look for that, and for all of Janette’s very funny books.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Book Party: The Deets!

Wow, authors Mari Mancusi and Melissa Walker hosted a very cool book party in NYC this week and they wanted to share all their fun! Mari just released Gamer Girl which looks totally hot and Melissa celebrated with her latest in her cool young model series, Violet in Private!

In honor of Mancusi’s Gamer Girl, each table had a game for guests to play (Hungry Hippos and Operation got the most action). And the fashion world came out in force for the third book in Walker’s Violet series about a young model, Violet in Private.

“It was the perfect way to celebrate both our books and young adult fiction in general,” says Mancusi. “Elegant, with a hint of whimsy.”

In attendance were media outlets Vogue, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Daily Candy, AOL, Parents TV and CNN. Leading authors in both Young Adult and adult fiction also celebrated with Mancusi and Walker. At the party were Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Bennett Madison, Deborah Gregory, Diana Peterfreund, Michael Northrop, Liz Maverick and Anisha Lakhani.

Here are authors Scott Westerfeld, Mari, Diana Peterfreund, and Melissa.

And Melissa with authors Bennett Madison and Deborah Gregory.

Very fun!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Puppy Cam!

Have you heard about the new internet sensation, a pretty near round-the-clock camera feed of six Shiba Inu puppies in San Francisco?

Set up by the owners to keep an eye on the pups while at work, the site has taken the world by storm as the puppies play, chew, paw and sleep, netting as many as four million viewers in one week.

Check them out:

Puppy Cam

For the record, they are three boys and three girls: Aki (green collar), Akoni (black collar), Ando (blue collar) and girls Autumn (purple collar), Ayumi (yellow collar) and Amaya (red collar).

But bad news for anyone who wants to take one home...apparently they are all already spoken for.

Still, very fun to watch! (Although note: if you only see still pictures, it means the camera is down for a bit.)

Monday, December 01, 2008

I finally went to see the film adaption of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight...

I enjoyed Stephenie Meyer's novel Twilight. I sighed at the romance, smiled at Bella and Edward, and shivered during vampire violence, so I definitely wanted to check out the movie.

And I believe this movie was made for the fans.

With very minor changes, the movie followed much of the major scenes of the book. I love when that happens.

I dragged my husband along to watch with me, what a great guy, huh? He liked when the action picked up, but he hadn't read the book! He didn't know all the scenes that made it to the movie. He couldn't compare novel Bella to film Bella or novel Edward to film Edward.

But I could, and it was fun. I'm going to share a bit about the movie that I enjoyed without giving too much away!

Scenes that made me sigh:

When Edward saved Bella--twice.
The scene in the forest.
Edward and Bella's first kiss.

Scenes that made me smile:

Edward's first reaction to Bella's scent.
Jasper's painful expression.
Vampire baseball.
Bella and her father's reactions to boys.

Scenes that made me shiver:

Edward and Bella's first kiss.
The scary vampires.

Would I have enjoyed the book less without having read the book...maybe, so I'm glad I introduced myself to the novel Edward and Bella before the film Edward and Bella!

So have you seen it? Share your thoughts or your blog links? If you haven't seen it, do you want to?


Friday, November 28, 2008


When you live in a desert--like I do--you learn to appreciate rain. I mean, in a big way. Like taking walks in it, splashing in puddles, drinking from the sky. So I was on pins-and-needles when the weatherman called for rain in Los Angeles this week, waiting and waiting for the big event.

And planning accordingly. Because part of the fun of rain is pulling out the sweaters and jeans and sweatsuits and boots and umbrellas and jackets.

And deciding on which warm, hearty meal to make for dinner.

And which DVD’s and books you have on hand for the after-rain snuggle-in?

So tell us, am I the only one who gets all excited at the prospect of rain? Or have you had enough already this fall?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I'm looking forward to this Thursday...

I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, but I must tell you what has me all excited...

There's the getting together with family and friends. Lots of hugs, lots of laughs. Lots of catching up with each other.

And you know what else there is a lot of that I'm looking forward to??


Yes, dishes and dishes of glorious food. Am I like a punk or what??

Not only is there turkey and yummy gravy and mashed potatoes but there is comfort food. Food from my childhood that always makes me feel, well, comfy! =D

My aunt has been making this brown gravy with tiny bits of turkey in it all my life. Yes. It's FABULOUS. Then there is this wonderful potato salad she makes. I've made potato salad before but it never comes out as good as hers. Its just sooo good. And because we are part Filipino, she never fails to have sticky rice.

And oh my gosh, there is this broccoli and rice casserole. I know, it doesn't sound appealing even to me, but the taste is wonderfully home.

So that's what I'm gearing up for on Thursday. Lots of visiting and lots of comfort food!!

Is there something you're looking forward to eating with your family or friends??

Let's prepare ourselves. Yum!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Copy of MacKenzie, Lost and Found...

is going to find a home with...


So, Sarahbear, please contact me at at your earliest convenience, so we can get it on its way to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered and we hope we see you back for our next contest!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mackenzie, Lost and Found GIVEAWAY

Everyone please welcome Deborah Kerbel here to YA Fresh. Born in London, she grew up in Toronto, where she still lives today. When not running around after her husband and two little kids, she escapes to her home office to write.

