Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Fresh: Soda-licious!

My mother had many interesting jobs in her life, but the one I used to love hearing about was how as a teen, she worked behind a lunch counter. She'd regale me with stories of adding syrups to soda pop (creating drinks like a vanilla Coke and a cherry 7-Up) and all the fun she had making them.

Today, of course, those drinks are common-place. Just check the supermarket aisles. We have a mind-boggling amount of flavors. It seems you can find just about anything you can dream up, and then break the flavor into an extra boost of caffeine, caffeine-free, super-sugary or diet.

At serve-yourself soda fountains, many people when mix several--or all--the drink possibilities together for a personalized taste.

In my community, this combo drink is called Suicide. (In fact, in my next book, THE ABC'S OF KISSING BOYS, the heroine loves to blend Pepsi and Lemonade for what she thinks is the perfect lemony cola taste.)

Not my style. Im a one flavor-at-a-time girl, usually regular old Coca Cola when I'm in a restaurant, and a Diet Dr. Pepper here at the computer.

So for our Friday Fresh weigh-in, Id love you tell us your soda preferences. Are you a purist, someone who sticks entirely with one favorite? Do your preferences change with the location or situation? Or are you one who creates her own blends?

Dish. Or should I say, spray?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Exciting News! (Although, I'm still in state of shock. haha!)

GRAFFITI GIRL is a DOUBLE FINALIST in the Romance Writers of America RITA awards in the Young Adult category and Best First Book.

("RITA awards are presented annually to the best published romance novels of the year. The award itself is a golden statuette named after RWA's first president, Rita Clay Estrada, and has become the symbol for the best in published romance fiction.")

I'm thrilled and honored, as well as being in such great company in the Young adult category with the following young adult authors:

2008 RITA for Young Adult Romance

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
HarperCollins Publishers, HarperTeen - (978-0-06-054144-6)

Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
Simon & Schuster, MTV Books/Pocket - (141653461X)
Jennifer Heddle, editor

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Llewellyn Worldwide, Flux - (978-0-7387-1018-1)
Andrew Karre, editor

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
HarperCollins Publishers, HarperTeen - (978-0-06-121465-3)
Anne Hoppe and Nick Lake, editors

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hello Friends!!

Wishing you all plenty of bunnies and easter eggs! :) :)

~ YA Freshers, Kelly & Tina!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's Fresh with Mary Hogan's Pretty Face

That's what I am. A funny girl. A friend. Nobody's girlfriend. The girl with the pretty face.

Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day—and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn't fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty . . . face. Translation: Don't even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.

Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer—not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It's there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley's vision of herself starts to change. She's curvy, not fat. Pizza isn't evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.

Hello Mary, thanks so much for visiting us at YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Mary: I wrote my first novel in third grade. It was called "Eggward, the Unwanted Egg" about an unhappy egg who rolled away from home. He was scrambled in traffic, fried on the sidewalk, etc. Clearly I was a drama queen...even as a kid.

Many years later, I made my first book sale (THE SERIOUS KISS, HarperCollins) the old-fashioned way--I was rejected by thousands, accepted by one.

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.

Mary: I write everyday, from 9:30 to Oprah.

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

Mary: My latest novel, PRETTY FACE (HarperCollins, April 08) is set in Southern California where everyone is blond and thin and perfect...except Hayley--the girl with the "pretty face". Hayley is smart and funny. But, it's not until she spends the summer in Italy (and meets a dreamy Italian boy) that she really learns how to appreciate her curves. Her self. PRETTY FACE is a love story...with pasta.

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

Mary: I'm currently finishing the fourth (and final) novel in my SUSANNA series. The first book, SUSANNA SEES STARS, is about a plucky high-schooler who snags a summer internship at a celebrity magazine. Her philosophy: If you can't get in the front door, climb through a window. (I realize this sounds like a burglar's philosophy, too. But, Susanna's is metaphorical.) This whole series is a run romp through celebrityville. In book two, SUSANNA HITS HOLLYWOOD, Susanna goes to the Academy Awards. Book three: SUSANNA COVERS THE CATWALK, takes place at Fashion Week in NYC. By book four, SUSANNA FALLS IN LOVE...IN LONDON, our girl is a better reporter--and person--than most of her coworkers. This series is the ultimate underdog tale. Where there is Susanna's will, there is always a way!

