Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's Fresh with Justina Chen Headley's Girl Overboard

The worst thing about having it all, is having to deal with it all - the good, the bad, and the just plain weird. Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire, right down to a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But as Syrah reveals in her manga journal, most of what glitters in her life is fool's gold. Her half-sibs hate her, her best friend's girlfriend is threatening their friendship, and a snowboarding accident exiles her from the mountains - the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has. After Syrah rehabs her busted-up knee and broken heart, makes a new friend, uncovers a family secret, and discovers a way to help a young girl with leukemia, she is finally able to realize her real worth.

Hello Justina, it's so great to have you here at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Justina: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in second grade when I wrote my first 50-page YA novel. I’m not joking. Kitty and Dot, those were my teen protagonists. Where I got their names, I don’t know. My incredible and much beloved agent Steven Malk took my first novel—Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies)—to auction where he sold it in a two-book contract to Little, Brown Books.

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.

Justina: To tell you the truth, now that I’m touring for Girl Overboard, I have NO writing day schedule. But typically, I try to work out first thing in the morning before my kids get up. Then as soon as they’re off to school, I hit my computer to put in 3-4 hours of writing. A break for lunch, possibly coupled with a walk to clear my head. And then two hours of readergirlz work or business correspondence. Then I morph back into Mommy. When the kids are asleep, I do my research. That’s pretty much it.

Please tell us about your latest novel Girl Overboard and what we can expect from your characters.

Justina: I’m touring right now with Olympic Gold Medalist Hannah Teter for my new novel, Girl Overboard (Little, Brown; January 1, 2008). So meet Syrah, the protagonist. She’s a trust fund baby whose dad is a billionaire tycoon. The only place Syrah feels real and liked for herself, not her last name, is up on the mountain when she snowboards. I hope readers will get inspired by Syrah’s story and actions to change the world…and they apply for the Go Overboard Challenge Grant that I’m co-sponsoring with Burton Snowboards and Youth Venture. We’re giving away 12 grants, $1,000 each, to fund the BEST youth-led ideas to change the world.

The book and the grants sound awesome. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Justina: My next novel, North of Beautiful, is coming out in February, 2009. From behind, you’d think Terra Cooper was a knock-out-blonde with a killer body. But all everybody in her small town sees is the “flaw” on her face. I have to tell you: I love this character and I love the boy who shows her what true beauty really is.

Thanks for sharing with us, Justina! I wish you the best with Girl Overboard. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Justina: Write every day. (I better take my own advice. Now.)

"I always wanted to be a writer--and wrote my first 50-page novella when I was eight. My parents like to remind me that my Taiwanese name even means "lover of literature." After graduating from Stanford with honors, I took a minor detour to work at Microsoft, both in Seattle and Sydney, Australia. Afterwards, I returned to my first love: writing young adult fiction. My debut novel, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) won the 2007 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and is a 2008 ALA Popular Paperback. As well, the book was a Borders' Original Voices nominee, BookSense pick, and NYPL Book for the Teen Age. My new novel, GIRL OVERBOARD, is a Junior Library Guild Premier Selection. Publishers Weekly writes, "Headley crafts a tale that will stand out in the crowd by offering a good dose of girl power and an intriguing family backstory." I tie community service to every novel I publish and encourage everyone to check out the Go Overboard Challenge Grant I'm co-sponsoring with Burton Snowboards and Youth Venture to fund the BEST youth-led ideas to change the world. Check it out at And feel free to contact me on Facebook or MySpace at"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Can't Wait To Read in 2008

Yes, January is already nearing the end and I'm starting to check on new YAs hitting shelves this year. I'm looking forward to some great debuts and more books from my favorite authors.

One YA novel that I can't wait to get my hands on is Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key.

"Ruby, where is your mother?"

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future-it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Ooh, sounds really good!

So tell me which YA books are releasing in 2008 that YOU can't wait to read?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I had the chance to read the ARC of E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, scheduled to be released in March.

Let me tell you, page-turner. Fun. Memorable characters. And definitely a story you don't want to miss.

Returning to her boarding school, Frankie Landau-Banks has blossomed into a knockout. And she's now noticed by boys who hadn't noticed her before, including her new popular boyfriend, Matthew, who introduces her to a group of boys that are vibrant and so very fun. One thing Frankie still has with her transformation is a chip on her shoulder. She doesn't want to be overlooked for her looks or patted on her head for being a female, she wants in--as in an all-male secret society that her new boyfriend belongs to, not to mention a society she's not even supposed to know about.