Hello, Deborah! Could you please tell us about your first sale?

My first sale was huge! I was just starting out as a writer and my agent sold my (as yet un-written) series of four middle-grade novels to a European book-club publisher with plans to translate the series into three different languages. Exciting, huh? Well, as it turned out, not so much. By the time I finished writing the final book in the series, the publisher had begun to encounter financial difficulties and was shutting down their book clubs. In the end, only the first book in the series saw publication (in Germany). The other three books never saw the light of day. When I can clear some time in my schedule, I plan to revise the series (titled Kendra’s Chronicles) and try shopping it around again.

What's your writing routine like?

Routine? What routine? I’m the mother of a 6 year old son and a 3 year old daughter so all of my writing happens during tiny creative bursts that inevitably coincide with their naptime, cartoon time, bedtime, or school. Basically, I write any time of day when I get a few minutes of silence in the house. It’s a rather chaotic system, but it seems to work so far. Needless to say, the day my daughter gives up her afternoon nap is the day I might have to find a new career!

Please tell us about your latest novel.

With pleasure! Mackenzie, Lost and Found is my debut YA. I like to think of it as part modern-day Romeo and Juliet, part archaeological thriller. The story, set in Jerusalem, follows the adventures of 15 year-old Mackenzie Hill as she relocates to Israel with her father (an archaeology professor) for the school year. A forbidden romance ensues (don’t we all love those?) The book also touches lightly on some of the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This subject matter was quite tricky to handle at times and the manuscript took more than a few drafts to get right. Hopefully my readers will let me know if I’ve succeeded.

I’m looking forward to reading it. What's up next for you?

My next manuscript is also YA and it’s a story I’m really excited about telling. The working title is Sticks and Stones and it’s about two girls who exist on the opposite ends of their school’s social ladder. Through a series of strange events, their lives come crashing together in a way neither could ever have imagined.

Sounds terrific! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Absolutely! If you want to be a writer, keep reading, reading, reading! It’s the best way possible to zero-in on your personal style and hone your own distinct writer’s ‘voice’.

Thanks, Deborah! And I wanted to add that Deborah’s characters and stories are inspired by everyday people and events. If you ever meet her -- watch out, you might show up as a character in one of her books!

You can learn more about Deborah at her brand new Website.

And Deborah has been generous enough to offer up a copy to one lucky reader. So please, leave a comment to be entered. The contest will close on Sunday night, November 23rd at 6:00 PM PST, with the winner’s name posted thereafter. Good luck to you all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Real Life Furby?

Last week we talked about those electronic furby toys that were all the rage about ten years ago, and got some great comments about reactions and personal experiences.

And as it turns out, our timing on that subject was spot-on because yesterday CNN ran a story called, “Scientists Discover Long-Lost Furby-Look-Alike." (Thanks to our Golfing Librarian Chuck for that heads-up). Here’s the picture:

Pretty amazing, huh? Check it out and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My First Class Visit...


You know, I wasn't all that nervous heading to my first class visit to talk about writing and my books with an 8th grade class. I admit, I didn't have any notes since Ms. Kelly said the chat would basically be about my books, how I got into writing, and likely an excerpt.

I'd already decided I'd chat mostly about Graffiti Girl since it was being used in the "BookUpNYC" program to help promote middle graders to read in NY and GG has been added to high school reading lists. I packed up Graffiti Girl and Invisible Touch, Graffiti Girl stickers, Invisible Touch bookmarks, and candy--a big fat variety bag of mini Willy Wonka candies.

I went into the office, got a visitor's pass and was pointed in the direction of the class. Unfortunately, the class numbers were on the inside of the closed doors. haha. I finally made my way to the correct class and that's when the nerves hit!

The class was scattered in groups and it was a fairly large class, around 30 students, with some college tutors helping out. And the students were bigger than I expected. *grin* I usually hang out with grade schoolers so it was like I could hear myself swallow with an audible "click". All eyes were on me as I maneuvered my way to Ms. Kelly, who gave me a warm welcome. I was a few minutes early so the class finished up their groups as Ms. Kelly told them she had a special guest visiting.

There weren't many interested expressions. These students wouldn't be won over easily, and gees, would they really care what I had to say?? BTW, what would I say??

A student had a copy of a newspaper article on me and introduced me. I went to the front of the class and told them who I was.

"Hi Everybody, my name's Kelly Parra and I write books for teens." I showed them my two books and propped them against the white board. I started with how I was from our town and based aspects of the town in the book as well as my high school in Graffiti Girl. How I'd been a teen artist--but not a graffiti artist. I talked about how I got into writing, and went into an GG excerpt.

I finally calmed down as I read the excerpt. Reading is calming. :)

I read the back copy of Invisible Touch and started answering questions from Ms. Kelly. I talked about how MTV actually publishes books, and how I love stories and loved movies as I kid. I'd ask the kids, "Anyone hear of MTV?" "Anybody love movies?" I finally got a lot of hands up and things started picking up.

Ms. Kelly asked if anybody else had a question. One boy raised his hand and asked, "How long did it take to write the book?" I threw him a candy while I answered the question and the class came alive.