Thanks again for chatting, Mary! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Mary: My writing inspiration is taped over my computer: "Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that held its ground." Hold your ground. Write what you love. Use spell check.

Mary Hogan is the author of seven young adult novels. Her first, THE SERIOUS KISS, is semi-autbiographical...but don't tell her parents or they will semi-disown her. Mary's books are translated into several languages...German, Portugese, Thai...and sell all over the world. To contact her--in any language--check out her website

Monday, March 17, 2008

Announcing the Winner of our Caption It Contest!

It was a fun contest, and Kelly and I were thrilled with the number and the LOL quality of the comments!

The winner gets to choose between a signed copy of How to Hook a Hottie and Graffiti Girl.

And that winner is...

Crystal...for her comment, "When using online dating sites, always ask for a picture!"

Congrats, Crystal! Come visit me at and we'll talk about your prize.

And thanks to everyone who entered. We'll try to do another one of these contests soon!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Caption It!

We're running a contest this weekend to caption the following picture:

Is that cute or what?

The winner can choose between receiving a signed copy of my book, How to Hook a Hottie or Kelly's book, Graffiti Girl.

Post your captions in our comments before Sunday, March 16 at 6 pm Pacific Time to be eligible, and be sure to check back to learn the winner.

And here's a caption from me to start:

"Got towel?"

And from Kelly:

"Um, I know you're a dolphin and I'm a dog, but I think we can give dating a chance. I mean, I like water."

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's Fresh with Carrie Jones's Love (and other Uses for Duct Tape)

In the follow-up to Carrie Jones Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, Belle is closing in on her last few months in high school. With a cool and loving straight boyfriend, the bestest best friend a girl could ask for, and a house full of fans when playing her guitar, things are much better than they were before.

But everyone else seems to be more excited with the upcoming changes in their lives than Belle. Her mom has a new boyfriend who makes her giggle and her best friend Em and boyfriend Shawn are madly in love and always showing it! Even Belles ex is happy with his new guy, Bob. So whats wrong with Belle and Tom? Nothing is whats the matter. Nothings happening at all. No sex, no "I love you." Nada. Whats a girl to do?

Hi Carrie, thanks for joining us! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Carrie: I was a newspaper reporter and editor but I was tired of having to tell the truth all the time and going to planning board meeting where the members argue about land use regulations until 3 a.m. So, I started writing a story for my daughter. I'd tell her a little bit every time we took a car ride that lasted over 10 minutes. Since we live in rural Maine this meant a lot of car rides qualified. The story got longer and longer and I realized that making up stories was a lot more fun than newspaper writing. Then, I realized if it was so fun I should probably study how to do it. I applied to Vermont College's MFA Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. They actually took me, which was surprising.

After a year I submitted TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND to Flux.

It began as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

The 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

He is a very nice man and he took it anyway.

Haha! We've all made those kind of mistakes, Carrie! 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.

Carrie: 1. Wake up.
2. Check email.
3. Sit at computer.
4. Try to write words.
5. Try to write more words.
6. Get antsy.
7. Go use the treadmill for half hour, try to time this so it's at the same time as a Daily Show repeat.
8. Try to write more words.
9. Cry.
10. Go on cross-trainer for 15 minutes.
11. Revise words on page.

Please tell us about your latest novel Love (And Other Uses For Duct Tape) and what we can expect from your characters.

Carrie: LOVE (AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE) is from Flux. It's the sequel to TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND and it was released on March 1, which is my birthday.

All the characters are negotiating their relationships. Belle, the main character, is struggling with the fact that her boyfriend, Tom, hasn't attempted to couple with her and whether that means:
1. He doesn't like her that way.
2. She's uncouplable.