So when Frankie finds the coveted tell-all book for the history of the secret society that is filled with past gags and school pranks, Frankie wants to prove that she has the smarts to pull them off on her own, one by one...

Characters you can't help want to know, and a story that engrosses you from page one, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is packed with female smarts, hilarious pranks, and so many interesting secrets that are meant to be broken!  Be a part of the Frankie Landau-Banks society and check out this cool novel in March. :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Little Things...

I’ve always heard that January is the most common month in which people get the blues. The holidays are over, the skies outdoors darken early (and some days are gray all day), adults worry more about bills, students worry about finals and the start of new semesters.

But being a lifelong Pollyanna, I thought this January day--a Monday, at that--might be a great time to not only look for the good, but the good in the little things in our lives. For as writers often say, “The story is in the details.”

So allow me to offer a haphazard list of the little things that I stopped this January morning to be grateful for:

--That our house telephone is working again;
--That I got to watch “Ocean’s 13” last night with only minor interruptions;
--That my husband figured out what was wrong with my internet browser, so my screen is no longer wonky when I go on MySpace;
--That this morning’s coffee came out good and strong;
--That my favorite sweat pants are clean.

Plus--and this is slightly bigger than little--I got two e-mails from teen readers yesterday, saying they loved HOW TO HOOK A HOTTIE!

So how about you on this January day? Can you share with us something that is making your day work for you?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Contest Winner!

The winner of the "Hottie Mismatch Giveaway" is...


whose mismatch idea of Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell made me laugh out loud!

Thanks to all who entered...I enjoyed every one. And thanks to all of you who read and commented and participated in our How to Hook a Hottie Week!

(Paige, please contact me through my website with mailing instructions. You can find the link to the left of this screen.)

Tina (and Kelly)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hottie "Mismatch" Giveaway!

That's right, starting NOW you can enter in the How To Hook A Hottie giveaway. Tina's giving away an autographed copy to a lucky visitor tomorrow (Friday, January 18th, Noon PST) who answers this question....

Tick, tock, tick, tock

Since Kate DelVecchio makes some mismatches in How To Hook a Hottie, we'd love to read some of your made-up mismatches with celebrities or characters in fiction. For example... Britney Spears and Prince William probably wouldn't make the best match. :) :)

Enter to win...and good luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Latest Booksigning!

Last year I reported on my Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress booksigning, an awesome local event in which it seemed everyone I knew crowded into the store. Although I did a similar amount of publicity for this event, I really didn’t expect the same numbers; I figured it was like having a second baby, people would be happy for you, but not throw you a shower, you know?

I was wrong.

Friends, family, neighbors, even reporters streamed in. I sold essentially the same amount of books, only in smaller increments, which means to more people!

I even had three groups of "fans" (people I didn't know!) who saw the advertisements and came to buy How to Hook a Hottie based on how much they'd loved Prom Dress. (Wow!) In fact, one group wanted to talk about a particular scene from that book, and in doing so, I found myself tapping so completely back into it that I felt the main character's emotion. Funny how fast I can “become” Nicolette again!

The window display was of fishing lure and bait, and we gave away gummy worms for snacks. I was delighted to discover through the pictures my husband took that some freshman guys stopped by. If I had known then, I would have made them pose in the window as hotties to hook!

Anyway, it was great fun, and now my mind is jumping ahead to a theme for booksigning for the next book, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys. Any ideas?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We're continuing Hottie Week with an interview with Tina today, and don't forget about her chat tonight (Tuesday, January 15th) at 5:30 PST here. Thanks!

What's Fresh with Tina Ferraro's How To Hook a Hottie

Hey Tina, as always it's a pleasure to chat with you! :) Please tell us all about your latest novel, How To Hook a Hottie.

Tina: My latest novel, How to Hook a Hottie, was released by Delacorte Press (Random House) on January 8. Here's the blurb:

Kate DelVecchio plans to be a millionaire before she's 21. When she agrees to go to a sports banquet with a hotshot baseball player, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the school is amazed that the no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn't know anything about getting guys, but for $100.00 a pop, she's more than willing to try, including inventing a 6-step-plan on How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?