About 15 hands went up just like that and the questions rolled in with candies being tossed in different directions. I had to thank my Economics teacher for that little tip (Yeah, that was also written into Graffiti Girl). Then there was a break, and more kids came up and asked more questions. Yes, to get a candy, but who cares. They were interacting and it was fun!

Soon the class came back from break and I answered more questions...Did I design the covers of the books, why did I start writing, how do you publish a book...?? It was a great interaction. Next, I gave the rest of the class a candy and a sticker.

I thanked the class for having me, and students came up to me and I signed a bunch of bookmarks. They were really great, and they'd all had candy, but still wanted a signed bookmark and to chat with me. We took a couple of pictures and I have to say it was great success for a first class visit. I really had a great time with the students.



Ms. Kelly asked if this was my first class visit and I said yes, and she seemed surprised because I really got the kids interacting. I think that's a big thing about getting kids exciting about learning and reading.

And maybe next time I won't be as nervous. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's Fresh with Leslie Margolis's Boys Are Dogs

Middle-school boys act like wild animals.

That’s what Annabelle discovers on her first day in her brand-new life. Birchwood Middle School is totally different from her old all-girls elementary. In fact, lots of things in Annabelle’s life are totally different now that she’s back from summer camp. There’s mom’s new boyfriend, a new house, new friends—even a new puppy that likes to chew on Annabelle’s clothes. Well, at least the puppy comes with a leash and a training manual! If only she could say the same for the boys . . .

Featuring Annabelle’s hilarious take on friendship, boys, and her all-new life, this novel / survival guide perfectly captures the joy—and agony—of junior high school. And it might just teach you how to tame the wildest beast of all, the teenage boy.

Hello Leslie, thank you for sharing on YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Leslie: Before I sold my first novel, I wrote freelance. I did a bit of magazine writing, and ghost wrote for a couple of popular mystery series. (I'm not allowed to reveal which ones.) I also wrote a bunch of movie novelizations, under a pen name. Eventually, I sold two young adult novels to Simon & Schuster.

FIX came out in October, 2006. It's about two teenage sisters, in Los Angeles, dealing with issues related to plastic surgery.

Price of Admission is about Jasmine Green, a seventeen-year-old, who writes a screenplay about her dysfunctional family, which accidentally gets sold to her movie-producer father. He's no idea that Jasmine wrote the screenplay, or that it's all about their life.

They sound great! 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.

Leslie: My typical schedule is extremely unglamorous. I work at a writer's space in Brooklyn. Most days, I write first thing in the morning, until I'm exhausted. Often, I spend afternoons or evenings editing whatever it is I wrote. And when I get stuck, I take my dog for a walk. (I walk her when I don't get stuck, as well.)

Please tell us about your latest novel Boys Are Dogs and what we can expect from your characters.

Leslie: BOYS ARE DOGS was published by Bloomsbury in September. It's about a sixth grader, named Annabelle Stevens, who uses puppy-training techniques to tame the troublesome boys in her life.

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

Leslie: Yes. I'm currently revising GIRLS ACTING CATTY, the second novel in the Annabelle Stevens series. In it, Annabelle has a hard time with some mean girls at school, and finds that her new problems are too complex for simple puppy-training techniques.

Thanks for sharing with us, Leslie! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Leslie: Write what you love, not what you think will sell. And read as much as possible.

Leslie Margolis is the author of Fix, Price of Admission and Boys Are Dogs. She grew up in Los Angeles, California and now live in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her website,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Furbys: The Must-Have Holiday Toy of 1998!

Do you remember Furbys? Those slightly adorable/slightly creepy (personal opinion) electronic pets that were all the rage 10 years ago? That started out speaking “Furbish,” but the more English they “learned,” they more they “grew?”

Kids love them for a year or so--then dropped off the market. I understand a newer version was released in 2005, but did not take off the same way.

In The ABC’s of Kissing Boys (now available for pre-sale), main character Parker still has a battery-less Furby on her bedroom shelf. She’d wanted it more than anything back then, and worked tirelessly around the house to earn the money to buy it. Comparing that young passion to what she’s so sure she wants right now, she wonders if in the end, it won’t be the memory of the chase that is sweetest, too...

Does anyone else still have a Furby around the house? Or have a memory of one?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Class Visits...

This is my second year as a published author and I have not participated in a school visit as of yet. Public speaking and oral interviews are a couple of those tough issues I've had to face as a published author for teens. Don't get me wrong, young readers are great to talk to you! It just took some time to realize that readers were actually interested in what I had to say that I had to get used to. haha.

Book signings are getting a little easier. Oral interviews still make me nervous. :)

Recently, I've been asked to visit a middle school class for the first time. I've asked the teacher to suggest a couple of topics that she would be interested in me speaking about.

Writing in general?
How I got into writing?
Graffiti Girl or Invisible Touch?

And I'll probably bring some candy.
I have to have something to break the ice, right?

Any suggestions for my class visit? I need all the help I can get! :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

R. L. Stine 'N Me

R.L. Stine is announcing a new line of books for young readers through Scholastic Books called "Goosebumps HorrorLand."

I don't know this because I follow his career closely, but because of an interview on National Public Radio.