At the same time her best friend, Emily, is dealing with some very heavy issues and Belle's trying to be the best friend she can.

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

Carrie: My next book arrives in August. It's called GIRL, HERO. It's about Liliana Faltin. Her stepdad has died. Her biological dad seems to be having some cross-dressing issues, and her mom has a new man coming to stay with them. Liliana's a ninth-grader struggling with trying to find a father hero, and so she writes letters to John Wayne, a dead movie star. Eventually, she figures out that she can be her own hero. That sounds like a song from FAME! doesn't it? Yikes. I think it was... "You gotta be your own hero."

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Carrie! I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Carrie: Writing is when multiple thoughts attempt to create a single entity. It's fun and fabulous and amazing, but it's okay to sometimes get annoyed with it. It's like having a husband/wife/life partner. Sometimes you think it's the greatest thing ever. You can't live without it. Sometimes you just want it to hand over the remote, sit on the couch, and be quiet. If you look at it as a big, fun experiment those good times seem to occur more frequently.

Carrie Jones likes Skinny Cow fudgsicles and potatoes. She does not know how to spell fudgsicles. This has not prevented her from writing books. She lives with her cute family in Maine, but she grew up in Bedford, NH where she once had a séance with cool uber-comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Meyers brothers are from Bedford, too, so you’d think it would make Carrie funnier, coming from Bedford N.H. Obviously, something didn’t work.

Carrie has a large, skinny white dog and a fat cat. Both like fudgicles. Only the cat likes potatoes. This may be a reason for the kitty’s weight problem (Shh… don’t tell). Carrie has always liked cowboy hats but has never owned one. This is a very wrong thing. She graduated from Vermont College’s MFA program for writing. She has edited newspapers and poetry journals and has recently won awards from the Maine Press Association and also been awarded the Martin Dibner Fellowship as well as a Maine Literary Award. Visit her website at

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Fresh: TV Commercials To Remember!

A high school student was telling me the other day about how in her economics class, they are studying the Top Ten Most Successful TV Commercials. We here at YA Fresh know I’m a sucker for Top Ten Lists (haha), so I was all ears.

And while she couldn’t name them all for me without finding her notes--and far be it from me to ask a student to do MORE work--I asked her about the three oldies that immediately jumped to my mind:

--Life Cereal (“Hey, Mikey! He Likes It!”)

--Alka Seltzer (“Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz”)

--Wendy’s (“Where’s the Beef?”)

And she said yes, they were all on the top ten list.

The #1 rated TV commercial, according to this study presented in her class, only ran once. It was for a Mac computer and aired during the Super Bowl. It apparently blazed the trail for what we now know as Super Bowl Commercials, the year’s most important and watched commercials, and once was enough!

So now it’s your turn: what are some favorite or memorable TV commercials that stick in your head?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

What's Fresh with Kaza Kingsley's Erec Rex Series

The Dragon's Eye: Enter Alypium, a hidden world within our own where our old knowledge of magic is kept, and strange and fantastical creatures abound. It is a beautiful and mystical place, but things are caving in. the king is hypnotized and his castle turned on its side. The very Substance that holds our planet together has gone awry . . . and whispers tell of evil plans to destroy everything.

Twelve year old Erec Rex has been yanked out of the world as we know it and thrown unwillingly into danger here. As he learns how to get by in this strange place, he discovers some truths about himself . . . and must learn the power of trust and love in order to save his mother, and all of Alypium.

In this stunning tale packed with action, humor, a colorful cast of characters and a riveting plot, debut author Kaza Kingsley brings us into a land of danger and excitement. For Erec, it is a world that is eerily familiar and inevitably entwined with his future.

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

Kaza: Sure! As far as the former, I’ve been writing forever. I used to make my friends write “books” with me when they came to play, until they finally couldn’t stand it anymore, and then we’d go play tag. I read a ton too (which is probably no surprise) and finally began to read books about writing, going to workshops, etc. I majored in psychology in college, which helped me when it comes to analyzing and developing characters, I think. I never got an MFA, but did continue with serious critique groups, workshops, etc. I probably wrote a hundred short stories, and learned a lot along the way. I also published some nonfiction, but that is not where my heart is.