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

Tina: Kate is sooooo different from me that she scared me. At 17, she's exceptionally focused and driven, knows what she wants--and even more importantly, what she does not. I'm still working on those goals, even as an adult! But what she and I shared was a bit of daring--to throw ourselves into an uncertain project (me, the book; her, the matchmaking aspect). And while this sounds odd, I really felt like it was a collaborative effort that we pulled it off, me feeding off her determination, and she leaning on me when thing started to fall apart. So oddly enough, she's actually the heroine I've connected the strongest with, and I'm proudest of.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Tina: There was no lightning strike moment with this book, the way there was with Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress. It came together over a period of time, trading in and out different ideas and character traits. But the introduction of the baseball hottie, Brandon, was the glue that made it start to stick, as was 12 year-old, Lexie, who Kate initially cannot stand, but in whom she starts to see herself and to realize that all she thinks about her life and what she wants isn't necessarily so black-and-white.

So tell us, Tina, what do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Tina: I hope they like the story and characters, of course, but also, the Hottie Hooking Tips, and the Hexagon on page 91 that allows them to play with people in their own lives and see who may or may not be compatible!

So fun! Thanks for sharing, Tina. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Tina: Yes, I just finished reading a terrific book that will be released in September by MTV Books called Invisible Touch. Kelly Parra is the author. (Say who?) Okay, all kidding aside, Kelly has knocked it out of the ballpark again with this heartfelt and exciting book, and I recommend everyone check it out.

Thanks, Tina!!

Tina Ferraro is the author of two novels with Delacorte Press, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress and How to Hook a Hottie. Next year, The ABC's of Kissing Boys will be released. She lives in California with her husband, their three teenagers, and a cat who thinks he's the hottie prototype for all her books. Visit her website,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Welcome To How To Hook A Hottie Week @ YA Fresh!!

That's right, Folks, this week we are celebrating the release of our very own Tina Ferraro's How To Hook A Hottie, which officially released Tuesday, January 8th. So that means, we are all about Hottie all week, with a fun interview, Tina dishing on her first signing with Hottie, and of course, topping the week off with a giveaway--so stick with us!

Also don't miss a chat with Tina on Tuesday evening, January 15th at 5:30 PST at Enchanting Reviews: How fun will that be asking Tina questions about her characters and books? Or even fun stuff like, "Tina, what's your most favorite dessert ever??" You get the drift--come chat!

And I just had to gush about Tina's second novel, How To Hook A Hottie. Here's my take:

When Kate DelVecchio hooks her own high school Hottie, she shoots to popularity and also nabs the wisdom to make some serious cash by graduation. All she has to do is help her peers find their romantic match. With a mom MIA and a money-making goal, Kate's got it all under control with the help of her best pal, Jason "Dal" Dalrymple, who swears their flying by the seat of their pants. But this new biz can't be as hard as landing straight As and studying all those business books, right?? With more clients than she can handle, and a topic she's not exactly an expert on, Kate soon realizes maybe money isn't all its cracked up to be.

Tina Ferraro once again gives readers a smooth entertaining read with her engaging voice and delightful characters. HOW TO HOOK A HOTTIE has a business-savvy heroine, a sweet first love that blossoms from a childhood friendship, and one very cool Six-Point Plan. You'll want to hook this novel for your keeper shelf!
So let's top off this post with YOUR favorite Hottie--celeb or fiction...mine is Chuck (Zack Levi) from Chuck. :) :) Okay, your turn!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cool Vampire Series

I began a new series. The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine. Book one is GLASS HOUSES.

I have to say, I was hooked. Secret vampires, powerful magic, and great characters.

Claire Danvers is an early graduate of high school at sixteen, and she's convinced her parents to let her attend college in Morganville. The problem is, Claire has messed with the wrong--and I mean wrong--college bully. She's basically kicked out of her dorm and homeless until she hooks up with these cool, eccentric roomies in an old glass house, where she learns there really are such things as scary vampires. And in Morganville--you either have protection from them or your fresh meat.

The more trouble Claire finds, the more her roommates are there to protect her. And each of their secrets are revealed...

Lots of action and a great pacing--you will not be bored with this novel. I'm definitely looking forward to the next books in the series!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How To Hook A Hottie Is Out!

That's right, Folks! Tina's latest novel How To Hook A Hottie is now on bookshelves and ready to ship on-line. Woo-hoo!

Here's a little about the book:

At 17, Kate Delvecchio has one goal in life: to become a millionaire before the age of 20. And as far as she’s concerned, college will only slow her down. Unfortunately for Kate, the one thing her parents do agree on is that they totally disagree with her strategy. And so the deal is born. If Kate can raise five thousand big ones by graduation day, her parents will hand over the balance of her college account to invest as she pleases. No college, no degree, and no way she’ll ever be able to pull it off. But when Kate accidentally agrees to go to the sports banquet with the hottest guy at school, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the junior class is amazed that no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one they approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn’t know anything about getting guys, but for $100 a pop, she’s more than willing to invent a six-step plan for How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?