And I don't know that because I listen to NPR with great regularity, but because a family member heard the program and called me, and told me to find the transcript on the Internet, because there was something in it that would really interest me. So I did. And immediately, I understood why. Here is a paragraph from that transcript:

Stine's writing process is a little different from most authors; he says he begins with the title and figures out the rest from there. If he can't think of a title for a story he has in mind, he says,"I just throw away the idea."

OMG--that's me! That's how I work!

As Kelly can vouch, for me, the title comes first. Then I try to create the story that the title "tells me." For instance, I came up with the title, The ABC's of Kissing Boys, while watching a local Christmas parade.

Later, I e-mailed her. She thought it would fly, and then I had to try to figure out WHY a girl needed to learn about kissing, what she had to gain, and just as importantly, what she had to lose. I went through many plot variations, characters and opening chapters until it finally felt "right." (That book sold and hits shelves on January 13th.)

Conversely, like Mr. Stine, I have had sudden scenarios strike me that I simply couldn't bring to life without a good title.

So yeah...huh...R. L. Stine and me!

I couldn't be more thrilled to be in the esteemed company of one of the Young Adult world's most prolific and successful authors. Now if only I had as many ideas and could write as fast...

Friday, October 31, 2008


If you celebrate Halloween for fun, have a great night and stay safe!!

~ Kelly & Tina

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Fresh with Marilee Brothers's Moonstone

A sickly mom. A tiny house trailer. High school bullies and snarky drama queens. Bad-guy dudes with charming smiles. Allie has problems. And then there's that whole thing about fulfilling a magical prophecy and saving the world from evil. Geez. Welcome to the sad, funny, sometimes-scary world of fifteen-year-old Allie Emerson, who's struggling to keep her and her mom's act together in the small-town world of Peacock Flats, Washington. An electrical zap from a TV antenna sets off Allie's weird psychic powers. The next thing she knows she's being visited by a hippy-dippy guardian angel, and then her mysterious neighbor, the town "witch," gives her an incredible moonstone pendant that has powers only a good-hearted "Star Seeker" is meant to command. "Who, me?" is Allie's first reaction. But as sinister events begin to unfold, Allie realizes she's got a destiny to live up to. If she can just survive everyday life, in the meantime.

Hello Marilee, thanks for joining us! Could you please tell us about your first sale?

Marilee: My first real sale was to Medallion Press. I’d been trying to sell Magpie’s Redemption for a year and was pretty discouraged. It didn’t fit into any known category - not a romance although it has romantic elements, too reality based to be chick lit and too funny for nail-biting suspense. After a major publisher held it for six months before rejecting it, I decided my ugly stepchild needed a makeover. I changed the whole manuscript from past tense to present. Trust me, I’ll never do that again! Magpie’s Redemption became The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam. I sent it to Medallion Press whose submission guidelines state they like stories “outside the box.” Turned out to be a marriage made in heaven for my misfit of a book. The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam will be published in October, 2009.

My first YA book, Moonstone, made me a believer in “six degrees of separation,” an idea with the following premise: “If I am one step away from every person I know and two steps away from every person who is known by each of the people I know, then I am six steps away from everyone on earth.”

It started with a rejection letter. After telling me Magpie’s Rejection wasn’t right for her line, the editor went on to say, “You have a natural voice for YA. You should try it.” Her advice pointed me in a new direction, one I had never considered. I began to write Moonstone. In the early stages of the book, I submitted eight pages to a RWA contest with a Young Adult category and placed second. I didn’t know it at the time, but Debra Dixon of Belle Books was one of the judges. Six months later, she hunted me down and said, “Finish the book.”

I did and Moonstone became the debut YA fantasy for their new imprint Bell Bridge Books.

What's your writing routine like?

Marilee: I’m a morning writer. I try to be at the computer by 9:00 a.m. at the latest and write until 12 or 1. Before I start a book, I write a detailed description for each of my main characters…their physical appearance, their backgrounds, their hang-ups, gestures, etc. By the time I start writing, I know how they’ll react in any given situation. Then, I write a very general synopsis. Before each chapter, I brainstorm possible scenes and develop a sketchy outline. Working from the outline, I write the chapter, using only the elements that move the story forward.

Please tell us about your latest novel, Moonstone.

My YA fantasy, Moonstone, was released by Bell Bridge Book on August 15, 2008, the first book in the Unbidden Magic series. The protagonist, Allie Emerson is fifteen and lives in a shabby travel trailer with her malingering mother. Allie develops paranormal powers when she falls off a ladder, bounces off an electric fence and lands in a cow pie. Shortly after, she discovers an age-old prophecy that says she’s destined to save the world from evil. What’s a girl to do but try?

Sounds great! What's up next for you?

Marilee: I’m currently working on Allie’s next adventure. In it, she’ll meet Beck Bradford, an extremely hot guy who’s half human, half demon ( a good demon, of course).

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

Marilee: My main problem is listening to unsolicited advice from the nasty little critic inside my head who tells me, “You’re writing crap!” When I realize I’ve been agonizing over one paragraph for an hour, I do the following. Set the timer for thirty minutes. One rule only: Keep writing until the buzzer goes off. It works for me. I almost always find a couple of gems I can polish up and use.