I wrote a novel that never got published, then found a great agent at Writers House for Erec Rex. She left soon, and rather than do the “agent shuffle” I ended up going with a small press. So my first published novel was Book One of the Erec Rex series, The Dragon’s Eye, with Firelight Press.

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.

Kaza: My writing days are so crazy! I immerse myself so completely it’s nuts … but it works best for me that way. I find I get into my story fully, and can write much better if that is all I do. So my typical writing day is:

-Wake up around 7:30 or 8:00.
-If it’s not freezing and snowy (as it has been a lot lately) I run for exercise.
-I make myself a hot cup of organic herbal tea, like a cinnamon-spice blend, or mint tea (if I’m tired then a green tea,) and break off a hunk of dark organic chocolate with things like cranberries and hazelnuts in it
-Then I answer email.
-And finally sit at my desk and disappear into Erec’s world for the rest of the day. I take a few breaks to eat lunch, do a few odds and ends. But I’ll pretty much write for 8 – 10 hours a day.
-Then try to go to sleep early so the next day will be productive.

That last one is so important, but so hard for me when I first get into a writing jag. I’m a night-owl usually, and don’t care if I get a lot of sleep. But when I’m doing a lot of writing I can really tell the difference in my productivity and energy.

I just finished Book Three, The Search for Truth, and I feel like I’ve come out of hibernation! It’s getting passed around to authors for blurbs, editors, etc. And there is still work I need to do on it as well, but now, as a reward, I’ve treated myself to a few movies during the day, and a lot of R and R. I’ll need it – I’m going to start on another book before long. And I’m doing a lot of school visits soon, again, too. So that will keep my busy!

It’s really a crazy life!

I agree! Please tell us about your latest novel in the Erec Rex series and what we can expect from your characters.

Kaza: I am, I think, more excited about this third book than I’ve been about the others. It’s called Erec Rex: The Search for Truth. It’s published by Firelight Press, and releasing October 1st.

For those who have followed the series, this is what I call my “Upper Earth” book. Not all, but a fair amount of the plot takes place in Upper Earth – or our world. This took a lot more research, of course, looking into the habitat, geography, climate, and landmarks of many places around the world, rather than making up my fantasy realm. Erec must make some very difficult choices in this book. This is also the book where very much is revealed. Many questions are answered – but a few more come up!

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

Kaza: I just finished Book Three a few weeks ago, and will be going through another edit soon. So I can’t really dig into anything else for a good month. Plus I’ll be traveling to schools and bookstores in a few cities this spring. But as soon as I can I will start either Book Four or a side book for the series about Aoquesth the dragon. I’m going to try for the side book, but will see. I’m very drawn to starting Book Four now!

Sounds great, Kaza, and thank you again for sharing with us. I wish you the best with your series. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Kaza: Yes – writing is like learning a foreign language. The more you use it, the better you can express yourself with it. Write as much as possible. Read books about writing. Analyze other people’s writing. Use it all the time, and you’ll learn to make it work for you!

Kaza Kingsley is the author of the bestselling Erec Rex series, available in bookstores across the country. Her series is coming out in nine other countries so far, and was Borders Books Original Voices pick for last December. Visit for more information.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Allison van Diepen, author of Street Pharm, is back with another dark and realistic teen tale with SNITCH.

Julia DiVino lives in a mixed territory where Crips and Bloods are always at battle. Even though she has friends in the gangs, she doesn't want any part of it.

Until she meets Eric, a new boy she begins to care for, and wants to be part of the gang lifestyle. Julia tries to stay away from Eric, but she can't deny her feelings when she knows he's in danger. When she warns him of a gang beat down, Julia becomes a target of retaliation from the opposing gang.

And Julia's life ultimately changes.

SNITCH is fast-paced, edgy read with a heart-felt romance, and life-altering messages. Another awesome read by Allison van Diepen that will keep you turning the pages late into the night!