Read an excerpt on Tina's website here. And order on-line here.

Don't forget to stay tuned for next week at YA Fresh, and help us celebrate the release of How To Hook A Hottie all week! :)

Monday, January 07, 2008

What's Fresh with Laura Wiess's Leftovers

A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

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

Laura: My mom loves books and is a voracious reader. I grew up being read to, and taken on weekly trips to the library where we'd leave with a big bag of books. From there I started writing stories of my own and did that for years for my own amusement until one day I stopped and asked myself if I wanted to see if I had what it took – whatever that was – to try and get something published.

That was scary because I knew there would be a lot to learn about the craft – as much as any other profession – and it would be taking something I did just because I loved it and getting serious. So I went back to the library and pulled out every book I could find about how to write. Studied, learned, wrote, got rejected, wrote more, learned more, got more rejections. Kept going because during the learning I realized that yes, this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

My first acceptance was a short story for middle readers in an inspirational magazine. That acceptance meant more to me than anything because I had finally created something from my imagination that someone else – a stranger -- thought was good enough to buy. Yow.

My first YA book was called Downtown Boy. It was a problem/romance novel and was published with HarperCollins back in 1993 under my former last name of Battyanyi-Petose. My first husband passed away shortly after the next books, a ten book YA series called Girlfriends written under the pseudonym Nicole Grey and published by Kensington, came out.

Some years later I remarried and became Laura Wiess, and that's the name I write under now.

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.

Before the characters actually come alive and are still forming in my mind, I'm up with coffee and doing a quick email check, then mulling, what-iffing, trying on ideas, researching random ideas, listening for the characters and then hopefully starting to write.

Once the characters are formed and I'm caught up in their lives I usually grab coffee and go right to work, rereading a page or two where I left off and then disappearing straight into the manuscript. I take bathroom and food breaks. Sometimes I get up and stretch and perform a quick, mindless task to give my subconscious and the characters time to figure out what happens next but other than that, I'm pretty focused. My husband and cats know that this is not the time for interruptions, and that sooner or later I'll resurface and rejoin the living. This daily routine continues until the book is done or I'm stuck and need some distance to get things moving again.

I also don't read anything while I'm in this stage because I've found out (the hard way) that I'm susceptible to other writing styles and don't want to jeopardize the grasp I have on the fledgling story. So it's a voluntary isolation and it works.

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

Laura: LEFTOVERS was just released on January 1, 2008 and is published by MTV Books/S&S.

Blair and Ardith, the main characters, are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. LEFTOVERS is the why behind the act, the feeling alone and powerless, being tormented and targeted, the beauty of their firsts, hopes and dreams, how the girls soak up and internalize different influences – school, guys, parents, media, messages, and family -- and how their desperation and anger ultimately manifests.

Laura, I was wowed by SUCH A PRETTY GIRL, and I'm looking forward to LEFTOVERS. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Laura: I'm working on my next MTV Book right now, and am haunted by and exploring several questions: How is love born and how does it die? How far will you go for a real love, and how far is that real love willing to go for you in return? And what is it specifically that you just don't want to turn and look right at because the cost is too high?

Thank you for chatting with us, Laura! Best of luck with writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Laura: Sure. Try not to censor anything while you're writing the story, especially in a first draft. Just write what's happening and make it as real and true as possible, cutting nothing (at first) no matter how intense it might be. Write characters that make you wish you knew them in real life, so I as the reader can wish the same. I want to become emotionally involved with your characters and their struggles, triumphs and dreams. I want to root for them, and I want the passion the author has for the characters, subjects, issues, whatever to sweep me up and carry me in.

And don't let rejection stop you because it's just another step in the journey. Keep going, what-iffing, learning, reading and writing. Don't give up.

Laura Wiess is the author of the critically acclaimed thriller Such a Pretty Girl and the newly-released Leftovers, both published by MTV Books. For more information please visit or

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hey, I Know Her!

There's a familiar face on the Random House Teens homepage this month!

Yes, to my delight and astonishment, Random House chose ME to the their Spotlight Author of the Month! I provided them with this photo--with thanks again to my good friend, Jari Blakely Kirkwood, who took it and about 100 other pictures of me in the park that day--and a short bio.

I have since heard that Random House usually only spotlights "established authors," so excuse my excessive pride while I shout this honor from the rooftops.

Check it out!

Random Teens

And just five more days 'til How to Hook a Hottie hits shelves!