I’m a former teacher and counselor, married to my college sweetheart and the mother of three sons. I live in Central Washington State on the dry side of the Cascade and write full time when life doesn’t get in the way. Visit her website,

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Little Things...

Getting in shape/keeping in shape is usually associated with spring, but with the holidays coming, I think it’s as important now as ever.

Some of you may know that in the past eighteen months or so, I’ve really stepped up my exercise, and have been feeling better. In fact, I had to buy a bunch of size-smaller summer clothes--yay!

So now my focus is not so much on how to get in shape, but the little things a person can do to stay in shape. For me, that’s walking whenever possible. Leaving the car at home altogether. Going out for after-dinner strolls. Using a treadmill. And I think I’ve started annoying friends who invite me out for coffee or lunch because I say, “Sure, how about that place near the park, and we can walk afterwards?”

Here’s a few more things I aspire toward:

--Drinking lots of water (because it’s not only good for you, it fills you up).

--Parking on the far side of parking lots, forcing myself to walk the difference to the store or restaurant.

--Not eating again after dinner.

I'm not saying I accomplish them, but I try. What are some little things that you do, or try to do, to stay healthy?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Plain Crazy for Pumpkin!

One of the best things to me about this time of year is the return of pumpkin. Pie, cookies, bread, lattes, soup, mousse, cake, waffles, pancakes, ravioli. Even the scent in an aerosol. Bring it on!

And the twist on this craving is that it’s actually healthy, as pumpkin is a natural oxidant.

Something the Australians must know. For when I visited there in the summer of 2002, I found pumpkin soup on almost every menu--no joke--and had at least one bowl daily, even on the dive boat out in the Great Barrier Reef. Yum.

And I’m one of Starbucks’ most loyal customer when they’ve got the pumpkin latte on their menu.

Although I have to say that one time I got to taste test competing slices of pumpkin pie--one made from a hollowed-out pumpkin, the other from canned filling--I preferred the canned. Which made me wonder if I was a true pumpkin purist...

In any case, put the word “pumpkin” in a recipe title, and I’m there. Anyone else crazy for the big orange fruit?

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's Fresh with Stacy DeKeyser's Jump The Cracks

What would you do?

As far as I'm concerned, there's no excuse not to be decent...Especially when you're responsible for a kid.

It just figures that fifteen-year old Victoria's dad fails once again to be at the train station like he's promised. Fuming, Victoria watches as a teen mom stashes her bruised little boy in the train's bathroom. When the mom gets off the train alone, Victoria decides she has had it with all the poor excuses who call them selves parents. Making a split-second decision, Victoria boards the next train out of town-taking the little boy with her.

No, really, what would you do?Victoria's staying on the run until everyone responsible starts keeping their promises. This kid's not falling through the cracks. Not on her watch.

Hi Stacy, great to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Stacy: My first sale was to Scholastic Library Press. I got a two-book deal! I wrote two 64-page biographies for midgraders: Sacagawea, and The Wampanoag. I loved writing them. It was after I'd been writing for about 8 years and decided I had no future writing fiction. :)

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.

Stacy: First thing, I get my kids up and ready for school. Then I feed the dog. Make coffee. Read e-mail and a few blogs, check my website stats...when all that's done, and my coffee is gone, and I think I ought to be doing laundry...I start writing.

Please tell us about your latest novel Jump the Cracks and what we can expect from your characters.

Stacy: Jump the Cracks was published by Flux in March 2008. It's about a girl who decides she has to break some rules in order to do the "right" thing.

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

Stacy: Yes! I just finished a new novel about a girl who hears voices. Which worries her, but the thing is, she likes the voices.

Sounds great! Thanks for sharing, Stacy! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Stacy: There are no shortcuts. Writing well enough to be published is similar to playing tennis well enough to play at Wimbledon. You have to practice a LOT.

Growing up in Wisconsin, Stacy DeKeyser spent her childhood summers reading at the library. The author of two middle-grade nonfiction books, Stacy has since turned to writing fiction. She received a Work-in-Progress Grant from SCBWI for her first novel, and is now working on her second novel for young people. She lives in Connecticut. Visit her website,

2008 Cybil nominees have been posted for the following categories!

Easy Readers
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade)
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels (Middle Grade)
Graphic Novels (Young Adult)
Middle Grade Novels
Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Novels

Check them out!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Congratulations to...


Who is the winner of a signed copy of Invisible Touch.

Shalonda, please contact me through my MySpace ( or my website ( with your mailing address so we can get that in the mail to you!

And for those of you who didn’t win, be sure to check my MySpace blog later this week for another Invisible Touch giveaway!

Friday, October 17, 2008


I'm happy to announce we're giving away a copy of Kelly's latest release, Invisible Touch, to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment (or question for Kelly) in our comments section to be entered. The winner will be chosen after 6 pm PST on Sunday, October 19.

Good luck! And to hold you over until you get your hands on a copy, Kelly and I sat down to chat about it...

Hey, Kelly, please tell us about your latest novel, Invisible Touch, published by MTV/Pocket Books, which released on October 14th, 2008.

Hi Tina, thanks for chatting with me! Invisible Touch is about secrets, signs, and fate and how they effect one girl named Kara Martinez. Kara has a secret, she sees signs,visions, on individual's torsos and must piece the the images together like a puzzle in order to try and stop an unfortunate fate, all the while keeping her ability secret from her family and peers. She creates an anonymous blog called Secret Fates in order to express her secrets freely. Once she meets a mysterious boy, the signs lead her further into danger and she must solve the clues before its too late. It is a story mixed with mystery, romance and family drama.

Wonderful. Tell us, how did the idea for this novel come about?

I love shows about the paranormal, such as Ghost Whisperer, and thought it would be cool to have a girl see visions. Of course, it wouldn't be easy. This kind of gift would often be a curse. Kara and her family are also dealing with the loss of Kara's father, and that connected with me with losing a parent. The themes in this novel combined to make a story I wanted to tell.

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

I hope they'll be satisfied at the end of the book and feel entertained, and hopefully just "feel". Those are the kinds of books I like to read, ones that leave a positive impression. I try to share stories like that with readers.

You not only strive for that, but you accomplish it (says your proud critique partner). Thanks for sharing. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

I have to recommend Tina's next novel, THE ABC'S OF KISSING BOYS, coming out in January '09. It's a story of friendship and family, and a girl's struggle to keep her life in control while other parts are not so easily tamed. And there's lots of kissing...

A lot, yeah! LOL--good answer!

Bio: KELLY PARRA debuted into young adult fiction with the Latina novel GRAFFITI GIRL, a double RITA finalist and Latinidad top pick in 2007. Her latest novel is the YA contemporary paranormal, INVISIBLE TOUCH.

Kelly currently lives somewhere in between dreamland and her hometown in Central Coast California. When not pulling her hair while writing her current novel, she likes to play with her abundance of websites and feed a serious television addiction. Visit her website, www.Kelly or visit the Secret Fates blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Interview with Catherine Hyde Ryan

On Monday, we ran a review of Catherine Hyde Ryan's May 2008 young adult novel, The Day I Killed James. She was gracious enough to answer some questions for us, without futher adieu...

Hello, Catherine. Thank you for joining us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Like most writers, I couldn't initially publish anything to save my life. I couldn't even get an agent for many years. I began to write short fiction, which I marketed myself. It's a nicely level playing field, because agents won't touch it (very little money to be made) and so (short story) editors accept and, in fact, expect submissions directly from authors. After a few short story acceptances (which I accomplished after a few hundred rejections) I found agents much more attentive. But I still had to start with a very small press (for my first novel, Funerals for Horses) and work my way up.

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.

They don't all look the same, so I'll describe two.

In one, I have a novel in progress. It's working. So I get up, do ten or fifteen minutes of Yoga, drink a cup of tea, and start work. I usually try to knock off in time for the evening news, but will usually go back and spend several hours polishing what I wrote that day, taking me close to bedtime.

In the second, it's not working. Which really just means that the scenes that come next are not ready. Not fully imagined. I find it not only waste of time but a morale drain to write pages that are destined for the recycle bin. So I may take off with my kayak and not come back until nightfall, or I may spend the day doing drudge work like getting the car serviced or catching up with email. It all depends on how much I have to do.

I think I'm still caught on the kayacking! Wow.

Please tell us about your novel, The Day I Killed James, and what we can expect from your characters.

Theresa is an eighteen-year-old girl who blames herself for the suicide of a young man who loved her. She didn't hurt him with malice aforethought, but she did hurt him. On the same night he drove his motorcycle off a cliff. So you can expect her to wither under the burden of her own crushing guilt. And to run away from everything she thinks of as comprising herself. And to try never to let anybody close enough to get hurt again. But since she's one of my characters, you can expect her to climb her way out of that self-made prison (one of my characters in one of my unpublished novels once remarked that a prison is a prison regardless of its builder). She does this with the help of an 11-year-old girl who sticks to her like a piece of gum on the bottom of her shoe, but who ultimately helps her turn around them both around.

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

I always have another project in the works. Except when I have two or three.

Next summer, Knopf will release my next YA book, Diary of a Witness. It's slightly different, in that it involves two teenage boy characters. Our protagonist, Ernie, (who is more than 100 pounds overweight) is an outcast, and so is his best (and only) friend Will. But Ernie has a mom who, though a bit hysterical, loves him. He also has his Uncle Max as a leveling figure. But Will's home life is falling apart and so is he, and he is about to take matters into his own hands regarding the popular jocks who torment them daily. And poor Ernie may be the only one who can prevent disaster.

I also have a new adult novel that is not yet under contract here in the US, but which has just been sold to Transworld, my UK publisher (things are actually much better for my career over there). I hope that I will soon be able to say it has a US publisher as well.

My YA editor is just now reading my new YA novel, Jumpstart the World, about a teenage girl who falls in love with her older next door neighbor before realizing he is transgender (female to male in transition).

And I'm writing a new YA right now.

They all sound terrific. Now, would Would you like to close with a writing tip?

I guess I'd have to say, "Expect rejection." I don't mean it as a negative. I say it because so many good writers get discouraged over it, and many give up. But maybe they could weather rejection better if they had set themselves to expect it. It's part and parcel of the business. I've gotten rejections within the past few months (editors who think my newest adult novel is too literary for the current market) and I hope newer writers will remind themselves of that before they decide they had better not quit their day jobs. Maybe just look at your next rejection as your membership card in the Real Writer's Club.

Thank you so much, Catherine, and we’ll be keeping our eyes open for all your books!

The National Book Foundation 2008 Nominees for Young People's Literature Announced!

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains (Simon & Schuster)
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum)
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic)
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion)
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Alfred A. Knopf)

Congrats to Laurie, Kathi, Judy, E., and Tim!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Its finally here, the official release day for Invisible Touch! Yay! :) :)

Last year, Graffiti Girl started showing up at stores a week early. This year Amazon released Invisible Touch 2 weeks early, haha. Hopefully stores will release Touch today!

Click here to read an excerpt and check out a couple raves for Invisible Touch:

"A magical blending of mystery, romance, and deep and dangerous secrets. Kelly Parra’s Invisible Touch is an action-packed coming-of-age novel, sure to keep readers turning pages and begging for a sequel."

-- Laurie Faria Stolarz, Bestselling author of Blue is for Nightmares and Deadly Little Secret

"The Gold Award of Excellence! An amazing, touching novel that deals with big issues in an original context."

-- TeensReadToo, Reviewer Lauren Ashley

And for my release day my character Kara's secret blog post is up on Secret Fates...comment to win Invisible Touch. Winner will be announced October 19th. Thanks! :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: The Day I Killed James

Catherine Ryan Hyde and I have been Myspace friends for a while, a fact I find very cool since I am a fan of her novel, Pay It Forward, and its feature film version, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment.

And while Kelly is primarily the book reviewer here at YA Fresh, I approached Catherine about reviewing her May 2008 release, The Day I Killed James, and was very pleased when she not only responded enthusiastically, but had her publicist mail me a copy.

Here is the press release blurb:

Everything seems ideal in Theresa’s life--she’s beautiful, popular, and she’s dating the “perfect” guy. So when her fickle boyfriend decides he’s not sure what he wants, it’s only harmless jealousy and a little self-pride that makes Theresa bring her cute older neighbor, James, to a party. And even though James loves Theresa, it’s only for the night, so it’s risk-free, right? But when everything goes horribly wrong, and James commits suicide, it becomes anything but a “harmless” night. To cope with the pain, Theresa runs away, shaves her head, and vows never to let anyone close enough to love her again. But the more Theresa runs, the more she must face herself.

I really enjoyed this book. It kept me thinking, kept me feeling, and kept me rooting for the main character to find her way to self-forgiveness.

Theresa reveals her pain in journal form, first person and third, in short chapters, but the writing is so heartfelt and powerful that the book has a bigger, meatier feel that only 200+ pages.

Take, for instance, the following passage. When musing about how Theresa suddenly started missing James, she says:

“No, that’s not right to say I started. I didn’t start. I just kind of joined it in progress, zero to a hundred percent while I wasn’t even paying attention. It wasn’t there, then it was.”

I stopped short after reading that paragraph, marveling over how many times in my life I have suddenly found myself in mid-emotion, not knowing when it started or how I’d gotten so far into its throes. And thinking about how she’d not only identified that feeling, but how perfectly she’d described it.

Catherine Hyde Ryan weaves a tender and beautiful story in The Day I Killed James. I expect it to hear much about it in the days to come, on Favorites and Best lists...and who knows, maybe it’ll make to the big screen, as well?

Friday, October 10, 2008

We are having lots of fun sharing secrets on Secret Fates!

I just wanted to share the YA authors who are generously giving away books this week:

Monday: Jenny O'Connell shared about LOCAL GIRLS...

Wednesday: Alex McAulay is giving away OBLIVION ROAD...

Friday: Jennifer Echols offers up THE BOY NEXT DOOR and MAJOR CRUSH...

Saturday: Stephanie Hale has two books up for grabs, REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN and TWISTED SISTERS...

You have until Saturday night to comment for a chance to win book(s) from one of these cool authors! :)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Don't forget to nominate your fave 2008 books for the Third Annual Cybil Awards!

Nominations close October 15th.

Here are the eligible genres:

Easy Readers, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, Young Adult Novels.

Happy nominating! :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Invisible Touch is now within reach...

October is one of my favorite months with cooler weather, the changing leaves, insane amounts of candy, and my favorite color--ORANGE--everywhere. I even chose this month for my wedding.

This October there's something special to celebrate. Behold what the postman brought me!

Most of you know that as Kelly's critique partner, I not only got to read the book in its entirety, but in its burgeoning moments and earliest pieces, as well. Being on the inside track is part of what makes me so proud to see Kelly's book hit the stands--well, that and the bang-up, knock-it-outta-the-ball-park job she did.

So here's me, showing the book some love...

...while silently reviewing my October schedule for time for another wonderful read!

Congrats, Kelly! And everyone else, I highly recommend this gripping and exciting read!

Friday, October 03, 2008

What's Fresh with Katie Finn's Top 8

Madison MacDonald is seriously freaking out.

Madison MacDonald
Putnam, CT
Status: Single?

About Me:
Everything in my life was working out. I had my three best friends, a brand-new boyfriend, and the lead in the school play. Aside from that history paper I hadn't started, things felt perfect.

Then I returned from spring break to find my Friendverse profile hacked. Someone clearly out to ruin me had spilled the most damaging secrets - AND posted the worst photos of me ever taken - online.

Now my boyfriend and I are broken up, half the school hates me, and I'm in deep trouble.

Get my boyfriend back, figure out who could have done this, and clear my name!

Also, pass history.

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

Katie: I've always loved writing, but in high school and college, I was much more focused on playwriting. I didn't start really writing prose until my senior year of college. But I really liked it, and decided to apply to graduate school. Since I'd always been interested in children's literature, I focused on those programs. I attended The New School, receiving my MFA in Writing for Children and Teens in 2007. I have always been drawn to Young Adult writing in particular, and that's what I focused on in grad school. After I graduated, I really just wanted to work on something fun. So when my editor brought up the idea of a social networking book, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun. My first sale, to Scholastic/ Point, was the YA novel Top 8.

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.

Katie: I know some writers can write in little bursts here and there, but I've never been about to do that. I really need a big, four or five-hour
chunk of time, since it takes me about two hours to stop messing around and really get down to work. So I prefer to write at night, and on the weekends. I'm part of a great group of fellow writers, and on the weekends, usually on a Sunday, we all hunker down for the day with our laptops in Starbucks. And when we have drafts to show each other, we turn into a little critique group. It's incredibly helpful.

Please tell us about your latest novel Top 8 and what we can expect from your characters.

Katie: The novel is called Top 8, and it's coming out in October 2008 from Scholastic/ Point. I've been summing it up in shorthand as "a Facebook mystery." It's what happens when a high school junior, Madison, comes home from a Spring Break trip with her family. She'd been in the Galapagos for two weeks with no internet access. When she gets home, she finds her Friendverse profile (the book's social networking site) has been hacked into. Horrible photos have been posted, secrets have been spilled, most of her friends have turned against her, and her boyfriend has broken up with her. Madison, with the assistance of her three best friends, sets out to figure out who could have done this, and learns some things about herself along the way. And, of course, there's a boy...

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

Katie: A lot of readers have contacted me on Facebook and MySpace, asking me if there's going to be a Top 8 sequel, and so lately I've begun to think about one, but still just in really vague terms. I'd love to write one, but mysteries have to be plotted so carefully, it might take me some time to figure out. In the meantime, I'm about a third of the way
through my new novel. It's a little darker than Top 8, but also features a girl who is told some stunning news and has to change her life in reaction to it.

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

Katie: The one writing tip I can give is to find a writing community - either online or in person. I feel like I have such great support from my friends who are also writing, and it's just always nice to feel like you're not the only person in the world going through something. Writing is just so solitary that it's really nice to be able to look around and see that you're not alone in it!

Katie Finn grew up in Manhattan and Greenwich, Connecticut. She now lives in Brooklyn and only checks her MySpace and Facebook three-okay eight-times a day. Friend-request her at or write on her Facebook wall!

Just a quick reminder!

Secrets are being shared now for Laurie Faria Stolarz, Amanda Ashby, our Tina Ferraro, and tomorrow Liza Conrad with books up for grabs until Saturday night at!

Then a new line up of authors and books next week!

Come join us. :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hi Everyone, the Secret Fates Extravaganza begins today and you're invited!

Invisible TouchWhere 26 authors of various genres will be sharing secrets and giveaways to help me celebrate the release of my latest novel INVISIBLE TOUCH (October 14, 2008) published by MTV Books!

I have to say these authors are super cool to donate their time and books to what I hope will be a fun month. I'm so excited! Thank you, Authors!!!

You may wonder, Why Secret Fates?

My character Kara in INVISIBLE TOUCH has a secret, she sees signs on individuals and pieces the signs together in order to help stop unfortunate fates, and she shares this supernatural secret on an anonymous blog called Secret Fates. So I thought it would be great to create this blog to share author and character secrets!

Check out the promo video for all the authors participating:

This is how it'll work. Through the month of October, I will be posting an author secret and giveaway every day on Secret Fates except for Sundays. You will have the week to post a comment on the author's secret, then on that following Sunday I will announce the winners for the week. Then the next week we start again with a new group of talented authors.

Sound good?

Here is the schedule for this week:


Wednesday, October 1st: Laurie Faria Stolarz shares about PROJECT 17...

Thursday, October 2nd: Amanda Ashby dishes on the backstory of YOU HAD ME AT HALO...

Friday, October 3rd: Tina Ferraro dishes on THE ABCs OF KISSING BOYS and offers up two releases...

Saturday, October 4th: Erica Orloff aka Liza Conrad shares a personal experience and offers up THE POKER DIARIES...


If you help spread the word through the month of October about the Secret Fates Extravaganza (by sharing a link + the promo video) on your blog, myspace or facebook, and leave a comment here with a link to the blog or post or telling me how you helped, you'll be entered to win a copy of GRAFFITI GIRL and INVISIBLE TOUCH by me, and your pick of one of Secret Fates Extravaganza participating authors' novels. (If you've already read one of my books I'll replace it with one of the author's novels, too. Either way, you win 3 books.) The more you spread the word, the better chances of winning!

Okay, we're kicking it off with Laurie Faria Stolarz here...

Thanks and I hope you join in!!!

~Kelly :)